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  • Writer's pictureLuis A Mazariegos

Jan 2018 - Common "Rare" Birds @ MPNR

Updated: Feb 24, 2018

With many endemic and endangered birds, our 352 species list is continuously growing. Yet, the Mesenia-Paramillo reserve has not been considered by birding groups visiting Colombia, which is understandable. Birding at the reserve can be challenging, since it requires to walk on mountainous terrain. Though it is not uncommon to have pleasant surprises in a one-hour walk from the main station at 2,150 meter elevation to "El Alto", the continental divide, at 2,500 meters.

Beginning at the reserve station, it is common to see the Red-bellied Grackle (Hypopyrrhus pyrohypogaster) taking food to active nests in the Melastome trees around the cabin. Large groups of this species, sometimes over 50 individuals, are now seen at the reserve.

One can also see Yellow-eared parrots (Ognorhynchus icterotis) feeding on Drago trees. The fruit of this tree attracts the parrots at certain times of the year. Groups of 30 or more birds come to our front porch and nearby trails to feed.

On any given day on a hike to "El Alto", one will find one or two pairs of the Munchique Wood-wren (Henicorhina negreti) singing along the trail. Several nests have been found by our park rangers, a confirmation of a strong reproductive population.

On the trail to "El Alto", mixed bird groups can be seen feeding along the way. The Tanager-Finch (Oreothraupis arremonops), very quiet and inconspicuous, is part of the feeding frenzy.

Less common and harder to see, the Black-billed Mountain-Toucan (Andigena nigrirostris) gave us a pleasant surprise by nesting by the side of the trail to "El Alto".

During the flowering season of Ericacea plants, specially Cavendishia sp. and Macleania sp., the Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer (Diglossa gloriosissima) can be found at quite low elevations (2,200m) on the trail to "El Alto".

The Dusky Strafrontlet (Coeligena orina) also appears to follow this flowering plants, descending from its usual home at 2,900 meters at Cerro Paramillo to feed on these plants and other such as this Bromeliad visited by a male. The species also visits the feeders at "El Alto" in irregular fashion.

Additionally, one interesting thing happens with several bird species at the reserve, specially hummingbirds. Some species that are supposed to be found only on the Pacific slope, cross over "El Alto" and can be observed on the eastern slope. This was a surprising observation by Gustavo Suarez. Now with feeders at the station, one can observe the following species at the station: Velvet Purple Coronet (Boissoneaua jardini), Violet-tailed Sylph (Aglaiocercus coelestis), Empress Brilliant (Heliodoxa imperatrix), White-tailed Hillstar (Urochroa bougueri), and Brown Inca (Coeligena wilsoni).

And one that shouldn't be there by its known range, Purple-throated Woodstar (Calliphlox mitchelii), very common, by the way.

I left out some other interesting species that can be found with a little more effort such as, the Black-and-Gold and Gold-Ringed Tanagers, Bangsia melanochlamys and B. aureocincta, respectively. And yet another unexpected species from the Pacific slope, the White-faced Nunbird (Hapaloptila castanea) can be found nesting on the ravines (photo below) on the way to "El Alto". So there you have it. A very impressive collection of "rare" birds, or "common" I must say.

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