We begin with, you guessed it, a tyrant flycatcher (family Tyrannidae), famous for subtle plumage and many almost unidentifiable species… and you wouldn’t be expecting a whole lot of colour from a bird called Mouse-coloured Tyrannulet, but still this denizen of the dry forest region near the Caribbean coast is very attractive.
The Pale-eyed Pygmy Tyrant shows a similar colour scheme but those huge pale eyes make them instantly identifiable.
The Torrent Tyrannulet calls fast-flowing Andean rivers home and has a soft grey, black and white plumage to match the boulders (not also the concealed crown patch found in many of this family).
Next, a bird that caused me some difficulty in identification. This Northern Scrub Flycatcher has a pattern that is extremely similar to some flycatchers in other genera such as Myiarchus.
Although difficult to see as they skulk in the undergrowth, Attila are an interesting genus of large Tyrant flycatchers with a hook on the tip of the upper mandible (hooks are a very useful tool) but otherwise such a big-eyed gentle expression that you wonder what they did to deserve to be called “Attila the Tyrant”. This one is an unusually cooperative Bright-rumped Attila, a species which i have seen in Mexico but never as well as this before (i hope their band code is not “BRAT”).
Sticking with the tyrants, the tiny Black-throated Tody-Tyrant is a delightful chubby little bird that really doesn’t deserve the name tyrant.
Speaking of tiny, how about this pair of Scaled Piculets - at only 8.5cm long they’re little more than half the size of a Downy Woodpecker but that doesn’t stop them from partaking of the time-honoured tree-whacking tradition! That’s the male on the left with the yellow crown. You’ll also notice they lack the pointed central tail feathers of most woodpeckers and are often seen “walking” underneath slender twigs. In northern South America, their persistent tapping on fence posts (looking for wood-boring bugs) with a syncopated rhythm has earned them the nickname of “telegrafistas”.
The Eared Dove is extremely common in Colombia even in urban areas and has an exceptional altitudinal range of 0 – 3500m. This species is in the same genus as Mourning Dove and White-winged Dove.
The next photo represents a moment of great excitement for me as my first view of a new family, the puffbirds. This is a Russet-throated Puffbird, a species which i thought i had missed in the dry forest near Santa Marta but then showed up at the last minute just outside town. The local nickname for puffbirds is “pájaro bobo” (“stupid bird”) for their habit of sitting still for long period of time and their supposed reluctance to fly away when approached. I took advantage of that fact to get this photo
This adorable Pied Puffbird was building their nest in a termite nest in the mangroves and periodically catching dragonflies – only my second puffbird and absolutely fascinating to watch.
The Three-striped Warbler is one of the many members of the genus Basileuterus. This genus is largely Neotropical with only a few species like Rufous-capped and Golden-crowned Warbler creeping their way north of the Tropic of Cancer. Most are yellow or yellowish and skulk in the understorey.
The Santa Marta Brush Finch is another of those Santa Marta endemic species. This one was kind enough to come feeding on moths under the lights outside the lodge at dawn allowing for a good photo op (brush finches are usually tough to photograph).
The ubiquitous Rufous-collared Sparrow, like the Eared Dove has an extraordinary altitudinal range (~500m – 4000m) and is disturbance adapted, and found in urban areas as well as clearings in otherwise relatively intact forest. This species belongs to the genus Zonotrichia but unlike the 4 other member of this genus, all of which are Nearctic migrants, this one is strictly Neotropical.
The soft grey plumage of the Plumbeous Sierra Finch is catching but actually what i like most about this photo is the extraordinarily beautiful “mat” of vegetation over the rock this bird is perched on. The spacing between each plant seems so mathematically regular… like the prairies, the páramo has some subtle beauty!
Last in this series, one more tanager, this one with a soft blue-grey plumage, the Scrub Tanager.
More photos from Colombia are viewable on my website (http://artusophotos.com/).