Sunday, February 5, 2017

Bulletin 285 - Colombia #8 - Cotingas, Blackbirds and Warblers

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 cotinga family of songbirds (66 species) is a diverse group that hardly even look similar.  It is as if they just couldn't place the remaining birds anywhere else, so they dumped them all here. On this trip I saw more cotingas than on any previous trip.

The most spectacular is the 12" male  Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus).  The males congregate at a lek and perform for females. I had seen this bird before at a lek in Ecuador, but this lek is supposed to be the best in the world. There were at least a dozen males when we arrived in the late afternoon. The male is red with a bushy crest, black wings with a large grey patch. He has a yellow eye.

Andean Cock-of-the-rock - male

And another bird.

Andean Cock-of-the-rock - male

Pihas are cotingas that once were thought to belong to the flycatcher family. I had seen some on previous visits to the tropics, but this was first time to get some photos. They are plain looking birds, but still nice to see as both were lifers for me.

The 13" Dusky Piha (Lipaugus fuscocinereus) is a drab charcoal colored bird.

Dusky Piha
The 10" Olivaceous Piha (Snowornis cryptolophus) is olive colored of course.

Olivaceous Piha
The fruiteaters are mostly green cotingas. I had seen one before in Ecuador, but got much better photos on this trip as well as a second species that was a lifer. The most common is the 7" Green-and-black Fruiteater (Pipreola rifferii).This is the one I had seen before, but it was weird that the birds came to the antpitta feeder location and were eating worms, despite their name. The male is green with a black hood bordered in yellow, and orange beak and feet.

Green-and-black Fruiteater - male

The female is uniformly green all over.

Green-and-black Fruiteater -female
We also saw this bird which is not described in guide books, but must be a juvenile male, as the green hood is distinctive and bordered in the yellow.

Green-and-black Fruiteater - juvenile male
The other was a 7" male Orange-breasted Fruiteater (Pipreola jucunda). This one is green with the black hood and an orange breast. It was another fantastic bird in Tatama National Park.

Orange-breasted Fruiteater - male
The last is the 15" Red-ruffed Fruitcrow (Pyroderus scutatus). This is a black bird with an extensive red throat and rufous belly

Red-ruffed Fruitcrow
The icterid family is a New World family (108 species) of blackbirds, grackles, meadowlarks, orioles and relatives. Those of us in North America are familiar with several species. I photographed 2 new species on this trip and both were lifers.

The first is the 7" male Yellow-hooded Blackbird (Chrysomus icterocephalus). It resembles the Yellow-headed Blackbird of western North America, but is a different genus.

Yellow-hooded Blackbird - male
The other is the 12" endemic Red-bellied Grackle (Hypopyrrhus pyrohypogaster). This bird is #27 on the list of 30 most sought-after birds in Colombia. I saw this bird the first morning in the mountains near Medellin. It is unusual for what we know as grackles, as it is  a forest bird.

Red-bellied Grackle
The last family  got new photos were the warblers. I saw 2 new lifers and photographed them.
The 5" Golden-fronted Whitestart (Myioborus ornatus) is found only in Colombia and Ecuador. It is all golden and except for black back, wings and tail. The tail has white edges.

Golden-fronted Whitestart
The 5.5"  Russet-crowned Warbler (Myothilypis coronata) has a range from Venezuela to Bolivia. here is an adult above with a hungry baby begging below.

 Russet-crowned Warbler - adult and baby
Russet-crowned Warbler - adult and baby
I have updated my families lists for both warblers and icterids.

I have photos of 71 of the 120 warblers here

And 43 of the 108 icterids here..

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2016 David McDonald

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