Mystery bird, ExplorNapo Lodge, Amazonas, Peru. 12 July 2003.
All pictures are © Kevin J. McGowan.
Photos were taken with an Olympus D-40 digital camera through a Swarovski ATS 80 spotting scope.
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While teaching a workshop along the Amazon in Peru this last July, I was watching flocks of birds come to some fruiting trees near the ExplorNapo Lodge. ExplorNapo is up the Sucasari River, on the north side of the Napo River just upstream from its confluence with the Amazon (north side of the Amazon). The fruiting tree was along the river bank, on the edge of a large garden clearing. The bird activity was surprisingly constant, with foraging tanagers, manakins, cotingas, flycatchers, and hummingbirds present all day for several days.
One morning as I was watching the active tree a medium-sized bird popped out on a bare limb that I could not identify. Not only did I not know what it was, I didn't even know which family it was in! I took two quick photographs of it, and then it disappeared. I did not see it again over the next few days.
It was larger than most of the tanagers present, much larger than all the Tangara, and a bit larger than the Ramphocelus. I would guess that it weighed somewhere between 45 and 110 grams, was about 20-25 cm long. It had a long tail and relatively long legs. It was colored uniformly in dark warm buffy (or cinnamon) brown, with very little, if any, counter shading. The back of the head had a short crest. The bill was dark, though I cannot say if it was completely dark (it looks all dark in the photos). The large eye was dark. It held itself up off the branch in an active posture, and did not sit like a "typical" flycatcher, but somewhere between a Turdus thrush and a flycatcher.
The following photographs have been cropped out of the original. I increased the gamma some to reveal the feather detail, and sharpened them only a little.
The large eye in the plain face, along with the lack of counter shading suggested Cotinga to me, but I can't match it with anything. The best I can figure, it's some kind of Suboscine passerine, probably a Tyrannid. But I'm open to suggestions!
If you recognize this bird, email me at email@example.com.
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