Thursday, December 19, 2013

El Jaguar CBC December 26

The annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) at Reserva El Jaguar near Jinotega will take place on Thursday, December 26, 2013.  Below is the official announcement with additional details that organizers (and El Jaguar owners) Georges Duriaux and Liliana Chavarria sent out this week.  An informal English translation follows the original email text in Spanish...

Estimados amigos pajareros:

Es para nosotros un placer invitarle a nuestro Quinto Conteo de Aves Navideño que se celebrará el jueves 26 de diciembre. El conteo inicia el día 26 a las 00:00 horas y concluye a las 24:00 horas.

Para los invitados de esta lista estamos solicitando una contribución de US$60 que nos ayudará a pagar los gastos de alimentación de los pajareros nicaragüenses a los que no se les está cobrando nada por participar. Ofrecemos hospedaje y alimentación las noches del 25 y 26 de diciembre para los participantes. (2 noches de alojamiento y 5 tiempos de comida). También ofrecemos transporte desde Jinotega al Jaguar el día 25 a las 4 pm en la COTRAN Sur y transporte desde El Jaguar a Jinotega el día 27 después del desayuno.

Con el fin de organizar la logística (alimentación y alojamiento) les agradeceríamos CONFIRMAR su participación e informar sobre día y hora de llegada ANTES DEL 20 de diciembre a las siguientes direcciones electrónicas: orion.liliana@gmail.com, georges.duriaux@gmail.com

• Día 25 por la tarde: formación de grupos y distribución de listas a los jefes de grupo.
• Día 26 conteo y consolidación de datos.
• Día 27 regreso

Por favor no olviden traer sus binoculares, guías, ropa caliente, repelente y una linterna o foco.

Esperamos contar con su valiosa participación, la cual es de suma importancia para la conservación de nuestras aves y ecosistemas.

Cordialmente,

Liliana Chavarría Duriaux
Georges Duriaux
Coordinadores CBC El Jaguar

English Translation:

Dear Birder Friends:

It's our pleasure to invite you to participate in the 5th annual Christmas Bird Count which will take place on Thursday, December 26.  The count begins at 12:00 a.m. (midnight) on the morning of the 26th and ends 24 hours later.

We are asking visitors for a contribution of $60 to help defer the cost of meals and lodging for the Nicaraguan birders who will participate in the count.  All participants will be provided two nights' lodging and five meals between the evening of the 25th and the morning of the 27th.  We are also offering transportation for those who need a ride, picking up at 4:00 p.m. on the 25th at the "COTRAN Sur" in the city of Jinotega, and returning from El Jaguar to Jinotega on the 27th after breakfast.

In order to finalize logistics, we would appreciate you confirming your participation and transportation/arrival plans no later than December 20 to the following email addresses:  orion.liliana@gmail.com, georges.duriaux@gmail.com

• Afternoon of the 25th: Group assignments and distribution of checklists to group leaders
• December 26 (all day):  Christmas Bird Count and consolidation of sightings data.
• Morning of the 27th: Return home.

We hope we can count on your participation, which is of tremendous importance for the conservation of our birds and ecosystems.

Cordially,

Liliana Chavarría Duriaux
Georges Duriaux
Coordinadores CBC El Jaguar

Saturday, December 14, 2013

2013 Sierra de Managua Christmas Count

The organizers of the 8th annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) in the Sierra de Managua invite you to join them on December 28, 2013, to count birds, share experiences and learn about the fascinating birds of the Managua area.

 
This year's count will encompass three primary locations: Montibelli, El Nisperal, and Bosques de Gaia. For more information and to sign up, please contact the representative for the location at which you wish to participate: Montibelli (claudiabellim@yahoo.com; tel. 2260-1473, 8887-4869), Bosques de Gaia (jefferson@gaiaestate.com; tel. 868 15356), El Nisperal (smgladstone@hotmail.com; tel. 2279-9891). Both Montibelli and Bosques de Gaia have cabins available for those participants interested in spending the night. The CBC will be followed by a barbeque dinner at Montibelli (please bring cash to cover the cost of food), at which the day's various lists will be compiled into the final count total.

