Monday, 28 February 2011

King bird-of-paradise

Cicinnurus regius


Common name:
king bird-of-paradise (en); ave-do-paraíso-real (pt); paradisier royal (fr); ave-del-paraíso real (es); königs-paradiesvogel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Paradisaeidae

Range:
This species in found throughout lowland Papua-New Guinea and in the surrounding islands of Aru, Missol, Salawati, and Yapen.

Size:
The king bird-of-paradise is 16-19 cm long, but males reach 31 cm long if the central rectrices are included. They weigh 40-65 g.

Habitat:
They are found in lowland rainforests, gallery forests, forest edges, and disturbed and tall secondary forests, up to an altitude of 950 m.

Diet:
Their diet consist of fruits and arthropods, taken at all forest levels, often in mixed species foraging flocks.

Breeding:
The king bird-of-paradise is polygynous, with solitary or lekking, sedentary, promiscuous adult males dispersed at traditional display tree perches. Breeding takes place in March-October. After copulation the males plays no further role in the nesting and chick rearing process. The female build the nest, an open cup placed in a tree cavity, where she lays 2 eggs. The female incubates the eggs for 17 days and then feeds and broods the chicks until fledging, which takes place 14 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
Although the global population size has not been quantified, the species is reported to be common over its large breeding range. Although the species is sometimes sought after by the native men of Papua-New Guinea, who use the plumes of adult males are personal adornment, the hunting pressure represents no threat to populations which is suspected to be stable.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Greater roadrunner

Geococcyx californianus


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Cuculiformes
Family Cuculidae

Range:
The greater roadrunner is found in the south-east of the United States, from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas to California, and in northern Mexico.

Size:
These bird are 52-56 cm long and have a wingspan of 49 cm. They weigh 220-540 g.

Habitat:
They are found in open arid and semiarid areas with scattered bushes or thickets, along the edges of chaparral and in sparsely vegetated grasslands.

Diet:
Great roadrunners are omnivorous, taking a variety of insects, spiders, snakes, scorpions, centipedes, lizards, birds, eggs, rodents and even carrion. Fruit and seeds are consumed with seasonal availability.

Breeding:
They breed in May-September. Pairs mate for life, each year the female build the nest while the male provides nesting material. The nest is a compact cup or shallow platform built with stiff twigs and lined with finer material including leaves, grass, feathers, plant seed or pods, snake skins, roots, and dry flakes of livestock manure. The female lays 2-6 white or yellowish eggs which are incubated for 19-20 days by both sexes. Only males incubate at night. The chicks fledge 17-21 days after hatching, but continue to be fed by both parents for another 4-6 weeks. Each pair may raise 1-2 broods per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
The greater roadrunner has a large breeding range and a global population estimated at 1.100.000 individuals. The overall population trend is stable, but the populations in California are known to be decreasing. Habitat loss and urban sprawl are the major threats to greater roadrunners and the construction of roads causes fragmentation of habitat as well as mortality from cars. Greater roadrunners are also illegally shot in response to the myth that they prey on quail, but feeding studies showed they rarely consume quail.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Seychelles paradise-flycatcher

Terpsiphone corvina


Common name:
Seychelles paradise-flycatcher (en); monarca-das-Seychelles (pt); tchitrec des Seychelles (fr); monarca-colilargo de las Seychelles (es); Seychellen-paradiesschnäpper (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Monarchidae

Range:
This species is endemic to the Seychelles archipelago, being mostly found in La Digue, but also in Marianne, Praslin and Félicité.

Size:
The males are considerably longer than females because of their long tail feathers. Males are 22-31 cm lon while female are 17-20 cm long.

Habitat:
This species depends on takamaka (Calophyllum inophyllum) and badamier (Terminalia catappa) woodland, particularly near marshy areas and water bodies.

Diet:
The Seychelles paradise-flycatcher is strictly insectivorous, gleaning insects and spiders from the leaves. Dragonflies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers and butterflies seem to form the bulk of their diet.

