Saturday, 20 December 2014

Montezuma oropendola

Psarocolius montezuma

(Photo from Ecos del Bosque)

Common name:
Montezuma oropendola (en); japu-de-Montezuma (pt); cassique de Montezuma (fr); cacique de Moctezuma (es); Montezumastirnvogel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Icteridae

Range:
This species is found from southern Mexico south to western Panama, mainly on the lowlands bordering the Carribean Sea.

Size:
This species is sexually dimorphic. Males are 46-51 cm long and weigh about 520 g, while the females are smaller at 38-39 cm long and weighing 230-250 g.

Habitat:
The Montezuma oropendola is mostly found in moist tropical forests, particularly in forest clearing, forest edges and areas near water. They also use banana plantations and bamboo thickets. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 800 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on fruits, but also take nectar, flowers and other plant material, as well as large insects and other arthropods, frogs and other small vertebrates.

Breeding:
Montezuma oropendolas breed in January-August. They are polygynous, with males defending harems, and nest in colonies of 20-150 nests. Females build the nests, which consist of large, elaborate, pear-shaped structures made of plant fibres and twigs that hang from tree branches. Each female lays 1-2 white or buff-coloured eggs with dark spots, which she incubates alone for 15 days. The chicks fledge about 30 days after hatching.

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. Their rainforest habitats are being reduced by moderate deforestation, but they can adapt to open country with scattered trees.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Greater swamp-warbler

Acrocephalus rufescens

(Photo from Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
greater swamp-warbler (en); rouxinol-grande-dos-pântanos (pt); rousserolle des cannes (fr); carricero rufo (es); papyrusrohrsänger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Sylviidae

Range:
This species is patchily distributed in sub-Saharan Africa, with four disjunct subspecies. The subspecies A.r. sengalensis is found in Senegal and Gambia, A.r. rufescens is found from Ghana to the northern Central African Republic and north-western D.R. Congo, A.r. chadensis is found around Lake Chad, and A.r. ansorgei is found from southern South Sudan, through Uganda, western Kenya and eastern D.R. Congo, and into north-western Angola, Zambia, northern Botswana, north-eastern Namibia and western Zimbabwe.

Size:
These birds are 16-18 cm long and weigh 22-24 g.

Habitat:
The greater swamp-warbler is found in inland wetlands, such as Cyperus papyrus swamps, reedbeds, Typha stands, wet elephant grass and along river banks, also using seasonaly flooded agricultural fields.

Diet:
They feed mainly on insects, including beetle larvae, moths and their larvae, damsel flies and other aquatic insects, but also take small frogs.

Breeding:
Greater swamp-warblers can breed all year round, varying among different parts of their range. The nest is a deep cup made of papyrus and other reed leaves, attached to a number of papyrus stems, usually 1-2,5 m above the water level. There the female lays 2-3 eggs which are incubated by both sexes for about 14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge about 14 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as scarce to locally common, with an estimated global population of 2,9 million individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. In some areas local destruction of swamps may be cause for concern for this species.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Saffron toucanet

Pteroglossus bailloni

Photo by Celi de Medeiros (Flickr)

Common name:
saffron toucanet (en); araçari-banana (pt); toucan de Baillon (fr); tucán banana (es); goldtukan (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Piciformes
Family Ramphastidae

Range:
This species is found in south-eastern Brazil, from southern Bahia, through eastern Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, and into São Paulo, Paraná and northern Rio Grande do Sul, and also across the border into eastern Paraguay and extreme north-eastern Argentina.

Size:
These birds are 35-40 cm long and weigh 130-170 g.

Habitat:
The saffron toucanet is found in moist subtropical forests, particularly Atlantic forests on slopes and beside streams, also using forest edges and second growths. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.550 m.

Diet:
They forage on the forests canopy, in pairs or small groups, mainly taking fruits such as
Cecropia, Ficus, Euterpe, Eugenia uniflora and Melia azedarach, which are supplemented with insects during the breeding season. Occasionally, may also hunt fledglings of smaller bird species, such as woodpeckers.


