14 December 2009

Tanager Teasers...(NW Ecuador)

One of the unquestionable appeals of birding the Andes is getting good numbers of certain marquee groups of birds. Two of these groups that impress time and again are the hummingbirds-see my PBase site for proof of the variety and gorgeousness of many of these Andean gems, and the tanagers. The MOUNTAIN-TANAGERS are an Andean spin off from this family that are much larger than other species, and typically very brightly adorned. There are few better experiences than coming across one of the crazy feeding flocks in the Andes where literally dozens of birds swarm in the trees around, and then up pops one of these beauties. Classic Andean birding.

The two pictured here were not in a flock but more photogenically at a fruit feeder in Mindo. The top bird is a regional endemic to the Choco region of W Colombia and NW Ecuador,
Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, and the lower bird is a common and daily feature of feeding flocks within the places like the Tandayapa Valley, the Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager.
On a recent Introtour we managed a tanager total of 50 species in 6 days, and on a longer NW Ecuador tour just before that we pushed this up to 55 species! No wonder people call South America "the bird continent".

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