Sunday, February 21, 2016

Bulletin 252 - Guatemala #3 - motmots, night birds and other non-passerines

I actually managed to photo 4 motmot species which is more than 25% of all the species. The 16" Blue-diademed Motmot (Momotus lessonii) has a blue edge to the crown. The pair here show the typical raquet tail. Motmots swing their tails side to side like a metronome. The left bird has his tail way to the left.

Blue-diademed Motmot
The 14" Turquoise-browed Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa) has the longest bare shaft on the tail of any of the motmots.

Turquiose-browed Motmot
The 2 smallest motmots lack the raquet tails. The 10" Blue-throated Motmot (Aspatha gularis) is greenish with a blue throat and long tail.

Blue-throated Motmot
The 7" Tody Motmot (Hylomanes momotula) is brownish with a rufous cap and black mask.

Tody Motmot
I got 2 owls on the trip. The 14" Mottled Owl (Strix virgata) has dark eyes, and dark brown streaking.

Mottled Owl
His cousin, the 16" Fulvous Owl (Strix fulvescens) is lighter with a pale facial disk and rufous streaking.

Fulvous Owl
I also got a photo of a 9" Mexican Whip-poor-will (Antrostomus arizonae). This typical nightjar is brown with a pale collar. This is probably a female as males have white corners on the tail.

Mexican Whip-poor-will
The only new diurnal raptor was a favorite, the 20" Laughing Falcon (Herpetotheres cachinnans). As its name suggests this bird feeds on snakes. It has brown back, wings and tail with the rest of the body cream except for a backwards brown mask on the head.

Laughing Falcon

The local cracid is the 21" White-bellied Chachalaca (Ortalis leucogastra). It is brown with a white belly.

White-bellied Chachalaca
We also found several parrots. The 9" Pacific Parakeet (Psittacara strenua) is all green but may have a few red spots on the neck.

Pacific Parakeet
The 9" Orange-fronted Parakeet (Eupsittula canicularis) is green with an orange forehead. He also has a prominent yellow eye ring

Orange-fronted Parakeet
The last parrot is the 13" Yellow-naped Parrot (Amazona auropalliata). This green parrot has yellow across the back of the neck and red patches in the wings.

Yellow-naped Parrot
Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2016 David McDonald

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Bulletin 251 - Guatemala #2 - warblers and tanagers; 2 Houston Owls

First I have to apologize to my guide Knut Eisermann, as I called him Kurt in last weeks newsletter. 

I photographed 4 new warblers, 2 of which are vagrants to the USA. The Pink-headed Warbler (Cardellina versicolor) has a red body and pinkish head. It is found at high elevations. It was one of my target birds for the trip. It just so happened that the sunrise pink sky was behind the bird and I didn't notice that until looking at my photos in the evening.

Pink-headed Warbler

The Crescent-chested Warbler (Oreothlypis superciliosa) was a tough bird to photograph as he stayed in the canopy almost directly overhead. The gray back, yellow breast and brown crescent on the yellow are the ID marks.

Crescent-chested Warbler
The Golden-crowned Warbler (Basileuterus culicivorus) is a vagrant to south Texas. It is gray above and yellow below with a striped head with a central gold stripe.

Golden-crowned Warbler
Lastly is the other vagrant to south Texas, the Gray-crowned Yellowthroat (Geothlypis poliocephala). It is olive above, bright yellow below, with a gray head and small black mask.

Gray-crowned Yellowthroat

I also got a nice photo of a Slate-throated Redstart (Myioborus miniatus). This bird is gray above with a red crown and red below. Of interest is the color variation in different parts of the range. The northern birds in Mexico and Guatemala have a red belly, while further south in Costa Rica the birds have a yellow belly. Click this link to see the difference.

Slate-throated Redstart

I also got a few new tanagers. The 4.25" White-collared Seedeater (Sporophila torqueola) is a vagrant to Texas as well. The male is black and white and the female brownish.

