Bolivia - a short visit to Riberalta, November 2017

Published by Manu Expeditions (birding AT

Participants: Barry Walker, Richard Amable



Nov 9th: Group met at El Alto La Paz airport. We checked in for our late flight to Riberlata which was surprisingly roomy and modern. We arrived safely but our bags did not, so we dropped what we had at the pleasant Hotel Colonial and headed out with Vincent to Antpitta country near Hamburgo in heavily disturbed habitat. Later we had a simple meal at a pavement restaurant on the plaza watching the local populace parade round and round in their prized cars and motorbikes. Night Hotel Colonial.

Nov 10th: Today we had decided to go to Cerrado habitat reminiscent of Brazil (which was not that far away!) but the Pampas de San Lorenzo (yet another birding destination called San Lorenzo!) on the road west to Guayaramerin were a bit further than thought. We got into great Cerrado habitat and found some cool birds, the star of the morning being an unexpected Chaco Eagle right by the road. We explored some forest as it started to warm up but it was not very productive. It being so hot we decided to go to the river town of Yate for a lunch of fresh fish and beer. Some Tui Parakeets joined us for lunch. In the afternoon Richard led an afternoon walk down a track on the way home and managed to find the range restricted Natterer’s Slaty Antshrike. Dinner and beers at the hotel Colonial.

Nov 11th: As we had some time before our midday flight to Trinidad and the start of the main tour, we decided to return to the Masked Antpitta track for the time we had and saw some good birds. Paul stayed behind to get pics of the Masked Antpitta whilst the rest of headed for lunch and showers. The plane was on time and we flew into Trinidad getting to our country lakeside hotel in the late afternoon.



Cinereous Tinamou - Crypturellus cinereus. Heard only.

Little Tinamou Crypturellus soui. Heard only.

Undulated Tinamou - Crypturellus undulatus. Many heard but one seen.

Small-billed Tinamou – Crypturellus parvirostris. Heard only.


Horned Screamer - Anhima cornuta. A few seen amongst rubbish near Hamburgo.


Speckled Chachalaca - Ortalis guttata. Common in more lightly wooded and forest edge areas in the lowlands.


Rock Pigeon - Columba livia. Common near human habitation.

Gray-fronted Dove - Leptotila rufaxilla. 2. This and the previous species have complicated distribution with places where they occur side by side and other where only one occurs or is more common.

Ruddy Ground-Dove – Columbina talpacoti. Common.


Greater Ani - Crotophaga major. A few.

Smooth billed Anni - Crotophaga ani. Very common in amazon lowland forest on river islands.

Squirrel Cuckoo - Piaya cayana. Very common – seen on several occasions.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus. Nice looks at this boreal migrant at Hamburgo.


Nacunda Nighthawk - Chordeiles nacunda. At least two.

Lesser Nighthawk - Chordeiles acutipennis. Common at dusk.


Short-tailed Swift - Chaetura brachyuran. Commonly seen over more open areas.

Neotropical Palm Swift - Tachornis squamata. Quite common near Mauritia Palms where this species nests.


Reddish Hermit - Phaethornis ruber. Seen on two occasions.

White-bearded Hermit - Phaethornis hispidus. Just the one.

Great-billed Hermit - Phaethornis malaris. One seen. Phaethornis longirostris was formerly (e.g.,Schauensee 1970) treated as conspecific with P. superciliosus; Hinkelmann (1996), followed by Hinkelmann and Schuchmann (1997), provided evidence that it should be treated as separate species, a return to the classification of Cory (1918), namely a three-species classification: (1) P.longirostris of Middle America and northwestern South America; (2) P. malaris of western Amazonia, the eastern Guianan Shield, and southeastern Brazil; and (3) P. superciliosus (with muelleri) of the Guianan Shield and eastern Brazil. Thus, taxa from western Amazonia formerly (e.g., Peters 1945, Meyer de Schauensee 1970) treated as subspecies of P.superciliosus are considered subspecies of P. malaris. Phaethornis longirostris and P. superciliosus form a superspecies (Schuchmann 1999). SACC proposal did not pass to return to species limits of Meyer de Schauensee.

