13 September 2010

Potoo training

Spent the day at the Natural History Museum at Tring studying potoo skins. I was particularly interested in a feature I observed in the field on a couple of Long-tailed Potoos at REGUA in Brazil back in May. Unfortunately I found that this feature is not well preserved on the skins due to the way they are stored (which might explain why field guide illustrations do not show it), however, after inspecting 102 specimens of six species (including 14 Long-tailed Potoo specimens of two subspecies) and a whole bunch of photos, I found enough evidence to back up my theory that the feature is unique to Long-tailed Potoo (more on this later). This is the first time I have visited the museum at Tring and it was fascinating pulling out trays containing little known species. I couldn't resist taking this potoo family portrait (click to enlarge)! There's one species missing - any idea which one?

9 comments:

  1. From left to right in your photo; Great, Long-tailed, Northern, Common, White-winged, and Rufous Potoo. Meaning Andean Potoo is missing.

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  2. lee.How are you nice talking to you & Rachel at the Birdfair.just got back from Bahia & had an exciting encounter with a White Winged potoo in a reserve 20k from Porto Seguro . A distinct species recorded in 1999 for the first time in 150 years and reported only a handful of times since. Our guide Ciro Albano had the 1999 tape, played it nonchalently as we were going back to the car in mud & semi darkness & the bird responded flew down deposited itself in an adjacent tree waited for us to photograph it then disappeared not to be seen or heard again before we managed a snap!!!. Ciro was apopopletic(I think that that is a word). Ayway the Lears Macaws roosting site is magnificent & highly recommended. Regards Barry& Jane

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  3. Hi Barry and Jane, It sounds like you had a great trip and I'm very envious of your White-winged Potoo sighting! I was hoping to go to Bahia this month, where I was hoping to search for one, but unfortunately I am not able to get back out to Brazil until next year. Would you be able to email me details of where you had it (lee.dingain@gmail.com)? Best wishes, Lee

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  4. Just popped in at your blog Lee. Like what I see. Great title and interesting blog post. How educating to see the Potoos side by side like this. Does it mean there is no Andean Potoo in the Tring at all?

    The Andean Potoo has been staked out on the Manu road for a couple of years now.

    Saludos from Peru

    Gunnar

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  5. so please keep us posted about your unique-feature discovery PLEASE!

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  6. Hi Diego, I'm just finishing off a short paper about this feature for the Neotropical Bird Club, to hopefully be published either in the next Cotinga or Neotropical Birding.

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  7. Looking forward to that! Did you happen to notive any obvious differences between Northern and Common Potoos on study skins?

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  8. Hi Pat, Unfortunately I wasn't able to spend much time comparing the skins of Northern and Common Potoo during my visit to Tring, but as far as I could tell the plumage of both species appears to be more or less identical. The photo on this post shows Northern Potoo to be significantly larger than Common, but the specimens of both species varied in size, and although Common can be smaller than Northern I think the size difference would be of little use in the field.

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  9. My article about this feature, A new identification feature for Long-tailed Potoo Nyctibius aethereus, will be published in Neotropical Birding 10, due out in April 2012. To get hold of a copy please join the Neotropical Bird club.

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