White-flanked Antwren – another surprise

John Beer found yet another interesting species on the Mirador trail at Aquiares. I missed it, of course! Identification from John’s photos took a while, but expert area guides Daniel Martinez and Steven Aguilar allowed us finally to identify it as a female White-flanked Antwren (Myrmotherula axillaris).

Antbird, White-flanked, female, Aquiares (11)

Female White-flanked Antwren, minus the white flanks in order to sow confusion!

This is another of those supposed fairly common Caribbean species that I have never managed to see in my 10 years in Costa Rica. This is not a complaint because this diversity of bird species is one of the things that make this country so wonderful. The male White-flanked Antwren looks like a different species, all black with white dots and wing-bar, and, yes, you’ve guessed it, white flanks. It’s still not particularly easy to identify. Like all antbirds it hides in thick vegetation and in addition there are at least 3 other male Costa Rican antbirds (Dot-winged Antwren, Slaty Antwren and Dusky Antbird, for example) that closely resemble it. John actually found this lowland bird at an elevation of around 1100 m.

The Mirador trail is a great spot for woodland species and I’m sure we’ll be able to relocate this pretty little species at the same location one of these mornings.

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