Rufous Mourner

The Rufous Mourner (Rhytipterna holerythra) is a flycatcher while the Rufous Piha (Lipaugus unirufus) is a cotinga, but the bird guides consider the two species to be virtually indistinguishable in the field – unless they decide to speak up by giving a call note!

I do believe I heard the sad call of the Rufous Mourner on the Mirador trail at Aquiares just before John Beer and I bumped into a trio of rufous or cinnamon-plumaged birds. Here’s one of them:

Flycatcher, Mourner, Rufous, Aquiares2

One of three Rufous Mourners, I hope!

John managed to get several more nice photos, including this one:

Flycatcher, Mourner, Rufous, Aquiares (1)

Rufous Mourner, courtesy of John Beer

I have no photographs of the Rufous Piha, which is said to be an uncommon species on the Caribbean slope. When I see a bird of this colour in our area my first thought goes to two fairly common species, either a female White-lined Tanager (Tachyphonus rufus)…

White-lined tanager fem. CR (11)

Karel Straatman’s photo shows the distinctive tanager bill of the female White-lined Tanager. In bright light it appears much more rufous.

…or  a Cinnamon Becard (Pachyramphus cinnamomeus). Larry Waddell captured a nice shot of this lowland species at the CATIE canal, Turrialba:

Cinnamon Becard CATIE Canal Larry

The Cinnamon Becard is much paler below than either the Rufous Mourner or Rufous Piha.

Recent forest visits have now brought me into contact more regularly with the Rufous Mourner, which leaves me still lacking any sure views of a Rufous Piha. A visit to a Caribbean lowland forest is in order!



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