A new WINGS tour this coming early Julyto northwestern and north-central Peru promises to be a really great tour for a couple reasons. First, it's being led by Fabrice Schmitt. Fabrice is a really fun leader to go with, and he has extensive guiding experience in Peru. Second, I'm scheduled to co-lead it with him! But that will only happen if enough people sign up for it, so I'm going to make a few blog posts to highlight some of the amazing things I've seen on my three trips there.
There are only four species in the distinctive and enigmatic family Melanopareiidae, all restricted to South America. They were once placed with the tapaculos, but skeletal characters, and now solid genetic data, prove that they have nothing do to with tapaculos. The current checklist sandwiches them between true antbirds and gnateaters, suggesting that they are more closely related to one of those families.
I had seen my first, the Olive-crowned Crescentchest, in the highlands of central Bolivia in 2000 with Dan Lane. Two years later, I saw my first Collared Crescentchest in Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, also in Bolivia, with Brian Gibbons.
With current taxonomy, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador are the only countries that can claim two species within their boundaries. But the subspecies pallida of the Olive-crowned Crestcentchest, found in the Chaco region of Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina, sounds so different that it will surely be split when someone gets around to writing a proposal to the checklist committee. That would make Bolivia the only country with three species.
My first trip to this part of Peru was a personal trip with my friend Alan Grenon in July of 2010. On that trip I saw my first Elegant Crescentchest, and on the very next day completed the family with the Marañon Crescentchest. We have a very good chance of seeing both in July.
This series of photos of an Elegant Crescentchest were at the Chaparrí Reserve in northwestern Peru on the scouting trip I took in November-December 2011, my second to the area. Fabrice's tour stays here for two nights.