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Field Guides Tour Report
Bolivia's Avian Riches 2012: Blue-throated Macaw Extension
Sep 3, 2012 to Sep 9, 2012
Dan Lane

The main target of this extension to the Beni -- the rare and beautiful Blue-throated Macaw, here at home in an Atalea palm grove. (Photo by guide Dan Lane)

What is “The Beni” and why is it so durned special? Well, it’s believed that over a million years ago, much of the southwestern Amazon basin was occupied by an inland sea. Over the millennia, as the Andes rose, this sea started to recede, draining out through the proto-Amazon. The last of this sea was left in the present-day Beni, a low-lying area that drained through the bottleneck of the geologic arch on what is the present-day Rio Madeira, just inside Brazil. Today, the Beni still becomes a large lake during the rainy season, but drains for the most part during the dry season, as we saw. While it was still a body of water, it is conjectured that there were nevertheless some higher lands that existed within it as islands. These islands probably were vegetated with a forest reminiscent of ‘varzea’ present today in much of Amazonia, and birds related to species found in Amazonian varzea were isolated on these islands long enough to differentiate. As the Beni “dried out”, an Amazonian influence was able to extend up the gallery forests along the larger rivers that drained it (particularly the Rio Mamore), but others were excluded by the presence of competitors already present in the area. Meanwhile, the floodplain became vegetated by plants that are shared with the Pantanal, an adjacent region that probably shared a similar history (although is not connected directly to the Amazon), resulting in the palm-dominated savanna we see there today.

“Lake Beni” was inhabited by the Amazon River Dolphin, but because of the continued presence of the rocky arch on the Rio Madeira, forming rapids today, the Beni population and that in the Amazon proper have became isolated, and now two taxa exist: species in the eyes of some mammalogists. Similar things happened to several birds such as Plain Softtail, Velvet-fronted Grackle, Varzea and Unicolored thrushes, and a pair of macaws with blue and yellow plumage. The first three are not all that strongly differentiated -- the Amazonian and Beni forms of the first two are, as you can see, still considered conspecifics, but further study is likely to overturn that status. The last pair is more clearly differentiated and, more importantly, are now found together without interbreeding…clear evidence that they cannot be considered conspecifics! Sadly, the present-day co-occurrence of Blue-throated and Blue-and-yellow macaws may be the undoing of the former. The larger and more aggressive Blue-and-yellow Macaw occupies a similar niche to its smaller cousin and, worse still, seems to be capable of muscling it out of breeding sites. The smaller Blue-throated Macaw, to its disadvantage, is also more specialized than its larger relative, requiring large stands of the Atalea palm for foraging and nesting places. It was in such a place that we went to see the pair we enjoyed. Of course, the interest in the rarer macaw by the pet trade hasn’t helped this bird, either. With luck, ecotourism may help bring conservation dollars in to help it withstand these perils and continue to screech amid the Beni's palms.

But the Beni is more than a land with a few specialized birds! As we found, it is in fact a very birdy place, what with all the large waterbirds, the screamers, the limpkins, the storks, the ducks, the skimmers and terns, and then there are the parrots, parakeets, pigeons, ground-doves, finches, horneros, cachalotes, woodpeckers, woodcreepers, spinetails…well, you get the idea! In less than four days, we saw about half the number of species we enjoyed on the following two weeks on the main Bolivia tour! Wow, that’s some bird biomass! And let’s not forget the caimans, capybaras, foxes, and that incredible experience watching the mating tangle of anacondas! Yes sir, the Beni is a pretty special place. I know I enjoyed the visit, and I hope you all did too. Keep those binoculars handy, and maybe see you again soon on another tour!


