Thursday, 31 July 2014

Speckle-chested piculet

Picumnus steidachneri

Photo by Gerard Gorman (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
speckle-chested piculet (en); pica-pau-anão-malhado (pt); picumne perlé (fr); carpinterito perlado (es); perlenbrust-zwergspecht (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Piciformes
Family Picidae

Range:
This species is endemic to Peru, only being found in the central Huallaga valley and very locally in the Utcubamba valley in the Andes of north-western San Martín, in the north of the country.

Size:
These tiny woodpeckers are 10 cm long and weigh 9-11 g.

Habitat:
The speckle-chested piculet is found in moist tropical forests, favouring mountain forests with many epiphytes and tall second growth. They occur at altitudes of 1.100-2.200 m.

Diet:
They forage alone or in small groups, searching for invertebrates in tree bark.

Breeding:
Speckle-chested piculets excavate nest cavities in soft or rotten wood of old trees. the female lays 2-4 eggs which are incubated for 12-14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 21-24 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - EN (Endangered)
This species has a relatively small breeding range and the global population is estimated at 6.000-15.000 individuals. There is no reliable information on population trends, but the speckle-chested piculet is suspected to lose 65% of suitable habitat within its range over the next 13 years based on a model of Amazonian deforestation, so a rapid decline is expected in the near future. Logging as been a problem in the region since at least the 1930s, and deforestation for coca plantations became a serious problem in the 1980s, but has ceased more recently. Continuing population growth and immigration have led to heavy disturbance of forests both through clear-cutting and selective logging, as well as conversion to agriculture, particularly coffee plantations and pastures. Although part of the species range is located within the Alto Mayo Protected Forest, forest clearance has continued unabated.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Tamarugo conebill

Conirostrum tamarugense

Photo by Gonzalo Gonzalez (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
tamarugo conebill (en); figuinha-do-tamarugo (pt); conirostre des tamarugos (fr); comesebo de los tamarugales (es); rotstirn-spitzschnabel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Thraupidae

Range:
This species is only found breeding in a few locations within Pampa del Tamarugal, in northern Chile. They migrate north to winter other parts of northern Chile and in south-western Peru.

Size:
These birds are 12-13 cm long and weigh about 10 g.

Habitat:
The tamarugo conebill is mostly found breeding in mature tamarugo Prosopis tamarugo plantations, but can also use riverine scrublands, agricultural land and citrus groves. outside the breeding season, it occurs primarily in arid Gynoxys and Polylepis stands. They can be found from sea level up to an altitude of 4.100 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on caterpillars, particularly those of Leptotes trigemmatus.

Breeding:
Tamarugo conebills breed in September-December, coinciding with the seasonal blooming of tamarugo flowers which provide food for the caterpillars the birds rely on. They nest in a deep, round cup made of small twigs, feathers, wool and the rachis of tamarugo leaves. The nest is placed in a descending or horizontal branch near the centre of a tamarugo tree, about 3-6 m above the ground. The female lays 3 pale grey eggs with brown spots. There is no available information regarding the incubation and fledgling periods.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a relatively small and fragmented breeding range. The global population has been estimated at 19.000-51.000 individuals, but this estimate may by outdated. The population is possibly increasing, owing to the expansion and regeneration of tamarugo forests. Tamarugo was almost extirpated by the time the Chilean government began a replantation programme in the 1930s. The tamarugo is managed mainly for the production of sheep forage and by the 1970s, 146 square quilometres had been reforested, and protected within the Pampa del Tamarugal National Reserve. Potential threats include ongoing attempts to control L. trigemmatus with chemicals or parasitoids, the risk of exhaustion of the aquifers used to water taramugo plantation due to their use to supply the city of Iquique, and the widespread cutting of Polylepis woodland in the wintering areas.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Yellow-bellied tyrannulet

Ornithion semiflavum

Photo by Nick Athanas (Antpitta)

Common name:
yellow-bellied tyrannulet (en); poiaeiro-de-barriga-amarela (pt); tyranneau à ventre jaune (fr); mosquerito ventriamarillo (es); gelbbauch-kleintyrann (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Tyrannidae

Range:
This species is found from southern Mexico to western Panama.

Size:
These birds are 8 cm long and weigh 7-8 g.

Habitat:
The yellow-bellied is mostly found in moist tropical forests, also using forest edges, second growths, moist scrublands, plantations and rural gardens. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.500 m.

Diet:
They forage alone or in pairs, picking arthropods from the foliage.

Breeding:
Yellow-bellied tyrannulets possibly breed in March-June. They nest in a globular structure, well camouflaged among the foliage or in a dead tree. There is no further information regarding the reproduction of this species.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 50.000-500.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Racket-tailed coquette

Discosura longicaudus

Photo by Robson Czaban (Beija-flores)

Common name:
racket-tailed coquette (en); bandeirinha (pt); coquette à raquettes (fr); rabudito de raquetas (es); diskuselfe (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

Range:
This South American species is found in two disjunct areas, one from southern Venezuela and the Guyanas south to the Amazon river, and another along the coast of eastern Brazil, from Rio Grande do Norte to Rio de Janeiro.

Size:
The males are 10 cm long, including the long tail streamers, while the females are 7-8 cm long. They weigh 3-4 g.

Habitat:
The racket-tailed coquette is mostly found in moist tropical forests, particularly along rivers and streams, but also uses scrubby, moist savannas and second growths. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 700 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on the nectar of various flowers, namely Anacardium occidentale, Leonitis petaefolia, Leonurus sibiricus, Caesalpinoidae dicymbe  and Calliandra sp. They also take some small invertebrates.

