Thursday, July 4, 2013

eBirding southern Honduras

female Rose-throated Becard
Roselvy and I targeted another data-deficient eBird quadrant yesterday morning, trying to fill gaps in our knowledge of bird distribution in southern Honduras. We did seven complete checklists of about twenty minutes each (plus one incidental list) in a quadrant just north of Nacaome, in the department of Valle, where most of the habitat is Pacific dry forest interspersed with corn and bean subsistence cultivations, small mango orchards here and there, and small-scale cattle farming. Some of the birds we found are uncommonly reported from Honduras (such as White-bellied Chachalaca, or Thicket Tinamou), while others we found in higher than usual densities (like Striped Cuckoo). In total, we dug up 68 species for this quadrant. Not bad, considering all winter visitors aren't there right now. We'll come back for them later.

the 'empty quadrant' we visited yesterday

We stopped at three different river crossings, and thus likely biased our counts toward waterbirds. This explains three kingfisher species on our list (Ringed, Amazon and Green), and the high frequency of riparian birds like Rose-throated Becard (present on 70% of our checklists yesterday). Cuckoos appear to be genuinely common in this area, with Groove-billed Ani on 85%, Striped Cuckoo on 70%, and Squirrel Cuckoo and Lesser Ground-cuckoo each on 40% of our checklists. The only species present on all of our seven checklists yesterday was White-tipped Dove. Curiously absent was Black Phoebe, diligently looked for but not found, while Social Flycatcher only appeared on one out of seven checklists – normally a more common species in disturbed areas.

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher

Our best birds yesterday included Collared Forest-Falcon, White-bellied Chachalaca, Thicket Tinamou, and Green-breasted Mango. Soon we'll try to hit the quadrant above it, to continue eliminating as many holes on the map as we can. The area around Tegucigalpa is starting to look pretty good!