Breeding:
Saffron toucanets breed in December-July. They are possibly monogamous, with both sexes excavating out an old woodpecker nest where the female lays 2-4 white eggs. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 16 days and the chicks fledge 40-42 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a large breeding range and is described as fairly common. However, a moderately rapid and on-going population decline is suspected owing to habitat loss, hunting and capture for the cage bird trade. Mountain forests have suffered less destruction than adjacent lowland forest in Brazil, but isolated forests in the north of its range have been reduced by the expansion of pasture and cultivation, and fires spreading from cultivated areas. Cage bird trade and hunting are apparently minimal in Argentina, but the saffron toucanet is still hunted in Paraguay.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Sooty-headed tyrannulet

Phyllomyias griseiceps

Photo by Leif Gabrielsen (iGoTerra)

Common name:
sooty-headed tyrannulet (en); piolhinho-de-cbeça-cinza (pt); tyranneau nain (fr); mosquerito cabecigrís (es); rußkappen-kleintyrann (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Tyrannidae

Range:
This species is patchily distributed from eastern Panama, through Venezuela and Colombia, east into Guyana and extreme northern Brazil, and south through Ecuador into central Peru.

Size:
These birds are 10 cm long and weigh 8 g.

Habitat:
The sooty-headed tyrannulet is mostly found in moist tropical forests, particularly along the edges of humid tropical and upper tropical evergreen forest, also using dry tropical forests, second growths and plantation. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 1.800 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on insects and other arthropods, but also take some small fruits and berries.

Breeding:
Sooty-headed tyrannulets are known to breed in February, but their overall phenology has not been described. They nest in a small cup covered in lichen, located high up in a tree, in one case 13 m above the ground. 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 is described as fairly common but patchily distributed. The sooty-headed tyrannulet is suspected to lose 14% of suitable habitat within its range over the next decade, based on a model of Amazonian deforestation, so it is suspected to suffer a small decline in the near future.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

American black duck

Anas rubripes

Photo by Ed Post (Flickr)

Common name:
American black duck (en); pato-escuro-americano (pt); canard noir (fr); ánade sombrío (es); dunkelente (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Anseriformes
Family Anatidae

Range:
This species breeds in north-eastern North American, in Canada from northern Saskatchewan to Newfoundland, and south to Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania and North Carolina in the United States. The population from Canada migrate south to winter throughout the eastern United States down to the Gulf Coast.

Size:
These birds are 53-61 cm long and have a wingspan of 95-96 cm. Females tend to be smaller than males, weighing 720-1.380 g, while males weigh 820-1.760 g.

Habitat:
The American black duck breeds in freshwater wetlands, including lakes, beaver ponds, streams, boreal bogs and woody swamps, favouring areas bordered by trees. Outside the breeding season they also use brackish and saltwater wetlands, including saltmarshes, estuaries and coastal lagoons, as well as agricultural fields.

Diet:They feed on the seeds, roots ,stems and leaves of aquatic and crop plants, as well as aquatic insects such as larvae of mayflies, caddisflies, dragonflies, flies, midges and beetles, crustaceans, molluscs and sometimes fish.


Breeding:
American black ducks are monogamous and breed in March-June. The female builds the nest alone, a scrape on the ground lined with grass, twigs, leaves, stems, conifer needles and down feathers, usually hidden among vegetation or sometimes in a tree cavity. There she lays 7-12 eggs which she incubates alone for 23-33 days. The male remains with the female for the first 2 weeks of incubation, helping defend the nest. The chicks leave the nest within 1-3 hours of hatching and follow the mother to a rearing area which is abundant in invertebrates and vegetative cover. They start flying about 60 days after hatching and reach sexual maturity at 1 year of age.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is currently estimated at 715.200-1.274.000 individuals. The population has possibly declined by about 50% since the 1950s, but the rate of decline became slower in recent decades. The main threats affecting the American black duck are hunting, competition and hybridization with mallards Anas platyrhynchos, wetland pollution and lead poisoning.

