Friday, January 30, 2015

Experiencing "Un Poco del Chocó": the Endemics

As mentioned in the previous entry, I went to Ecuador in mid-December with my friend Rafael Luck and visited the private reserve Un Poco del Chocó in the northwest.  Our hosts did their best for showing us the rich birdlife around the property... and we got many special species, including some Chocó endemic species and subspecies. Many of these were quite common, and some even regular member of the mixed flocks seen daily crossing the garden.  That is the case of the Ochre-breasted Tanager.
Ochre-breasted Tanager
This species is closely related to both Carmiol's and Lemon-spectacled Tanagers, which we know well in Panama.  The lack of prominent field marks is probably its best field mark.  They were important members of the mixed flocks around the garden.  One or two individuals of the next species were constant too with the mixed flocks.
Chocó Warbler
Yes, Chocó Warbler.  Some authorities consider this form conespecific with the Golden-bellied Warbler of the eastern Andes from central to southern Peru, but there are some differences in plumage (the all-yellow supercilium as you can see in the photo) and song.  Another common species (although not in mixed flocks) was the Chocó Tyrannulet.
Chocó Tyrannulet
Typical for Zimmerius tyrannulets, this one stayed high in the canopy and was, thus, difficult to photograph.  This species used to be considered conespecific with the widespread Golden-faced Tyrannulet (and other forms), but song analysis and genetic works proved that it deserved the recognition as full species.  Another species that we found high in the canopy reluctant to show well was the Chocó Trogon.
male Chocó Trogon
This male is easily identified based on his white iris and green & red underparts without white pectoral band.  The "official" name of this taxa is Blue-tailed Trogon, but that name is already in use for a species in Asia and there is no other trogon species restricted to the Chocó bioregion.  We also saw inside the forest Esmeraldas Antbird, Dusky Chlorsopingus and Pallid Dove; all of them more or less restricted to the Chocó.  Along Las Tolas road, we saw/heard Chocó Toucan, Toucan-Barbet, Black-chinned Mountain-Tanagers, Glistening-green Tanager and the pacifica subspecies of Maroon-tailed Parakeet... all of them also restricted to the Chocó.
Maroon-tailed Parakeet (ssp. pacifica)

Maroon-tailed Parakeet (nominate ssp. melanura)
I put these two photos together to point out the differences between these two taxa.  As you can see, the main cis-Andean population (in this case a member of the nominate subspecies, melanura, from Guaviare in Colombia) has conspicuous white eyering and black front, both lacking in pacifica (sometimes known as Chocó Parakeet).
Jan & Rafael looking for endemics!
It is always nice to get lifers... but Chocó endemics... well, that's just great!  Stay tuned to know what else we saw along Las Tolas road in my next entry!

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