Los organizadores del 8tvo Conteo Navideño de Aves en La Sierra de Managua les invitamos a juntarses con nosotros el sábado, 28 de diciembre, para contar aves, compartir experiencias, pasarlo alegre, y aprender, como siempre, algo nuevo sobre las aves de nuestra zona.

Estaremos contando en tres puntos igual que en el año pasado: Reserva Silvestre Privada Montibelli, Reserva Silvestre Privada El Nisperal (si, ya es oficial!), y Bosques de Gaia. Para apuntarse y conocer detalles del conteo en cada sitio, favor arreglar con la reserva/finca donde desea contar: Montibelli (claudiabellim@yahoo.com; 2260-1473, 8887-4869), Bosques de Gaia (868 15356 jefferson@gaiaestate.com), El Nisperal (2279-9891; smgladstone@hotmail.com). Tanto Montibelli como Bosques de Gaia cuenta con cabanas si visita desde lejos.

Al final del dia, esperamos como es tradición, juntarnos en Montibelli para un buen asado (favor traer dinero para esto) y la consolidacion de la lista de aves para nuestro circulo.

Nicaragua Trip Report

Miami-based birder Stephen Paez recently submitted the following report from a visit to Nicaragua:

"I was in Nicaragua for a short trip (11/28 to 11/30) for family visiting. I was able to get in some birding around Managua mostly. Nothing truly unusual but did have a lifer Pearl Kite in my old neighborhood around Monte Tabor (11/28) in Carretera Sur.

"Some migrant birds also seen in the same area were Ruby-throated Hummingbird (one female) Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Tennessee Warbler (very common), Summer Tanager (male). Resident birds were the usual. Streak-headed Woodcreeper (2 of them) was cool since it has been many years since I last saw one in the area.

"At Montibelli, on 11/29, I had the usual birds also. Some of the migrants seen were: Ruby-throated Hummingbird (2 males), Tennessee Warbler (good numbers), Yellow Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler. Some of the resident birds seen there were Cinnamon Hummingbird, Stripe-throated Hermit, Blue-throated Goldentail, Black-throated Mango (male, female and immature) all together, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager (male) etc… At Masaya Volcano, same day, I had American Kestrel (female), many Barn Swallows, and a calling Brown-crested Flycatcher among others.

"Two White-necked Puffbirds were seen on the way to Mombacho Volcano from Granada on 11/30."

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Clapper Rail at Salinas Grandes

 
On September 21, 2013, Manfred Bienert paid a visit to Salinas Grandes (León), which he visits on a monthly basis. Winter visitors from North America had already begun to arrive, most notably shorebirds such as Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri), Semipalmated Sandpiper (C. pusilla) and Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola). Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) was also conspicuous with more than 300 individuals present. Other migrants included a small group of Bank Swallows (R. riparia) and the winter's first Blue-winged Teals (Anas discors). In all, Manfred recorded 61 species on this visit.

Perhaps the most surprising find was a Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris), seen searching for small crustaceans in the mangroves adjacent to the salt evaporation ponds. This is one of the very few records of this species in Nicaragua, and with the inclusion of this unexpected bird, Manfred's site list for Salinas Grandes now stands at 136 species!

 

Monday, September 2, 2013

¡Bienvenido a eBird Centroamérica!

The Cornell University team that brought us eBird, the revolutionary "citizen science" database for reporting bird sightings and visualizing bird status and distribution, has announced the launch of eBird Centroamérica, a portal specifically designed for birders in Central America to report and track their sightings.  The site can be used in Spanish or English, and interfaces seamlessly with the central eBird database. 


More info on eBird Centroamérica follows from the eBird website:

"eBirders in all of Central America – Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama – now have their own eBird portal. Here, we will highlight regional trends as they happen, give tips on when and how to look for migrants, showcase regional rarities as well as common bird species, and provide news on eBird developments, including the annual changes in bird names.

"eBird allows us to bundle all our bird observations together, and make them available to other birders, scientists and conservationists. With global climate change and deforestation (and occasional reforestation) affecting the Central American landscape, bird distributions are also constantly changing. Bird distributions were never completely known, especially in our region, and eBird is the perfect tool to help fill that knowledge gap. eBird will also help you as a birder to plan your next birding trip. Detailed maps show you where to look for birds; bar charts tell which birds to expect during the year in any given region – for your country, your department, or even one great birding spot!

