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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