Monday, March 14, 2016

Bulletin 254 - Guatemala #5 - thrushes and other songbirds

There were 3 new thrush species for me to photo on this trip. The first was the prettiest and the first bird of the trip. It was the 9" Rufous-collared Thrush (Turdus rufitorques). The male is dark with a rusty collar and yellow bill.

Rufous-collared Thrush - male
In the same genus is the 9" White-throated Thrush (Turdus assimilis). This thrush is a rare visitor to south Texas, but so uncommon that it isn't in the Sibley guide. It is brown with a white throat with brown streaks.

White-throated Thrush
The last is a 8" Brown-backed Solitaire (Myadestes occidentalis). It is plain with a brown back and wings and the rest gray. But like all thrushes, it is a beautiful singer.

Brown-backed Solitaire
A couple of flycatchers are always going to be found. The Yellow-bellied Elaenia (Elaenia flavogaster) has this cool double crest that is usually kept raised. 

Yellow-bellied Elaenia
The Tropical Pewee (Contopus cinereus) is a typical gray flycatcher best IDed by voice.

Tropical Pewee
The Gray Silky-Flycatcher (Ptilogonys cinereus) is one of only 4 species in the family. It is found from Mexico to Guatemala. It is gray with a crest, yellow undertail and a long tail with white at the base.

Gray Silky-Flycatcher
The 9.5" Ivory-billed Woodcreeper (Xiphoryhnchus flavigaster) is mostly brown and has spots and streaks on the head, back and underparts. It is one of the larger woodcreepes and has a white bill.

Ivory-billed Woodcreeper
I logged another new wren which is always a treat as they tend to be secretive. A pair of  7" Rufous-backed Wrens (Campylorhynchus capistratus) came to the banana feeder to feast.

Rufous-backed Wren
Lastly is a familiar bird to North Americans. This is the local resident Plumbeous Vireo (Vireo plumbeous). This subspecies is greener than birds in most of Mexico and resembles a Cassin's Vireo. This is a potential split as the populations are separate geographically.

Plumbeous Vireo
This is the last of the series on my Guatemala trip. Thanks again to my wonderful guide Knut Eisermann. I would highly recommend him to anyone contemplating a trip to Guatemala. His web site for contact is Cayaya Birding

Here is a heart-warming story about man and bird from last week LINK.

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.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Bulletin 253 - Guatemala #4 - Finches, Jays and others

I got photos of 4 finches. The male 4.5" Black-headed Siskin (Carduelis notata) looks like our American Goldfinch except the head is all black. It is endemic from Mexico to Nicaragua 

Black-headed Siskin - male

The Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria) occurs here in the USA as well. Here is a male taking a bath. he is all black above and yellow below.

Lesser Goldfinch - male
The fruit eating euphonias are beautiful. The 4.25" male Yellow-throated Euphonia (Euphonia hirundinacea) is navy blue above and all yellow below.

Yellow-throated Euphonia - male
Chlorophonias are similar but green. The 5" Blue-crowned Chlorophonia (Chlorophonia occipitalis) is bright green on head and back, with yellow underparts and a blue patch on top of his head. He also has a dark bar across the chest separating the green from the yellow. I have now seen several species of chlorophonias and I am always amazed at their beauty.

Blue-crowned Chlorophonia - male
I got photos of 3 neat jays. The first is call the 13" Bushy-crested Jay (Cyanocorax melanocyaneus). The crest is usually held flat so it doesn't show. The adults have black heads and throats and the rest is bright blue. The yellow eye is prominent.

Bushy-crested Jay
The 12" Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) is well known to North American birders as it is widespread in the mountains of the west. It has a huge bushy crest. Its range extends through Mexico into Guatemala, but the local birds really don't resemble the NA birds, as it has a much shorter crest that is usually kept flat.

Steller's Jay
The last is the amazing 20" White-throated Magpie-Jay (Callocitta formasa) This bird is blue above, white on head and below with a black collar. His crest feathers arch forward.

White-throated Magpie-Jay
I had a photo of the 9" Spot-breasted Oriole (Icterus pectoralis) before, but it was in Miami where there are a number of escaped cage birds. This is the first from the normal range. The male is an orange and black oriole with spots on the breast.

Spot-breasted Oriole
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.