"All data entered from this portal go straight into the worldwide eBird database, housed within the Avian Knowledge Network at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, in Ithaca, New York.  The data is screened by automatic filters that help make sure that rare reports or errors get reviewed by experts on Central American birds. The team of expert reviewers for eBird Central America are all based in Central America, and look forward to working with the Central American birding community to improve field ornithology resources, via eBird, in our region."

NicaBirds strongly supports the eBird initiative and encourages all birders who visit or reside in Nicaragua to enter their bird sightings into this database.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pearl Kite in Matagalpa

Visiting birder Chris Cutler, a self-described "rambling naturalist," reports seeing a Pearl Kite (Gampsonyx swainsonii) perched on a wire close to the new "playing field" 2-3 km above Matagalpa on the highway to Jinotega, at around 2:00 p.m. on Friday, August 16, 2013. Chris writes, "As I was on a slow-moving bus and didn't have a camera in-hand, no photo taken, but I saw the bird from approx. 25m away, and it was unmistakable."  This is only the second known record of Pearl Kite in the department of Matagalpa, and considerably further northeast than Georges Duriaux's November 2011 sighting at Chaguitillo, just north of Sebaco.  Rare throughout its range, Pearl Kite had previously been found exclusively in Nicaragua's Pacific lowlands.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

First Record for Nicaragua: Large-billed Tern

 
On August 3, while visiting the El Guayabo wetlands between Granada and Malacatoya, Manfred Bienert stumbled upon a familiar bird from his years in the Amazonian lowlands of eastern Bolivia: Among a large, mixed species group that included Common Tern (Sterna hirundo), Forster's Tern (S. forsteri), Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans), Black Tern (Chlidonias niger), Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla), Franklin's Gull (L. pipixcan) and Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) was a tern with a long, thick, yellow bill and greenish-yellow legs. Based on the observed characteristics there was no doubt in Manfred's mind that this was a Large-billed Tern (Phaetusa simplex), apparently blown to the shores of Lago Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua) far to the north of its normal range in South America. There are very few vagrant records of this species from Central America, and this appears to be the first record of Large-billed Tern for Nicaragua. The bird was also seen the following day, August 4, by Lili Chavarria and Georges Duriaux.


Update: In an interesting footnote to this story, Manfred, Georges and Lili again encountered this species on August 11 at the south end of Lake Nicaragua, at the conclusion of a birding trip to Los Guatuzos on the Rio Papaturro.  This Large-billed Tern was also in non-breeding plumage but the observers were unable to determine whether it was the same individual seen the previous week at the El Guayabo wetlands.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Red-throated Caracara at Bijagua (Rio San Juan)

At the invitation of environmental organization Fundación del Río, a small group of Nicaraguan and Costa Rican ornithologists visited the Indio Maíz biosphere reserve and adjacent buffer zones from April 18-22, 2013. In all, the group recorded 160 bird species over the four days.

The primary objective of the visit was to locate and photograph Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus) and its nests. This species was once widely distributed throughout the Atlantic rainforests of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, but due to habitat loss and its popularity as a pet, Great Green Macaw is now considered endangered. Small populations still exist, however, along the banks of the Rio San Juan, which forms the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Great Green Macaw

During the three day expedition, the group observed three active Great Green Macaw nests and one Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) nest, all in tree cavities more than 30 feet above the ground. Seven other parrot species were also recorded: Crimson-fronted Parakeet (Aratinga finschi), Olive-throated Parakeet (Aratinga nana), Orange-chinned Parakeet (Brotogeris jugularis), White-crowned Parrot (Pionus senilis), Mealy Parrot (Amazona farinosa), Red-lored Parrot (Amazona autumnalis) and a pair of Yellow-naped Parrots (Amazona auropalliata) seen along the banks of the Rio San Juan.

