Ornate Flycatcher - Tropical Rainforest Standout
Of the plethora of birds that inhabit the tropical rainforest of the Americas there is no other family that causes more confusion in identity than the Tyrant Flycatchers. Their similar colors, patterns and habits make it difficult to distinguish several species, even by the most experience veteran. There are, however, certain individuals that are unmistakable due to their unique appearance. The Ornate Flycatcher falls into this category.
The Ornate Flycatcher can be found inhabiting the borders of mountain forests and subtropical zones or the rainforest from northern Colombia to southern Peru. Within Ecuador there are two entirely different races, the phoenicurus of the eastern slope and the stellatus on the west.
Preferring altitudes from 800 – 2,000 m (2,600 – 6,500 ft), the Ornate Flycatcher can be observed in Ecuador from the northern border down into El Oro province on the western slope. On the eastern slope it can be located along the entire length of the Andes Mountains.
The Ornate Flycatcher is a diminutive bird measuring 12 cm (4 ¾ in) in length. It is very common within its range and due to its unique coloring and appearance it is easily identifiable.
Both male and female are similar in appearance. On both slopes the head and throat are gray, the intensity being much greater on the face and crown. There is a yellow coronal stripe although this is not readily visible in the field. There is an obvious preocular (in front of eye) patch that is easily discernable from a distance, appearing as large white orbs peering at its prey.
The back is dark olive in hue while the rump is bright yellow, similar to its belly. The wings are dusky and the breast a dark olive. On the eastern slope the tail is entirely rufous whereas the western slope race is dusky with rufous only at the base.
Habits and Habitats
The Ornate Flycatcher can be found along the borders of wooded areas in the tropical rainforest. It is usually observed in pairs perched close together, sitting erect on branches at low to middle heights. It does not generally accompany mixed flocks, preferring a more solitary lifestyle.
Being an insectivore, it can be observed making short sallies into the air to capture its prey. After several such movements it will continue on to another location, customarily near the original. Although a fairly timid creature, if one is patient and motionless, it may perch very near for closer scrutiny and photos.
The Ornate Flycatcher is an adorable little bird of the tropical rainforests in South America. Its distinctive coloring and design along with its active and carefree antics provide for many hours of captivating observation. When traveling to Ecuador it can be seen Buenaventura Reserve, Copa Linga Lodge, Cordillera del Condor, Guango Lodge, Milpe Bird Sanctuary, Mindo Valley, Podocarpus-Bombuscaro & Vicinity, Rio Canande Reserve, Rio Palenque Reserve, Rio Silanche Bird Sanctuary, San Isidro, Tandayapa Valley, and Tinalandia. It is a very conspicuous species that can be found with little effort and will provide enjoyable entertainment.
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