The Bird Species Count Resumes


WC took a few days off from the bird species count for a road trip, likely the final camping trip of the year. Here’s a pro tip for RV owners: don’t even try to drive on a freeway in 35 mph winds with gusts to 50 mph, not even a short distance. Just. Don’t.

Except for a few panic-stricken flashbacks, WC is fully recovered, and has resumed his project of counting how many bird species he has photographed.

Ecuador in 2009 is wrapped up, and that collection is a lot leaner for the effort. WC is now working on Ecuador 2011, a trip into southern and eastern Ecuador, with mostly different species. The IOC has been hard at work in this region, apparently; there are splits, lumps, renames and reclassifications out the wazoo. The Southern Yellow Grosbeak, for example, is now the Golden Grosbeak, for no good reason. WC has developed a three step process for figuring out the changes.

First, WC tried variations on the old name, or a partial name. If that doesn’t work;

Second, WC tries searching on the scientific name. The perfectly named Sulfur-rumped Flycatcher, for example, had vanished from the IOC list. WC searched on the genus name, Myiobius, and there it was, renamed the unpronounceable and hard to remember Myiobius Flycatcher. Sigh. But if that doesn’t work;

Third, WC leafs haplessly through the color plates of the 1,650 bird species in Ecuador. You think WC exaggerates? There are ten pages of plates of Tyrant Flycatchers alone, each with 15-20 maddeningly similar species.

When none of those steps works, WC asks Mrs. WC for help.

WC has stumbled across a few decent photos among the 2,410 from the 2011 trip to Ecuador. Here are a few.

Grey-cheeked Parakeets, Ecuador

Grey-cheeked Parakeets, Ecuador

Rainbow Starfrontlet, Southern Ecuador

Rainbow Starfrontlet, Southern Ecuador

Jocotoco Antpitta, Southern Ecuador

Jocotoco Antpitta, Southern Ecuador

An endangered species, the Jocotoco Antpitta wasn’t discovered until 1997 and wasn’t scientifically described until 1999. In Ecuador, its range is limited to the Tapichalaca Reserve. A second small enclave was recently found in Northern Peru.

Flame-faced Tanager, Southern Ecuador

Flame-faced Tanager, Southern Ecuador

No photo collection of Southern Ecuador birds would be complete without at least one tanager. This is a Flame-faced Tanager, and the photo – from a long ways away and a heavy crop – doesn’t begin to do justice to this stunningly beautiful species.

Sword-billed Hummingbird and a Sapphire-vented Puffleg

Sword-billed Hummingbird and a Sapphire-vented Puffleg

Hummingbirds are unbelievably belligerent. But the Puffleg had brought a knife to a sword fight and after a bit of bluster, decided another perch would be okay.

Oh, yeah, about 700 or so thus far. Tens of thousands of photos to go.

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One thought on “The Bird Species Count Resumes

  1. 1. Great commentary on the dual dynamos dueling!
    2. Not that cryptic plumage ever will be attributed to (male) tanagers, but did you notice how stunningly close to the surrounding mottled leaves your Flame-faced’s breast feathers are?

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