Scarlet Macaw

While waiting for the macaws to return to the nests, the group heard a series of loud squawks in the distance. As the birds drew closer, however, the observers discovered they were not macaws, but a group of six Red-throated Caracaras (Ibycter americanus) that perched in a large tree about 100 yards from the ornithologists. An enigmatic, rainforest-dwelling member of the falcon family, Red-throated Caracara is very rarely observed north of Costa Rica.

Red-throated Caracara with piece of wasp nest

Red-breasted Blackbird at Cosigüina Peninsula

Taking advantage of the Semana Santa (Easter) holiday, Liliana Chavarría, Georges Duriaux, Orlando Jarquín, David Hille, and Manfred Bienert visited a variety of sites on the Cosigüina peninsula (Chinandega). Between March 23 and 25, the group recorded 146 bird species, including a number of migrants.

Perhaps the most unexpected find was Red-breasted Blackbird (Sturnella militaris), two individuals of which were observed in a rice field near the Las Palizadas lakes. One immature male was seen calling from a dead tree trunk within the rice, and a second male responded to the calls of the first bird. This species appears to be expanding its range from the south and was first reported near Nicaragua's Atlantic coast in 2009. This latest record represents the first from Nicaragua's Pacific slope, as well as a significant northward range extension.

Red-breasted Blackbird

During the three-day trip, the birders also observed 15 species of raptors, including Gray-headed Kite (Leptodon cayanensis), Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus), Collared Forest-Falcon (Micrastur semitorquatus) and Merlin (Falco columbarius). Shorebirds were also well-represented, with American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus), Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa), Surfbird (Aphriza virgata) and Dunlin (Calidris alpina) among the most noteworthy finds.

Extraordinarily rare on Nicaragua's Pacific slope, a noisy pair of Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao) seen searching for food near the community of Potosí was another great addition to the birders' trip list.

Blue-footed Booby

Striped Cuckoo

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Jabiru at San Miguelito Wetlands

On the morning of February 16, 2013, Manfred Bienert visited the San Miguelito wetlands, a Ramsar Site on the southeast banks of Lago Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua). The wetlands are formed by the rivers Las Piedras and Camastros, which empty into Lake Nicaragua approximately 17 kilometers north of the departmental capital of San Carlos (Rio San Juan), and include a marshy area called Llano Grande comprising around 12 km2.

Of the 77 bird species Manfred observed on his visit to San Miguelito, the most surprising discovery was a lone Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria). According to the boatman who took Manfred into the wetlands, this enormous stork is present every year during the dry season, but always in small numbers.


Other noteworthy sightings included seven duck species, with Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis) being the most abundant. Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata) and Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) were also interesting finds.

Ten species of raptors (birds of prey) were also recorded, including Harris's Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus), Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture (Cathartes burrovianus), nearly a dozen Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), and a Bat Falcon (Falco rufigularis) dining on a recently-captured Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica).


Bat Falcon eating Barn Swallow

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

NicaBirds Celebrates 40,000 Visitors!

On April 10, 2013, the NicaBirds website received its 40,000th visitor! In honor of this occasion, some additional statistics may be of interest to our regular patrons:
  • Average Monthly Visits:  1,379
  • Highest Monthly Visit Total:  2,528 (September 2012)
  • Number of Posts:  116
  • Most Popular Post:  Snowy Cotinga at Refugio Bartola (3,722 hits)
  • Number of Bird Species Mentioned:  >430
  • Number of Birding Sites Mentioned:  58
  • Top 5 Visitor Countries:  USA, Nicaragua, Russia, China, UK
Thank you for your visit, and for helping to make NicaBirds the most popular online source of information on birds and birding in Nicaragua!

NicaBirders (left to right) Georges Duriaux, Rob Batchelder, Lili Chavarria,
Manfred Bienert, Jack Hruska, Sally Gladstone and Jessica Schugel

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pacific Golden-Plover at Laguna de Tisma

Pacific Golden-Plover
Unbeknownst to the observer at the time, this bird was actually recorded a year ago. On April 2, 2012, Manfred Bienert located and photographed at Laguna de Tisma (Masaya) a group of seven Golden-Plovers (Pluvialis spp.), including one already in breeding plumage and another that had recently begun to molt. Assuming all of the birds were American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica), a rare passage migrant along Nicaragua's Pacific slope, Manfred submitted his sighting and photos to the ABA's journal North American Birds. After Manfred's photos were published, several alert NAB readers noticed that the bird in breeding plumage was not an American, but rather a Pacific Golden-Plover (Pluvialis fulva). After further study of the published photo and several others, Manfred determined that two of the seven birds were P. fulva.

