Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Mistle thrush

Turdus viscivorus
Photo by Enrique Calvo (Photo)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Turdidae

Range:
The mistle thrush is found throughout Europe, and through Russia and the Midle East, into the central Asian countries and all the way to China and Mongolia. They are present in the whole Mediterranean basin, both in southern Europe and northern Africa in Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.

Size:
This large thrush is 27 cm long and has a wingspan of 42-48 cm. They weigh 110-140 g.

Habitat:
The mistle thrush is found in various woodland habitats, from sub-tropical forests, through the temperate forests and into the northern boreal forests. They are also found in scrubland and cultivated land and even in gardens and parks.

Diet:
This omnivorous species eats insects, worms, slugs, snails and various berries. They may occasionally eat small reptiles.

Breeding:
This early breeder starts laying eggs already in February-March. They nest in trees, the female builds a cup-shaped nest lined with grasses, mosses, roots and leaves. The clutch is composed of 3-6 glossy pale blue eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for 12-15 days. The chicks are fed by both parents until fledging, 16-20 days after hatching. Each pair may produce two broods per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
With an extremely wide breeding range and a population estimated at 12.200.000-44.400.000 individuals, the mistle thrush is not threatened at present.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Pied-billed grebe

Podilymbus podiceps

(Photo from Wikipedia)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Podicipediformes
Family Podicipedidae

Range:
The pied-billed grebe is present in much of the American continent, from south-central Canada in the north, through the United States, Central America and the Caribbean, into the northern countries of South America. They are also present along the Pacific coast of Ecuador and Peru, and in the temperate parts of South America, in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, south-east Bolivia and southern Brazil.

Size:
These birds are 31-38 cm long and have a wingspan of 45-62 cm. They can weigh up to 570 g.

Habitat:
They breed at low elevations in ponds, lakes, marshes and slow moving streams, choosing areas with emergent vegetation to anchor their nests. During winter they can be found in both fresh and salt water, and use more open waters. In migration they may be found at higher elevations, even in mountain lakes.

Diet:
Their bill is adapted to crushing large crustaceans and they often eat crayfish. The diet also includes insects, small fish and amphibians. They are know to eat their own feathers to avoid injuries from swallowing bones and shells.

Breeding:
Both parents build a bowl-shaped nest in a platform of floating vegetation. The female lays 5-7 bluish-white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 23 days. When they leave the nest unattended, the parents cover the eggs with plant material. Soon after hatching the chicks can swim on their own, but the parents will feed them and even carry them on their backs for the first few weeks.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
With an extremely wide breeding range and a stable population, this species is not threatened at present.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Rufous-headed chachalaca

Ortalis erythroptera

Photo by Roberto Pujana (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Galliformes
Family Cracidae

Range:
This South American species is only found in the extreme south-west of Colombia, along the western parts of Ecuador, and in the north-west of Peru.

Size:
These birds are 56-66 cm long. Males tend to be larger than females, with males weighing 900 g and females 760 g.

Habitat:
They traditionally inhabit dry and deciduous woodland, lowland riparian forests, humid lowland forests and lower mountain cloud-forests up to an altitude of 1850 m. They are also found in degraded forest habitats, scrubland, and even agricultural land.

Diet:
They mostly eat fruits and other plant material. Birds have been seen eating coffee berries and bananas. Their diet may also occasionally include insects.

Breeding:
The rufous-headed chachalaca is a monogamous species. They possibly breed during the wet season, in December-May. Females lay an average 3 eggs.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
With a total population of less than 10.000 individuals, the rufous-headed chachalaca is believed to be declining due to habitat destruction and fragmentation. In Ecuador, lowland forests currently cover less than 5% of their original extent. In the higher parts of the species range, deforestation has been slower, but logging, cattle-ranching and oil palm plant are slowly destroying and fragmenting the habitat.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Regent bowerbird

Sericulus chrysocephalus

Photo by Josep del Hoyo (Internet Bird Collection)


Common name:
regent bowerbird (en); jardineiro-governador (pt); jardinier prince-régent (fr); pergolero regente (es); gelbnacken-laubenvogel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Ptilonorhynchidae

Range:
This Australian species is only found in the coastal rainforests of south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales, in the eastern-most part of Australia.

