Birder's Guide

DEC 2018

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 28 of 43

27 December 2018 | Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy Stevensville, Montana Sophie A.H. Osborn s I walked along a dirt road in north- ern Colombia in early 2015, listen- ing to the arresting cries of count- less birds emanating from the surrounding forest, I suddenly spotted what looked like an upright potato with long legs. Its quick dashes were punctuated by sudden stops as it hopped along the verge up ahead. The creature's unmistakable shape and move- ments brought an immediate and delighted smile to my face. An antpitta! A generally secretive family of Neotropical understory birds, antpittas have frustrated legions of birders with their furtive hab- its and impenetrable haunts. Although the birds are much more often heard than seen, today's birders are sometimes treated to the sight of antpittas that are attracted to the playback of recorded calls or enticed with gifts of tantalizing worms. With the ex- ception of the easy-to-see Tawny Antpitta, which hops around in the open above treeline, unorchestrated glimpses of these elusive, fast-moving, long-legged birds are a fortuitous treat and a thrill for any visitor to tropical America. Binoculars glued to my face, I watched the antpitta cross the road up ahead and then approach with a confiding noncha- lance. My eyes roamed avidly over the bird's grayish cap, brown back, dark crescents overlaid on a yellowish front, white throat, and dark cheek stripe. All the while, I tried n Undulated Antpitta. Photo © Jay Packer to memorize every feature so I could secure an identification. "The endemic Santa Marta Antpitta", my birding companion breathed. Puzzled, I glanced away from the bird. "It should be the Santa Marta Antpitta," I agreed doubtfully, "but it looks nothing like the way it's shown in the guide." Itching to pull out my field guide but unwilling to tear my eyes away from the captivating bird, I watched as the antpitta came within 20 feet (6 meters). It seemed to want to move past us and hopped off the road into the ditch to do so, disap - pearing for a moment. Seconds later, it reap- peared within a few feet before vanishing into the undergrowth. Pulling out my field guide, I leafed through an impressive trove of painted birds—with A

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Birder's Guide - DEC 2018