Tuesday, 2 September 2014

White-browed coucal

Centropus superciliosus

Photo by Eric van Poppel (Internet Bird Colletion)

Common name:
white-browed coucal (en); cucal-de-sobrancelhas-brancas (pt); coucal à sourcils blancs (fr); cucal cejiblanco (es); tiputip (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Cuculiformes
Family Cuculidae

Range:
This species is found from the south-western Arabian Peninsula, through south-eastern Sudan, Erithrea and Ethiopia, across East Africa, through southern D.R. Congo into Angola, and through eastern Zimbabwe and Mozambique into eastern and southern South Africa.

Size:
These birds are 36-42 cm long and weighs 160-180 g.

Habitat:
The white-browed coucal is found in dry savannas, tall moist grasslands, marshes, scrub dominated wetlands, freshwater lakes and rivers. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 2.800 m.

Diet:
They feed on large insects, such as grasshoppers, crickets, locusts and beetles, as well as spiders, snails, crabs, lizards, snakes, frogs, mice and small birds up to the size of doves.

Breeding:
White-browed coucals can breed all year round, varying among different parts of their range. The nest is a large, untidy spherical structure, made of grass blades and stems and lined with leaves and roots. It is placed up to 10 m above the ground in reeds, scrubs or trees. The female lays 3-5 white eggs which are mainly incubated by the male for 14-18 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 18-20 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as common. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Raso lark

Alauda razae

Photo by Paul Donald (Surfbirds)

Common name:
Raso lark (en); calhandra-do-Raso (pt); alouette de Razo (fr); alondra de Raso (es); Rasolerche (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Alaudidae

Range:
This species is endemic to the Raso islet in the Cape Verde Archipelago, between the islands of Santa Luzia and São Nicolau.

Size:
These birds are 12-13 cm long and weigh 18-28 g.

Habitat:
The Raso lark is found on level plains with volcanic soil and is associated with small vegetated patches od dry grassland and dry scrubland along dry stream beds in which it feeds and breeds. Occasionally, they also use tide pools.

Diet:
They forage on the ground, by digging or turning over stones with their bills, taking Cyperus bulbosus and C. cadamosti bulbs, grass seeds, leaves, branches of Zygophillum simplex, and also caterpillars, adult and larval beetles and grasshoppers, flies, ants, spiders and gastropods.

Breeding:
Raso larks breed mainly in October-December, following the late summer rainfalls, but can breed at any time of the year following irregular rains. Both sexes build the nest, a shallow scrape on the ground, lined with dry grasses and usually located under low scrubs or clumps of grass. The female lays 1-3 eggs, which she incubates alone for 12-15 days. There is no information regarding the fledgling period.

Conservation:
IUCN status - CR (Critically Endangered)
This species has an extremely small breeding range and a global population estimated at 250-1.000 individuals. The population undergoes fluctuations due to rainfall levels on Raso. It has increased rapidly since 2004 but it is uncertain whether this relates to a temporary fluctuation or a longer-term increase. The main threats include long-term desertification in the Cape Verde, nest predation by the Cape Verde giant gecko Tarentola gigas, but the risk of future introduction of mammals that can prey on their nest is also of great concern, ans is now exacerbated by increased tourist activity in the Cape Verde Islands. The Raso lark has been protected by law since 1955 and the Raso islet was declared a national park in 1990, but to date there has been limited enforcement of these laws on the ground. Collecting of young and eggs has now been halted by the activity of a local NGO, Biosfera, and the practicalities and desirability of a possible translocation project are being investigated.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Hook-billed jite

Chondrohierax uncinatus

(Photo from Wiki Aves de Colombia)

Common name:
hook-billed kite (en); caracoleiro (pt); milan bec-en-croc (fr); milano picogarfio (es); langschnabelweih (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Falconiformes
Family Accipitridae

Range:
This species is found from Mexico, and marginally in southern Texas, south to northern Argentina, Paraguay and south-eastern Brazil. They are also found in the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago, and Grenada.

Size:
These birds are 38-41 cm long and have a wingspan of 78-98 cm. They weigh 215-400 g.

Habitat:
The hook-billed kite is mostly found in moist tropical forests, including swamp forests and gallery forests, as well as mangroves, dry tropical forests, dry scrublands and shade coffee plantations. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.700 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on tree snails, such as Homolanyx, Polymita and Bulimulus wiebesi, as well as some ground snails, using their hooked bill to remove the flesh from the shell. They also hunt frogs, salamanders, lizards, birds, large insects and spiders.

Breeding:
Hook-billed kites breed in March-November. The nest is a flimsy, unlined platform made of small twigs. It is placed in a fork or horizontal branch of a tree, usually 5-10 m above the ground. There the female lays 1-3 dull white eggs with chocolate brown blotches, which are incubated by both parents for 34-35 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 35-45 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 200.000 individuals. The population is declining owing to deforestation which is leading to loss of suitable tree snail prey and, locally, to persecution by farmers who mistakenly believe it preys upon chickens.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Black-winged petrel

Pterodroma nigripennis

Photo by Nigel Voaden (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
black-winged petrel (en); freira-d'asa-preta (pt); pétrel à ailes noires (fr); petrel alinegro (es); schwarzflügel-sturmvogel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Procellariiformes
Family Procellariidae

Range:
This species breeds in the south-western Pacific, from Lord Howe Island, Australia, and eastern Australia in the west, New Caledonia in the north, the Chatham Islands, New Zealand in the south and Austral Islands, French Polynesia in the east. Outside the breeding season it migrates to the northern and eastern Pacific as far as northern Japan, Mexico and Peru.