Horned Sungem - Heliactin bilophus. We saw at least two initially located by Paul. The sole member of the genus Heliactin, the slender-bodied Horned Sungem is a remarkable hummingbird, well worthy of such an evocative name. While females are primarily green above with clean white underparts, and long central rectrices, males are dazzlingly adorned with a dark blue crown, black throat and upper breast, and tiny red, blue and gold ‘horns’, as well as also possessing elongated central tail feathers. In terms of its distribution, the species is found extremely locally north of the Amazon, in southern Suriname, as well as in the savannas of Amapá, in far northeast Brazil, but then much more continuously (albeit increasingly less so due to habitat destruction) across the Brazilian interior to eastern Bolivia. It favors native cerrado vegetation and is found to at least 1000 m in elevation. Like many hummingbirds, the Horned Sungem appears to perform local movements, at least in parts of its range, in response to flowering events, although elsewhere the species’ populations are seemingly more sedentary.

Blue-tailed Emerald - Chlorostilbon mellisugus. One seen.

Sapphire-spangled Emerald - Amazilia lactea. Another common hummingbird but we saw only one here.


Hoatzin - Opisthocomus hoazin. Large groups seen.


Gray-cowled Wood-Rail - Aramides cajanea. Two seen. The old Gray-necked Wood-Rail has been split two ways – Russet-naped Wood-Rail Aramides albiventris of Mexico and the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica and the one we saw of the Pacific slope of Costa Rica to Argentina.

Ocellated Crake - Micropygia schomburgkii. Heard only. Annoyingly common on the Pampas!


Southern Lapwing – Vanellus chilensis. A few seen.


Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Tryngites subruficollis. Boreal migrant. Seen and heard on the Pampas.


Wattled Jacana - Jacana jacana. Half a dozen seen.


Large-billed Tern - Phaetusa simplex. One recorded of this banana-billed Tern.


Rufescent Tiger Heron - Tigrisoma lineatum. One seen very well.

Striated Heron - Butorides striatus. Just the one.

Cocoi Heron - Ardea Cocoi. At least two seen.

Great Egret - Ardea albus. Common.


Green Ibis – Mesembrinibis cayennensis. Again, just the one seen.


Turkey Vulture - Cathartes aura. Very common bird. Jaramillo (2003) suggested that the resident tropical subspecies ruficollis and the southern subspecies group (jota and "falklandica") might merit recognition as separate species from the northern Cathartes aura group.

Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture - Cathartes burrovianus. Common on the pampas.

Black Vulture - Coragyps atratus. Most common around town.


Gray-headed Kite – Leptodon cayanensis. One seen.

Black-collared Hawk – Busarellus nigricollis. One seen.

Long-winged Harrier – Circus buffoni. Great looks at the airport in Ribaralta. Named for the impressive sounding George-Louis Leclerc Comte de Buffon (1707-1788) Director of the Jardin de Roi in Paris.

Slate-colored Hawk - Buteogallus schistacea. One seen.

Chaco (Crowned) Eagle - Buteogallus coronatus. SURPRISE! We did not expect this. Chaco Eagle is a very large, gray raptor of open habitats in south-central South America. We saw it at the extreme edge of its north- western range, it probably is a range extension. Chaco Eagle ranges from eastern Brazil and Bolivia south to central Argentina in caatinga, pampas, cerrado, and chaco. It feeds in part on small to medium-sized mammals, including armadillos (Dasypodidae) and skunks (Conepatus spp.), hunting from a low perch, particularly near dawn or dusk. The nest of Chaco Eagle is a large platform of sticks. This species formerly was known as "Crowned Eagle", a name that often is applied as well to a species from Africa (Stephanoaetus coronatus); the name Chaco Eagle for the South American species reduces the risk of confusion between these two very different species, and highlights one of the principal habitats occupied by Chaco Eagle. The most prevalent threat to the survival of Chaco Eagle appears to be the increasing rates of deforestation, ranching, and agriculture. This clearing leaves huge spans of barren land with no trees or prey. There have also been current reports of farmers actively hunting and killing this species. Persecution and habitat destruction have led to the moderate and ongoing population decline seen in their current numbers (Sarasola and Maceda 2006, Bellocq et al. 1998). ENDANGERED.

