Perhaps it was an omen, because six hours after the bird appeared, the earthquake turned our world upside down. Aside from a flash of white on the side of its face, the black bird would have passed without catching my attention.
“What in the world was that?” I wondered, and as soon as the bird perched in the Bromeliad Tree straight in front of me, it soared away to a lower level on the property. Club winged Manakins and half a dozen species of Tanagers kept me entertained from the nearby canopy until that flash of white caught my eye again. Catching it via a few poor faraway shots with the camera, I wondered what in the world bird that could be…
That evening I studied the reference books and thought, “Hmmmm. Black Solitaire… New bird for me.”
Since then I have learned that it is indeed a very special bird for the “Choco” area of Columbia and NW Ecuador. The bird continued to play Hide & Seek with me over the next week, and then one day ‘Wham!” it flew into a window and died. I lovingly cradled it for a few hours, then placed it in the freezer for reference for a future painting. A few weeks later, I uploaded the data for that day to EBird and noted that the bird was in the freezer in case it was of interest to anyone.
Roger Ahlman, Ecuadors EBird consultant, suggested that the Natural History Museum in Quito might want the bird. Only when I brought the bird (on ice) to town did I realize how special the bird was to the locals. My guide-friend Peter first admired the bird, then word spread and others came to view the Black Solitaire. It has been a long time since I have witnessed so many people show a small dead bird so much tenderness and respect.
Diego Patino, the president of Mindo”s Bird Guide Association, lovingly re-wrapped the Solitaire and said he would take it to the Museum of Natural Science in Quito. I remain humbled and so lucky to see this bird (there is another one, featured in the photo) as well as other “not-often seen birds.” Pedro and Luis spotted two tanagers today that are not usually seen in that area. Entire list for the property is now around 120, not bad for a novice birder! Will be uploading that list to the “Cinto Property” website soon.
For more information about this Bird Paradise, go here – A Little Blue Bird Told Me…
This was published (I hope!) via scheduled draft written earlier. I will be offline until Monday or Tuesday of next week, so if some crisis should happen, do not worry – I am fine, rain and all!