Size:
These birds are 28-30 cm long and have a wingspan of 63-71 cm. They weigh 140-200 g.

Habitat:
The black-winged petrel is highly pelagic, leaving in the open seas and only coming to land to breed. They breed in oceanic islands.

Diet:
They feed mostly on cephalopods and prawns, but also sea insects Halobates sp., which are
caught mainly by surface-seizing and dipping, but also pattering. This species is often recorded feeding in association with other Procellariiformes.


Breeding:
Black-winged petrels breed in December-May. They breed in colonies on oceanic islands, nesting in burrows that they excavate on high ground inland amongst scrubs or tussock grasses. The female lays a single white egg, which is incubated by both parents for 45-46 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 84-85 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status -  LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large range and the global population is estimated at 8-10 million individuals. Despite an ongoing range expansion, population is suspected to be in decline owing to predation by invasive species.

Friday, 29 August 2014

White-banded swallow

Atticora fasciata

Photo by Josef Widmer (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
white-banded swallow (en); peitoril (pt); hirondelle à ceinture blanche (fr); golondrina fajiblanca (es); weißbandschwalbe (de)

Taxonomy:Order Passeriformes
Family Hirundinidae

Range:

This species is found from southern Colombia, southern and eastern Venezuelas and the Guyanas south through eastern Ecuador, eastern Peru and northern Brazil and into northern Bolivia and as far south in Brazil as Mato Grosso and Maranhão. They are only present east of the Andes.


Size:
These birds are 14,5-16 cm long and weigh 12-16 g.

Habitat:
The white-banded swallow is mostly found in rivers and lakes bordered by rainforests, using both white water and black water rivers. They also rocky outcrops, waterfalls along large rivers and second growths. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.000 m.

Diet:
They hunt insects on the wing, taking varous flying insects such as bees, wasps, beetles, flying ants, bugs and flies.

Breeding:
White-banded swallows breed in September-March. They can breed in solitary pairs or in loose groups, and nest in burrows that are not excavated by themselves, lining the nest chamber with grass. The female lays 4-5 white eggs. There is no available information on the incubation and fledgling periods.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as common but patchily distributedthe white-banded sallow is suspected to lose 13-14% 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.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Blue-crowned hanging-parrot

Loriculus galgulus

Photo by Lip Kee Yap (Wikipedia)

Common name:
blue-crowned hanging-parrot (en); lorículo-de-coroa-azul (pt); coryllis à tête bleue (fr); lorículo coroniazul (es); blaukrönchen (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Psittaciformes
Family Psittacidae

Range:
This species is found from southern Thailand and Malaysia to northern Indonesia in Borneo, Sumatra and adjacent islands.

Size:
These tiny parrots are 12 cm long and weigh 22-35 g.

Habitat:
The blue-crowned hanging parrot is found in moist tropical forests and forest edges, in mangroves, peat swamps and riverine forests, scrublands, plantations and rural gardens. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.300 m.

Diet:
They feed on various fruits, namely those of figs such as Ficus caulocarpa, F. virens, F. delosyce, and F. pisocarpa.

Breeding:
These birds breed in January-August. They nest in natural cavities in dead or living trees, including palms and rubber trees. The female lays 3-4 eggs which she incubates alone for 20 days. The chicks fledge 5 weeks after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is reported to be common to very common and widespread throughout all of its range, with the exception of Singapore. Despite being very popular as cage birds, the population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Knysna warbler

Bradypterus sylvaticus

Photo by Trevor Hardaker (Trevor and Margaret Hardaker)

Common name:
Knysna warbler (en); felosa-de-Knysna (pt); bouscarle de Knysna (fr); zarzalero del Knysna (es); Kapbuschsänger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Sylviidae

Range:
This species is endemic to South Africa, being restricted to a few coastal patches in the Eastern and Western Cape regions, namely the coast between Port St. Johns and Dwesa Nature Reserve, the Southern Cape, from Tsitsikamma to Sedgefield, the south slopes of the Langeberg Mountains, near Swellendam, and the east slopes of Table Mountain.

Size:
These birds are 14-15 cm long and weigh 16-21 g.

Habitat:
The Knysna warbler is mostly found in dense undergrowth of moist temperate forests and native fynbos dry scrublands, particularly along watercourses and drainage lines, but also uses non-native bramble Rubus sp. thickets and suburban areas.

Diet:
They feed mainly on the ground, taking grasshoppers, insect larvae, spiders, slugs, worms, woodlice, cockroaches, earwigs, stick insects and crane flies.

Breeding:
Knysna warblers breed in August-December. They are monogamous, solitary nesters, and the female builds the nest alone. The nest is a thick-walled cup made of dry grass and narrow-bladed leaves, constructed on a platform of dead and dying leaves and lined with finer plant material. The female lays 2-3 pinkish white eggs with reddish speckles and spots, which she incubates alone for 16-19 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 12-14 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 2.500-10.000 individuals. The overall population is suspected to be declining, with a decrease of over 50% in the Cape peninsula, and the extirpation of the population in Durban due to habitat loss and degradation. Habitat loss is mainly caused by the clearance of coastal forests, while the lack of a natural fire regime may also prove detrimental, as fynbos vegetation may eventually become replaced by forest and the understorey vegetation required for nesting may become more sparse. Removal of non-native brambles, the subject of several eradication campaigns, may ironically have negative impacts, and inbreeding depression may become a problem, particularly in the tiny, fragmented Eastern Cape sub-population.