First ever photograph of Black Tinamou in Ecuador

On 12 December 2008 we birded along the pipeline of the Guacamayos ridge, south of Cosanga, Napo province (0º37’N, 77º’50W). A wide range of different east-slope species can be seen along the pipeline because of its steep altitudinal drop. At about 2000m height we saw some good birds including a male Black-chested Fruiteater, Pipreola lubomirskii a curious pair of Chestnut-breasted Wrens, Cyphorhinus thoracicus White-streaked Antvireo Dysithamnus leucostictus and a few Vermillion Tanagers Calochaetes coccineus. Lower down the pipeline you start get more foothill species. Good birds included Chestnut-crowned Gnateater Conopophaga castaneiceps and Coppery-chested Jacamar Galbula pastazae. We also saw two adult and one juvenile Black-and-chestnut Eagle Oroaetus isidori perched and flying in the valley (photo). Last year we have seen the adults together at the same location and the fresh juvenile indicates successful breeding in the area. At about 1400m height we were walking back up and were fantasising about rare Gray Tinamous  Tinamus tao crossing the path. Incredibly, just a few minutes later a big greyish tinamou came out on the path in front of us as it watched us for two minutes! Completely stunned we almost forgot to take some pictures but just before it went back in the forest we took some record shots.


At the time we were celebrating our first sighting of Gray Tinamou ever. When we came home in Quito we examined the photographs of the tinamou with literature at hand. Surprisingly, the bird did not show the typical white markings on the head of Gray Tinamou. The bird was also rather uniform coloured without any barring in the plumage. Slowly it came to us that we have witnessed the very rare Black Tinamou Tinamus osgoodi ! After some email exchange later that day a few colleagues confirmed its identification as Black Tinamou. Although the species was not depicted in the field guide of the Birds of Ecuador (Ridgley & Greenfield 2001) it was known to occur in Ecuador very rarely (Jonas Nilsson had heard it before at the Vulcan Sumaco). To our knowledge this is the first photograph ever of the species in Ecuador.

Dušan M. Brinkhuizen & María Lorena Córdova


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Aves Ecuador by Dušan M. Brinkhuizen