Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Northern Peru Hummingbirds #2

Our main base for the Northern Peru tour is the five-year-old Owlet Lodge at the pass long known to ornithologists at Abra Patricia. It’s owned by ECOAN, a non-profit organization for which we’re very grateful, as they purchased the surrounding large tract of cloud forest, protect it from clearing and hunting, and make it available for birders.

The hummingbird feeders here provide endless hours of entertainment and photographic opportunities. It’s hard to justify just sitting at feeders though, when you know that there are dozens of exciting cloud forest birds in mixed flocks and in the understory along the trails. But the abundant rain we had on this tour provided the perfect excuse.

Chestnut-breasted Coronet is the most abundant and aggressive species here. They have a distinctive way of holding their wings up for a brief moment upon perching.

Emerald-bellied Puffleg is also rather common, usually managing to fly under the coronets’ radar.

The Collared Inca is larger than the coronets, but was quite shy and didn’t seem to like all the commotion.

The interesting Bronzy Inca (few hummers are so drab) was also not as aggressive as the coronets, but they managed to hold their own.

The Long-tailed Sylph is one of my favorite hummingbirds of all. They came and went as they pleased and weren’t bothered much by the more aggressive birds, preferring to chase each other.

We saw Speckled Hummingbird only a few times, when it would perch between the feeders and waited for a gap in the buzzing activity. It looks vaguely like a hermit but is not related to them.

This Amethyst-throated Sunangel demonstrates how the feathers of the gorget and forecrown are actually black. Only when the light is refracted through the external structure of the feathers at just the right angle do the fabulous colors show.

The banana feeder right next to the hummingbirds was probably originally erected to attract tanagers, but now it’s frequented by a couple of Tayras, a large, omnivorous neotropical weasel.

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