Sunday, March 5, 2017

Bulletin 287 - Colombia #10 - Cardinals, Manakins, Tapaculo, and others

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 habia genus of ant tanagers were formerly in the tanager family, but have been moved into the cardinal family. We had 2 species on the trip. The 6.75" male Crested Ant Tanager (Habia cristata) looks very similar to our Northern Cardinal. The female however, is red without much of a crest. It is endemic to Colombia.

Crested Ant Tanager - male
His cousin, the 6.75" Sooty Ant Tanager (Habia gutturalis) is gray with a bushy red crest and throat. the female is similar but lacks a crest.

Sooty Ant Tanager - male

The manakins are a small (52 species) New World family of small songbirds. They are known for the elaborate displays that the males perform on a lek. I photographed 2 new species on this trip. The first was the 3.5" Western Striped Manakin (Machaeropterus striolatus). This is a recent split from Striped Manakin. The male shown here has a red crown, green back, and white underparts with red streaks.

Western Striped Manakin - male
The second one was a real treat to see several males at a lek and this allowed a half hour of viewing the birds and several photos. The 3.5" male Golden-headed Manakin (Ceratopipra erythrocephala). It is an easy ID with the black body and golden head.

Golden-headed Manakin
I photographed 2 Jays on the trip. The 14" Black-chested Jay (Cyanocorax affinis) has a black face and chest and yellow eye.

Black-chested Jay
The 12" Inca Jay (Cyanocorax yncas) is similar to our South Texas Green Jay and in fact they were considered a single species until split by the IOC in 2009. 

Inca Jay
The 6" White-winged Becard (Pachyramphus polychopterus) is a member of the small family (45 species) of tityras and becards all in New world. It is black with white wing bars.

White-winged Becard
Swallows are difficult to photograph until you can get them on a wire, or perched near their nest. With their graceful flight, I have always loved swallows and  it is a pleasure whenever I can photograph a new species. I managed 1 species on the trip, the 5" Brown-bellied Swallow (Notiochelidon murina). This is a bird of high elevations in the Andes and the paramo. We drove past a farm house and they were nesting under the eaves and sitting on the tile roof.

Brown-bellied Swallow
A family of birds I have not written about previously is the tapaculos. The reason for this is I had never seen one until this trip. There are 60 species and all except one are in South America. I heard several on previous trips, but they are small (5") dark birds that stay close to the ground in thick brush. Finally, I got to see 4 species and managed to photograph the most exciting one, the large 8.5" Ocellated Tapaculo (Acroptemis orthonyx). This is the largest and only colorful one in the Colombia field guide. It has a black body with small white spots and an orange face. This bird is #14 on the top 30 target birds in Colombia.

Ocellated Tapaculo

The other ones I saw were the Stile's Tapaculo (a Colombian endemic and I missed a photo I should have gotten), the Blackish Tapaculo (they are all mostly black LOL) and a new species to science the Alto Pisones Tapaculo. This is the tentative name given to this newly discovered species, first described in 2012.

For those birders who may be heading to Colombia to see the avain wonders, there is a new guide book in second edition (2014)  "Field guide to the Birds of Columbia" by McMullan and Donegan. I was unaware of this book and just had Hilty's 1986 huge book which is quite out of date with splits and new species. My guides in Colombia had this newer book, but it is sold out in Colombia. A few copies are available from 3rd parties on Amazon however. New it is $34.95 with one vendor and $90 at 2 others, but used $170, so buy a new one before sold out! It is published by ProAves, a Colombia non-profit that uses the proceeds to buy habitat to protect the rare species. The first edition was in 2010 and this one has all 1903 species recorded at the end 2013.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2017 David McDonald

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