31 December, 2009

Belted Kingfisher

Scientific Name: Megaceryle alcyon

Population Estimate: 2M, Least Concern status

Range: Year-round on rivers and shorelines throughout most of the US. Winters down through Mexico and Central America. Summers up into Canada and Alaska.

Field Notes: Medium-sized bird with oversized head and bill. Shaggy blue crest and back. Both males and females have a blue "belt" around their neck, but females also have a rufous belly. Ringed Kingfisher, found throughout Mexico, Central and South America, is larger and more conspicuous with rufous extending to entire belly.

Personal Notes: The bottom photo was one of our favourite spring finds at The Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls, SD in late April, 2014. 

Golden-olive Woodpecker

Scientific Name: Colaptes rubiginosus
Population Estimate:500K to5M

Range / Habitat: Latin America : Mexico to Guyana, Northwest Peru and Northwest Argentina.

Field Notes: Adults are mainly golden olive above with some barring on the tail. The forecrown is grey, and the hindcrown red. The face is yellow-white and the underparts are barred black and yellowish. The bill is black. Adult males have a red moustachial strip which is lacking in the female.

Personal Notes:

Palm Warbler

Scientific Name: Dendroica palmarum

Population Estimate: 20M, Least Concern status

Range / Habitat: Breeds in bogs in throughout Canada. Winters in the southeast US coast, Caribbean Islands and coastal parts of eastern Mexico, Belize and eastern Central American, where it is almost always found on or underneath palm trees.

Field Notes: Small songbird bright yellow undertail and distinctive habit of wagging tail constantly. Underparts white with yellow on chest and under tail, back brown, no wing bars. In breeding plumage, bright rufous cap, yellow supercilium, and rufous streaks on breast. In basic plumage, dull yellow supercilium remains and there may be faint streaks left on the breast. Yellow Warbler is the only other New World warbler with rufous streaks on chest, but has a plain head. Likewise, Prairie Warbler wags tail constantly but has olive cap and black streaking on chest.

Personal Notes: Our most common visitor in the palms outside our beach-front casitas in Tulum and Ambergris Caye. We have also seen this bird in breeding plumage in late spring in Cancun, Mexico and in migration in Minnesota.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Scientific Name: Pheucticus ludovicianus

Population Estimate: 4.6M

Range / Habitat: The breeding range of the rose-breasted grosbeak extends from British Colombia in western Canada to the eastern United States. In winter, this species migrates to the southern United States, the Caribbean, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru. It can also sometimes be found as a vagrant in Greenland and parts of Europe.

Field Notes:
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) is a large insect-eating songbird in the cardinal family (Cardinalidae). It is primarily a foliage gleaner. The rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) is a medium-sized, stocky songbird with a beautiful, bold plumage which varies greatly between the sexes. The male rose-breasted grosbeak has gained the name ‘cut-throat’ from its distinctive breeding plumage, which has a vivid pink-red triangle on the breast, strongly contrasting with the black upperparts and white underparts.

Personal Notes:

30 December, 2009

Muscovy Duck

Scientific Name: Cairina Moschata

Population Estimate: 50K to 500K

Range / Habitat: The Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata) is a large duck native to Mexico, Central, and South America. Small wild and feral breeding populations have established themselves in the United States, particularly in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, as well as in many other parts of North America, including southern Canada. Feral Muscovy Ducks are found in New Zealand and have also been reported in parts of Europe.

Field Notes: The Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata) are a large duck, with the males measuring about 76 cm in length, and weighing up to 15 pounds. Females are considerably smaller, and only grow to 7 pounds, roughly half the males' size. The bird is predominantly black and white, with the back feathers being iridescent and glossy in males, while the females are more drab. The amount of white on the neck and head is variable, as well as the bill, which can be yellow, pink, black, or any mixture of these. They may have white patches or bars on the wings, which become more noticeable during flight. Both sexes have pink or red wattles around the bill, those of the male being larger and more brightly colored.

Personal Notes:
Though the above photos were taking from a domesticated group of ducks in Luddington, Michigan we later saw a wild breeding population in Wellington, Florida. 