Size:
The regent bowerbird is 25-30 cm long. They can weigh up to 100 g.

Habitat:
They are found in forested areas, mostly rainforests and their surrounding areas.

Diet:
They mostly eat fruits and berries in the canopy and upper layers of the forests. These may be seasonally supplemented with insects, spiders, plant shoots and leaves.

Breeding:
The breding season of the regent bowerbird takes place in September-March. The male will not participate in either nest building of raising the young. He builds an avenue-type bower consisting of two walls of sticks, decorated with shells, seeds, leaves and berries that is used to attract females. The actual nest is built by the female, a shallow saucer of twigs and leaves that may be well away from the male's bower. The clutch is composed of 1-2 eggs, which are incubated by the female for 25 days. The chicks stay in the nest for 22 days before fledging.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species as a large breeding range. Although the population is believed to be declining due to ongoing habitat loss and degradation, and unquantified levels of hunting, the species is not considered threatened at present.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Madagascar kestrel

Falco newtoni

Photo by Alberto Rios (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
Madagascar kestrel (en); peneireiro-de-Madagáscar (pt); crécerelle malgache (fr); cernícalo de Madagascar (es); Madagaskarfalke (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Falconiformes
Family Falconidae

Range:
This species occurs in Madagascar, Mayotte, the Comores, and in the Aldabra atoll, in the Seychelles.

Size:
This small raptor is 30 cm long and has a wingspan of 38-42 cm. The males weigh 112-118 g. The females are slightly larger weighing up to 128 g.

Habitat:
The Madagascar kestrel can be found from sea level up to an altitude of 2000 m. They occur in any vegetation-covered open habitat, as well as in grasslands, croplands and secondary vegetation. They are also common in the vicinity of human settlements which may be the preferred habitat in some areas. They are uncommon in forests.

Diet:
They mostly eat insects, particularly grasshoppers, which are taken during flight. They can also hunt small birds, frogs, lizards and mammals.

Breeding:
The Madagascar kestrel nests on rock ledges, in buildings, tree holes or even in the nests of other birds, like the pied crow Corvus albus. Egg laying usually takes place in September. Each clutch is composed of 3-5 rufous-coloured eggs, which are incubated by the female for 27-29 days. The male feeds the female during incubation. The chicks are fed by both male and female until fledging, which takes place 23-24 days after hatching. The young disperse from the natal area at about 44-45 days of age.

Conservation:
IUCN status – LC (Least concern)
This species as a large breeding range and a population estimated at 100.000 individuals. The population is increasing owing to an increase in suitable habitat caused by cultivation, urbanization and deforestation. Overall the species is not considered threatened at present.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Chinstrap penguin

Pygoscelis antarctica

(Photo from Antarctic Field Guide)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Sphenisciformes
Family Spheniscidae

Range:
The chinstrap penguin breeds mostly on islands of the southern seas, namely in South Orkney, South Shetland, South Georgia and South Sandwich, and on the Antarctic Peninsula as far south as Anvers. They winter in the seas around the pack ice of Antarctica.

Size:
These penguins are 68-76 cm long. Their weight has large variations throughout the yearly cycle, ranging from 3-6 kg.

Habitat:
They live both on barren islands and large icebergs of the sub-Antarctic and Antactic regions. However, they require solid, snow-free ground to nest on. They mostly forage near the pack ice and are only occasionally found foraging further out to sea.

Diet:
The chinstrap penguin mostly feeds on krill. They also eat other small crustaceans, small fish and squids. When hunting they can dive up to 60 m for about 60 seconds.

