Thursday, 27 January 2011

Rufous-tailed plantcutter

Phytotoma rara

Photo by James Lowen (Arkive)

Common name:
rufous-tailed plantcutter (en); corta-ramos-de-cauda-ruiva (pt); rara à queue rousse (fr); rara (es); rotschwanz-pflanzenmäher (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Cotingidae

This South American species in only found in Chile and Argentina. In Chile they are found from Magallanes north to Atacama, while in Argentina they occur from Santa Cruz north to Mendoza.

The rufous-tailed plantcutter is 18-20 cm long and weighs 38-52 g.

They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 2.700 m, in open forests and thorny scrubland, as well as in farmland, orchards and gardens.

This species is mostly herbivorous, showing a preference for leaves, shoots and buds. they will occasionally also take fruits and insects.

The rufous-tailed pantcutter has two distinct breeding seasons, in October-November and in December-January. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a loosely built cup made from dry twigs, padded with root fibers, and usually placed 1-3 m above the ground in a thick thorny scrub. the female lays 2-4 blue-green eggs with dark spots. The female incubates the eggs alone, but the incubation period is not known. The chicks are fed by both parents, eating only insects

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
Although the species is described as uncommon, they have a relatively large breeding range. There is no evidence for any declines or substantial threats, and the species is known to use secondary forests, agricultural areas and even gardens, so it appears to be relatively tolerant of disturbance. Owing to its habit of eating the young leaves of cereal crops and causing damage to orchards, it is considered an agricultural pest in parts of its range. It is not considered threatened at present.

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