Black-and-yellow Tanager at the Rio Tuis

Male Black-and-yellow Tanager

Male Black-and-yellow Tanager

This week I returned to the valley of the Rio Tuis, a mere 40 minutes’ drive away and had a marvelous half-day of birding, followed by chicken and yucca swilled down with an Imperial at Pocho’s Bar in La Suiza. There were several highlights, as I did a thorough exploration this time., but the Black-and-yellow Tanager was a life bird for me. The beautiful photo above is courtesy of Dave N Roach and the Friends of Worldbirds. I think I might have confused this dainty tanager with a warbler if we were in migration season. As it is, there were probably females also present, which would have presented a much more difficult identification problem. This is another bird that is classified as ‘common’, even up to 1200 m where I live. Many birds, it seems, are common in certain localities only.

This particular locality has had sightings of more than 300 different species, but even if you see nothing at all the Rio Tuis valley walk is a reward in itself. The Rio Tuis meanders through heavily wooded and sometimes steep slopes. It’s an easy walk, with the first section in particular passing by several houses with pasture land. As is often the case in heavy vegetation, sightings, as opposed to bird calls, were hard to come by, even though I had set off in the early morning. However, when a mixed flock finally appears it’s quite exciting and impossible to verify each bird seen. Go to the end of this post for the full list of species noted. First, a quick run-down of certain families or groups:

Water species: The river course is noted for Sunbittern, Torrent  Tyrannulet, Black Phoebe and Buff-rumped Warbler. The first two didn’t show but the phoebe was easy to find and I got lucky with a Buff-rumped Warbler (Myiothlypis fulvicauda) that sat up high on a post, scolding me almost wren-like.

A riverside species: the buffy rump shows bright and clear in the dark stream bed

A riverside species: the buffy rump shows bright and clear in the dark stream bed

Tanagers: Lots of these fruit-eaters, 7 species in all on the day, with some common species absent. Best of these for me, besides the Black-and-yellow, was the Emerald Tanager (Tangara florida). Richard Garrigues’ photo below shows the black ear-patch, almost impossible to miss, and I won’t be confusing this species with anything else in future.

Emerald Tanager

Emerald Tanager

Manakins: Two species were present in the same mixed flock: the White-collared Manakin (Manacus candei), with which I am thoroughly familiar because it is always to be found at Guayabo National Monument, and the less common White-ruffed Manakin (Corapipo altera). These tiny birds nip around really quickly and are not easy to spot, but the wing-popping of the White-collared male is impossible to miss, and the wheezy squeak of the White-ruffed is also quite distinctive. I spotted the male White-ruffed first.

Male White-ruffed Manakin, courtesy of Diego Calderon and

Male White-ruffed Manakin, courtesy of Diego Calderon and Friends of Worldbirds

The male White-collareds never did come into view, but I had a long look at an orange-legged female (or possibly juvenile) that was feeding on berries. The orange legs distinguish the female/juvenile from several others among the various manakin species. Here’s my list for the day:

  1. Black Vulture
  2. Turkey Vulture
  3. Roadside Hawk
  4. White-tipped Dove
  5. Squirrel Cuckoo
  6. Green Hermit
  7. Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
  8. Keel-billed Toucan
  9. Crimson-fronted Parakeet
  10. Streak-headed Woodcreeper
  11. Slaty-capped Flycatcher
  12. Paltry Tyrannulet
  13. Black Phoebe
  14. Boat-billed Flycatcher
  15. White-collared Manakin
  16. White-ruffed Manakin
  17. Brown Jay
  18. Blue-and-white Swallow
  19. House Wren
  20. Stripe-breasted Wren
  21. Buff-rumped Warbler
  22. Passerini’s Tanager
  23. Blue-gray Tanager
  24. Golden-hooded Tanager
  25. Bay-headed Tanager
  26. Emerald Tanager
  27. Silver-throated Tanager
  28. Black-and-yellow Tanager
  29. Bananaquit
  30. Yellow-faced Grassquit
  31. Buff-throated Saltator
  32. Grayish Saltator
  33. Common Chlorospingus
  34. Black-striped Sparrow
  35. Montezuma Oropendola
  36. Yellow-throated Euphonia
  37. Tawny-capped Euphonia
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