Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Common buttonquail

Turnix sylvaticus

Photo by Jugal Tiwari (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
common buttonquail (en); toirão (pt); turnix d'Andalousie (fr); torillo andaluz (es); laufhühnchen (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Gruiformes
Family Turnicidae

Range:
This species is found in several disjunct areas. The subspecies T.s. sylvaticus is found in southern Spain and north-western Morocco, and the subspecies T.s. lepurana is found throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa and also in south-western Yemen and extreme south-western Saudi Arabia. The subspecies T.s. dussumier and T.s. davidi are found from eastern Pakistan, throughout India and into southern China, Taiwan and Indochina. There are also several endemic subspecies in the Philippines and in the Indonesian islands of Java, Bali and smaller nearby islands.

Size:
These birds are 13-17 cm long and weigh 30-70 g.

Habitat:
The common buttonquail is found in dry grasslands and scrublands, particularly in areas with sandy soils, also using arable land and scrubby savannas. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 2.400 m.

Diet:
They feed on small invertebrates and seeds, particularly ant and grass seeds.

Breeding:
Common buttonquails can breed all year round, varying among different parts of their range. They are sequentially polyandrous, meaning that females mate with several males, each taking care of one brood. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a shallow scrape on the ground, lined with a few pieces of grass and often sheltered by a grass tuft. There, the female lays 4-6 greyish-white or pinkish eggs with purple and brownish spots and speckles, which are incubated for 12-15 days. The female incubates the first few days, after which she leaves, leaving the male responsible of the remaining incubation and chick-rearing duties. The chicks fledge 18-20 days after hatching, but are able to make short flights already at 7-11 days of age. Each male raises a single brood per season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and is reported to vary from scarce to locally abundant. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and unsustainable levels of exploitation and the small remaining population in Europe may be very close to extinction.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Seychelles blue-pigeon

Alectroenas pulcherrimus

Photo by Conrad Savy (iNaturalist)

Common name:
Seychelles blue-pigeon (en); pombo-azul-das-Seychelles (pt); founingo rougecap (fr);  paloma azul de Seychelles (es); warzenfruchttaube (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Columbiformes
Family Columbidae

Range:
This species is endemic to the Seychelles archipelago, in the Indian Ocean, being found on the islands of Praslin, La Digue, Mahé, North, Silhouette, Frigate, Curieuse, Denis, Aride and Bird. It has also been successfully introduced to the island of Cousin.

Size:
These birds are 24-25 cm long and have a wingspan of 38-40 cm. They weigh 160-165 g.

Habitat:
The Seychelles blue-pigeon is found in tropical rainforests, both in lowland and in mountainous areas.

Diet:
They feed on fruits, berries and seeds, namely wild guavas Psidium, cinnamon berries and nuts of takamaka Calophyllum tacamahaca.

Breeding:
These birds breed mainly in October-April, but can breed all year round. The female builds the nest alone, consisting of a loose platform of twigs placed in a tree or scrub, where she lays 1-2 eggs. The eggs are incubated for about 28 days and the chicks fledge about 21 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a small breeding range and is considered to be less common than in the past. The population is suspected to be declining due to hunting and habitat destruction, but since the 1970s they stopped to be exploited for food, which allowed the recovery of some populations and even the recolonization of the islands of Curieuse, Denis, Aride and Bird. Nest predation by introduced rats and cats may also be a problem for this species.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Swamp greenbul

Thescelocichla leucopleura

Photo by Chris Perkins (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
swamp greenbul (en); tuta-da-ráfia (pt); bulbul des raphias (fr); bulbul de las rafias (es); raphiabülbül (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Pycnonotidae

Range:
This species is found from Senegal, along the coast of West Africa into southern Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon, and eastwards into Congo and D.R. Congo, and marginally into northern Angola.

Size:
These birds are about 23 cm long and weigh 58-67 g.

Habitat:
The swamp greenbul is mostly found in tropical swamp forests with palm trees, particularly Raphia and to a lesser extent Elaeis. They also use dry tropical forests, dry savannas, second growths, plantations and arable land.

Diet:
They feed on fruits, including Ficus, Heisteria, Macaranga, Morinda, Musanga and Schleffera.

Breeding:
Swamp greenbuls possibly breed in January-October. There is no further information on the reproduction of this species.

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

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Madagascar scops-owl

Otus rutilus

Photo by Paolo Tibaldeschi (WWF-Bloggen Var Verden)

Common name:
Madagascar scops-owl (en); mocho-d'orelhas-de-Madagáscar (pt); petit-duc malgache (fr); autillo malgache (es); Madagaskar-zwergohreule (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae

Range:
This species is endemic to Madagascar, being found throughout the island.

