Friday, 24 October 2014

Black-breasted puffleg

Eriocnemis nigrivestis

Photo by Murray Cooper (Mongabay)

Common name:
black-breasted puffleg (en); beija-flor-de-peito-negro (pt); érione à robe noire (fr); zamarrito pechinegro (es); schwarzbauch-höschenkolibri (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

Range:
This species is endemic to north-western Ecuador, only being found on the northern and north-western ridge-crests of Volcán Pichincha, and in the Cordillera de Toisán above the Intág valley, both located north of Quito.

Size:
These birds are 8-9 cm long and weigh 4-4,5 g.

Habitat:
The black-breasted puffleg is found in humid and wet cloud forests located in the crests of mountain ridges, including elfin forests and forest borders. They occur at altitudes of 1.700-3.500 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on the nectar of various plants, namely of Palicourea huigrensis, but also take some small insects and spiders.

Breeding:
These birds breed in October-March. They are polygynous and the males have no further part in the breeding process after mating. The female lays a clutch of 2 eggs, which she incubates alone, but there is no available information regarding the incubation and fledging periods.

Conservation:
IUCN status - CR (Critically Endangered)
This species has a very small and fragmented breeding range. The global population is currently estimated at just 140-180 individuals, making it one of the rarest birds in the world. The black-breasted puffleg is believed to have been much more common in the past, and is currently suspected to be declining by 10-20% per decade, owing to widespread and continuing habitat loss within its range. The deforestation rates for high-Andean mountain forests has accelerated in recent year, mainly for timber and charcoal, facilitating the introduction of cattle and the eventual spread of the agricultural frontier for ranching and to a lesser extent production of crops. Copper mining concessions and invasions of landless farmers are further encroaching the remaining patches of favourable habitat available within the species' range. Since 2005 this species became the emblematic bird of Quito, which lead to the purchase and protection of areas of favourable habitat.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Cinereous warbling-finch

Poospiza cinerea

Photo by Jefferson Silva (Focusing on Wildlife)

Common name:
cinereous warbling-finch (en); capacetinho-cinza (pt); chipiu à tête cendrée (fr); monterita cabeza negra (es); graukopf-ammerfink (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Emberizidae

Range:
This species is endemic to south-eastern Brazil, and currently only found in a few scattered locations in Minas Gerais, Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul.

Size:
These birds are 13 cm long and weigh8,5-15 g.

Habitat:
The cinereous warbling-finch is found in cerrado habitats, including dry grasslands and dry savannas, at altitudes of 600-1.400 m.

Diet:
They feed on insects and seeds.

Breeding:
These birds breed in October-December. The nest is a cup made of dry grasses, small roots and twigs, placed in a fork in a tree about 3 m above the ground. The female lays 3 light cream eggs with reddish-brown spots. There is no inforation regarding the incubation and fledging periods.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a relatively large, but fragmented breeding range. The global population is estimated at 6.000-15.000 individuals. The population was believed to be declining rapidly due to current rates of habitat loss, but new data suggests they are tolerant to degraded areas, so the suspected declines may have to be revised. Within their range natural habitats are being degraded and destroyed through grazing, invasive grasses, annual burning and conversion to agriculture for Eucalyptus plantations, soy bean and pastures for exportable crops, with two thirds of the cerrado region having been moderately to heavily altered in the last century, especially since the 1950s. This species suffers from brood-parasitism by shiny cowbirds Molothrus bonariensis, which will presumably increase with conversion to pastures.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Topknot pigeon

Lopholaimus antarcticus

Photo by Ian Colley (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
topknot pigeon (en); pombo-de-penacho (pt); carpophage à double huppe (fr); paloma de penacho (es); hauben-fruchttaube (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Columbiformes
Family Columbidae

Range:
This species is endemic to eastern Australia, being found along the coast from northern Queensland to eastern Victoria.

Size:
These birds 40-46 cm long and weigh 475-600 g.

Habitat:
The topknot pigeon is found in rainforests, temperate forests and dry tropical forests, also using second growths and exotic tree and scrub stands such as camphor laurel and privet.

Diet:
They are frugivorous, taking a wide range of fruits and berries, including those of exotic species such as camphor laurel.

Breeding:
Topknot pigeons breed in June-January. They are monogamous and nest in solitary pairs. the nest is a flimsy platform of stick, placed in the crown of a tree, among bushy branches or vines, 2-12 m above the ground. The female lays 1 egg which is incubated by both sexes for about 24 days. The chicks are fed regurgitated crop milk by both parents and fledge about 24 days after hatching.

Conservation:IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and is described as common, but the population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and unsustainable levels of exploitation.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Laysan finch

Telespiza cantans

(Photo from US Fish and Wildlife Service)

Common name:
Laysan finch (en); palila-de-Laysan(pt); psittirostre de Laysan (fr); palila de Laysan (es); Laysankleidervogel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Drepanidae

Range:
This species is endemic to the island of Laysan in the north-western Hawaiian archipelago.

Size:
These birds are 19 cm long and weigh 32-34,5 g.

Habitat:
The Laysan finch is found in dry scrublands and grasslands, using low scrubs, bunch grasses and forbs, particularly the beach naupaka Scaevola taccada.

Diet:
They feed mainly on fruits and seeds, also taking carrion, invertebrates and bird eggs.