One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Rheidae (Rheas)
GREATER RHEA (Rhea americana) – The largest birds in the Americas... and usually graceful, except when they trip...
Tinamidae (Tinamous)
UNDULATED TINAMOU (Crypturellus undulatus) – Mostly heard, but Marshall, Elena, and I caught a glimpse.
SMALL-BILLED TINAMOU (Crypturellus parvirostris) – A softball-sized bird that catapulted past the windscreen of the bus the day we drove in to La Habana.
RED-WINGED TINAMOU (Rhynchotus rufescens) – Seen well at the SC airport.
Anhimidae (Screamers)
SOUTHERN SCREAMER (Chauna torquata)
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
WHITE-FACED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna viduata) – Marshall first brought this fine duck to our attention.
BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis)
ORINOCO GOOSE (Neochen jubata) – A 'sheldgoose' that we saw on four days. We enjoyed perhaps as many as 10 individuals.
MUSCOVY DUCK (Cairina moschata)
BRAZILIAN TEAL (Amazonetta brasiliensis) – ... that's a lot of teal!
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
Ciconiidae (Storks)
MAGUARI STORK (Ciconia maguari) – Strangely scarce this year.
JABIRU (Jabiru mycteria)
WOOD STORK (Mycteria americana)
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)
Anhingidae (Anhingas)
ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
RUFESCENT TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma lineatum)
COCOI HERON (Ardea cocoi)
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)
STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata)
WHISTLING HERON (Syrigma sibilatrix)
CAPPED HERON (Pilherodius pileatus) – Only seen around Trinidad.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
GREEN IBIS (Mesembrinibis cayennensis)
BARE-FACED IBIS (Phimosus infuscatus)
PLUMBEOUS IBIS (Theristicus caerulescens)
BUFF-NECKED IBIS (Theristicus caudatus)

As the Beni dries out, birds tend to congregate around the remaining pools of water, as these Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, and Jabirus are doing. (Photo by guide Dan Lane)

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja)
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (Cathartes burrovianus)
KING VULTURE (Sarcoramphus papa) – One adult seen flying high above us. Apparently, this was only the second time Lyliam had seen the species!
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – A single bird at the lake at La Habana. [b]
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
SNAIL KITE (Rostrhamus sociabilis)
PLUMBEOUS KITE (Ictinia plumbea) – One or two seen along the Rio Ipurupuru.
BLACK-COLLARED HAWK (Busarellus nigricollis)
CRANE HAWK (Geranospiza caerulescens) – One bird seen by some as it crossed the road on the last day.
GREAT BLACK-HAWK (Buteogallus urubitinga) – One of these sneaky birds had someone thinking it was a Crowned Eagle. Sadly, it was not...
SAVANNA HAWK (Buteogallus meridionalis)
ROADSIDE HAWK (Buteo magnirostris)
WHITE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albicaudatus) – South American birds generally don't show the white throat of North American birds, and have a dark morph.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
SOUTHERN CARACARA (Caracara plancus)
YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima)
AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)
APLOMADO FALCON (Falco femoralis) – A memorable scene was a bird chasing blackbirds around at field the day we drove out to Cutal.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
RUFOUS-SIDED CRAKE (Laterallus melanophaius) – Fair views of a bird beside the road the day we drove to Cutal.
GRAY-NECKED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides cajanea)
Aramidae (Limpkin)
LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna)
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis)
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
WATTLED JACANA (Jacana jacana)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria)
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)
UPLAND SANDPIPER (Bartramia longicauda) – This must be the peak of migration over the Beni, as we heard several and saw several every day there.
WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER (Calidris fuscicollis)
PECTORAL SANDPIPER (Calidris melanotos)
STILT SANDPIPER (Calidris himantopus)
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
YELLOW-BILLED TERN (Sternula superciliaris)
LARGE-BILLED TERN (Phaetusa simplex)
BLACK SKIMMER (CINERASCENS) (Rynchops niger cinerascens)
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia)
PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis)
PICAZURO PIGEON (Patagioenas picazuro)
EARED DOVE (Zenaida auriculata)
PLAIN-BREASTED GROUND-DOVE (Columbina minuta) – A rare ground-dove in many places, we only saw one bird, identified by its rufous wings.
RUDDY GROUND-DOVE (Columbina talpacoti)
PICUI GROUND-DOVE (Columbina picui)
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi)
GRAY-FRONTED DOVE (Leptotila rufaxilla) – Only in the gallery forest along the Mamore.
Psittacidae (Parrots)
MITRED PARAKEET (Aratinga mitrata) – These were the birds that roosted on the SC hotel walls. [I]
WHITE-EYED PARAKEET (Aratinga leucophthalma)
DUSKY-HEADED PARAKEET (Aratinga weddellii)

