Milpe Bird Sanctuary: November 23, 2008

Environmental destruction is as apparent here at Milpe as Rio Silanche, it's just been halted. Located just beyond Mindo, the region around Milpe has fallen, if not under the protection of the World Land Trust, then at least under the shadow of ecotourism. There are several modest reforestation projects ongoing, in addition to the efforts of Mindo Cloud Forest. Birders and other tourists visit almost every day, and the community is taking notice, spawning knockoffs down the road where private fincas advertise hummingbird gardens. Maybe African Palm doesn't grow too well in the foothills of the Andes.

At a place as birdy as Milpe it helps to have a few goals. Mine this morning was to see finally the Esmeraldas Antbird, which surprisingly didn't take much time. The field guide describes its favored habitat as "undergrowth on damp slopes and near shady streams." That's exactly where I found it, and after confirming with my iPod that it was indeed the Esmeraldas Antbird that was calling from the undergrowth, I was pestered by a singing male who was pumping his tail vigorously up and down. Note the bird's delicate spotting and striking red eye in this lucky photograph.

Descending further down to the river, I flushed a large bird near a small stream that perched in view through a tight network of vines and branches; the Fasciated Tiger Heron isn't even on the sanctuary's bird list! Neither is the Wattled Guan, which was calling throughout the morning, its mechanical breeding song surging through the canyon. I also startled a large flock of forest pigeons, which are a little more exotic than they sound; this juvenile Indigo-Crowned Quail-Dove let me approach within two meters before its instinct to flee kicked in. Finally, I'm just about positive that it was the Little Tinamous that I almost booted as I rounded a bend in the trail, but it was too quick a view to count.

Notable birds seen: Fasciated Tiger Heron, White-Tipped Dove, Green Thorntail, Andean Emerald, Rufous Motmot, Crimson-Rumped Toucanet, Red-Faced Spinetail, Immaculate Antbird, Esmeraldas Antbird, Olive-Striped Flycatcher, Smoke-Colored Pewee, Snowy-Throated Kingbird, Black-and-White Becard, Golden-Winged Manakin, White-Bearded Manakin, Club-Winged Manakin, Swainson's Thrush, Blackburnian Warbler, Three-Striped Warbler, Buff-Rumped Warbler, Purple Honeycreeper, Dusky-Faced Tanager, Dusky Bush-Tanager.


Unknown said...

Very interesting blog, but your photo labelled as showing a juv. "White-tipped Dove" is actually a juv. Indigo-crowned Quail-Dove (or Sapphire, if not following the Ridgely & Greenfield split).

Derek Kverno said...

Thanks for your message, Rasmus. I completely agree with your identification given the bird's emergent black malar stripe, dark eye, and purplish hue in the crown. Juveniles can be tough to identify, but this one seems obvious now. Thanks again for the correction.

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