Size:
These birds are 19-24 cm long and have a wingspan of 50-55 cm. Females are larger than males, weighing 112-120 g while males weigh 85-107 g.

Habitat:
The Madagascar scops-owl is found in a wide range of habitats, including both primary and secondary forests in both moist and dry climates, dry scrublands, plantations, rural gardens and urban areas. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of at least 1.800 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on insects, especially moth and beetles, but possibly also small vertebrates.

Breeding:
Madagascar scops-owls breed in November-January. They mainly nest in tree cavities, 4-7 m above the ground, but have also been found to nest on the ground, in small depressions among the leaf litter. The female lays 2-5 white eggs, which she incubates alone. There is no information regarding the length of the incubation and fledging periods.

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

Friday, 23 January 2015

Red-fronted serin

Serinus pusillus

Photo by Giorgi Rajebashvili (Georgian Biodiversity Database)

Common name:
fire-fronted serin (en); chamariz-de-testa-vermelha (pt); serin à front d'or (fr); verdecillo de frente roja (es); rotstirngirlitz (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Fringillidae

Range:
This species is found from Turkey and Jordan, through the Caucasus and Iran, and into central Asia as far east as Xinjiang in north-western China, and the northern slopes of the Himalayas as far as Bhutan.

Size:
These birds are 10,5-13 cm long and have a wingspan of 21-23 cm. They weigh 9,5-13,5 g.

Habitat:
The fire-fronted serin is mostly found in temperate forests and scrublands in mountainous areas, favouring areas dominated by birch, pine and juniper. They also use grasslands and occur at altitudes of 2.000-4.600 m.

Diet:
They forage both on the ground and in the vegetation, mainly taking seeds, shoots, flower heads and fruits, but also some insects.

Breeding:
Fire-fronted serins are monogamous and breed in April-August. The nest is a neat and compact cup, made of dry grass, bark strips, stalks, moss, lichen, and sometimes twigs. It is thickly lined with plant down and feathers, and placed in dense vegetation or sometimes in a rock crevice, often located on a ledge in an inaccessible cliff. There the female lays 3-5 bluish-white eggs with pink and dark purple markings, which she incubates alone for 11-16 days. The chicks fledge 14-16 days after hatching. Each pair raises 1-2 broods per season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is very roughly estimated at 3,5-49,2 million individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Fernando Po oliveback

Nesocharis shelleyi

Photo by Krzysztof Blachowiak (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
Fernando Po oliveback (en); olivinha-de-rabo-curto (pt); dos-vert à tête noire (fr); olivino carinegro (es); meisenastrild (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Estrildidae

Range:
This species is found in north-western Cameroon, including Bioko Island, and marginally into south-eastern Nigeria.

Size:
These birds are 8 cm long and weigh 7-9 g.

Habitat:
The Fernando Po oliveback is found in mountain rainforests, cocoa plantations, moist scrublands and dry savannas, mainly at altitudes of 1.200-2.100 m, but also at lower altitudes.

Diet:
They forage on all levels of the vegetations, taking both small insects and seeds.

Breeding:
These birds breed in December-March. There is no further information regarding their reproduction.

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

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Reddish hermit

Phaethornis ruber

Photo by João Quental (Flickr)

Common name:
reddish hermit (en); rabo-branco-rubro (pt); ermite roussâtre (fr); ermitaño rojizo (es); roter zwergschattenkolibri (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

Range:
This species is found in northern South America, east of the Andes, from southern and eastern Colombia east to Suriname and eastern Brazil, and south to central Bolivia and Mato Grosso, Goiás and São Paulo in Brazil.

Size:
These tiny hummingbirds are 7,5-9 cm long and weigh 1,8-3 g.

Habitat:
The reddish hermit is mostly found in the understorey of moist tropical forests, also using swamp forests, second growths and dry savannas. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.500 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on the nectar of flowers such as Trichanthera, Petraea, Costus, Dahlstedtia and Heliconia, but also take small arthropods.

Breeding:
Reddish hermits breed in May-February, varying among different parts of their range. males perform an elaborate display to attract females, taking little to no part in the breeding process after mating. The female builds the nest, an elongated purse made of dry leaves, moss, lichens and fine plant fibres, which is placed hanging from the inside of the leave of a palm or other tree, 0,5-3 m above the ground. She lays 2 white eggs which she incubates alone for 15 days, and feeds the chicks alone until they fledge 18-22 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as common. The reddish hermit is suspected to loose 15-17% of suitable habitat within its range over the next decade, based on a model of Amazonian deforestation. Therefore, it is suspected to suffer a small decline in the near future.