The Blue-winged Mountain Tanager (Anisognathus somptuosus) is a species of bird in the family Thraupidae, the tanagers. These bright, beautiful little birds are often seen at banana tables at lodges in their range.
They can be found in the higher elevations (mostly above 2500 meters) in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. I’ve seen them at Angel Paz, Sachatamia & Rio Blanco and they always brighten up my day!
LEARN MORE ABOUT BLUE-WINGED MOUNTAIN TANAGERS
Banana tables usually attract these little cuties in their range but some people have gotten lucky seeing them in the bush as well.
The road that goes up into the hills is actually called San Lorenzo Road but it is also called the Waterfall Trail because of the hikes in the area to various waterfalls. There is also a zipline company operating here. You can walk from Mindo town if you are fit and keen, otherwise a taxi can drop you at the birding place and you can walk down the hill. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the drop off place but there is a fork from the side of the road about 2-3km up the hill leading to a farm.
We birded this area twice. The first day was with one of the best bird guides in Mindo – Alex Luna. The second day we went back on our own as Alex was booked that day to try again for Rose-faced Parrots.
The weather plays a huge part in how lucky you will get. So you can imagine I wasn’t thrilled with this kind of fog!
This is the entrance to San Lorenzo Road. Keep driving a few km, look for a fork leading to a farm on your right, then jump out and start birding.
Here’s some shots from Day 1. Alex tried his best but the weather was working against us. We did get some Red-billed Parrots, Bronze-winged Parrots, Collared Aracari, Choco Toucan and some beautiful Tanagers but the photos didn’t come out.
Day 1 Bird List
Here’s some shots from Day 2. This time the weather was slightly better, the fog lifted earlier and we hung around until 9:30. The Rose-faced Parrots finally did show up but it was closer to 9am when they did and they hung around quite a while so we got to spend some quality time watching them. We also saw Red-billed Parrots, a quick fly-by of Maroon-tailed Parakeets and a lot more! I tried to keep the photos together but we were using 2 cameras – a Canon 60D & a Nikon Coolpix P900 (the one with 83x zoom).
Day 2 Bird List
This is Alex Luna, the wonderful birding guide in Mindo. You can contact him by email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to organize a trip with him. He speaks English very well, knows all the birds and if you have target birds, he will do all he can to make sure you see them (though he can’t do anything about the weather)!
The Paradise Tanager (Tangara chilensis) is a brilliantly multicolored, medium-sized songbird whose length varies between 13.5 and 15 cm. It has a light green head, sky blue underparts and black upper body plumage. Depending on subspecies, the rump is yellow and red or all red. The beak is black and the legs are grey.
This stunning little tanager has a large range in the more remote areas of South America. I saw this little beauty at Cristalino, but you could also see them in places like Tambopata, Manu and the Napo region of Ecuador.
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They are even more beautiful in motion!
The Blue-grey Tanager (Thraupis episcopus) is a medium-sized South American songbird of the Tanager family, Thraupidae. Its range is from Mexico south to northeast Bolivia and northern Brazil, all of the Amazon Basin, except the very south. It has been introduced to Lima (Peru). On Trinidad and Tobago, this bird is called Blue Jean.
This delicately hued little beauty has a wide range throughout Central and South America (easily reached with airline miles) and can be easily seen in most of the national parks. I saw them in Crooked Tree, Belize; Tikal, Laguna del Lagarto & Savegre, Costa Rica; and Soberania in Panama.
The breeding habitat is open woodland, cultivated areas and gardens. The Blue-grey Tanager lives mainly on fruit, but will also take some nectar and insects. This is a common, restless, noisy and confiding species, usually found in pairs, but sometimes small groups. It thrives around human habitation, and will take some cultivated fruit like papayas (Carica papaya). Many eco-lodges put bananas out to attract them closer. I have no problem with this since bananas are part of their normal diet. Breeding season is from March to July. During this time, the female lays one to three mottled eggs, which she incubates for 12 to 14 days. Once hatched, both parents feed their chicks.
Adult blue-gray tanagers are preyed upon by felines, snakes, birds of prey and crocodilians. Other predators, such as raccoons, eat young birds and eggs. Habitat destruction due to deforestation is the primary threat to this species.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS BIRD
This one is long but watch for a few minutes to see the bird’s feeding habits and sound.
Central America has some of the best birding in the world. There are so many bird species, it would be impossible to see all of them or even visit all the national parks and regions where birds are easily seen. It is better to make a list of your priority species, find out where they can be seen and cross-reference the different regions to maximize possible species. Since I am obsessed with Parrots, I gave them priority when I decided which regions and national parks I would visit. I knew that many other fascinating bird species would also be seen such as the Resplendent Quetzal, various Toucans and Aracaris, many gorgeous little Tanagers and Woodpeckers and lots of other birds.
After using several resources such as the bird lists found on national park websites, the book Parrots of the World by Joseph Forshaw and recommendations from friends, I came up with the following spreadsheet. A black X indicates the bird has been seen in that area. A green X indicates the birds I actually saw when I was there. The “captive” Yellow-naped Amazon seen near Montverde was originally a wild parrot whose wings have been clipped so he can’t fly and is forced to hang around a certain restaurant/gift shop. There will be more details on future blogs. The bright yellow shading indicated parrots I was successful in seeing, the white rows are the 3 species I didn’t find-the Barred Parakeet and the 2 Parrotlets.
Parrots of Central America