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Masked Water-Tyrant – Fluvicola nengeta

“I never for a day gave up listening to the songs of our birds, or watching their peculiar habits, or delineating them in the best way I could. ” John James Audubon

Poza Honda Ecuador – These highly-active and perpetually-happy Masked Water-Tyrants served as good-will ambassadors in every location I’ve lived in Ecuador.  Attired year ’round in crisp white and black/brown, they chirp, chatter, dance and build nests – always near the water.   At Casa Loca along Rio Jama, they foraged along the mud flats at low tide;  in Mindo they nested in locations just above the water, and now at Poza Honda they thrive in an ever-changing playground of water hyacinths.

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While I worked on the Common Tody Flycatcher study, the Water-Tyrants tolerated my presence;  ignoring the artist, they frolicked and provided ample poses for my growing collection of photos.      Painting these birds would be challenging yet rewarding.

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Masked Water Tyrants – Watercolor in progress by Lisa Brunetti

Working at night from reference photos, I also worked during the day by the water’s edge.    The bi-polar moods of the weather often sent me scampering up the hill to protect the painting!

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Just as I began the watercolor wash, the skies began to baptize the painting!

Within a week, water levels leaped to maximum levels, which brought those handsome birds (and the invasive water hyacinths) closer and closer to the human’s turf.  They provided a grand assortment of poses – as if to benefit no one except the human that studied them!  Enjoy watching these handsome birds via this slide show:


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Between dancing and gleaning insects, one pair flits from the water’s edge to the hyacinths to overhanging branches and back to the water. Flying inches from the water, they sometimes venture to floating islands of hyacinths in the middle of the reservoir.

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Searching for insects, they dart from cluster to cluster then race back to home base.  Two to four other birds sometimes join them, and the chattering and dancing intensifies – representing the joys of friendship or perhaps the insecurities of territorial quarrels!  P2480870 water tyrant reflections


After researching via the WWW, I realized how lucky we are in Ecuador to observe this precious little species:
“This bird has possibly the most disjunct range in South America. It occurs on opposite ends of the continent, with one race in eastern Brazil and the other mostly restricted to Ecuador west of the Andes….The great similarities in plumage and voice make it unlikely that the two races will be split despite their disjunct ranges.” – Nick Athanas – www.antpitta.com

Check out the IUCN RED List map. 

Another map/info: Neotropical.birds.cornell.edu https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/mawtyr1/overview

In honor of World Water Day, I  returned to the water’s edge and joined the Water Tyrants, Anis,  butterflies and dragonflies in quiet celebration.

The 3:00 pm World Hour for honoring the water was spent at the dam, the only stop between home and the cyber! Now- with election weekend in progress – the cyber is about to close….

Today is also a celebration of our precious natural resource of water.  Where some experience drought, others endure hurricanes, torrential rains and flooding.    May we find ways to put our planet’s health back in proper balance.

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Masked Water Tyrants – almost finished – Watercolor by Lisa Brunetti

The cyber is closing; he’s waiting on me to hit the publish button!  Thanks for your support of ‘One Bird at a Time.’   — See you next week!  Lisa

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“Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.”
― Terry Tempest Williams.