Breeding:
They use stones to build circular nests on the ground. In November-December the females lay 2 eggs. The eggs are incubated by both the male and the female for shifts of 6 days. The chicks hatch after 37 days and stay in the nest for another 20-30 days before joining a creche. At around 50-60 days old they are able to go out to sea.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
With a very large breeding range and a population estimated at 8 million, the chinstrap penguin is not threatened at present. Despite this, commercial krill fishing and tourist activities are regulated near their breeding colonies to minimize impacts on the species.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Indian pitta

Pitta brachyura

Photo by Nidhin Poothully (Wikipedia)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Pittidae

Range:
This species breeds in the foothills of the Himalayas, in northern India, Pakistan and Nepal. They winter in southern India and Sri Lanka.

Size:
The Indian pitta is medium-sized passerine, 15-19 cm long. They weigh 47-66 g.

Habitat:
They breed in the under-story of evergreen and deciduous forests, often near ravines with dense brush or bamboo. During migration and winter they use forested areas, including small fragments and wooded gardens.

Diet:

They forage for invertebrates in the leaf-litter of the forest floor. Food items include ants, termites, insect larvae, slugs, snails, millipedes, and earthworms. They can also eat fruits and have been noted to take kitchen food scraps from the ground.

Breeding:
Indian pittas breed during the monsoon season, in June-August. The nest is a globular structure with a circular opening on one side, built on the ground or on low branches with dry leaves and grasses. The clutch consists of 4-5 glossy white eggs with brown or purple spots and speckles. Both parents share the task of incubation for 14-16 days. The altricial chicks are fed and brooded by both parents for 11-17 days until fledging. They continue to be fed by the adults for a few weeks after fledging.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The global population of this species as not been quantified, but the species is described as not uncommon. They are believed to be declining as a result of ongoing forest clearance to make way for agriculture and urban development. During migration, they are also caught in large numbers human consumption. Despite this, the species is not considered threatened at present.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Blue tit

Cyanistes caeruleus

(Photo from Wallpaper Pond)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Paridae

Range:
The blue tit is widely distributed in Europe, from Scandinavia in the north down to the Mediterranean and from the British Islands in the west all the way to the Urals in Russian. They are also present in northwest Africa and the Canary Islands, and in the Near East, through Turkey and the Caucasus, and all the way to northwestern Iran.

Size:
This small passerine is 10,5-12 cm long. They have a wingspan of 18 cm and weigh 11 g.

Habitat:
The blue tit uses a wide range of habitats. They are most frequently found in deciduous woodland, in pasture farmland, and in gardens and parks within villages and towns. They can also be found in scrubland and arable farmland, and even in vegetated coastal and inland wetlands.

Diet:
In the spring and summer they are mostly carnivorous, eating spiders and insects, including several agricultural pests like coccids and aphids. In the winter they mostly eat fruits and berries.

Breeding:
The blue tit will nest in any suitable hole in a tree, wall, or stump, or an artificial nest box. In April-May they lay 8-10 eggs, which are incubated for 13-15 days by the female. The altricial chicks fledge after 18-21 days. Blue tits start breeding at 1 year of age and produce 1 to 2 broods per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
The blue tit population is estimated at 10 million and believed to be increasing. The already large breeding range is also increasing, both justifying that the species is not considered threatened at present.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Pallid cuckoo

Cuculus pallidus

Photo by Larry Dunis (Bushpea)

Common name:
pallid cuckoo (en); cuco-pálido (pt); coucou pâle (fr); cuco pálido (es); blaßkuckuck (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Cuculiformes
Family Cuculidae

Range:
They are found throughout Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand, and migrate north to winter in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Christmas Island.

Size:
The pallid cuckoo is 28-33 cm and weighs an average 89 g.

Habitat:
The pallid cuckoo inhabits subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical mangrove forests. They mostly use open forests, as well as cleared and cultivated open country near forests.

Diet:
They mostly eat insects and caterpillars taken from foliage.

Breeding:
The pallid cuckoo lays its eggs in the nests of honeyeaters, woodswallows, whistlers and flycatchers. Common host species include the Willie wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys and the hooded robin Melanodryas cuculatta. The female cuckoo removes one of the host's eggs and replaces it with one of her own. The cuckoo egg usually closely resembles the host egg but hatches before the others, after which the young cuckoo instinctively forces the other eggs (or chicks) out of the nest. The young cuckoo is fed by its “foster” parents until fledging, often becoming larger than them.

