22 November 2015

Ecuador - Part 2 (non-hummingbirds)

Although our visit was brief, the Tandayapa Bird Lodge had a lot of other interesting birds lurking about that WEREN'T hummingbirds. This post is devoted to those.

I'd be remiss not to start with the barbets. Yes, we heard the Choco endemic TOUCAN BARBETS on a daily basis and although RED-HEADED BARBET is somewhat widespread through the tropics, I hadn't seen one before. The male is freakishly attractive:
The female, rather colorful in her own way, has blue on the cheek (kinda random, right?):
Although they're an incredibly sharp-looking species, I'm not sure if I was happier to see one or to HEAR one. Just as a warning, I'm completely enamored with what these barbets sound like... here's a recording of one from Ecuador (NOT by me, though):
And who doesn't love a toucan? None of you... that's what I thought. I was eager to see the diminutive CRIMSON-MANTLED TOUCANET, a common but slinky bird around the lodge. Although we did see them regularly, including stalking and hunting hummingbirds at the feeders, I apparently didn't spend much time photographing them! Here's the only photo I have... and it's one looking away:
In terms of woodpeckers and woodcreepers, we luckily saw a couple around the lodge. For example, here's a GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER, actually a rather uncommon bird around there:
Along the same lines, easily one of the highlights for me came one morning when I was birding from the lodge patio. I caught movement that looked like a woodpecker... but this one didn't have a greenish back, it was red!
Sure enough, it was the very colorful CRIMSON-MANTLED WOODPECKER. Although they're more expected at the lodge than the previous Golden-olive Woodpecker, I was more excited to see this one. Here's the best I managed of it:
Woodcreepers are often one of the more difficult families to sort through in the tropics. Lucky for us, the vast majority of woodcreepers we saw were the abundant MONTANE WOODCREEPER. This species, which is limited to northern South America, was readily findable just from the patio:

While we're in that part of the book, I may as well throw this bird into the mix. It's a bit of a mystery to us. Although we saw STREAK-CAPPED TREEHUNTERS around the lodge, I'm not certain that this was one of them. To us, we thought it looked smaller than the treehunters... we thought maybe it was a barbtail... but not sure the tail looks right... any ideas out there???
It came as a complete surprise when the lodge manager was showing us around, we turned a corner, and she pointed to a female ANDEAN COCK-OF-THE-ROCK nesting on a windowsill! I was assuming we'd eventually see this fascinating South American species but not so easily! We'd walk by just inches away from this bird and she stayed put:
Moving on to flycatchers, we honestly weren't that overloaded when we were there. Sure, we heard the mournful call notes of DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHERS, saw a dapper ORNATE FLYCATCHER, heard the distinctive call notes of SMOKE-COLORED PEWEES... but the most common were the GOLDEN-CROWNED FLYCATCHERS. These squeaky-sounding relatives of Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers were abundant and weren't hard to see or hear around the lodge:
It's a horrible photo (through windows and at a distance) but this was the only look I had at an ECUADORIAN THRUSH:
Oh the tanagers. You gotta talk about the tanagers! The tropics, and Ecuador in particular, have an astounding diversity of this often colorful and vibrant family of birds. Although we didn't see many species during our short stay, we still saw a couple of that were quite nice. If you're looking for yellow ones, try these GOLDEN TANAGERS:
Or maybe you prefer blue tanagers? Here's the widespread and common BLUE-GRAY TANAGER:
But if you want a mix of both, a tanager with bright yellows AND blues, look no further than the BLUE-WINGED MOUNTAIN-TANAGER:
This was one of my most-wanted species so imagine my satisfaction when a flock of 3-4 came in and fed right in front of us! Truly vibrant:
The brush-finches we saw around the lodge weren't bad either and I was very pleased to see several different species during our short stay. First up, we have the TRICOLORED BRUSH-FINCH, a species limited to the Andes of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru:
Another attractive species was the WHITE-WINGED BRUSH-FINCH. This species has a fairly limited range and is found mostly in Ecuador with a few in northern Peru:
Moving on, there were plenty of tropical warblers around the lodge as well. Probably the most common was the SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (known as Slate-throated Whitestart to some). Although the ones we're used to that show up in the US have reddish underparts, the species shows a high degree of geographic variation and the birds down in Ecuador are completely yellow below:
Besides the redstarts, there were often flocks of Basileuterus warblers foraging around the lodge and along the trails. The THREE-STRIPED WARBLERS were quite abundant and lots of fun to study (I hadn't seen them before). There were also RUSSET-CROWNED WARBLERS around although they seemed slightly less common. Sadly, the only photo I managed of either was this dark and grainy photo of a RUSSET-CROWNED:
We were around only long enough to see two species of euphonias; ORANGE-BELLIED (the expected species at that elevation) and this female THICK-BILLED (uncommon at the lodge):
Because so many species here from North America migrate to the tropics to spend their winters, some of the birds we saw around the lodge weren't unfamiliar to us at all. For example, we saw at least one CANADA WARBLER just about every day:
Similarly, we were surrounded by SWAINSON'S THRUSHES, another abundant migrant that we're familiar with here in North America. Because of that, I guess I didn't try too hard for decent photos...
Yet another such migrant was the SUMMER TANAGER. Hearing the familiar "picky-tucky-tuck" call note made me feel like I was in Missouri! Here's one of them that visited the fruit feeders from time to time:
If you really want to see more of what we saw, you can see some of our checklists via eBird:

I'll do one more post of various Ecuadorian bugs and things but after that, we'll be back to our regularly-scheduled boring posts from the US...