Monday, 15 December 2014

White-bellied redstart

Hodgsonius phaenicuroides

Photo by Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok (Ayuwat)

Common name:
white-bellied redstart (en); rabirruivo-de-barriga-branca (pt); bradybate à queue rouge (fr); colirrojo ventriblanco (es); kurzflügel-rotschwanz (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Muscicapidae

Range:
This species is found in the Himalayas and from central and southern China south to yanmar, northern Thailand, northern Laos and northern Vietnam. The population that breed at higher altitudes in the Himalayas migrate south to winter in north-eastern India.

Size:
These birds are 18-19 cm long and weigh 22-25 g.

Habitat:
The white-bellied redstart is mostly found in the transition between open scrublands and closed forests, using moist tropical forests, temperate forests, moist scrublands, high-altitude scrublands, dry grasslands and arable land. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 4.300 m.

Diet:
They forage mainly on the ground, taking mostly insects but also some berries and other vegetable material.

Breeding:
White-bellied redstarts breed in May-September. The nest is a deep, bulky cup made of grass, dead leaves, roots and stems, lined with finer grass, hair and feathers. It is hidden in a dense scrub, up to 1,5 m above the ground. The female lays 2-4 dark blue-green eggs, which she incubates alone for 10-16 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 11-17 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as widespread and fairly common in the Himalayas and rare to uncommon in Myanmar, northern Laos and northern Vietnam. In China, which represents a large proportion of the white-bellied redstart breeding range, the population is estimated to be below 100.000 breeding pairs. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Corn crake

Crex crex

(Photo from Hortobágyi Madárpark)

Common name:
corn crake (en); codornizão (pt); râle des genêts (fr); guión de codornices (es); wachtelkönig (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Gruiformes
Family Rallidae

Range:
This species breeds from western Europe, in France, Ireland and Scotland, through central Europe and southern Scandinavia, and into central Asia as far as Kazakhstan, northern China, Mongolia and south-eastern Russia. They migrate south to winter in sob-Saharan Africa, mainly from Tanzania and southern D.R. Congo to Botswana and eastern South Africa.

Size:
These birds are 22-30 cm long and have a wingspan of 42-53 cm. They weigh 130-210 g.

Habitat:
The corn crake breeds in open and semi-open habitats, particularly moist, tall grasslands. Originally they would almost certainly have used riverine meadows of Carex-Iris-Typhoides and alpine, coastal and fire-created grasslands with few trees or scrubs, but are now mainly associated with managed agricultural grasslands. Outside the breeding season they mainly use dry grasslands and savannas, also using riverine grasslands, and man-made habitats such as cereal fields, sewage ponds and golf courses.

Diet:
They feed mainly on invertebrates, including beetles, flies, grasshoppers, dragonflies, earwigs, earthworms, millipedes, spiders, isopods, slugs and snails, but also take small vertebrates such as fishes and amphibians, seeds and shoots.

Breeding:
Corn crakes breed in April-August. They can form seasonal monogamous pairs, but serial polygyny regularly occurs. The nest is made of dead stems and leaves, and placed on the ground among dense vegetation. The female lays 8-12 eggs, which she incubates alone for 14-21 days. The chicks leave the nest within a few hours of hatching and are able to feed themselves after 3-4 days, becoming independent of their mother at about 12 days of age. However, they only start flying 30-35 days after hatching. Each female may raise 1-2 broods per season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 5,45-9,72 million individuals. The population in Russia, which holds the vast majority of the global population, has remained stable even increased over the last decade, with some fluctuations due to extreme weather. However, in Europe the population is predicted to decline by up to 20% over the next decade, due to land use changes. Chick mortality due to mechanized mowing and intensification of grassland management are the main threats affecting corn crakes, although illegal hunting, land abandonment and nest predation by introduced mammals may pose a problem in some areas.