Monday, December 26, 2016

Bulletin 282 - Colombia #5 - Wrens, Donacobius, and Thrushes

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.

None of the birds in this bulletin are on the top 30 list, but several are very uncommon. or endangered.

The wrens are a family of small brown, usually secretive, birds with 86 species. All but one are in the New World. The forest wrens of Latin America in general are hard to see and photograph, so I was pleased to photo 4 new species on this trip and 6 overall. The sexes are similar for the wrens.

The first is the common 4" House Wren (Troglodytes aedon). This wren has the greatest range of any wren and can be found from southern Canada, all the way to southern Chile and several Caribbean islands as well. It is rather plain with just a faint eye stripe.

House Wren

The 6" Black-bellied Wren (Pheugopedius fasciatoventris) had his eye hidden by a leaf, but his distinctive white throat and breast and black belly are clearly seen. This bird has a range form Costa Rica to Colombia, but it was a lifer for me.

Black-bellied Wren
The 6" Chestnut-breasted Wren (Cyphorhinus thoracicus) is one of 3 members of this genus with the other 2 being the extremely difficult to see Musician Wren and Song Wren. This bird sang in response to the tape, but stayed very hidden down a slope. Finally, we found a window through the leaves  to get a photo. This was another lifer.

Chestnut-breasted Wren
The 4" Gray-breasted Wood-Wren (Henicorhina leucophrys) has a range from Mexico to Bolivia with several sub species that may be split in the future. It is rufous above with black streaked face and streaked gray breast.

Gray-breasted Wood Wren
His cousin is the extremely rare, endemic 4" Munchique Wood-Wren (Henicorhina negreti). After doing the research for this bulletin, I was delighted to have obtained a photo of this bird. It was only described as a new species in 2008. It has a tiny range in the cloud forest of the western Andes. There are estimated to be only 300 pairs and so is listed as critically endangered. It is one of only 16 birds in Colombia that have this rarest designation. This photo was taken at the summit of Tatama National Park.

Munchique Wood Wren
15 minutes after this photo, I got another lifer, the 6" Sharpe's Wren (Cinnycerthia olivascsns). This bird has a range from Colombia to Peru. It is plain brown all over.

Sharpe's Wren

The colorful 8" Black-capped Donacobius (Donacobius atricapilla) was formerly placed in the wren family, but now it has been moved to its own family. It is described as a vocal and noisy bird, more often heard than seen. I have seen it on a number of birding trips. The black cap, dark brown back and tail, beige underparts and yellow eye, make this bird an easy ID.

Black-capped Donacobius

Thrushes are familiar birds to everyone and in USA and Canada, the American Robin is the classic thrush. There are 165 species worldwide. The 12" Great Thrush (Turdus fuscater) has a range from western Venezuela to western Bolivia. It is dark gray with a bright orange bill and feet. It is large, common and easy to see.

Great Thrush
The 8.5" Black-billed Thrush (Turdus ignobilis) is the most common thrush is Colombia and occurs in open areas, towns etc, so is easily seen. It is brown above and grayish below.

Black-billed Thrush
This 9" Pale-breasted Thrush (Turdus leucomelas) was on her nest right beside the road we were walking along. It is gray brown above and gray below with a yellow bill.

Pale-breasted Thrush - on nest
The last bird is the 8" Black Solitaire (Entomodestes coracinus). This bird is black with a distinctive white cheek patch. Its range is Colombia to Ecuador in the western Andes. It is described as shy, solitary and heard more often than seen. In Hilty's 1986 guide book, he states that this bird is 'inordinately wary and difficult to see and usually only is glimpsed as it flies rapidly across small forest openings'. This bird was also at the summit of Tatama National Park. The guide heard one fly close and it landed. There was a window and I got a single photo before it left. The guide still has no photo of this bird. The guide told me that a previous birder spent an entire day looking for this bird and never saw it. So my birding luck continues to be outstanding. Needless to say, this was another lifer.

Black Solitaire

I have updated the thrush family photos and have 35 of the 180 species here.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2016 David McDonald

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