Sunday, December 11, 2016

Bulletin 281 - Colombia #4 - Antbirds and Antpittas

Pablo Florez, the main guide, has co-written 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.

The antbirds and relatives are New World families of birds that generally found low in the forest and are very secretive and difficult to see let alone photograph. There are abour 230 species of antbirds and these include antwrens, antvireos, and antshrikes.

The 6.5" male Bar-crested Antshrike (Thamnophilus multistriatus) is typical black and white striped antshrike with a crest. The female has a rufous crest, wings and tail.

Bar-crested Antshrike - male

There are 8 species call antvireo and this is the first I have ever seen. The 5" male Bicolored Antvireo (Dysithamnus occidentalis) is gray with white spots on the wings. It is listed as vulnerable.

Bicolored Antvireo - male

Antwrens are small but usually easier to see as they are often found in the canopy. The first is the striking 5" male Northern White-fringed Antwren (Formicivora intermedia). He is solid black below and rufous above with a whuite line separating the two colors.

Northern White-fringed Antwren - male
The 4.5" Yellow-breasted Antwren (Herpsilochmus axillaris) is yellow below as expected. This bird was directly overhead, but the long black tail with white on edges is a typical tail on an antwren.

Yellow-breasted Antwren
I also obtained photos of 3 species called antbirds. The first is the endemic 6" male Parker's Antbird (Cercomaca parkeri). This bird was first described in the late 1990s as a new species and was named for the famous LSU birder Ted Parker who was killed in a plane crash earlier in the 90's. It is a typical gray antbird with some white wing spots.

Parker's Antbird - male
Another endemic is the male 5" Magdalena Antbird (Myrmecezia palliata). He has a gray head and underparts, brown wings, back and tail, and a red eye.

Magdalena Antbird - male
The 6.5" male Bare-crowned Antbird (Gymnocochla nudiceps) is a montypic genus. The male is black with the blue bare skin around the eye and on the crown as well. My guide said this bird is extremely difficult to even see, but this bird perched in the open and even flew onto the open ground about 15 feet away from us.

Bare-crowned Antbird - male
The next birds are the antpittas of which there are 53 species in their own family. We saw 5 species on the trip and I got photos of 4 of them. The first is the endemic 7" Brown-banded Antpitta (Grallaria milleri). It is rufous above and white below with a brown chest stripe. It has a very small range and is listed as vulnerable. It is #23 on the list of top 30 most sought-after Colombian birds.

Brown-banded Antpitta
Next is the 6.5" Tawny Antpitta (Grallaria quitensis). This buffy bird is a resident of the paramo or tundra atop the highest mountains. It is also the easiest antpitta to see as they walk around in the open.

Tawny Antpitta
The third one was the 7" Chestnut-crowned Antpitta (Grallaria ruficapilla). He is brown above and streaked brown below with a rufous head.

Chestnut-crowned Antpitta
And the last one is the 4.5" Slate-crowned Antpitta (Grallaricula nana). He is olive brown above and rufous below with a gray crown.

Slate-crowned Antpitta
The other one we saw and I should have been able to photograph was the 4" Hooded Antpitta. It is listed as vulnerable and is #20 on the list of 30 most sought-after birds.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2016 David McDonald

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