American Golden-Plover
At the time of his original observation, Manfred didn't consider the possibility of Pacific Golden-Plover occurring in Nicaragua since, according to eBird, the southernmost records of this species in the Americas were from Mexico. Instead, Manfred assumed the bird in question was a member of P. dominica that hadn't yet finished transitioning into full breeding plumage. Without knowing it at the time, Manfred had "killed two birds with one stone" by recording both a rare passage migrant and a species entirely new to Nicaragua's bird checklist. Further research will likely also reveal this to be one of the first records of P. fulva for Central America.

Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus), a new species for Nicaragua


On March 2, 2013, Manfred Bienert paid a visit to the El Guayabo wetlands near Granada. On the mudflats formed by the low level of Lago Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua), Manfred found a large number of shorebirds, gulls and terns. Among them were four large gulls which Manfred identified as Herring Gull (Larus argentatus). While three of the birds in question clearly belong to this species, lingering doubts about the identification of the fourth bird led Manfred to consult with gull expert Nick Komar. After careful study of Manfred's photos and description, Nick concluded that the fourth bird was a Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus), with the following observations:

"This gull is not a Herring Gull. Upperparts too dark. Rump too white. Tail is banded. Shape too barrel-chested. Inner primaries too dark, lacking the typical pale windows of 1st-cycle Herring Gull. So then, what is it? Bill is not large enough for typical Kelp, Great Black-backed, Western or Yellow-footed. Head is not white enough for Yellow-footed. Tail band is too narrow for Western, Yellow-footed, and Slaty-backed. Outer primaries are too dark for Slaty-backed. Size is too large for Lesser Black-backed Gull (also too barrel-chested). The heavy tail molt doesn’t make sense for a northern hemisphere gull, so it suggests Kelp Gull. The smallish head and bill could indicate a female. All the other marks are consistent with Kelp Gull."


Kelp Gull is a southern hemisphere species that only rarely wanders north of eight degrees north latitude in the Americas. Most recent vagrant records are concentrated in the Chesapeake Bay and around the Gulf of Mexico. This is, however, the first known record of this species for Nicaragua.

American White Pelican Invasion

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) is considered an irregular winter visitor to Nicaragua from North America, with very few reports of this species in the past decade. During the winter of 2012-2013, however, this charismatic giant was observed on several occasions, at times in huge numbers.


On November 17, 2012, Manfred Bienert saw a single white pelican at Salinas Grandes in León. On the Cosigüina Peninsula (Chinandega) in extreme northwest Nicaragua, a group of local birders found small groups of pelicans, numbering between 14 and 24 birds, in late March 2013. According to Orlando Jarquín, who regularly visits the peninsula, groups of hundreds of American White Pelicans had arrived in the area in the preceding weeks.


The majority of recent observations of this species come from Lago Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua) and adjacent wetlands. On February 16, 2013, David Hille and Francisco ("Chico") Muñoz counted 40 individuals near Puerto Diaz and the following day a visiting group from Audubon Panama encountered a large group in the El Guayabo wetlands. Two weeks later, on March 2, Manfred Bienert, Liliana Chavarría and Georges Duriaux discovered an enormous flock of pelicans in the same location. Based on the photos he took, Manfred determined there were around 1,700 individuals, making this perhaps one of the largest concentrations of wintering American White Pelican in Central America.


