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A Tapaculo disagreement between friends solved peacefully (with the help of a huge data set).

It happened back in January. A friend of us, Javier Robayo (EcoMinga Foundation) visited us with a group of North-American students and on the way up we heard a Tapaculo calling near-by. Noé Morales (birding guide of Santa Lucía) and Holger Beck (coordinator scientific research of the reserve) both agreed that is was a Nariño Tapaculo (Scytalopus vicinior) whereas Javier was doubtful saying that it might be a Spillmann's Tapaculo (Scytalopus spillmanni). Noé and Holger both said that Spillmann's doesn't appear in this part of the forest (main trail between parking spot and lodge) and at this elevation (just below 1.800m). They also claimed that in Santa Lucía there's is virtually no overlap betwen both species in terms of elevation. Holger placed the line more or less at the elevation of the lodge (1.950m), Noé thought the cut to be a little higher (2.100m). Javier on the other hand firmly stated that in Ecominga reserves there is a huge overlap between the two species from 1.600m on upwards.

So, here's what the bird monitoring data says:

Looks interesting, doesn't it? So - contrary to what Noé and Holger thought - there IS an overlap in elevation between the two species and it is remarkable. It is somewhat higher than Javier's estimate though. Between 1.900m and 2.200m. This is really somewhat surprising (for the local guys) as they can hardly remember a recent observation of Nariño Tapaculo in the upper part of Santa Lucia. Be that as it may - the disagreement between friends is solved. Peace has been made, beers have been drunken. :)

The observations of Chocò Tapaculos (Scytalopus chocoensis) come from the very first years of the bird monitoring. They haven't been seen nor heard - not even near the reserve - ever since.

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