Birder's Guide

OCT 2017

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 13 of 51

12 Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | October 2017 Amazonian Big Day Amazonian Streaked-Antwren, Striped Woodcreeper, and Little Ground-Tyrant. In the Amazon, antbirds, ovenbirds, and flycatchers make up almost half the total avian diversity. Therefore, a Big Day in the southern lowlands of Peru is largely a game of keying into unmusical, relatively similarly-sounding and -ap - pearing species. After having swept much of the riverine specialists, I returned to the forest and found a male Ash-throated Gnateater incubating eggs on a previ - ously found nest, a species that I missed otherwise. The lunch hour was looming, so I trav - eled back to the station along a ridgeside that helped me clean up some missed species from earlier in the day. A usually reliable Thrush-like Antpitta apparently had other business to conduct rather than respond to my playback. Missing that antpitta pained me because it was the only chance I had for that species. Many of these misses occurred through - out the day, but I carried on. Other parts of the algorithm demanded attention. Just a bit beyond the non-antpitta, two species surprised me—the uncommon Yellow- billed Nunbird was catching flies in the broken canopy, and a rare pack of four Ivory-billed Araçaris were foraging on the ground just off trail! I booked it back to the station to scan for raptors, which were markedly absent. At this point in the day, I ran a quick tally and had around 270 species—fan - tastic! The cool temperatures throughout the morning had prolonged foraging and singing activity. Several large gaps in my list remained, though. I had intentionally ignored canopy flocks containing tana - gers, flycatchers, and ovenbirds in the morning because (a) those often remain active throughout the day on cool and hot days alike, and (b) I was focused on traversing the strategic route through the various habitats of the morning. Marsh birds were completely untouched. Many easy species still eluded me, such as the Great Antshrike and either the Scarlet or Red-and-green macaw. After scarfing a mess hall lunch of the usual rice and beans (although sometimes they serve beans and rice), I passed a high overlook of the Madre de Dios River, where the clear skies allowed views of the snow-capped Andes more than 100 miles away. The omnipresent Black-banded Crake and Chestnut-bellied Seed-Finch were procured quickly in the wet grassy margins below the cliff side. The assort - ment of herons and egrets that had danced along a large sandy beach every day for the past month was absent! And despite almost an hour of scanning, raptors were still mostly M.I.A. An Ornate Hawk-Eagle flew over calling, a small consolation for missing other raptors and the waders. Luckily, the airstrip held some targets, n LEFT: The piping whistles of an Ornate Hawk-Eagle echoing down into the forest from high above are a sure sign that this monkey-eater is on display. Photo © Sean Williams n BELOW: A most fortuitous find on the Big Day was this Madeira Antwren nest—the first known to science (Williams 2016). Photo © Sean Williams

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