At dusk on March 8, 2013, a group of 600 individuals landed at Laguna de Tisma (Masaya), around eight kilometers (five miles) from the El Guayabo wetlands, where, three days later Liliana Chavarría and Georges Duriaux observed a group of similar size. Finally, on April 7, Manfred Bienert observed at least 1,500 white pelicans on Lake Nicaragua near the finca San Ignacio.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Another First!: Red Knot at Estero Real


As part of a Birdlife International and Fauna & Flora International-sponsored shorebird census on December 1, 2012, Orlando Jarquín, Martin Vallecillo and José Aquino conducted a count of shorebirds in the Estero Real delta, where a low tide had exposed a mudflat nearly 10 km long. Among the many shorebirds feeding in this exposed area, the observers located 13 individual Red Knots (Calidris canutus) probing the mud with their bills as they walked together across the flat. Known as one of the bird world's most formidable migrants—Western Hemisphere populations migrate from the Artic to Tierra del Fuego and back each year—this is the first known, documented record of Red Knot for Nicaragua.

New Species for Nicaragua: Savanna Hawk


On February 21, 2012, Orlando Jarquín, Milton Salazar, Yuri Aguirre, Luis Díaz, Milton Ñamendi and Geordino Bravo visited the finca Cosigüina Sur in Chinandega department. After an early morning walk around the entire finca, the group stopped around 10:30 a.m. at the northeast corner of the property to rest and observe several raptors soaring overhead. Among the birds soaring high above, the birders were able to identify a single Savanna Hawk (Buteogallus meridionalis) gliding north towards the Cosigüina Volcano. Normally found from western Panama south to northern Argentina, this is the northernmost documented record of this species, and the first for Nicaragua.

Nueva Guinea Trip Report by Jessie Stuebner

NicaBirds recently received the following trip report from Managua-based birder Jessie Mentzer Stuebner:

"My husband and I (Cal and Jessie Stuebner) took a two-day trip to Nueva Guinea (RAAS) for the Thanksgiving holiday. It was one of the best birding trips we've ever taken! We stayed at a church property surrounded mostly by farms. The first day, we hiked out from the church, through the farms, to a little water hole. Along the way, we saw flocks of White-crowned Parrots (Pionus senilis) and also a White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus) fluttering like a little angel as it hunted. When we arrived at the water, we saw a small flock of Lesser Scaups (Aythya affinis) and a variety of herons, egrets, and smaller birds such as kiskadees and other flycatchers. There were several species that my husband and I, both amateur birders, were unable to identify.

Early the next morning, we went out around the church property and saw lots of little seedeaters and warblers and other small birds. Then, at the recommendation of a local birding friend, when out to a river in a wooded area full of flowering Albezia trees and vines (flowering Macunas, I think). It is an area that is known to have sloths, and we were hoping to see one. We hiked off the road down to the river and found a fallen tree. We could hear so many birds, so we decided to sit on the log and watch. We ended up sitting on that log for three hours (except for when we were excitedly jumping up to get a better view of something!). Unfortunately, we didn't see any sloths, but we did see a Neotropical Otter (Lontra longicaudis), and scores of little birds. Most were difficult to capture with a camera or binoculars - very active little birds, and I'll never know what many of them were! We were able to confirm a variety of warblers, several hummingbirds, becards, and tanagers. Some of my favorites were the Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera), the Bananquit (Coereba flaveola), and the Red-throated Ant-Tanager (Habia fuscicauda). In all, we confirmed 20 species by the river and 21 at the church and surrounding farms."


Blue-throated Goldentail

Below is a complete list of bird species identified by Jessie and Cal on their trip:

Day 1 and 2 at Nueva Guinea church/farm:
  • Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)
  • Green Heron (Butorides virescens)
  • Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)
  • Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
  • White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)
  • Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)
  • Ruddy Ground-Dove (Columbina talpacoti)
  • Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl)
  • White-fronted Parrot (Amazona albifrons)
  • White-crowned Parrot (Pionus senilis)
  • Pygmy-Owl spp. (Glaucidium spp.)
  • Common Pauraque (Nyctidromus albicollis)
  • Boat-billed Flycatcher (Megarynchus pitangua)
  • Social Flycatcher (Myiozetetes similis)
  • Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus)
  • Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi)
  • Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus)
  • White-collared Seedeater (Sporophila torqueola)
  • Thick-billed Seed-Finch (Oryzoborus funereus)
  • Blue-black Grosbeak (Cyanocompsa cyanoides)
  • Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus)
  • House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Day 2 at wood/river just outside of Nueva Guinea:
  • Band-tailed Barbthroat (Threnetes ruckeri)
  • Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl)
  • Blue-throated Goldentail (Hylocharis eliciae)
  • Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana)
  • Cocoa Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus susurrans)
  • Streak-headed Woodcreeper (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii)
  • Plain Xenops (Xenops minutus)
  • Cinnamon Becard (Pachyramphus cinnamomeus)
  • White-winged Becard (Pachyramphus polychopterus)
  • White-collared Manakin (Manacus candei)
  • Yellow-throated Vireo (Vireo flavifrons)
  • Bay Wren (Cantorchilus nigricapillus)
  • Northern Waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis)
  • Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera)
  • Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia)
  • Tennessee Warbler (Oreothlypis peregrina)
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica)
  • Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola)
  • Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra)
  • Red-throated Ant-Tanager (Habia fuscicauda)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

