Sunday, April 10, 2011

Keel-billed Motmot at Selva Negra

Keel-billed Motmot
On the mornings of March 29 and 30, Klemens Steiof and Rob Batchelder recorded more than 90 species of birds at Selva Negra.  The most unexpected was a Keel-billed Motmot (Electron carinatum), calling from a perch near the top of the "Fountain of Youth" trail at 1500 meters above sea level. The bird sat obligingly for more than 10 minutes while Klemens took several long-distance photos. It then moved several times to nearby branches where Rob and Klemens were able to relocate it and enjoy clear views of the bird's red forehead and the large square-shaped black patch on its greenish chest. A week earlier, a visitor from Honduras had written in the "Wildlife Sightings" book at the reception desk that he had seen this species, along with many Resplendent Quetzales, but given Selva Negra's large trail network and the risk of misidentification, Rob and Klemens were very surprised to find this bird, which represents a new addition to Selva Negra's checklist.

Just seconds after bidding the motmot farewell and beginning their descent down the steep trail, Klemens and Rob were startled by the nearby call of a Nightingale Wren (Microcerculus philomela). While they had heard this species frequently at Cerro Musun just a few days earlier, the elusive wren had remained out of sight, and consistently fell silent in response to MP3 playback.  The Selva Negra wren, however, responded immediately and enthusiastically to a voice recording, taking up position on a fallen tree trunk just three meters from where the birders stood.  It remained in position, calling loudly, until both birders were able to locate the small, dark, non-descript bird in their binoculars.

Lower down, along the "Romantico" trail, Klemens and Rob found several very vocal Resplendent Quetzals (Pharomachrus mocinno). Earlier in the morning, they had had only fleeting views of a lone male Quetzal, and better views of a female near a nest. On the trip down the hill after seeing the motmot and the wren, however, the birders lucked upon two dazzling males who perched just above the trail, allowing incredible views and a few good photos too.

Resplendent Quetzal

Other noteworthy birds seen at Selva Negra included Roadside Hawk (Buteo magnirostris), White-faced Quail-Dove (Geotrygon albifacies), Stripe-tailed Hummingbird (Eupherusa eximia), Green-breasted Mountain-gem (Lampornis sybillae), Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus), Three-wattled Bellbird (Procnias tricarunculatus), Band-backed Wren (Campylorhynchus zonatus), Slate-colored Solitaire (Myadestes unicolor), 13 warbler species, nine species of tanager including White-winged (Piranga leucoptera), and White-eared Ground-Sparrow (Melozone leucotis).

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