Image of the Month September 2021: Crescent-faced Antpitta

Photographer: Forrest Rowland   Destination: Colombia

Often, it’s only the slightest hint of movement, perhaps a mere suggestion that something is present within our space. Our senses are heightened. We stare into the dark, dank undergrowth where leaf-litter abounds. Every muscle fibre in our eyes strain to try and spot some movement. Our ears work overtime as we listen carefully for a rustle, likely the distinctive sound of a leaf being disturbed as we close in on our quarry.

Most birders who have explored any of the worlds forest zones will likely be rather familiar with the above scene. After all, those feathered friends who reside in mossy montane forests or steamy lowland rainforest locations often have fantastic ways and means of making themselves invisible, and the Antpittas are certainly one such group of birds.

The forested regions of central and south America are the haunt of the worlds Antpittas. They are a fabulous group of intricately plumaged birds that are always highly prized and appreciated when encountered. Closely related to Gnateaters - Conopophagidae and the amazingly diverse Antbird family - Thamnophilidae, it was only as recently as 15 years ago that Antpittas were placed in their own distinct family - Grallariidae. And with 67 currently recognised species (As per IOC v11.2) there is no shortage of fun and excitement when it comes to searching for these dapper understorey forest birds.

Countries like Panama, Costa Rica, Guyana, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Brazil all hold their fair share of Antpittas however it is Peru, Ecuador and Colombia where the Antpitta spectacle is at its greatest. Colombia alone has an extraordinary 27 species! Our featured image is the gorgeous Crescent-faced Antpitta of Colombia and Ecuador. It is an extremely localised and rather rare species, occurring at high elevations in the Andes and is often closely associated with bamboo zones. Most Antpittas range in length between 10 and 20 cm (4 and 8 inches) and at just 12 cm (4.7 inches) the Crescent-faced Antpitta is on the daintier end of the scale. Always a treat to see, this little gem was photographed just a few weeks ago by Forrest Rowland while he was leading a Rockjumper Tailor-made tour through Colombia.  

Colombia, as most of us are aware, is blessed with more bird species than any other country on our planet with over 1950 recorded and counting. At Rockjumper we pride ourselves in offering a range of Colombia tours that are perfectly suited to a variety of birders and interests. We have trips that are just right, by pace and design, for those who are first time visitors to the country, or indeed South America, while we also offer more intensely focused birding tours, into remote parts of Colombia, for some of the countries seldom seen species, or our famous 1000 Birds Mega Tour which offers a month of unprecedented birding opportunities.

Colombia is now open to visitors from several countries and they have good Covid protocols in place, which many of our recent groups can attest to. So many birds, so many experiences await. Most of our Colombia tours upcoming are sold out but we do have limited spaces on the departures listed below. We look forward to seeing you in Colombia soon.