Conservation:
IUCN status – LC (Least concern)
Although there is no reliable population estimate, the species has a very large breeding range and is suspected to be increasing as ongoing habitat degradation may be creating new areas of suitable habitat. This supports the assertion that the pallid cuckoo is not threatened at present.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Long-billed thrasher

Toxostoma longirostre

Photo by Bill Bouton (Wikipedia)

Common name:
long-billed thrasher (en); sabiá-de-bico-longo (pt); moqueur à long bec (fr); cuitlacoche de pico largo (es); langschnabel-spottdrossel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Mimidae

Range:
This North American species is only found in southern Texas and northeast Mexico, between Tamaulipas and Veracruz.

Size:
These slender birds are 26,5-29 cm long and have a wingspan of 33 cm. They weigh on average 68 g.

Habitat:
They occur in a variety of scrubby of thicketed habitats, namely along riparian woodland and mesquite.

Diet:
The long-billed thrasher is an omnivorous bird, eating mostly grasshoppers, beetles, spiders, snails, slugs and various kinds of berries.

Breeding:
They build a bulky cup-shaped nest in thick low or mid-height vegetation. The nest is mostly made of twigs and grasses. The females lay 2-5 bluish-white eggs with dense reddish-brown and gray speckles. The eggs are incubated for 13-14 days by both parents. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge after 12-14 days. Long-billed thrashers may produce two broods per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
With a current population estimated at 400.000 individuals, this species has undergone a large and significant increase over the last 40 years. Consequently, the species is not threatened at present.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Little owl

Athene noctua


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae

Range:
The little owl is a resident species in most of the temperate and warmer parts of Europe, Asia and north Africa. They were introduced in Great Britain and New Zealand.

Size:
This small owl is 23-27,5 cm long and has a wingspan of 50-56 cm. Females tend to be slightly larger than males. Males weigh between 140-180 g while females weigh between 150-200 g.

Habitat:
this is a sedentary species which is found in open habitats, mainly mixed farmland and parkland. In many parts of their range they use steppe and agricultural pseudo-steppe habitats.

Diet:
They mostly feed on insects, earthworms and amphibians. They also hunt small mammals and birds. Unlike most owls, little owls are often seen hunting during the day.

Breeding:
The nests are found in holes in trees, rocks, cliffs, river banks, wall, buildings and owl nest boxes. Egg laying takes place in April-May, and they lay 3-5 eggs which are incubated solely by the female for 28-29 days. The chicks fledge 26 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
With a population estimated at 5-15 million and an extremely large breeding range, this species is not threatened at present.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Red-eyed vireo

Vireo olivaceus

Photo by Brian Small (Brian E. Small Bird Photography)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Vireonidae

Range:
Part of the population breeds across Canada and the eastern and north-western United States and migrates south to winter across most of the north and eastern portions of South America. There are also some resident populations in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia.

Size:
The red-eyed vireo is 12-14 cm long and has a wingspan of 23-25 cm. These birds weigh up to 26 g.

Habitat:
They breed in deciduous and mixed deciduous forests, being specially abundant in the interior of the forests. They also live in urban areas and parks with large trees. They winter in virtually any wooded habitat within their range.

Diet:
The red-eyed vireo hunts for insects in tree foliage, favouring caterpillars and aphids. They also eat berries, especially before migration, and in the winter quarters, where trees bearing popular fruit like tamanqueiro Alchornea glandulosa or gumbo-limbo Bursera simaruba will even attract them to parks and gardens. The birds will often reach for the fruits acrobatically, even hanging upside down.