Roadside Hawk - Rupornis magnirostris. Very common bird seemingly intermediate between Amazonian and Bolivian savanna forms.

White-tailed Hawk - Geranoaetus albicaudatus. An open country species, we saw this on two separate days.


Tropical Screech-Owl – Megascops albogularis. Heard only, in Riberalta.

Ferruginous Pygmy Owl - Glaucidium brasilianum. One seen well in response to playback.

Burrowing Owl - Athene cunicularia. Here the bolivianus subspecies.


Black-tailed Trogon – Trogon melanurus. Seen and commonly heard.

Blue-crowned Trogon - Trogon curucui. A pair seen on the Hamburgo track.


Ringed Kingfisher - Megaceryle torquata. One seen.


Purus Jacamar - Galbalcyrhynchus purusianus. 3 seen on our last morning at Hamburgo. Name for the Purus river that runs into Brazil from Peru.

Rufous-tailed Jacamar - Galbula ruficauda. Common.

Paradise Jacamar – Galbula dea. Nice views of three at Hamburgo.


Pied Puffbird - Notharchus tectus. 2 seen along the Hamburgo trail.

White-eared Puffbird –Nystalus chacuru. 4-5 seen on the San Lorenzo Pampas.

Black-fronted Nunbird - Monasa nigrifrons. Common. Monasa is Greek for solitary or a monk a reference to the plain plumage and quiet behavior of the Nunbirds.

Swallow-Wing - Chelidoptera tenebrosa. Common.


Gilded Barbet - Capito auratus. One seen.

Lemon-throated Barbet - Eubucco richardsoni. Again, one seen. Named for Sir John Richardson (1787-1865) Scottish surgeon-explorer and zoologist. In the times of the great sailing ships especially during the great armament during the Napoleonic wars at the turn of the 18th century, many “natural philosophers” were medical men which signed up as ship’s surgeons to explore the natural world. Perhaps the most famous example is Charles Darwin but there were many more on both sides of the conflict who were allowed to present their findings in Paris and London despite the conflict.


Channel-billed Toucan -Ramphastos vitellinus. Heard only.

White-throated Toucan - Ramphastos tucanus. Heard only.

Chestnut-eared Aracari - Pteroglossus castanotis. Heard only. Greek Pteroglossus means “feather-tongued” a reference to the slim feather-like tongues of toucans and aracaris.

Lettered Aracari – Pteroglossus inscriptus. A group of 3-4 seen along the way to San Lorenzo.


White-wedged Piculet - Picumnus albosquamatus. One seen well.

White Woodpecker - Melanerpes candidus. A noisy group of 7 seen on the Pampas de San Lorenzo – a bird that moves long distances over the cerrado.

Yellow-tufted Woodpecker - Melanerpes cruentatus. Two seen, commonly heard.

Little Woodpecker - Veniliornis passerines. Very common in gallery forest.

Red-stained Woodpecker – Veniliornis affinis. One seen.

Chestnut Woodpecker – Celeus elegans. One seen.

Lineated Woodpecker - Dryocopus lineatus. Seen on two consecutive days.


Southern Caracara - Caracara plancus. Common.

Yellow-headed Caracara - Milvago chimachima. At least two, maybe more.

American Kestrel – Falco sparverius. Just one seen.


Tui Parakeet - Brotogeris sanctithomae. Around 50 seen in the mango trees at lunch at Yate.

Blue-headed Parrot - Pionus menstruus. Very common.

Dusky-headed Parakeet - Aratinga weddellii. Very common.

