Species Profile: Fire-eyed Diucon
Fire-eyed Diucon (Xolmis pyrope)
By Emily Diener (Macalester College)
The first bird I ever identified by myself was the fire-eyed diucon. It happened on a nature walk as a group on September 30th, when we each spent about an hour on our own, in solitude, observing our surroundings. I was nestled in a cliff, peering out over the Nothofagus woodland when I spotted a grey bird perched high in a tree. I wrote: “I observed a bird, maybe 6-8” tall, black primaries, grey secondaries, grey tail and head, crazy red eye, black feet, very flat top of crown, beak is black and sharp, chin and throat are white, lighter-colored belly, perched on highest tree branch, by itself, no song heard.”
With my journal observations I went straight to the first bird book I could get my hands on and positively identified the species I saw as the fire-eyed diucon. The description in Alvaro Jaramillo’s Birds of Chile field guide matched many of my own notes. The fire-eyed diucon is 8” tall, with a distinct flat-topped head and puffed out throat. It has grey plumage with a white throat, red eye, and black beak. Its primaries are black and its secondaries are grey, while the tail is grey with a white outer border. The underparts and breast are whitish-colored. The fire-eyed diucon is generally silent and can be found along forest edges, in farmlands, and in open forests.
I chose this bird for my species profile and decided to build a model to share with the group. I compared my field observations with the description in the book to show how I was able to identify it.