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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Euphonia Euphoria! (plus Stolid Flycatcher and Hispaniolan Woodpecker)

[Hispaniola, Feb 2014]

Hispaniola, sandwiched between Cuba and Puerto Rico, is the "America" that Columbus "discovered" in the late 1400's. And, with the evolutionary isolation that islands offer, it is also a hotbed of endemism. A quick trip to the Eastern side of the island (i.e., the Dominican Republic) afforded an opportunity to observe some specialty species such as:
  • Antillean Euphonia
  • Stolid Flycatcher
  • Hispaniolan Woodpecker (Endemic)
  • Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo (Endemic)
  • Red-legged Thrush; and,
  • Grey Kingbird
We will lead with the spectacular Euphonia -- this is a tropical finch found in the Caribbean and the male is absolutely unforgettable:

Antillean Euphonia

Earlier classified as a tanager, the Euphonia is a small, brightly colored bird with the male showing orange undersides, a turquoise cap, a purplish-black face and orange forehead.

The Euphonia was seen at Ebano Verde, a scientific reserve in the Cordillera Central.

The female is a subdued version of the male -- the same turquoise head; but red forehead and lime undersides.

Antillean Euphonia (female) seen at Ebano Verde, DR

More familiar-looking to the American birder, perhaps, is the Stolid Flycatcher. A tyrant flycatcher found on Hispaniola and neighboring islands in the Caribbean.

Stolid Flycatcher

The Stolid is one of 5 flycatchers found on the Island and looks like a smaller version of our Great Crested Flycatcher.

Stolid Flycatcher seen at the Botanical Gardens, Santo Domingo

The Stolid Flycatcher was observed at the Jardin Botanico Nacional in Santo Domingo.

There are only 2 woodpeckers on Hispaniola and both are endemic: the Hispaniolan Woodpecker and the Antillean Piculet.

Hispaniolan Woodpecker seen at Jardin Botanico, Santo Domingo

The woodpecker is striking with a yellow and black stripes, grey face and pale olive undersides. This individual is a female as the male will have a red crown.

They are unusual among woodpeckers in being social -- with up to 20 pairs breeding colonially.

Hispaniolan Woodpecker

This is a common species and is widespread on the island.

Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo seen at Jardin Botanico

The Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo is another endemic; shy and reclusive, it was heard more often than seen.

Red-legged Thrush

A common thrush of the Caribbean, the Red-legged Thrush is a grey songbird with red legs, bill and eye-ring. It is a rare vagrant to Florida.

Red-legged Thrush seen at Jardin Botanico

Finally, the Grey Kingbird. This conspicuous and vocal bird was found everywhere at the Botanical Gardens.

Here are some travel tips if you plan to go to the Dominican Republic:

The main international airport is SDQ -- Las Americas. US Passports do not require a visa but a $10 tourist card needs to be purchased before going through Passport Control.

Reserva Cientifica Ebano Verde is about an hour and a half north from Santo Domingo [as measured from the Botanical Gardens].

Consider staying at the Plaza Jacaranda Hotel in Bonao. To get to Ebano Verde from the Hotel, go North ~5 km on the Autopista Duarte and take the Constanza exit. Set your trip odometer to zero as you take the exit ramp and follow the winding road (watch for hazards, including landslides) for 15.5 km to the upper (or Casabito) entrance [this is normally closed]. A good marker is El Alto de la Virgen shrine which is next door.

From here, go down 5.5 km and turn right immediately after a small bridge. Drive on a rocky, pot-holed dirt road for about 2 km to the Ebano Verde Visitor Center. This is open even when the top entrance isn't. Park here and take the long 6 km trail up to the Casabito entrance. Contact  fundacion progressio to hike the upper entrance which is considered the birdier end.

1 comment:

Bob Pelkey said...

What a "hike" this latest was for you, Hemant! Certainly unforgettable.