Yellow-throated Warbler

Scientific Name: Dendroica dominica

Population Estimate: 1.6M

Range / Habitat: The yellow-throated warbler is a migratory species, and during the winter it is found throughout the Caribbean, along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico as far as Texas, and east to the Florida peninsula and the Bahamas. It breeds in the eastern and central United States, where it is found as far north as Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Field Notes: The yellow-throated warbler (Dendroicadominica) is the most common member of the genus Dendroica in the southern United States, where it is known for being a harbinger of spring. It is aptly named for its brilliant plumage, with the bright yellow throat and breast, along with the white patch on the side of the neck, distinguishing this largely blue-grey bird from similar species. Other characteristics of the yellow-throated warbler include a white belly, two white bars on the wing, black streaks along the side, a long black bill and brown legs and feet.

Personal Notes:

Black-necked Stilt

Scientific Name: Himantopus mexicanus

Population Estimate: 200K to 2M

Range / Habitat: The Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) is a locally abundant shorebird of American wetlands and coastlines. It is found from the coastal areas of California through much of the interior western United States and along the Gulf of Mexico as far east as Florida, then south through Central America and the Caribbean to northwest Brazil southwest Peru,east Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands.

Field Notes: The Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) is treated by HBW as a subspecies of the Common or Black-winged Stilt, using the trinomial name Himantopus himantopus mexicanus. Adults have long pink legs and a long thin black bill. They are white below and have black wings and backs. The tail is white with some grey banding. A continuous area of black extends from the back along the hindneck to the head. There, it forms a cap covering the entire head from the top to just below eye-level, with the exception of the areas surrounding the bill and a small white spot above the eye. Males have a greenish gloss to the back and wings, particularly in the breeding season. This is less pronounced or absent in females, which have a brown tinge to these areas instead. Otherwise, the sexes look alike.

Personal Notes:

American White Ibis

Scientific Name: Eudocimus albus

Population Estimate: 150K

Range / Habitat: Year-round in shallow coastal marshes, wetlands, and mangrove swamps along the Gulf Coast, Atlantic coast of US as far north as the Carolinas, throughout Florida and the Caribbean, both coasts of Mexico and Central America as far south as Columbia and Venezuela.

Field Notes: Medium-sized white wading bird with black wing tips, long decurved red bill and red legs. Unmistakable in range.

Personal Notes: Seen in Cancun and Orlando.


Scientific Name: Anhinga anhinga

Population Estimate: Unknown but Least Concern status

Range / Habitat: Warm shallow water and wetlands throughout southeastern US, Mexico, Central America, South America.

Field Notes: Large black bird with long thin neck and bill. White in wings. Females have a pale neck and head. May be mistaken for a cormorant but longer tail and longer, thinner neck and bill are distinctive.

Personal Notes: We have seen this bird multiple places, but especially enjoyed observing it in a boat crossing of Arenal Lake in Costa Rica.

Grey Hawk

Scientific Name: Buteo nitidus

Population Estimate: 2M

Range / Habitat: Open country and forest edges from southwestern United States, through Mexico, Central America and south to Bolivia, Brazil and central Argentina. Sightings on Trinidad and Tobago.

Field Notes: Medium-sized hawk with all grey head and wings. Belly with faint grey barring. Tail relatively long with wide stripes. Differentiated from Roadside Hawk by all grey body and dark iris.

Personal Notes: A common sight along the road from Tulum to Cancun.

Black-cowled Oriole

Scientific Name: Icterus prosthemelas

Population Estimate: 50K-500K

Range / Habitat: Yucatan and Central America in subtropical and tropical lowland moist forest.

Field Notes: Males (above) unmistakable with completely black head, neck, back, wings and tail on an otherwise yellow body, including shoulder, belly, vent, and rump. No wing bars. Allopatric with Black-vented Oriole which, indeed, has a black vent.

Personal Notes:

Yellow-headed Amazon

Scientific Name: Amazona Oratrix

Population Estimate: 7K

Range / Habitat: Formerly included both coastal slopes of Mexico from the Tres Marías Islands and Jalisco to Oaxaca and from Nuevo León to northern Chiapas and southwestern Tabasco, as well as a disjunct area including most of Belize, and another comprising a small part of northeastern Guatemala and northwestern Honduras.[

Field Notes: The Yellow-headed Amazon (Amazona oratrix), also known as the Yellow-headed Parrot and Double Yellow-headed Amazon. Nominate race green with yellow head, thighs and carpal area. White orbital ring. Red bend of wing and speculum. Dark blue tips to flight feathers. Yellow tips to tail with red marks on base of outer feathers (tresmariae subspecies has yellow extending on to chest and glucose wash to underparts). Immature has yellow restricted to crown, lores, ear-coverts and throat. Subspecies belizensis and "guatemalensis" resemble immature nominate but have greyish orbital ring and lack yellow on throat. Yellow can be only forecrown patch and flecking on nape. Voice Raucous, rolled screams.