New Species for Nicaragua: Lesser Black-backed Gull

On January 19, 2013, Manfred Bienert, Liliana Chavarría, Jessica Mentzer Stuebner, and Georges Duriaux visited Las Peñitas (León) and the Isla Juan Venado estuary searching for the Rufous-necked Wood-Rail (Aramides axilliaris) reported by Manfred in mid-December. The group succeeded in locating two individuals in approximately the same spot as Manfred's earlier sighting. The pair first vocalized in response to a sound recording, then appeared in the open where they were seen well by all four observers.

Other noteworthy birds seen in the Isla Juan Venado mangroves included Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Picoides scalaris), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), and all three resident nocturnal herons: Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea), and Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius). The group also observed four kingfisher species, with the migratory Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) being the most abundant.

Glossy Ibis

At the mouth of the estuary, the birders located a group of at least 500 gulls, terns and skimmers roosting on a sandbar. Two gulls considerably larger than the abundant (and common resident) Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla) caught the observers' eyes. With the help of Oliver and Nick Komar, Manfred and Liliana were able to identify one of the birds as Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus), a new species for Nicaragua and possibly one of the first reports of this species along Central America's Pacific coast.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull (l) with unidentified large gull (r)

Although the second large gull remained unidentified following this visit, Manfred returned to Las Peñitas on January 20 and 25, and was able to get a number of photos of both the Lesser Black-backed and another large gull, which, based on his photos, is a different bird than the mystery gull seen on January 19. Again turning to Oliver and Nick Komar for expert advice, Manfred was able to identify the second gull photographed on January 25 as a Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), a rare visitor to Nicaragua's sea coasts.

Herring Gull

2012 CBC Results

In spite of fewer participants than in past years, and uncooperative count day weather in Jinotega, both the Sierra de Managua and El Jaguar Christmas Bird Counts (CBC) produced impressive totals and a number of new species for both count circles.

 
The December 28, 2012, Sierra de Managua count tallied a total of 111 species, including six species not previously recorded in past counts.  This year's CBC surveyed three sites, including for the first time the organic coffee farm, Bosques de Gaia, on the outskirts of Diriamba, which produced perhaps the most interesting new species for this year's count, Cape May Warbler (Setophaga tigrina).  Other highlights included Roadside Hawk (Rupornis magnirostris), Mangrove Cuckoo (Coccyzus minor), White-fronted Parrot (Pionus senilis), Dusky Antbird (Cercomacra tyrannina), Long-billed Gnatwren (Ramphocaenus melanurus), Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia), Alder/Willow (aka "Traill's") Flycatcher (Empidonax alnorum/traillii), and Yellow-billed Cacique (Amblycercus holosericeus).

Sierra de Managua CBC participants at Montibelli

Participants in the December 30, 2012, El Jaguar CBC in Jinotega awoke to pouring rain and strong winds that put a damper on bird activity at key sites like the pine-oak forest above San Rafael del Norte.  The day's lousy weather and slow start nothwithstanding, the El Jaguar count ended with an impressive total of 170 species, including 15 new species not registered in the three previous years' counts.  Among the new species was Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata), which, also seen the day before the count at Lago Apanas, became Rob Batchelder's 500th Nicaragua species!

El Jaguar counters at Lago Apanas
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