In mid October, Alan Martin, Sue Healey, Raquel and I went to visit Lila’s Vale das Taquaras lodge. Though the weather was dire, the guide Reinaldo told us to look for the Swallow tailed Cotinga Phibalura flavirostris on the nest in the garden, and we spent a full day observing the care that this pair of Swallow tailed Cotinga bestowed on their ravenous young.
Immediately visible with its swallow tail-feathers and black and yellow speckled plumage, hence the specific name flavirostris. These are not common birds and all the birders that come to these shores are anxious to see one. We often take visitors to high altitude where there are greater chances to see them up in the canopy as they forage for fruit, and they have been seen in groups on Pico da Caledônia as well as Macaé de Cima.
However, our sighting was especially significant for it is rare to find them on their nests. These nests are built on branch forks, and though they appear flimsy they must be quite firmly in place for it looks like it would fall off with any strong wind. The birds alternated looking after their young bringing whilst the other headed off to find fruit, and the wind with drizzle certainly tested their perseverance and determination.
A particularly interesting feature was the colouring of one of the adults. It appeared very dark, with densly barred underparts, and we were puzzled by the lack of its distinctive yellow chin. Does anyone have an idea as why this bird is so dark? An unusual colour morph perhaps?