Personal Notes:

Red-lored Amazon

Scientific Name: Amazona Autumnalis

Population Estimate: 500K to 5M

Range / Habitat: The Red-lored Amazon nests in tree cavities. The eggs are white and there are usually three or four in a clutch. The Red-lored Amazon or Red-lored Parrot (Amazona autumnalis) is a species of Amazon parrot, native to tropical regions of the Americas, from eastern Mexico south to Ecuador, with a disjunct population in central Brazil, where it occurs in humid evergreen to semi-deciduous forests up to 1,100 m altitude. It is absent from the Pacific side of Central America north of Costa Rica.

Field Notes: The Red-lored Amazon or Red-lored Parrot (Amazona autumnalis) is a species of Amazon parrot. The plumage is primarily green, with a red forehead and, in some subspecies, yellow cheeks (sometimes with red spots). The crown is blue. Adult males and females do not differ in plumage. Juveniles have less yellow on the cheeks, less red on the forehead, and dark irises

Personal Notes:

White-fronted Amazon

Scientific Name: Amazona Albifrons

Population Estimate: 500K to 5M

Range / Habitat: The White-fronted Amazon is native to Central America and Mexico; and is most often seen in small flocks of up to 20 birds. They are seen in a variety of different habitats from wet regions such as rainforests, to drier areas such as cactus savannahs. Their breeding season is usually in the spring, starting in February and ending in the summer (in June and July in most areas). After breeding, the female will lay an average of three to four white eggs.

Field Notes:  The White-fronted Amazon (Amazona albifrons) also known as the White-fronted Parrot, or adopted slang term Spectacled Amazon Parrot is a Central American species of parrot. They have mostly green plumage with some blue colouring on their outspread wings. They have bright red coloring around their eyes (in some individuals almost like spectacles) and blue coloring behind the patch of white on their foreheads. Together with the Red-spectacled Amazon and the Yellow-lored Amazon, it is the only Amazon species in which adult males and females easily can be distinguished by external appearance (sexual dimorphism). Males have bright red feathers on their "shoulders" (alula), while females have green "shoulders". Juveniles have pale grey irises and less red on their face and the white area is replaced with a smaller yellowish area.

Personal Notes:

Indian Peafowl

Scientific Name: Pavo Cristatus

Population Estimate: Unknown but Least Concern status

Range / Habitat: The native range of the Indian peafowl encompasses India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Captive specimens are found throughout the world, and introduced, feral populations now occur in Australia, New Zealand, the Bahamas, and the USA.

Field Notes: The national bird of India, the spectacular appearance of the male Indian peafowl, or ‘peacock’, is well-known throughout the world. The male’s head, neck and breast are a glossy, iridescent blue, with white patches above and below the eyes, along with a crest of upright, blue-tipped feathers on the crown of the head. By contrast, the back and wings are greyish-brown with brown barring.

Orange Oriole

Scientific Name: Icterus auratus

Population Estimate: 20K-50K

Range / Habitat: This oriole is endemic to the moist, lowland forests of the Yucatan Peninsula. It can also be found in the northernmost portion of Belize as well as Ambergris Caye of Belize in the winter.

Field Notes: Orange oriole distinguished from others in this area (Altamira Oriole and Hooded Oriole) by the all orange back (though you can't see it in the above photos). The others have a black band across the back.

Personal Notes: We saw the top bird on Ambergris Caye in November, quite a exciting find outside of the Yucatan Peninsula itself.

Greyish Saltator

Scientific Name: Saltator Coerulescens

Population Estimate: 5M to 50M

Range / Habitat: This species occurs in open woodland, plains and scrub, from Mexico through Central America into southern South America, south to Peru and the Paraná River region in northern Argentina.

Field Notes: The Greyish Saltator (Saltator coerulescens) is a seed-eating songbird that is widespread in the tropical Americas.The Greyish Saltator feeds on fruits,buds and slow-moving arthropods. It forages at low and middle levels, sometimes in pairs or small groups and sometimes with mixed-species flocks that may include other saltators.

Personal Notes:

Summer Tanager

Scientific Name: Piranga rubra

Population Estimate: 4M

Range / Habitat: Breeds in deciduous woodland, frequently near waterway, in eastern and southwestern US and northern Mexico. Otherwise found in a variety of forest types at mid- to upper-tree levels. Winters in southern Mexico, including the Yucatan, through to northern South America.

