Sunday, October 30, 2016

Bulletin 278 - Colombia #1 - Hummingbirds

Oh Colombia..the second most ecologically diverse country on earth and the most diverse per square mile.  In a country the size of Texas + California, it is estimated to contain 10% of all species on earth. It is #1 in birds with 1900+ species. It has 10% of mammals, 14% of amphibians and 18% of birds. It is #1 in orchids, It has more than 2,000 species of marine fish and is second in freshwater fish. It has more endemic species of all types than any other country.

With the dismantling of the cocaine cartels and elimination of many of the rebel groups, Colombia is open for tourism again. Birders started going back to Colombia about 8 years ago and increasing numbers are taking the opportunity to see birds that can be found nowhere else.

I went with a guide Pablo Florez and his company. I found him on birdingpal. Although he was busy, he booked 2 partners (Johnnier Arango, and  José Castaño) and they were excellent guides. We did a tour of the central Andes starting in the Medellin area, the second largest city and once infamous as the home of Pablo Escobar....head of the Medellin cartel.

Pablo Florez has cowriiten a book where to bird in Colombia. In it, he has a list of the Top 30 Most Sought-after Birds by a group of 40 birders visiting Colombia. I saw 12 of them on the trip and got photos of 10. When I show one of these birds,  I will mention its placement on the list.

So we will begin with everyone's favorite - hummingbirds. Some of these were seen previously in the Ecuador series. However, I got better photos of many of them on this trip.

The pufflegs are hummingbirds of high mountain forests. We saw 2 on the trip. The 3" male Black-thighed Puffleg (Enocnemis derbyi) is green with charcoal puffy feathers on legs that can be seen in this photo.

Black-thighed Puffleg - male
The female has a spotted breast and white leg puffs

Black-thighed Puffleg - female

The 4.75" Golden-breasted Puffleg (Enocnemis mosquera) is green with a golden chest and white leg puffs. The sexes are similar.

Golden-breasted Puffleg

The 3.25" Steely-vented Hummingbird (Amazilia saucerrottei) is green with bluish wings and tail. The bill is reddish which is typical of this genus.

Steely-vented Hummingbird
Hermits are generally brown hummingbirds and many have central elongated white tail feathers. They usually have curved bills and most species do not visit feeders, so you have to catch them at a flower. I got a photo of the 5" Tawny-bellied Hermit (Phaethornis syrmatophorus).

Tawny-bellied Hermit
The 3" Wedge-billed Hummingbird (Schistes geoffroyi) is green with white on throat and a short dagger like bill that  he can uses to pierce to base of the flower and 'steal' nectar.

Wedge-billed Hummingbird
However, here is another photo showing the bird at the base of the flower.

Wedge-billed Hummingbird
The 4.5" Shining Sunbeam (Aglaeactis cupripennis) is unique in its overall cinnamon color. The sexes are similar.

Shining Sunbeam

The 3.75" Speckled Hummingbird (Adelomyia melanogenys)  is green with buffy underparts and green spots along flanks. It has a vertical white strip behind the eye. The sexes are similar.

Speckled Hummingbird

The 3.5" male Viridian Metaltail (Metallura williami) is all green with a blue tail

Viridian Metaltail - male
The female has a greenish tail.

Viridian Metaltail - female
Lastly is the amazing 5" Sword-billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera). The bill is 4" long. and makes the ID of this hummer. I had a chance to watch one come repeatedly to a feeder and finally he perched on a stick beside the feeder. This is the male with green underparts. The female would have spotted underparts.

Sword-billed Hummingird - male

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2016 David McDonald

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Bulletin 277 - Ecuador #11 - other birds

This will be the last of the photos from my Ecuador trip at the end of June. But don't worry I have some more from a later trip.

I got photos of 3 different jays. The Inca Jay (Cyanocorax yncas) is very similar to the Green Jay in south Texas and in fact until a few years ago, there were considered to be the same species. However, if you look closely, there are several color differences.

Inca Jay
The Turquoise Jay (Cyanolyca turcosa) is mostly blue with a black mask.

Turquoise Jay
Lastly, the Violaceous Jay (Cyanocorax violaceus) is purplish with a black hood.

Violaceous Jay
The juvenile Black Caracara (Daptrius ater) is all black with a yellow face and bill. The adult would have red in place of the yellow.

Black Caracara - juvenile
The Squirrel Cuckoo (Piaya cayana) is a typical long tailed cuckoo and yher most commonly encountered. This on is all rufous and this is the best photo I have obtained of this bird.

Squirrel Cuckoo

The cute 4" male Red-capped Manakin (Dixiphia mentalis) is black with a red head and a pale eye.

Red-capped Manakin - male
Lastly, I got photos of several guans. The Sickle-winged Guan (Chamaepetes goudotii) has black upperparts and a rufous belly. He also had blue bare skin on his face.

Sickle-winged Guan
Spix's Guan (Penelope jacquacu) is gray brown with a red throat patch and bare blue skin on face.

Spix's Guan
The Andean Guan (Penelope montagnii) has a spotted chest, head and neck and brown back with a red throat patch.

Andean Guan
And the last is the Blue-throated Piping Guan (Pipile cumanensis). It is black with a white head and wing patches and a blue throat.

Blue-throated Piping Guan

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2016 David McDonald

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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bulletin 276 - Ecuador #10 - more Hummingbirds

This was a remarkable trip with 23 new species of hummingbirds photographed. So here are another 9.

The largest hummingbird is the 6.5" Giant Hummingbird. I saw it, but didn't get a photo before the bird flew away. The second largest hummer is the beautiful 6" Great Sapphirewing (Pterophanes cyanopterus). The male has blue wings and we saw several of them.

Great Sapphirewing - male
Another bird I love is the Collared Inca (Coeligena torquata). I had seen this bird on my previous Ecuador trip, but it is always a delight to see them. They are dark green appearing black with a white chest and white in the tail. I spent considerable time at San Isidro Lodge to get one hovering.

Collared Inca
His cousin is the rather drab Bronzy Inca (Coeligena coeligena).

Bronzy Inca
The male Purple-bibbed Whitetip (Urosticte benjamini) is all green with a small purple throat patch and white tips to the tail feathers.

Purple-bibbed Whitetip - male
Woodstars are small hummers 2.5 to 3.5 inches long. The male Purple-throated Woodstar (Calliphlox mitchelli) is green with a purple gorget. Most woodstars have white on the rump as well which helps in their ID.

Purple-throated Woodstar - male
The male White-bellied Woodstar (Chaetocercus mulsant) is green with a pink gorget and is mostly white underneath. Also just a glimpse of the white rump is visible.

White-bellied Woodstar - male

The male Tourmaline Sunangel (Heliangelus exortis) is all green with a small pink gorget. This on was sitting on a large flower stalk.

Tourmaline Sunangel - male

The last 2 species are probably the most spectacular of the trip. The 5" Sword-billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera) is a target bird for all birders in South America. It has an amazing 4" bill and ehrn it comes to a feeder, the body seems so far away from the feeder.

Sword-billed Hummingbird
The 4" male Velvet-purple Coronet (Boissonneaua jardini) is glittering purple in good light. I took many photos before getting this one. In poor light the bird just looks black. This is the guides (Pablo Andrade) favorite hummer in Ecuador out of 130 species.

Velvet-purple Coronet - male
I have updated my hummingbird family photos and now have 111 species of the 348. You can browse them all at this 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.