Breeding:
Laysan finches breed in March-June. They are monogamous and nest in a cup placed among the vegetation. There the female lays 3 eggs, which she incubates for 16 days while the male brings her food. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 3 weeks after hatching, but only become fully independent about 3 weeks later.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has an extremely small breeding range and the global population is estimated at 1.500-7.000 individuals. The population is believed to fluctuate considerably. The successful invasion of golden crown beard Verbesina encelioides, which provides nesting habitat and food for Laysan finches, caused a dramatic increase, but the plant was considered to have negative impacts on seabirds and so the population of Laysan finches crashed after the first efforts to control Verbesina, but the abundance of Verbesina has since increased. At present the main threats to this species are storms and droughts, which can cause almost total nest failure, while global warming could have an impact on the long-term as sea level rise will reduce the area of Laysan located above sea level and may increase the frequency and severity of hurricanes and droughts.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Red-legged cormorant

Phalacrocorax gaimardi

Photo by Jose Cañas (Flickr)

Common name:
red-legged cormorant (en); corvo-marinho-de-patas-vermelhas (pt); cormoran de Gaimard (fr); cormorán chuita (es); buntscharbe (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Pelecaniformes
Family Phalacrocoracidae

Range:
This species is found along the Pacific coast of South America, from Isla Foca, in northern Peru, to Peninsula de Taitao, in southern Chile, and also in the Atlantic coast of southern Argentina from Bahia Sanguinetto to the Monte León National Park.

Size:
These birds are 71-76 cm long and have a wingspan of about 90 cm. They weigh 1,2-1,8 kg.

Habitat:
The red-legged cormorant is found in rocky coastlines, nesting in inaccessible cliffs, sea caves and rocky islets, and foraging over shallow coastal waters, usually within 3 km of the breeding colonies.

Diet:
They feed mainly on fish, including Patagonotothen spp., sardines Sprattus fuegensis, Ramnogaster arcuata, eels and anchovies. They also take various marine invertebrates such as bivalves, squids, polychaete worms and crabs.

Breeding:
Red-legged cormorants can breed all year round, varying among different parts of their range. They are monogamous and the nest is a mound of seaweeds, guano and feathers placed in a narrow ledge on a cliff. There the female lays 2-4 white eggs which are incubated for about 30 days. The chicks fledge 60-70 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 30.000 individuals. The population is believed to have declined by 20-30%, mainly due to entanglement is fishing equipment, low food availability caused by over-fishing, and the effects of El Niño events. The expansion of industrial fishing is favourable for its main predator, the kelp gull Larus dominicanus which is known to heavily impact breeding success. Peru, Chile and Argentina have plans to improve their coastal marine protected areas network which could help the red-legged cormorant populations.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Eurasian pygy-owl

Glaucidium passerinum

Photo by Lars Petersson (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
Eurasian pygmy-owl (en); mocho-pigmeu (pt); chevêchette d'Europe (fr); mochuelo chico (es); sperlingskauz (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae

Range:
This species is found in central and northern Europe, from north-eastern France and northern Italy north to northern Scandinavia and east through Romania, the Ukraine and the middle latitudes of Russia into central Asia as far as the Pacific Ocean. Also in northern Kazakhstan, northern Mongolia and north-eastern China.

Size:
These birds are 15-19 cm long and have a wingspan of 32-39 cm. Males are smaller than females, weighing 47-65 g while the females weigh 67-77 g.

Habitat:
The Eurasian pygmy-owl is mostly found in coniferous and mixed forests, in the taiga and in temperate areas, also using scrublands, marshes and bogs. They occur at altitudes of 250-2.150 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on voles, also taking other small mammals such as mice and shrews, small birds such as finches, thrushes, warblers and flycatchers, small lizards, bats, fishes and insects.

Breeding:
Eurasian pygmy-owls breed in April-July. They are monogamous and may sometimes pair for more than one season. The nest in tree cavities, mainly old woodpecker nests, also using nest boxes. The female lays 3-8 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 28-30 days while the male brings her food. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 30-34 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 5-7 weeks later. They reach sexual maturity at 1 year of age.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 300.000-1.500.000 individuals. The population is suspected to fluctuate over time owing to fluctuations in rodent prey populations and weather conditions.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Hooded robin

Melanodryas cucullata

Photo by David Cook (Flickr)

Common name:
hooded robin (en); rouxinol-de-capuz (pt); miro à capuchon (fr); petroica encapuchada (es); schwarzkopfschnäpper (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Petroicidae

Range:
This species is endemic to Australia, being found throughout the Australian mainland.

Size:
These birds are 15-17,5 cm long and have a wingspan of 24-29 cm. They weigh 21-28 g.

Habitat:
The hooded robin is found in open, dry savannas, and in dry scrublands with scattered trees, particularly in areas dominated by Eucalyptus and Acacia.

Diet:
They mainly hunt insects ad other small arthropods by sallying out from a perch, also taking seeds.

Breeding:
Hooded robins breed in July-January. They are monogamous and the nest is an open cup made of leaves and bark bound together with spider webs. The nest is usually placed
in a crevice, hollow or hole in a tree or stump. The female lays 1-3 pale olive or bluish-green eggs with darker spots and blotches. She incubates the eggs alone for 14-15 days. The chicks fledge 13 days after hatching. Each pair usually raises 2 broods per season, but can lay up to 5 replacement clutches.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is reported to be locally fairly common. Still, the population is estimated to be in decline owing to habitat loss.