Red-billed Macaw - Orthopsittaca manilata. At least 3.

Chestnut-fronted Macaw - Ara severa. 2 seen.


Great Antshrike - Taraba major. Seen on two consecutive days.

Amazonian Antshrike - Thamnophilus amazonicus. 2 on the afternoon forest walk.

Natterer’s Slaty-Antshrike - Thamnophilus stricocephalus. A female seen on the afternoon forest walk on the way back to Riberalta. Here at the westernmost edge of its range. It is distributed across Brazil south of the Amazon as far as extreme northeast Bolivia. It seems to prefer more open areas within lowland evergreen forest, especially around small clearings and light gaps, particularly on sandy soils, and the species has also been found in gallery forest in pre-Amazonian regions. Named for Dr. Johann Natterer, Austrian zoologist resident in Brazil (1787 – 1843). Range Restricted.

Plain-winged Antshrike - Thamnophilus schistaceus. Seen in the forest.

White-flanked Antwren- Myrmotherula axillaris. 2 seen. Willis (1984), Ridgely & Tudor (1994), Hilty (2003), and Zimmer & Isler (2003) noted that vocal differences among several subspecies of Myrmotherula axillaris suggest that more than one species is involved so keep track of where you see them.

Band-tailed Antbird – Hypocnemoides maculicauda. Two of this waterside specialist seen.

Black-throated Antbird – Myrmophylax atrothorax. A least 4 seen at Hamburgo.

Black-spotted Bare-eye - Phlepogsis nigromaculata. 3 seen well.


Masked Antpitta – Hylospezus auricularis. The bird we came to see! One on the first day and 3 on the third and well photographed. Masked Antpitta had been described by Gyldenstolpe in 1941, but was considered a subspecies of Spotted Antpitta (H. macularius) until Sjoerd Meyer rediscovered it and got the first recordings of its voice. Sjoerd then published his findings in 1998, supporting its elevation to species level. A very intriguing species indeed! ENDEMIC.


Black-faced Antthrush- Formicarius analis. Heard only.


Olivaceous Woodcreeper - Sittasomus griseicapillus amazonicus. Seen twice. Certainly consists of multiple species (Hardy et al. 1991, Ridgely & Tudor 1994, Parker et al. 1995, Ridgely & Greenfield 2001, Hilty 2003), with at least five subspecies group possibly deserving separate species status (Marantz et al. 2003). Keep track of these – they will be split as sure as death and taxes!

Long-billed Woodcreeper - Nasica longirostris. One seen.

Elegant Woodcreeper - Xiphorhynchus elegans juruanus. 2 seen. We saw the jurua subspecies. Note that Zimmer (1934d), Pinto (1937), Ridgely & Tudor (1994), and Ridgely & Greenfield (2001) considered Xiphorhynchus elegans and X. spixii (Spix’s Woodcreeper) conspecific, but see Haffer (1997) for rationale for treating them as separate species, as in Peters (1951) and Meyer de Schauensee (1970). Aleixo (2002) also found molecular support for treating nominate spixii as a separate species from all other taxa in the group. Cory & Hellmayr (1925) treated the subspecies juruanus and insignis as separate species from X. spixii (Jurua Woodcreeper), and Pinto (1947) also maintained juruanus as a separate species; but they were considered conspecific by Zimmer (1934d) and Peters (1951).

Buff-throated Woodcreeper - Xiphorhynchus guttatus. Many heard and at least one seen. The most common Lowland rainforest Woodcreeper; some authorities consider Buff-throated Woodcreeper of SE Brazil as distinct but some authorities consider the reason for splitting weak.

Straight-billed Woodcreeper - Dendroplex picus. The common open country and forest edge woodcreeper.

Pale-legged Hornero - Furnarius leucopus. Two seen.

Plain-crowned Spinetail - Synallaxis gujanensis. Commonly heard and a pair seen.

Ruddy Spinetail – Synallaxis rutilans. Three seen on the forest walk on day 2.


Small-billed Elaenia - Elaenia parvirostris. Seen during the first three days of the tour.

Lesser Elaenia – Elaenia chiriquensis. This species was common in the cerrado at San Lorenzo.

Plain-crested Elaenia - Elaenia cristata. Fairly common by voice but also seen in the cerrado at San Lorenzo.

Rufous-sided Pygmy-Tyrant - Euscarthmus rufomarginatus. We saw two pair well. Formerly considered to be endemic to be the Cerrado biome, and therefore thought to be highly threatened by the seemingly relentless habitat destruction affecting this region, but more recently the species has also been discovered in enclaves of similar habitat within parts of Amazonia, as far north as southern Suriname and Amapá (Brazil). Nonetheless, its preference for pristine shrubby campo cerrado has undoubtedly led to a significant decline in its fortunes over the species’ main range, from northeast Bolivia and northeast Paraguay (perhaps only formerly) across south-central and parts of northeast Brazil. Again, we saw this at the extreme edge of its range. Range Restricted, NEAR THREATENED.

Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant – Myiornis ecuadatus. One on two consecutive days.

Johannes ́ Tody-Tyrant - Hemitriccus iohannis. Very common along the Hamburgo track.

Spotted Tody-Flycatcher - Todirostrum maculatum. One in the town square every day!

Yellow-browed Tody-Flyctacher - Todirostrum chysochrotaphum. Three seen in total.

Gray-crowned Tolmomyias - Tolmomyias poliocephalus. Two birds seen in the forest.

Gray Monjita – Xolmis cinereus. 4 on the San Lorenzo Pampas.

Social Flycatcher- Myiozatetes similis. Fairly common.

Lesser Kiskadee - Pitangus lector. Always near water.

Streaked Flycatcher - Myiodynastes maculatus. One on our last morning.

Boat-billed Flycatcher - Megarynchus pitangua. Common by voice, several seen.

Tropical Kingbird - Tyrannus melancholicus. Very common, TK!

Fork-tailed Flycatcher – Tyrranus savanna. Pleasantly common in open areas – a pretty bird!

Rufous-tailed Flatbill - Ramphotrigon ruficauda. One called in to playback at san Lorenzo in the forest.

Dull-capped Attila - Attila boilvianus. Quite common – named for the Republica Plurinacional de Bolivia – where we were.


Bare-necked Fruitcrow - Gymnoderus foetidus. Two fly-overs.


Dwarf Tyrant Manakin - Tyranneutes stolzmanni. Heard only.

Fiery-capped Manakin - Machaeropterus pyrocephalus. Heard only.


White-winged Becard -Pachyramphus polichopterus. 2 seen.


Rufous-browed Peppershrike – Cyclarhis gujanensis. At least 3 seen.


White-banded Swallow - Atticora fasciata. Common bird.

Brown-chested Martin – Progne tapera. Two seen of the nominate subspecies lacking the complete breast-band of fusca.

Barn Swallow – Hirundo rustica. Boreal migrant, we saw 6 +. The New World populations of Hirundo rustica were formerly (e.g., Ridgway 1904) treated as a separate species, H. erythrogastra, from Old World populations.

Bank Swallow – Riparia riparia. At least two seen. The SACC says: Called "Sand Martin" or "Common Sand-Martin" in Old World literature and in Ridgely & Tudor (1989), Turner & Rose (1989), Sibley & Monroe (1990), and Ridgely & Greenfield (2001). SACC proposal to change to "Sand Martin" did not pass.


House Wren – Troglodytes aedon. One seen. Many authors (e.g., Hellmayr 1934, Pinto 1944, Phelps & Phelps 1950a) formerly treated Neotropical mainland populations as a separate species T. musculus; see also Brumfield and Capparella (1996); this treatment was followed by Brewer (2001) and Kroodsma & Brewer (2005). The Falklands population, T. a. cobbi, is treated as a species (Wood 1993), as was done by Brewer (2001), Mazar Barnett & Pearman (2001), Jaramillo (2003), and Kroodsma & Brewer (2005).

Thrush-like Wren - Campylorhynchus turdinus. 2 seen.

Buff-breasted Wren – Cantorchilus leucotis. The common wren of the area and very vocal.


Black -capped Donacobius - Donacobius atricapillus. Heard only.


Black-billed Thrush - Turdus ignobilis. The common lowland thrush.


Red Capped Cardinal - Paroaria gularis. Another common bird.

Black-faced Tanager - Schistochlamys melanopis. 4-6 seen in open habitats.

Hooded Tanager - Nemosia pileata. At least 4 seen.

Flame-crested Tanager - Tachyphonus cristatus. 4 seen.

Silver-beaked Tanager Ramphocelus carbo. Common in the Amazonia lowlands but not in primary forest.

Red-legged Honeycreeper - Cyanerpes cyaneus. A pair seen on day 2.

Green Honeycreeper - Chlorophanes spiza. Two seen.

Black-faced Dacnis -Dacnis lineata. A pair seen at Hamburgo.

Blue Dacnis - Dacnis cayana. A pair on consecutive days.

Yellow-backed Tanager – Hemithraupis flavicollis. 3 Seen.

Chestnut-vented Conebill – Conirostrum speciosum. Good views of a pair.

Blue-gray Tanager - Thraupis episcopus. A common bird in open areas. Episcopus – a reference to the episcopal blue plumage of this species.

Palm Tanager - Thraupis palmarum. Common in disturbed habitats.

Turquoise Tanager - Tangara mexicana. Two seen. Not found in Mexico!

Paradise Tanager - Tanagara chilensis. Stunning tanager, 2 seen. Not found in Chile!

Opal-crowned Tanager - Tangara callophrys. 2 seen.

Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch - Emberizoides herbicola. Common on the San Lorenzo pampas.

White-rumped Tanager – Cypsnagra hirundinacea. Around 6 of this social cerrado tanager called in by Richard. They are notable for their complex duets, often given in the early morning. They often lead mixed-species flocks and serve as sentinels. Individuals perch at the tops of trees and give alarm calls when predators approach. The White-rumped Tanager also is unusual in that it is one of the few tanagers for which cooperative breeding has been documented.

Grayish Saltator - Saltator coerulescens. Common. Klicka et al. (2007) found strong genetic support for a sister relationship between Saltator and core Thraupidae. Sushkin (1924) proposed that Saltator was thraupine, not emberizine/cardinaline. SACC proposal passed to transfer Saltator from Cardinalidae to Incertae Sedis. SACC proposal to transfer to Thraupidae did not pass. Barker et al. (2013) found that Saltator and Saltatricula were embedded in the Thraupidae. SACC proposal passed to transfer to Thraupidae. Chavez et al. (2013) found that relationships within the genus are not consistent with the current linear sequence of species. SACC proposal passed to revise linear sequence.

Buff-throated Saltator – Saltator maximis. One only.

Slate-colored Grosbeak – Saltator grossus. Heard only.

Blue-black Grassquit – Volatinia jacarina. A few here and there.

Plumbeous Seedeater – Sporophila plumbea. The common seedeater of the cerrado habitat.

Lesson’s Seedeater – Sporophila bouvronoides. Three at the start of the Hamburgo track.

Chestnut-bellied Seedeater - Sporophila angolensis. 2 seen. Not found in Angola!

Double-collared Seedeater – Sporophila caerulescens. A pair seen near the Hamburgo track.


Grassland Sparrow - Ammodramus humerlais. 2 on the cerrado.


Yellow-rumped Cacique - Cacicus cela. Very common bird.

Solitary Black Cacique - Cacicus solitarius. 3 seen in total.

Orange-backed Troupial - Icterus icterus. Two seen.


Purple-throated Euphonia - Euphonia chlorotica. Seen on two consecutive days.


House Sparrow - Passer domesticus. Common in town.