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PERU May 2010

From May 02 to 19, 2010, Sheridan Coffey and myself visited north and central Peru with Kolibri Expeditions:

Here are three interesting Swifts seen at various locations:-



1) "white-headed" Andean Swift Aeronautes andecolus parvulus?: On May 17, 2010 there were four or five Aeronautes swifts flying in the central Eulalia Valley just before the bridge over the specatacular Gorge (i.e. the Great Inca-Finch spot). I was surprised to note that instead of feeding in an area for a few minutes then moving on, this group remained flying around one fairly small section of the valley for the entire time we were there (we were struggling initially to find the Inca-Finch). I did not pay them much attention other than to photograph them, as they were conveniently flying at around eye-level. When I looked at my pics I was rather surprised to see that all the birds I had photographed (at least two individuals, and possibly three) had mostly white heads - ?:




- clearly there is some over-exposure at play on the images, but the eye is obviously isolated on the head. There is a suggestion of a slightly duskier wash on the forehead in some images - but this wash extends onto the foreface below/ahead of the eye (Andean Swift is supposed to have a fairly clean dark cap with white below the eye). My references indicate that juvenile Andean Swifts are not pale-headed - and anyway at least one of the birds above seems to be near the end of its primary molt, so it cannot be a juvenile.
I'd appreciate feedback on these birds, thanks.





2) White-chested Swift Cypseloides lemosi: On May 12, 2010 we were at the parking area of Morro de Calzada, San Martin, along with guides Alex Duran and Juan Jose Chalco early in the morning when I spotted two Cypseloides swifts with obviously forked tails. I've seen C. lemosi on four occasions in northern, central and southern Ecuador (click here to see my pics of them) and was thus not surprised to see via binoculars an obvious white patch (roughly triangular in shape) on the chest of both birds (one had a smaller patch than the other). Only Alex was able to get a good look at them before they dropped below the treeline, and he confimed the white patches and the ID. I tried to get photos, but the birds had moved downslope and I was only able to get off a few poor, distant images - but at least this one shows the chest patch:





3) White-chinned Swift Cypseloides cryptus: for a short while after the above experience I was watching intently for more swifts; on two more occasions within the next 15 minutes two or three Cypseloides were seen doing much the same as the first two (i.e. apparently coming down from near the top of the Morro and moving into the lowlands below). I concentrated on trying for (and mostly failing to get) photos rather than studying them much in the field. The last group seemed to include at least one all-dark swift with a large head and rather short tail, and my analysis of the images leads me to conclude that it is C. cryptus:

- in the above pic there seems to be a suggestion of pale areas on the chin and side of the face ahead/above the eye; in the image below again there is the suggestion of a pale spot on the chin:


This is a second individual that appears to have a whitish band on the vent - a feature that I believe is unique to juvenile White-chinned and Spot-fronted Swifts...:



AS ALWAYS, I'D REALLY VALUE FEEDBACK - THANKS.