An unexpected highlight of the trip was seeing a tangle of Anacondas -- an immense female, seen here, along with three smaller males, all competing to mate with her. (Photo by guide Dan Lane)

PEACH-FRONTED PARAKEET (Aratinga aurea) – Incredible numbers on the drive to La Esperanza, where they foraged on the ground.
RED-AND-GREEN MACAW (Ara chloropterus)
BLUE-THROATED MACAW (Ara glaucogularis) – The centerpiece of the extension, and a great show they put on for us! After a few pretty good views, we enjoyed one by its nest hole! Lovely plumage... it's pining for the fjords (anyone a fan of Monty Python?). [E]
YELLOW-COLLARED MACAW (Primolius auricollis) – Fine views of a pair just as we exited the airport at Trinidad!
BLUE-WINGED PARROTLET (Forpus xanthopterygius)
SCALY-HEADED PARROT (Pionus maximiliani siy) – Flybys the day we went to La Habana.
BLUE-FRONTED PARROT (Amazona aestiva)
Opisthocomidae (Hoatzin)
HOATZIN (Opisthocomus hoazin) – Elena's favorite of the extension. A particularly weird bird, probably the Americas' only 'touraco', strict vegetarians, they have long guts to digest leaves. We enjoyed their antics particularly along the Ipurupuru.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana)
GUIRA CUCKOO (Guira guira)
STRIPED CUCKOO (Tapera naevia) – Good views our first evening near Trinidad.
SMOOTH-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga ani)
Strigidae (Owls)
FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum) – We enjoyed a bird as as it took refuge from the sun under the roof of the ranch house at Cutal.
BURROWING OWL (Athene cunicularia)
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
NACUNDA NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles nacunda) – Only a few birds showed at dusk this year as we returned from La Verde to Cutal.
BAND-TAILED NIGHTHAWK (Nyctiprogne leucopyga) – One bird flew past us on the Ipurupuru.
SCISSOR-TAILED NIGHTJAR (Hydropsalis torquata) – Great views of this nightjar, which appears to be the most common one in the Beni.
Nyctibiidae (Potoos)
GREAT POTOO (Nyctibius grandis) – Hats off to David, who spotted TWO of these cryptic birds on the first two days in the Beni!
Apodidae (Swifts)
SHORT-TAILED SWIFT (Chaetura brachyura) – A small group over the SC hotel as we waited for the bus to take us out birding our first afternoon.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
WHITE-TAILED GOLDENTHROAT (Polytmus guainumbi) – A fairly common open country hummer we saw several times.
BLACK-THROATED MANGO (Anthracothorax nigricollis)
SWALLOW-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Eupetomena macroura) – This striking hummer became a regular friend at Cutal. That blue head really is striking!
SAPPHIRE-SPANGLED EMERALD (Amazilia lactea) – Seen our first day at Trinidad.
GILDED HUMMINGBIRD (Hylocharis chrysura)
Trogonidae (Trogons)
BLACK-TAILED TROGON (Trogon melanurus) – Both trogons were seen in the gallery forest of La Habana.
BLUE-CROWNED TROGON (Trogon curucui)
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata)
AMAZON KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle amazona)
GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana) – Seen only on our boat trip.
AMERICAN PYGMY KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle aenea) – David spotted this diminutive kingfisher our first day in Trinidad.
Bucconidae (Puffbirds)
BLACK-FRONTED NUNBIRD (Monasa nigrifrons)
Galbulidae (Jacamars)
RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda)
Ramphastidae (Toucans)
CHESTNUT-EARED ARACARI (Pteroglossus castanotis) – The smaller of the two toucans we saw.
TOCO TOUCAN (Ramphastos toco) – The flying banana!
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
WHITE-WEDGED PICULET (Picumnus albosquamatus) – A mini-woodpecker that we enjoyed a few times.
WHITE WOODPECKER (Melanerpes candidus) – An open-country woodpecker that has a lofty flight and travels in groups.
YELLOW-TUFTED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes cruentatus) – Candy-colored!
LITTLE WOODPECKER (Veniliornis passerinus) – This bird was so bleached, it looked like the color on her wings was nearly gone!
GOLDEN-GREEN WOODPECKER (Piculus chrysochloros)
SPOT-BREASTED WOODPECKER (Colaptes punctigula) – This and the next are similar-looking flickers. This was the first of the two that we saw.
GREEN-BARRED WOODPECKER (Colaptes melanochloros)
CAMPO FLICKER (Colaptes campestris)
PALE-CRESTED WOODPECKER (Celeus lugubris) – A really striking brown woodpecker with a buffy crest. We enjoyed views of it on the boat trip on the Rio Ipurupuru.
LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus)
CRIMSON-CRESTED WOODPECKER (Campephilus melanoleucos)
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
RUFOUS HORNERO (Furnarius rufus) – The original 'oven bird' and namesake of the Ovenbird family. Common throughout the open country of the Beni.
CHOTOY SPINETAIL (Schoeniophylax phryganophilus) – This attractive spinetail, the 'chew-toy spinetail', is patterned strikingly like a Dickcissel.
PALE-BREASTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis albescens australis)
PLAIN-CROWNED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis gujanensis inornata) – This population, and the others found through southern Amazonia, are presently considered part of Plain-crowned (S. gujanensis), but in fact are probably better considered part of White-lored (S. albilora), due to continuous cline of plumage and very distinct voice from true Plain-crowned.
RUSTY-BACKED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca vulpina) – One of the few members of Cranioleuca in the lowlands, this one like the edges of lakes and rivers.
YELLOW-CHINNED SPINETAIL (Certhiaxis cinnamomeus) – A common marsh denizen that shows a bright reddish-rufous back.
PLAIN SOFTTAIL (Thripophaga fusciceps fusciceps) – This species presently comprises at least distinct populations that could be separated as species based on voice and nesting habits. This, the nominate subspecies, is endemic to Beni.
GREATER THORNBIRD (Phacellodomus ruber) – A large thornbird with a staring orange eye.
RUFOUS CACHOLOTE (Pseudoseisura unirufa) – The 'jay' of the furnariid family!
OLIVACEOUS WOODCREEPER (AMAZONIAN) (Sittasomus griseicapillus viridis) – Another species that is probably going to be broken up into many sometime in the near future. This subspecies is most similar to other Amazonian subspecies, but its voice type is found primarily from SE-most Peru to the Planalto of Brazil.
GREAT RUFOUS WOODCREEPER (Xiphocolaptes major) – A big, lumbering woodcreeper that we enjoyed particularly on the drive to Cutal! What a honker of a bill, eh?
BUFF-THROATED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus guttatus) – The big woodcreeper we first saw near Santa Cruz, but later at the macaw palms, among other places.
NARROW-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes angustirostris) – Distinctive with that white eyebrow and throat. Often in the open, such as the fencepost where we first saw it.
RED-BILLED SCYTHEBILL (Campylorhamphus trochilirostris) – Another impressive woodcreeper, Judy picked up on this one first in the shadows at the bottom of the trees on the dirt road by our lunch spot at Trinidad (whew! What a sentence!).
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
GREAT ANTSHRIKE (Taraba major) – Man, we saw this usually-skulky species a lot! The Beni may be the easiest place to see it!
BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus) – Seen well at the SC airport.
BOLIVIAN SLATY-ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus sticturus) – A male showed well near Santa Cruz our first evening.
RUSTY-BACKED ANTWREN (Formicivora rufa) – Skimpy views at Santa Cruz followed by some better views at Cutal.
MATO GROSSO ANTBIRD (Cercomacra melanaria) – A female came right up to us near Laguna Suarez at Trinidad. Musta been lonely.
BAND-TAILED ANTBIRD (Hypocnemoides maculicauda) – A pair showed up a bit late for their appointment with us at the lake at La Habana.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
SOUTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma obsoletum) – Best identified by the shaving kit.

