Chestnut-crowned Antpitta

Chris Bensley

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My Spark Bird story:

I was in Rio Blanco Natural Reserve in Colombia, part of a birding tour to preview birding locations in the Central Andres. My companions were two experienced birders, Nate Swick and Dorian Anderson, and they were excited to have the chance to see the endemic species. The local guide took us to a feeding area in the dense forest. We waiting patiently for what seemed like an eon.

Then, below the bushes, a bird darted back and forth. As a beginner, I didn't have the equipment to get a good look. The enthusiasm of Nate and Dorian was contagious, and when Nate handed me his binoculars, I could see why. What an odd-looking bird! The egg-like shape of the body and stick-like legs. It's life was about foraging on the forest floor, darting back and forth. We took photos and when I looked closer at the Chestnut-crowned Antpitta I was struck by its unique characteristics. That moment opened my eyes to the peculiarities of birds, each with their own features, behaviors, and sounds.

I was hooked. The next day our journey continue to a completely different ecosystem. We reached the high elevation of Los Nevados National Park and were treated to another endemic species, the Buffy Helmetcrest, species of hummingbird found only the paramo of the Central Andes of Colombia. I recorded Nate and Dorian's reactions and later posted a video. It was an eye-opening experience and I was fortunate to have experts to encourage me. My companions shared their stories, their used of eBird for tracking and listing, and their tips for getting started. But will always relish the sight of the shy Chestnut-crowned Antpitta