Friday, November 15, 2019

Mr. Potatohead

"It looks like a potato with legs". That's what Di said when she saw a photo of an Antpitta. You can be the judge.

Antpittas are a group of birds that make their living on the forest floor. They are most often heard but not seen. One of the best places to see Antpittas is in Ecuador at Refugio Paz de Las Aves (Peace of the Birds Sanctuary). The reason that this place is so special is because of this Angel. No really, Angel is his name. Angel is a farmer who figured out that he can make better money showing people Antpittas than actually farming.

Selfie with Angel Paz
He trains the birds to come out of the forest when he calls so that they can get a delicious meal of worms.
Yummy Antpitta Breakfast
Angel calls the birds by name - "Will-a-meeeee-na, Will-a-meeeeeeee-na" as he throws the worms out on a moss-covered log just off the forest path. "Will-a-meeeeee-na" and sure enough, the bird emerges from the dark forest.

Yellow-breasted Antpitta
She's a beauty and allows us to photograph her while she dines. She gobbles up the last worm and disappears back into the forest until tomorrow. Angel leads us to another path. "Sha-keeeee-ra, Sha-keeeee-ra". Same dance, different bird. Viola. Shakira appears for her breakfast.

Ochre-breasted Antpitta
Angel calls her Shakira because she moves like Shakira that singer. Watch how she wiggles.

The don't all have names. Angel used to have a Giant Antpitta called Maria but sadly the bird died after 15 years of fame. He calls out into the forest with a whistle that mimics the bird's call. Another bird emerges. 

Chestnut-crowned Antpitta
She's striking and doesn't seem to mind the paparazzi. We also saw a very secretive Moustached Antpitta. Angel asked us not to photograph the shy bird so that we didn't scare him away so no photos of him. 

After showing us the Antpittas, Angel invited us to the pavilion where his wife served coffee and Bolon de Verdes which are green plantain fritters. They were delicious! We ate our meal while watching some of the amazing hummingbirds featured in the last post. 

We saw 2 other Antpittas on our trip. This Tawny Antpitta accompanied us along our trail at Yanacoacha. 

Tawny Antpitta
And we found this Streak-breasted Antpitta in the rain forest at Playa de Oro. This one was the most wild of the bunch. I barely managed to get a photograph. 

Streak-breasted Antpitta
More birds and critters to follow. 

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