Among the many unexplained mysteries in the bird world is why the name Dull-capped Attila was chosen for this species over its alternate name, White-eyed Attila. (Photo by Guide Dan Lane)

YELLOW TYRANNULET (Capsiempis flaveola) – I think this was my first time seeing this species in Bolivia. Usually tied to bamboo (as it was here at La Habana).
CRESTED DORADITO (Pseudocolopteryx sclateri) – A rare bird, and hard to see anywhere (as far as I know, anyway!). We lucked into one at Cutal our first evening there... and I even got a chance to jog through chest-high grass in the process. A win for all!
FOREST ELAENIA (Myiopagis gaimardii)
YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster)
LARGE ELAENIA (Elaenia spectabilis) – An austral migrant that was spotted by Laguna Suarez by (fittingly) Elena!
WHITE-BELLIED TYRANNULET (Serpophaga munda) – A migrant from the mountains. Pretty cute, if I say so myself...
SOUTHERN SCRUB-FLYCATCHER (Sublegatus modestus) – Not exactly eye-catching, but often an overlooked species (I wonder if the two things are connected?).
PLAIN TYRANNULET (Inezia inornata) – The name says it all...
PEARLY-VENTED TODY-TYRANT (Hemitriccus margaritaceiventer) – Seen at the airport the first day.
RUSTY-FRONTED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Poecilotriccus latirostris)
COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum) – A cute black-and-yellow flycatcher we saw best just after our fish lunch near Trinidad.
YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (MATO GROSSO) (Tolmomyias sulphurescens pallescens) – This is another one of those species that is likely to be split up into several sometime in the near future. Voice is different among various subspecies.
BRAN-COLORED FLYCATCHER (Myiophobus fasciatus) – Not one that showed well for us... but it's pretty regular (badum-bum!).
VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus) – Although they look rather like northern birds, these are the nominate pyrocephalus, an austral migrant, which sound quite distinctive. Al Jaramillo is delving into this issue. Stay tuned...
HUDSON'S BLACK-TYRANT (Knipolegus hudsoni) – Another austral migrant that is pretty common in Beni.
SPECTACLED TYRANT (Hymenops perspicillatus) – Seen fairly well in the grassy pasture near the entrance to Cutal, the male's white wings and yellow eye, bill, and orbit skin are distinctive!
YELLOW-BROWED TYRANT (Satrapa icterophrys) – Another austral migrant (seeing a trend, yet?).
GRAY MONJITA (Xolmis cinereus) – Probably the least common of the three monjitas.
WHITE-RUMPED MONJITA (Xolmis velatus) – Far and away the most common of the monjitas.
WHITE MONJITA (Xolmis irupero) – Wow, what a bird!
BLACK-BACKED WATER-TYRANT (Fluvicola albiventer)
WHITE-HEADED MARSH TYRANT (Arundinicola leucocephala) – Another good spot by Elena.
CATTLE TYRANT (Machetornis rixosa) – Well named. Bold, and often around large mammals. One apparently used the bus as a perch at one point. If a kingbird and a mockingbird mated, this would be the result...
DULL-CAPPED ATTILA (Attila bolivianus) – Great looks at one in the gallery forest. Also called White-eyed Attila.
RUFOUS CASIORNIS (Casiornis rufus) – An all rufous flycatcher with large dark eye. Seen by only some.
SWAINSON'S FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus swainsoni) – A pair were seen well beside the road north of Trinidad. Probably subspecies pelzelni.
SHORT-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus ferox) – Seen around Trinidad.
BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus) – Unlike in North America, this one is fairly easy, as it is about the only Myiarchus in the area with rufous in the tail.
GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus) – Yup.
BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua) – In the gallery forest.
RUSTY-MARGINED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes cayanensis) – Very similar to the next, best separated by voice.
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis)
STREAKED FLYCATCHER (SOLITARIUS) (Myiodynastes maculatus solitarius) – This southernmost subspecies is fairly distinct both vocally and by plumage. I'd not be surprised if it was split off at some point.
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus) – Yup.
FORK-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Tyrannus savana) – A very graceful tyrant that we mostly saw as they flew by on their way south to breeding grounds.
Pipridae (Manakins)
SULPHUR-BELLIED TYRANT-MANAKIN (Neopelma sulphureiventer) – Probably one of the most staggeringly colorful birds we enjoyed. Or not. Still, everyone got a good look!
BAND-TAILED MANAKIN (Pipra fasciicauda) – I think everyone would agree that this manakin was pretty colorful, though.
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
GREEN-BACKED BECARD (Pachyramphus viridis) – Fairly nice views just before lunch our first day at Trinidad.
Vireonidae (Vireos)
RUFOUS-BROWED PEPPERSHRIKE (Cyclarhis gujanensis) – Common, and one that responded well to scold tape.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
PURPLISH JAY (Cyanocorax cyanomelas) – Larger and more common than the next species. We saw it every day.
PLUSH-CRESTED JAY (Cyanocorax chrysops) – Only seen near Santa Cruz.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
TAWNY-HEADED SWALLOW (Alopochelidon fucata) – A local swallow that we caught up with on two occasions. Apparently, only recently reported from Beni.
SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis) – Only our first evening near Santa Cruz.
GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea)
BROWN-CHESTED MARTIN (Progne tapera) – Both residents (probably of an undescribed subspecies) and migrants (subspecies fusca) are possible. We only noted the former for certain.
WHITE-WINGED SWALLOW (Tachycineta albiventer) – Usually tied closely to water.
WHITE-RUMPED SWALLOW (Tachycineta leucorrhoa) – Seen at the road bend north of Trinidad by the whistling duck lake.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
THRUSH-LIKE WREN (Campylorhynchus turdinus unicolor) – Not spotted here, but still with an impressive voice!
FAWN-BREASTED WREN (Cantorchilus guarayanus) – Seen well both near Santa Cruz and in the gallery forest.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
MASKED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila dumicola berlepschi)
Donacobiidae (Donacobius)