Field Notes: Medium-sized passerine with large, pale bill. Males all red as in top photo. Females and juveniles with olive back and wings, yellow underparts with splotches of red. Scarlet Tanager with black or dark wings. Hepatic Tanager with dark bill.

Personal Notes: Original seen in Belize, we found this bird again on the El Rey ruins in Cancun, Mexico. Finally heard one stateside Battle Creek Regional Park in St Paul MN. 

Hooded Oriole

Scientific Name: Icterus cucullatus

Population Estimate: 600K

Range / Habitat: From southwestern US into Mexico and Belize in lowland subtropical and tropical dry forest.

Field Notes: The nelsoni subspecies (top photo) is more yellowish, with a scalloped bar across the back, more white in the wings and less extensive black (stops before base) in the tail. The Yucatan subspecies (igneus, shown below) is more orange than others throughout Mexico. Though you can't fully see the black mask and bib in the second photo, it shows the characteristics that distinguish it from other sympatric orioles: black bar across the back (which Orange Oriole lacks) and first wing bar white (not orange as on the Altamira Oriole).

Personal Notes:

Yucatan Jay

Scientific Name: Cyanocorax Yucatanicus

Population Estimate: 50K to 500K

Range / Habitat: It is found in Belize, Guatemala, and southern Mexico. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and heavily degraded former forest.

Field Notes:
The Yucatán Jay (Cyanocorax yucatanicus) is a species of bird in the Corvidae family, the crows and their allies.Adults are black, with cerulean blue wings, mantle, and tail. They have black bills, black eye rings, and yellow legs. Juvenile Yucatán Jays have completely yellow bare parts and white, rather than black, body plumage.

Personal Notes:


Scientific Name: Calidris alba

Population Estimate: 620K to 700K

Range / Habitat: Circumpolar arctic breeder in grassland tundra. Otherwise found in marine intertidal areas and wetlands. Complete migrator with worldwide distribution, including Australia and New Zealand.

Field Notes: Larger sandpiper than the peeps. Winter plumage as above with strikingly black legs and bill against white neck, chest, belly. White shoulder patch. Breeding plumage with rufous neck and head. Compared to other shorebirds, lacks hind toe. Characteristic "bicycling" or "clockwork" behavior of chasing the waves out, then running back in front of incoming waves.

Personal Notes: I love my ladee.

Squirrel Cuckoo

Scientific Name: Piaya cayana

Population Estimate: 5M to 50M

Range / Habitat: Breeds from northwestern Mexico, through Central America, down to northern Argentina and Uruguay. Also found on Trinidad. Habitat is lowland moist forest.

Field Notes: Large, long-tailed cuckoo with unmistakable plumage. Runs along branches, hops from branch to branch, and forages on ground like a squirrel.

Personal Notes:

Black-headed Trogon

Scientific Name: Trogon Melanocephalus
Population Estimate: 50K to 500K

Range / Habitat: It is found in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

Field Notes: Females with brown breasts and heads characterize one clade (including T. rufus), whereas females in the other clade (including T. comptus) have gray breasts and heads. Females of T. rufus and T. mexicanus both have brown heads. Male plumage does not appear to be informative at this level; species with red or yellow underparts are interspersed in both clades. They have large eyes, stout hooked bills, short wings, and long, squared-off, strongly graduated tails; black and white tail-feather markings form distinctive patterns on the underside. Males have richly colored metallic plumage, metallic on the upperparts.

Personal Notes:

Yucatan Flycatcher

Scientific Name: Myiarchus Yucatanensis

Population Estimate: 20K to 50K

Range / Habitat: It is found in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and heavily degraded former forest.

Field Notes: An endemic flycatcher of the Yucatan. This bird can be distinguished from Ducky-capped Flycatcher by white wingbars, lighter head and pale grey lores, and pale eyering.Like many Myiarchus flycatchers, identification is most reliably based on voice, though visual identification is not impossible. Three subspecies are generally recognized, of which the most widespread geographically, the nominate, is strikingly rufous-crowned, making it comparatively easily identified.

Personal Notes:

Tropical Pewee

Scientific Name: Contopus cinereus

Population Estimate: 5M to 50M

Range / Habitat: Tropical and subtropical lowland moist forest from southern Mexico through Central America down into much of South America.

Field Notes: Pewees have peaked to crested napes (as in the bottom two photos) and long wings (as in the top photo). Behaviorally, they repeatedly fly off and return to the same perch. Differentiated from similar birds by habitat and call.

Personal Notes: