Some Mysteries from South America

Compiled by Sjoerd Mayer.

As of 5 March 2002, "solutions" are no longer removed, but moved here instead.
And changes to this page in chronological order are now listed here.

Click on the little photos to see bigger versions.

Tinamus chick, but which species?


This is a chick of a Tinamus species according to Jon Fjeldså ("Palaeognathous birds (= ostriches, rheas, tinamous etc) can immediately be recognized by the position of the gape, as the roof of the upper mandible is continuous with the palate of the skull, while in all other birds there is an angle between the plane of bill and skull").

It walked into a net set up by Stefan Woltmann ( at 14.40S,62.05W in central Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Can anyone say what Tinamus species this is?

Were all these sounds made by Spot-winged Antbird Percnostola leucostigma?

The following four recordings were all made by © Omar Rocha O. along the Rio Madre de Dios in the depto of Pando, in 1991. But, although I have little doubt that the first recording is of the Antbird (it is very similar to a recording of that species by the late Ted Parker, also made in Pando, and archived at Cornell LNS under #38882), the other recordings sound rather different. All recordings are in MP3 format.

  1. Two birds countersinging at Chive (11.31S,67.42W).
  2. These alarm calls and songs were recorded from the same bird, also at Chive. I think the calls indicate that this was indeed an Antbird, but I am puzzled by why the songs sound so different from those on the first recording.
  3. A singing bird at Remanso (10.56S,66.18W). Four stretches, all recorded within probably less than fifteen minutes. Or was this a Long-billed Gnatwren Ramphocaenus melanurus?

Note that these birds sing different from those in the foothills, but that's another matter.

Curtis Marantz ( wrote on 17 January 2002: "Both #1 and #2 sound to me like Schistocichla (Percnostola) leucostigma; the songs and the calls both sound good for this species. I suspect that the songs in part 2 were given in response to tape playback, so the bird is somewhat agitated. I also agree with you that the songs in part #3 sound like those of Ramphocaenus melanurus."
I followed Curtis' advice for the arrangement of the recordings on the next version of the Bolivia DVD-ROM.

Unidentified Blackbird

Recording by Bennett Hennessey. Bennett's notes: "Song, one natural, one playback. All black icterid was seen. Vocal notes say 'Grackle like jizz'. ..". The other bird is a Masked Trogon.

I bet this is a (black-billed variant of?) Subtropical Cacique Cacicus uropygialis. Just note the striking similarity to some of the phrases on Example 3 on John Moore and Mitch Lysinger's "The birds of Cabañas San Isidro, Ecuador" double-cassette. This species would be a new bird for the country to my knowledge. Wow!

Recorded at 2400 m in the Bolivian mountains, close to the border with Peru.