Black-capped Donacobius was once thought to be a member of the wren family; looking at these birds with their throat sacs inflated, it's easy to accept that they belong in a family of their own. (Photo by guide Dan Lane)

BLACK-CAPPED DONACOBIUS (Donacobius atricapilla) – A unique and attractive bird. Originally thought to be a thrasher relative, then a wren. It's now thought to be a very old relative of a group of mostly old world passerines such as babblers and treecreepers.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
UNICOLORED THRUSH (Turdus haplochrous) – Not the most satisfying of experiences, but a lucky few got to see this very rare and poorly-known species at the macaw site. I'm not aware of any other tours that have seen it successfully! [E]
CREAMY-BELLIED THRUSH (Turdus amaurochalinus) – A common thrush, and many were probably migrating south for the austral spring.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
CHALK-BROWED MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus saturninus) – The mockingbird of Beni.
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
YELLOWISH PIPIT (Anthus lutescens) – Heard by most, but seen by Elena.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
MASKED YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis aequinoctialis) – Seen well along the road to Laguna Suarez.
TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi) – Common in mixed flocks throughout.
GOLDEN-CROWNED WARBLER (Basileuterus culicivorus) – Seen best near Santa Cruz.
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
CHESTNUT-VENTED CONEBILL (Conirostrum speciosum) – High in the canopy of the gallery forest.
GUIRA TANAGER (Hemithraupis guira) – Same as the last.
SILVER-BEAKED TANAGER (Ramphocelus carbo) – Here, this species is much darker (females look black, unlike in Amazonia proper), and calls sound a bit different, too.
SAYACA TANAGER (Thraupis sayaca)
PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum)
SWALLOW TANAGER (Tersina viridis) – Just flyovers near Santa Cruz.
GRAYISH SALTATOR (Saltator coerulescens) – Long considered cardinal relatives, recent research has shown that these are tanagers.
Emberizidae (Buntings, Sparrows and Allies)
LONG-TAILED REED FINCH (Donacospiza albifrons) – A very rare, local, and poorly known bird in Bolivia. We had great views!
BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina)
RUSTY-COLLARED SEEDEATER (Sporophila collaris) – Fairly numerous and distinctive.
WHITE-BELLIED SEEDEATER (Sporophila leucoptera bicolor) – Quite a lovely bird. The Bolivian populations are blacker above than Brazilian birds (which are nominate leucoptera).
SAFFRON FINCH (Sicalis flaveola)
WEDGE-TAILED GRASS-FINCH (Emberizoides herbicola) – Not really colorful, but still a stunning bird. We saw it first at the SC airport, and again at Cutal.
GREAT PAMPA-FINCH (Embernagra platensis olivascens) – Widespread in Beni.
RED-CRESTED CARDINAL (Paroaria coronata) – As 'cardinal-like' as this looks, recent research has shown that the Paroaria cardinals are in fact tanagers (which is a bit of an irony, considering Piranga tanagers have been shown to be cardinals!). It all becomes clearer once you see them *walking* on the ground!
RED-CAPPED CARDINAL (Paroaria gularis)
RED-CRESTED FINCH (Coryphospingus cucullatus) – Another finch that's actually a tanager.
YELLOW-BROWED SPARROW (Ammodramus aurifrons)
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
WHITE-BROWED BLACKBIRD (Sturnella superciliaris) – South American meadowlarks mostly have red breasts. This one is one of the smaller ones, and we saw it at the SC airport, as well as north of Trinidad.
VELVET-FRONTED GRACKLE (Lampropsar tanagrinus boliviensis) – This species is found mostly in western Amazonia, but there is a subspecies, boliviensis, that is endemic to Bolivia that is quite different (larger, sounds different), and likely may be a separate species. It was remarkably common on this visit! That flock of over a hundred we saw in the gallery forest was particularly impressive!
CHOPI BLACKBIRD (Gnorimopsar chopi) – Common throughout.