Breeding:
The nest is an open cup suspended from a forked tree branch, made of twigs, bark strips, grasses, pine needles, and lichen held together with spider web. Clutch size is typically 3-4 eggs, and incubation lasts for 11 to 14 days. Both the male and female feed the young for the 10 to 12 days before fledging. The female, and perhaps the male, continue to feed the young for up to two weeks after they leave the nest.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
With an estimated population of 140 million and an extremely large range, this species is not threatened at present.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Swallow-tailed hummingbird

Eupetomena macroura

Photo by Flávio Brandão (Flickr)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

Range:
This South American species is mostly found in the east-central portion of the continent, from the Guianas and north-eastern Brazil, down to Paraguay in the south and Peru and Bolivia in the west.

Size:
This large-sized hummingbird is 15-17 cm long, half of which is made up by the tail. They have a wingspan of 16-18 cm and weigh up to 9 g.

Habitat:
It occurs in virtually any semi-open habitat, even in gardens and parks within major cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. It generally avoids the rainforests of the Amazon Basin, and is only locally found in this region, along forest edges and in isolated enclaves of woodland or savanna-like habitats such as Amazonian Caatinga. It is generally found in the lowlands, but can be found up to 1500 m.

Diet:
The swallow-tailed hummingbird mainly forages at mid-levels, but can exploit good food sources from anywhere near the ground up to the tree tops. It feeds on nectar, particularly from Fabaceae, Gesneriaceae, Malvaceae, Myrtaceae, Rubiaceae and epiphytic Bromeliaceae. They can also use the flowers of some introduced ornamental plants.

Breeding:
This species starts breeding at 1-2 years of age. They can be found breeding almost year round, but the birds have been seen carrying nest material mostly in July-September and in December. The nest is a cup-shaped structure built with soft plants, lichens and mosses, held together with spider webs. The nests are typically placed in small trees, below 3 m high. The clutch consists of 2 white eggs which are incubated by the female for 15-16 days. The female raises the chicks alone, feeding them 1-2 times per hour until fledging, 22-24 days after hatching. They chicks may continue to be brooded and fed for another 2-3 weeks after fledging.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
Although the population hasn't been quantified, they are described as fairly common and have a very wide breeding range, which indicates the species is not threatened at present.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Cocos Island finch

Pinaroloxias inornata

Photo by Kevin Easley (Costa Rica Gateway)

Common name:
Cocos Island finch (en); tentilhão-da-Ilha-do-Coco (pt); spizin de Cocos (fr); pinzón de la Isla del Coco (es); Kokosfink (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Emberizidae

Range:
It is endemic to Cocos Island, which is approximately 580 km south of Costa Rica.

Size:
The Cocos island finch is 12 cm long. They have a wingspan of 18 cm and weigh 12-16 g.

Habitat:
It occupies every available habitat on the island, including Hibiscus thickets along the coast, woodland, open country and closed-canopy forest. It is also common in disturbed vegetation.

Diet:
Cocos Island finches have a varied diet including insects, crustaceans, nectar, fruits, seeds, small molluscs, and perhaps even small lizards. Finches forage with a wide variety of behaviors to acquire these foods.

Breeding:
Nesting occurs throughout the year, but is mostly concentrated in January-May. The spherical nest is built at the end of a tree branch. The standard clutch is composed of 2 brown-spotted white eggs which are incubated for 12 days.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
Although this species is locally abundant and is presently not under direct threat by any external factors, their small and localized range makes the Cocos Island finch vulnerable to catastrophic events, which justifies its threat status.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Japanese waxwing

Bombycilla japonica

Photo by Garry Bakker (Surfbirds)

Common name:
Japanese waxwing (en); tagarela–japonês (pt); jaseur du Japon (fr); ampelis japonés (es); blutseidenschwanz (de)

Taxonomy:
Order passeriformes
Family Bombycillidae

Range:
It breeds in the Russian Far East and in Heilongjiand province, in north-east China. They winter in Japan, Korea and eastern China, but the exact winter distribution varies from year to year depending on the abundance of food.

Size:
The Japanese waxwing is 18 cm long and has a wingspan of 27-30 cm. They weigh 30-32 g.

Habitat:
They breed in coniferous forests. During the winter they wander in search for food, mostly using open woodland or farmland in the lowlands or low mountains. They frequently visit berry-laden trees in parks and gardens.

