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Long Wattles and Goodbyes

April 10, 2016
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Long-wattled Umbrellabird found at Reserva las Tangaras on March 3rd, 2016. Photo by Zak Pohlen.

We have seen some amazing birds during our time as reserve managers, with the Yellow-throated Vireo being the cherry on top. However, if you ask either of us what our second favorite bird found was, we’ll both unanimously say: “Long-wattled Umbrellabird”. On March 3rd we found a lone Long-wattled Umbrellabird moving with a group of Collared Aracaris (Pale-mandibled). This is the first record of this species for the reserve and an exciting record for the area, as they are a rare species often difficult to see outside of known lek locations. Two well-known leks can be seen at Recinto 23 de Junio, located west of Mindo near San Miguel de los Bancos.

Like the reserve’s poster child, the Andean Cock-of-the-rock, the Long-wattled Umbrellabird is a part of the continga family—a diverse group of passerines found throughout Central and South America. The Long-wattled Umbrellabird is only found in the ‘Choco’ region, a 100,000 square kilometer area of humid forest in western Columbia and northwestern Ecuador home to many endemic birds and other endemic species. Within Ecuador the Long-wattled Umbrellabird is listed as endangered, due to both habitat destruction and hunting pressure. Like the Andean Cock-of-the-rock, male Umbrellabirds form leks where they display with the help of their long, pendulum-like, feathered wattle, and fog-horn-like call. Listen to the song and wing noises below.

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Though not an adult male, it was still an unforgettable moment seeing this bird pop up out in the open, and we were especially lucky that it stayed long enough to get a few photos. Another amazing experience at Reserva las Tangaras! To learn more about research and conservation of the Long-wattled Umbrellabird and the unique Choco region, visit the Center for Tropical Research’s Website, a part of UCLA’s Institute of the environment and sustainability.

Unfortunately, it is time for us to say goodbye to the reserve. Most of all we will miss the incredible avian diversity and all the amazing guests we were so lucky to have met. We feel honored to join the long list of “past managers”, and we are happy to welcome Heather and Costin to their new home for the next three months. Thanks to everyone who made our time at the reserve so special, and thank you Reserva las Tangaras!

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Happy to snag 3 new species for our reserve list, including the Long-wattled Umbrellabird.

Cheers!

Callie Gesmundo & Zak Pohlen

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