Friday, November 21, 2014

Save the Date!: Sierra de Managua CBC on January 2, 2015

The 2014-15 Sierra de Managua Christmas Bird Count (CBC) will take place on January 2, 2015, beginning at 6:00 a.m. with teams covering Reserva Silvestre Privada (RSP) Montibelli, RSP El Nisperal, Gaia Estate, and for the first time RSP Sierras de Managua and RSP Concepcion de Maria. Christmas Bird Counts throughout the Americas, e-Bird reporting, websites like NicaBirds and similar initiatives represent the “citizen science” that contributes to data used by ornithologists to evaluate population trends, natural history and the conservation status of our birds. Results from all nine years of the Sierra de Managua CBC can be accessed at the Audubon Society website, as can results from all counts across the Americas.

The Sierra de Managua CBC has been conducted for nine years with increasing participation by the community of birders in Nicaragua and beyond. Through the CBC we track the abundance of key bird species, including some known from other studies to be in trouble. This year we will be especially watching out for “Common Birds in Steep Decline” (Wilson’s Warbler, Common Nighthawk, Cape May Warbler, Eastern Meadowlark) along with “Watch List” birds (Olive-sided Flycatcher, Golden-winged Warbler, Canada Warbler and Wood Thrush). Some populations of winter residents like Painted Bunting and Yellow-billed Cuckoo are of concern now, so finding and counting these birds will be important too. The White-crowned Parrot, known to be declining steeply in Nicaragua is regularly seen during the CBC.

Sierra de Managua CBC count circle
Entry to the Reserves and participation in the CBC is free of charge and open to birders of all abilities. Please contact the Reserves directly or Sally Gladstone at to sign up so we have a head count before January 2. Bring your own binoculars and water, and a field guide if you have one, also your own lunch if you prefer. Overnight lodging and lunch may be available at Montibelli, El Nisperal, Gaia Estate and Concepcion de Maria. For rates please contact those reserves/farms directly. At the end of the long day, we all meet at Montibelli to tally results across sites and enjoy the delicious asado (price to be determined later) for which Montibelli is famous.

White-Necked Jacobin at El Jaguar

Eric van den Berghe, Director of Biodiversity and Associate Professor of Ecology at Zamorano University in Honduras, submits the following report of the first record of White-necked Jacobin at El Jaguar (Jinotega) earlier this year:

"Florisuga mellivora, the White-necked Jacobin, ranges from Mexico to Ecuador and is primarily a lowland or foothill resident in the Atlantic drainage of Nicaragua. It was therefore surprising to find it near the peak of one of the highest mountains in northern Nicaragua around 1350m at Finca El Jaguar, a well researched birding hotspot. A solitary male was observed repeatedly visiting ornamental flowers at the forest edge on 29 May 2014 under clear sunny conditions.

It is unclear whether this observation represents sporadic forays to higher elevations by this species, or whether this is the result of a severe drought all over Nicaragua which may have driven birds to higher elevations in search of scant flowering vegetation. The presence of numerous other hummingbirds including more than a half a dozen other species (Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Violet Sabrewing, Long-billed Hermit, Azure-crowned Hummingbird, White-eared Hummingbird and Emerald-chinned Hummingbird) supports the hypothesis not so much by their presence as they are expected species in the area, but by the fact that they struck me as unusually abundant, and the fact that the seasonal rains also had not yet arrived at El Jaguar. Most native flowering plants other than cultivars were close to a month behind the regular flowering schedule, a fact that I was particularly attuned to, as the primary purpose of the trip was entomological in search of beetles on flowers. It would be interesting to know if others have similar observations or if this was an isolated outlier."

October Visit to El Crucero & Montibelli

Stephen Paez, a regular NicaBirds contributor who lives in Miami, sends the following report from his October 25-28, 2014 visit to the Managua area:

"I started off at Finca El Cairo in El Crucero. First time there. Some of the highlights: Plain Chachalaca, Broad-winged Hawk (a few perched and being harassed by the Magpie-Jays), Ruby-throated Hummingbird female, Steely-vented Hummingbird, both motmots, Collared Aracari, Golden-Olive Woodpecker (that was cool), Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Yellow-Olive Flycatcher, E. Wood-Pewees, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, House and Rufous-and-white Wrens, Swainson’s Thrush, several migrating warblers: N. Waterthrush, American Redstart female, Chestnut-sided Warbler and of course plenty of Tennessees and Yellows. The best was a male Wilson’s Warbler. Gray-headed Tanager. Scarlet Tanagers were numerous and outnumbered Summer Tanagers. Also several Baltimore Orioles.

Then I headed to Montibelli and spent a night there. With Juan Rodriguez (my favorite guide there) we saw a total of 73 species the first day and added 4 species the next morning before I left for Miami. A total of 77 species. The usual resident birds were seen with highlights being Plain Chachalaca, Northern Potoo (good eyes by Juan), Gray and Zone-tailed Hawk (looking so much like a Turkey Vulture), Elegant Trogon, Olive Sparrow, N. Beardless Tyrannulet and Common Tody-Flycatcher. It was odd that I saw no Scarlet Tanagers. Good number of migrants. These included Ruby-throated Hummingbird (female), E. Wood-Pewee (some called), Great Crested, Yellow-bellied and Least Flycatchers, Yellow-throated and Philadelphia Vireos, Wood Thrush, Swainson’s Thrush, Baltimore Orioles and Summer Tanagers. Nice variety of migrant warblers: Tennessee and Yellow Warblers (both common), Ovenbird, Black-and-white Warbler, Hooded Warbler (male), Chestnut-sided Warblers, Black-throated Green Warbler (female) and Juan’s good eye got us a beautiful male Golden-winged Warbler at Los Balcones Trail."