Diet:
More than 80% of their annual food intake comes from fruits and berries. Waxwings are known to wander in search for berries. When they find large abundances of berries, they are able to swallow the berries whole, the oesophagus expanding to allow additional fruit to be stored prior to digestion. Individual berries may pass through the digestive system in twenty minutes or less, the faecal material consisting largely of the undigested seeds. In the springtime, they often feed on the blossoms of flowering trees and insects can also make a small part of their diet.

Breeding:
The nest is a cup of twigs lined with grass and moss which is built in a tree. The clutch includes 4-5 eggs, which are incubated by the female for 14 days. The chicks fledge after about 2 weeks.

Conservation:
IUCN status – NT (Near-Threatened)
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as generally uncommon, although locally common in suitable habitat. They are suspected to be declining. The main threats to this species are logging and development of its forest habitat, and illegal trade. Since 1998, at least 6000 wild individuals have been imported into EU countries alone, the majority exported from China.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Yellow-crested cockatoo

Cacatua sulphurea

Photo by James Eaton (Oriental Bird Images)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Psittaciformes
Family Cacatuidae

Range:
The yellow-crested cockatoo is only found in East Timor and the Indonesian islands of Bali, Timor, Sulawesi and the Lesser Sundas. There is an introduced population in Hong Kong

Size:
These birds are 33 cm long. They have a wingspan of 25-28 cm and weigh 300-370 g.

Habitat:
It inhabits woodland and cultivated areas from sea-level up to about 1200 m.

Diet:
Their diet consists mainly of seeds, berries, fruits, nuts and flowers. They have been observed raiding crops of maize and rice, and may also take green plant material.

Breeding:
Yellow-crested cockatoos pair for life and may live up to 40 years. They nests in tree cavities, at heights of 2-20 m. They lay 2 white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 27-28 days. The chicks leave the nest 75 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - CR (Critically Endangered)
The current population is estimated at as few as 2.500 individuals and is though to be declining. The main threats affecting this species are illegal trapping for commerce and logging. Just between 1980 and 1992, over 100.000 of these birds were exported from Indonesia, before this trade became illegal.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sunbittern

Eurypyga helias

Photo by Jennifer Williams (Neotropical Birds)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Gruiformes
Family Eurypygidae

Range:
The sunbittern is found in Central and South America, from Guatemala in the north, down to the Pantanal in southern Brazil.

Size:
The sunbittern is 46-53 cm long and has a wingspan of 60-70 cm. They weigh 170-220 g.

Habitat:
They are found along the wooded banks of rivers and creeks up to an elevation of 1000 m. They prefer habitats with thick vegetation.

Diet:
They feed on small fish, amphibians, crustaceans and insects, taken from the water and the land along the river edge.

Breeding:
The nest is built in a tree or shrub and consists of mud and sticks lined with dry vegetation. 2-3 buff or light brown eggs are laid and then incubated by both parents for 27-28 days. The young are nidifugous but remain in the nest for 2-3 weeks being fed by the adults.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
With a population of 500.000 to 5.000.000 and a very large breeding range, this species is not threatened at present.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Rifleman

Acanthisitta chloris

Photo by Kimball Chen (Kea Photography)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Acanthisittidae

Range:
The rifleman is endemic to New Zealand, being in present in both the North and South islands.

Size:
This tiny passerine is just 8 cm long and has a wingspan of 10-11 cm. Females are slightly larger than males, males weigh 5,5-6 g while females weigh 6,5-7,5 g.

Habitat:
Rifleman are well adapted to forest, scrubland, and alpine environments.

Diet:
Their diet consists of insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. Males take prey from tree leaves while females find food within tree bark, using their slightly more up-curved bill to pry and loosen bark away from trees.

Breeding:
They build rock fissures, holes in tree trunks, or even in cavities in the ground. The nest entrance is often so narrow that the birds struggle to get inside. The female lays 3-4 eggs, which are incubated for 20 days by both parents. Chicks fledge after 24 days. Many pairs are able to fledge two clutches per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The species is widespread along its range as is not considered threatened at present.