Birder's Guide

MAR 2015

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.

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Page 17 of 67

16 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2015 Avian Unicorns of Middle America specimens exist, and in the past 30 years it has been documented perhaps just fve times, with only one unequivocal photo- graph of a live bird. The known range is in the mountains of western Mexico from Jalisco to perhaps Oaxaca. The best place currently known to look for the species is in the vicinity of Tacámbaro, Micho- acán (again using Howell's birdfnding guide). It is not known whether the spe- cies is resident or migratory, and most specimens and records are from summer, so unless you're looking to establish one of the frst winter or migratory records of a species whose migratory habits are almost completely unknown, summer might be the best time to go. Glow-throated Hummingbird (Se - lasphorus ardens) is by far the most diff- cult hummingbird to see in North Amer- ica. This Panamanian species is barely known and has a tiny, poorly understood range that overlaps with Scintillant Hum- mingbird, a species which is essentially identical except for the gorget color of adult males (rosy-red in Glow-throated, orangeish-red in Scintillant). Various au- thors have proposed criteria for separat- ing female and juvenile Scintillants from Glow-throateds, but it is still unclear whether these criteria are reliable and whether museum specimens are even identifed correctly. To look for Glow- throated Hummingbird, go up to Cerro Santiago in Panama. The road (accessed from the Pan-American at San Félix) is now improved most of the way, though to continue on and look for the endemic Yellow-green Finch, high clearance is handy. There are no services, so a couple days spent car-camping might be a good idea to maximize your chances. This is a native peoples' area, so you must ask permission of the locals to camp, which will require Spanish. A few recent ar- ticles by Bill Adsett (e.g., cerro-santiago), help provide the most current understanding of the range, oc- currence, and identifcation of this spe- cies. We spent a few days searching for Glow-throateds, but saw only many fe- male/juvenile hummingbirds that went Above: Male Short-crested Coquette. Photo © John Cobb Below: Female Short-crested Coquette. Photo © Ryan Shaw Continued on page 18 Short-crested Coquette (Lophornis brachylophus) occurs only in the Sierra de Atoyac in the state of Guerrero in Mexi- co. Steve Howell's directions to the area above Atoyac (in his birdfnding guide) are excellent, but the "political situation", as he calls it, is currently very unstable. I believe it would be unwise to head to this area without a good bit of research and current information from a well-in- formed local. If you can make it there, be sure to look for two other striking en- demics: White-tailed Hummingbird and White-throated Jay. White-fronted Swift (Cypseloides storeri) is probably the least-known bird species in North America. Only a few

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