Hard to miss this one: Orange-backed Troupial -- wow! (Photo by guide Dan Lane)

SCARLET-HEADED BLACKBIRD (Amblyramphus holosericeus) – A startlingly-plumaged species of perennial marsh.
UNICOLORED BLACKBIRD (Agelasticus cyanopus) – There are many all-black blackbirds in the Beni, and identifying them can be tricky. This one is not glossy and has a fine bill. The yellow-breasted females may be the best fieldmark, though.
BAY-WINGED COWBIRD (Agelaioides badius) – Recently shown not to be true cowbirds (they are not nest parasites, for example), rather, they are closely related to the Bolivian Blackbird.
SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis)
GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus) – Parasitizes oropendulas and caciques.
VARIABLE ORIOLE (Icterus pyrrhopterus) – Until recently considered part of the Epaulet Oriole (I. cayanensis), which now includes the Moriche Oriole (I. chrysocephalus), but various datasets suggest that birds from south and east of Amazonia are a different species from the Amazonian birds. The former group includes chestnut-shouldered birds (such as the ones we saw here), as well as yellow-shouldered birds (from northeast Brazil, for example).
ORANGE-BACKED TROUPIAL (Icterus croconotus)
SOLITARY BLACK CACIQUE (Cacicus solitarius)
CRESTED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius decumanus)
Fringillidae (Siskins, Crossbills, and Allies)
PURPLE-THROATED EUPHONIA (Euphonia chlorotica)
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – An amazing colonizer of human habitations around the world. Come back in a few hundred thousand years to see how many species of House Sparrow there will be! I bet it will be impressive to see the radiation!

FISHING BAT SP. (Noctilio albiventris)
BROWN CAPUCHIN (Cebus apella)
CAPYBARA (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris) – The world's largest rodent. We saw a few...
AMAZON RIVER DOLPHIN (Inia geoffrensis boliviensis) – The Beni population is considered a separate species by some authorities. The rapids on the Rio Madeira in Brazil prevents them from interbreeding with the main Amazonian subspecies.
CRAB-EATING FOX (Cerdocyon thous) – Common, particularly on night drives.
SOUTH AMERICAN COATI (Nasua nasua) – One startled individual crossed the road by us.


Bat sp.

Tegu Lizard (Tupinambis sp.)

Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus)

Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus)

Toilet Seat Frog (Trachycephalus typhonius)

Cane Toad (Bufo marinus)

'Leopard' Frog (Leptodactylus sp.)

Totals for the tour: 234 bird taxa and 6 mammal taxa