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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