Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Thick-Billed Euphonia

I saw both male and female thick-billed euphonias in Mindo, Ecuador, at our hotel, Las Terrazas de Dana. They are found as far north as Costa Rica, then down through Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil.
Thick-billed euphonia range map from Wikipedia.
The male is yellow below, on the throat and crown and mostly blue-black above. 

The female is dull-olive above and greenish-yellow below.   

Monday, May 30, 2022

Red-Tailed Squirrel

While looking for birds at Milpe Bird Sanctuary, particularly toucans that were attracted to pieces of banana laid out to attract them, a very bothersome squirrel started thieving the pieces of banana that had been laid out for the birds. This was very frustrating because it was the birds we wanted to see, not this squirrel. This thievery continued for three of four bananas and we had to ask the Sanctuary worker to replenish the banana for our desired birds.

The red-tailed squirrel is found in the extreme north of South America and up into Central America. 
Range map for the red-tailed squirrel from Wikipedia.
At one time it was considered to have 32 subspecies and is now down to about 6. It is highly variable in color. 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Scrub Blackbird

The scrub blackbird is found only in Ecuador, Peru and far southwestern Colombia. It is all black and can have a light bluish-sheen in bright light. It has a longer bill and less iridescent feathers than the similar shiny cowbird which has a much more extensive range in South America. I only saw one or two at Las Terrazas de Dana, the lodge we stayed at in Mindo, Ecuador. 
If you look closely you can see the light bluish-sheen on the feathers. 

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Rufous-Tailed Hummingbird

We spent portions of two days at Milpe Bird Sanctuary and both days a solitary rufous-tailed hummingbird terrorized the other hummingbirds. It was extremely aggressive, chasing away other hummingbirds from the feeders. I really tried to get a good photo and couldn't. I saw it land several times but it always flew before I could focus and get a good photo.
Wikipedia notes it is "extremely territorial and aggressive at feeding sites such as...feeders, from which it chases other hummingbirds and large insects." There are five subspecies and it is found from east-central Mexico through Central America and Colombia into Ecuador and Venezuela.  

It is mostly green, but readily identifiable by its rufous tail and pinkish-red bill with a black tip. eBird has 311,172 observations and 7,505 with photos. 

Friday, May 27, 2022

Palm Tanager

I only got a brief glimpse of a couple of palm tanagers while at Milpe Bird Sanctuary outside of Mindo, Ecuador. They are quite dull compared to most of the tanagers we saw there, but if we were home in California they would be quite colorful by comparison. 

They are gray-blue overall with hints of olive-green in the right light. The flight feathers are blackish and the tail is blackish edged with green. It is found from Nicaragua south to Bolivia, Paraguay and southern Brazil. eBird has 310,221 observations and has photos for 6,992 of them. 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Green Honeycreeper

The green honeycreeper is another of the many members of the tanager family we saw in Ecuador. It was at the Milpe Bird Sanctuary outside of Mindo. It looks more turquoise than green, has a black head, a yellow bill and a red eye. The female, which we did not see, is a dull green all over and I suppose that may be where the name comes from. 

There are seven subspecies and it has quite a large range, from southern Mexico to much of northern South America. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Choco Toucan

The Choco toucan was originally considered a subspecies of the yellow-throated toucan, like the chestnut-mandibled toucan. In fact, it looks so much like the chestnut-mandibled toucan that it is difficult to distinguish the two. We saw both kinds of toucans at the Milpe Bird Sanctuary, at the same time, and it was really only when I got home and was able to take close-up looks at them that I was able to tell them apart.  
This is a Choco toucan. 

This is a chestnut-mandibled toucan. The only differences that really jump out are that the Choco has a black lower mandible, instead of chestnut (which is why it is sometimes called the black-mandibled toucan) and the Choco feathering on the cap, neck and back is more black with less chestnut in it.   
When we saw the two species of toucan I was thinking that "Choco" related to "chocolate" and that the Choco had the chestnut colored bill. But "Choco" actually refers to a region of cloud forest that runs from Panama to Peru on the western slopes of the Andes at an altitude ranging from 2,953 to 7,218 feet. 
This is a photo of the cloud forest in Mashpi (the Mashpi lodge is lighted on the side of the mountain). The Mashpi Amagusa Preserve, which I visited, was about at the top of the mountain above it. The photo is from here
eBird has 13,434 observations and 543 photos of the Choco. 

We saw another Choco toucan above Mindo at a great distance. My poor photo is very blurry. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan

The chestnut-mandibled toucan is considered a subspecies of the yellow-throated toucan by some, but considered a separate species by others because their mitochondrial DNA differs by 1.35%. It is found from southeastern Honduras to western Ecuador. It is one of the largest species of toucan. 

The inside of the bill is bright red. 

The head, lower breast and upper parts are mainly black with maroon overlays; the face and upper breast are bright yellow with a thin red line on the throat; the upper tail is white; the lower abdomen is red; the legs are blue; it has a massive bicolor bill divided diagonally with yellow on top and chestnut on the bottom; and the skin on its face around the eye is light green.  

We saw several of them at the Milpe Bird Sanctuary outside Mindo, the same area we saw two other species of toucan. Seeing toucans was a highlight of our trip to Ecuador for me. It is a bird I've always wanted to see in the wild. 

Monday, May 23, 2022

Crowned Woodnymph

A stunningly beautiful hummingbird I saw only at the Milpe Bird Sanctuary near Mindo was the crowned woodnymph. I don't know who came up with some of these hummingbird names, but this one could come right out of Lord of the Rings and a Bilbo Baggins adventure. 
There are seven subspecies through a range from Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela up through Central America to southern Mexico. Hummingbird colors are tricky because they change so much with light. The males I saw had a head and breast that ranged from shiny forest green to an iridescent aqua. The underbody was a deep violet to shiny deep blue. 

The female had an emerald green upperbody and crown, a white throat and chest, darker wings and some blue scattered on the wings, belly and back.