Breeding:
Racket-tailed coquettes nest in a cup made of soft plant materials and lined with soft plant fibres and seed down. The nest is built solely by the female and placed in a tree, 3-6 m above the ground, where she lays 2 eggs. The female incubates the eggs alone for 13-14 days. The chicks are raised by the female alone and fledge about 20 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as uncommon. It is suspected to lose 9-10% of suitable habitat within its distribution over the next 12 years, based on a model of Amazonian deforestation, so a small decline is expected in the near future.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

White-tailed shrike

Lanioturdus torquatus

Photo by Paul Bourdin (A Birder in the Philippines)

Common name:
white-tailed shrike (en); picanço-palrador (pt); lanielle à queue blanche (fr); laniotordo (es); drosselwürger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Platysteiridae

Range:
This African species is found in south-western Angola and in north-western and central Namibia.

Size:
These birds are 14-15 cm long and weigh 25-45 g.

Habitat:
The white-tailed shrike is mostly found in dry savannas, particularly mopane Colosphermum mopane, and mixed Acacia, cluster-leafs Terminalia and bushwillow Combretum woodlands. They also use dry savannas, rocky areas, and rivers and streams.

Diet:
They mainly hunt large insects, namely moths, butterflies and caterpillars, stick insects, ant lions, mantids, beetles, grasshoppers and termite alates, as well as spiders.

Breeding:
White-tailed shrikes can breed all year round, but with a peak in November-March. The nest is a shallow cup of woven twigs and rootlets, usually placed in scrub about 2-3 metres above ground. The female lays 2-3 pale green eggs with reddish-brown spots, which are incubated by both sexes for about 15 days. There is no available information regarding the fledgling period.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and is described as common. The population is suspected to be expanding in the east of its range following desertification.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Weka

Gallirallus australis

Photo by Sid Mosdell (Wikipedia)

Common name:
weka (en); frango-d'água-austral (pt); râle wéka (fr); rascón weka (es); wekaralle (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Gruiformes
Family Rallidae

Range:
This species is endemic to New Zealand, being found in scattered location along the eastern coast of North Islands,  in the northern and south-western areas of South Island, in the islands of Chatham and Pitt, and in several islands around Stewart Island.

Size:
These birds are sexually dymorphic in size. The females are smaller with 46-50 cm in length and weigh 350-1.035 g, while the males are 50-60 cm long and weigh 530-1.600 g. They have a wingspan of 50-60 cm.

Habitat:
The weka uses most available habitats within their range, including temperate forests and grasslands, freshwater marshes and lakes and scrublands, and to a lesser extent coastal sand dunes, rocky shorelines and sandy or pebble beaches. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.500 m.

Diet:
They are omnivorous, taking both animals and plant material, including seeds, berries, leaves and grasses, as well as earthworms, adult and larval insects, snails and slugs, spiders, frogs, lizards, mice, small rabbits and small birds.

Breeding:
Wekas can breed all year round. They are monogamous and may pair for life. they nest on the ground, in dense cover such as tussocks, burrows, tree hollows, under logs, stumps or rocks, or even hidden in buildings. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a shallow cup made of woven grasses, lilies, twigs and moss, lined with finer grasses, feathers and hair. The female lays 1-4 eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 26-28 days. The chicks leave the nest 2-3 days after hatching, but remain under the care of the parents for about 2 months. They reach sexual maturity at 1 year of age and each pair may raise up to 4 broods per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a relatively large but fragmented breeding range, and the global population is estimated at 71.000-118.000 individuals. Although different sub-population may have different trends, the global population is suspected to be declining rapidly due to a combination of habitat clearance and degradation, road kills, a wide range of introduced mammalian predators and competitors, combinations of drought and flood years, poison baits used for possum and rabbit control, and possibly disease. Also, they have been eradicated from several islands due to possible risks to other native biota, and removal from Pitt and other islands is a future possibility.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Moustached antpitta

Grallaria alleni

Photo by Steve Blain (Steve Blain presents "Bird Porn")

Common name:
moustached antpitta (en); tuvacuçu-de-bigodes (pt); grallaire à moustaches (fr); tororoí bigotudo (es); grauscheitel-ameisenpitta (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Formicariidae

Range:
This species is only found in the western slope of the Central Andes in Colombia, and both Andean slopes in northern Ecuador.

Size:
These birds are 16-17 cm long and weigh 60-80 g.

Habitat:
The moustached antpitta is found in dense understorey of moist, mossy cloud forests, particularly in ravines and steep slopes. They are present at altitudes of 1.800-2.500 m.

Diet:
They forage on the ground, taking earthworms and insects, namely katydids.

Breeding:
Moustached antpittas nest in a cup made of dead leaves, sticks and moss, placed on a small branch or trunk of a tree, about 1,5 m above the ground. The female lays 2 unmarked eggs. There is no available information about the incubation period, but the chicks fledge 15-17 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a relatively small and fragmented breeding range, and the global population is estimated at 1.500-7.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be declining a a slow rate due to habitat loss. Since the 17th century, most of the cloud forest in the central Andes of Colombia has been logged, settled and converted to agriculture, while the west Andean slopes in Ecuador have also been strongly altered and fragmented. The few remaining areas suffer from human encroachment and clearance for agriculture and opium production. In the east Andes some well protected forests remain with roughly 60% of the range of the moustached antpitta in that region being included in five protected areas.