White-collared Seedeater - male
We have met flowerpiercers before. Theses tanagers have a hooked beak to tear open the base of flowers to get the nectar directly. The Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer (Diglossa baritula) is found in Mexico and northern Central America and is the most northerly species of flowerpiercers. The male is gray with cinnamon below. the female is brownish. This is a juvenile male who has not quite molted to full adult plumage.

Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer - juvenile male
The 7" Yellow-winged Tanager (Thraupis abbas) is bluish purple with a bright yellow patch on black wings.

Yellow-winged Tanager
The last is the 6" Azure-rumped Tanager (Tangara cabanisi). This bird is endangered as it is only found in Chiapas Mexico and the Pacific slope in Guatemala. Much of its habitat has been converted to coffee plantations.

Azure-rumped Tanager
Lastly of local interest to Texas, there is a Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) at Anahuac NWR that is readily seen. This is only the third of this species I have seen here in 25 years. He is 30 feet away from the road and thus easy to see. Here are the directions in case the Visitor's Center isn't open.

Proceed down the main road towards Frozen Point. Once you come to the
bay, there are several pullouts for parking for fishing. At the third
one, park by the handicapped marked spot. Just across the road beyond
the fence is a 3x5 slab of concrete with the right front corner
broken. He is roosting under the slab and can be seen at that corner.

Here are 2 photos of this neat little (9.5") owl.

Burrowing Owl
Anahuac NWR
And here he is standing up.

Burrowing Owl
Anahuac NWR
I also got photos of a Barred Owl (Strix varia) in my back yard last night.

Barred Owl

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2016 David McDonald

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Bulletin 250 - Guatemala #1 - hummers

I took a quick 1 week trip to Guatemala in November. I again went to the Birdingpal web site to find a guide. Knut Eisermann was fantastic. In addition to being an expert birder, he and his wife were able to get my lost luggage delivered to our hotel the second night. Kudos to your wife Claudia for pestering American Airlines!

Why did I pick Guatemala? Well there are a lot of birds in Mexico and northern Central America that don't make it as far south as Costa Rica, and Guatemala appeared to be safer than going to Mexico. However, it is not without excitement as we had to have police escorts on 2 days as we traveled between birding hot spots. Also we drove close by the Fuego volcano that was pumping ash into the air consistently. Shortly after I returned home, it went full eruption with lava flowing down the mountain.

As this is number 250 of my trip reports, which is sort a a milestone for me (25% of 1000), I will start with one of my favorite families of birds, the hummers.

There are 30 species of the amazilia genus. We saw several of them in Ecuador. They are medium sized hummingbirds about 4" in length and the sexes are pretty similar. The is the male Azure-crowned Hummingbird (Amazilia cyanocephala). He has the red beak characteristic of this genus.

Azure-crowned Hummingbird
The Cinnamon Hummingbird (Amazilia rutila) is another amazilia. It is all brown below with a green back.

Cinnamon Hummingbird
And a third one is the Blue-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia cyanura).

Blue-tailed Hummingbird
The large, 4.5",Green-throated Mountain-Gem (Lampornis viridpallens) is green backed with white underparts. The male has green spots on throat. The white stripe behind the eye is a characteristic of this genus.

Green-throated Mountain-Gem - male
The 4.75" Long-billed Starthroat (Heliomaster longirostris) is green with pinkish throat and turquoise crown.

Long-billed Starthroat

The small (3.5") Blue-throated Sapphire (Hylochlaris eliciae) has a blue throat, golden tail and red bill.

Blue-throated Sapphire

The large (5.25") Rufous Sabrewing (Campylopterus rufus) is green above and rufous below.

Rufous Sabrewing
Next is the unusual Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird (Philodice dupontii). The male is 3.75 inches long and has a long tail that is black and white striped. the smaller female lacks the long tail.

Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird - male
The last hummer is an old friend, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilocus colubris). This is the only North American hummer that migrates as far south as Guatemala and it was the first time I had seen it outside the USA or Canada.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - male

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2016 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.