Breeding:
Breeding can occur all year round, although there appears to be a peak in activity in November-April. The oval bowl-shaped nest is built on branches and consists of twigs, palm fibre, and spider webs. The female lays just 1 white egg with reddish-brown spots. The egg is incubated for 17 days and the chicks fledge 14-15 days after hatching but continue to be fed by the parents for another 2 months.

Conservation:
IUCN status - CR (Critically endangered)
The Seychelles paradise-flycatcher has an extremely small breeding range and the global population in currently estimated at just 210-280 individuals. The species is mostly threatened by the alarming rates of habitat loss and fragmentation, due to tourism and private housing developments but also because of a wild disease affecting takamaka stands. Nest depredation by alien mammals is another significant threat. Conservation measures, namely habitat restoration, the protection of water quality in the wetlands and pest elimination has lead the population to recover from an historic minimum of 50-60 individuals in the 1980s and the current population trend seems to be stable.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Crested goshawk

Accipiter trivirgatus

(Photo from Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
crested goshawk (en); açor-de-crista (pt); autour huppé (fr); azor moñudo (es); schopfhabicht (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Falconiformes
Family Accipitridae

Range:
This Asian species is found from Nepal and Buthan, east through southern China all the way to Hong Kong. It is found through out the Malay Peninsula, south to Sumatra and also in the Philippines.

Size:
The crested goshawk is 30-46 cm long and weighs up to 500 g.

Habitat:
They occur in broad-leafed and coniferous forest, urban parkland, and marshes. May occasionally be found in mangroves, agricultural fields and even inside wooded suburbia.

Diet:
The crested goshawk relying on surprise as it flies from a perch to catch its prey unaware. Their main preys are squirrels, rodents, bats, birds and reptiles, namely common flamebacks Dinopium javanense, black-and-yellow broadbills Eurylaimus ochromalus and the slender squirrel Sundasciurus tenuis.

Breeding:
This species breeds in December-June. They build a stick nest placed in a fork near the top of a tree. The nest is lined with green leaves and material continues to be added during incubation. The female lays 2 plain white eggs which are incubated for 28-38 days by both parents. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 27-31 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The crested goshawk has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 10.000-100.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction, but it is not considered threatened at present.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Alagoas antwren

Myrmotherula snowi


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Thamnophilidae

Range:
This South American species is endemic to the Atlantic forest of south-eastern Brazil, being found in the states of Alagoas and Pernambuco.

Size:
This small passerine is 9-10 cm long and weighs 6-8 g.

Habitat:
The habitat of the Alagoas antwren are tropical and subtropical moist upland forests of the Brazilian Atlantic forest.

Diet:
Their diet consists of arthropods, including spiders, beetles, ants and cockroaches.

Breeding:
The Alagoas antwren breeds in February-May. The nest is placed on a tree and the female lays 2 eggs which are incubated for 14-17 days by both sexes. The young leave the nest soon after hatching and follow their parents about, seeking food and shelter.

Conservation:
IUCN status - CR (Critically endangered)
This species is believed to be declining very rapidly owing to the ongoing and rapid loss of remaining forest habitat. The global population is currently estimated at just 50-250 individuals, justifying the current critically endangered status. The massive clearance of Atlantic forest in Alagoas and Pernambuco has left few other sites likely to support populations of this species. Having a mountain distribution that is close to the maximum altitude within its range, this species is also potentially susceptible to climate change.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

White-rumped munia

Lonchura striata


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Estrildidae

Range:
This species is found in the tropical areas of continental Asia, from India and Sri Lanka, through Nepal and Bangladesh and into Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and southern China. They have been naturalized in some parts of Japan.

Size:
White-rumped munias are 10-11 cm long and weigh 11-13 g.

Habitat:
They are found in coastal dunes with plenty of scrubs and grasses, also in degraded or cleared magrove land, forest clearings and secondary growth, and along rivers, roads and logging tracks through forests. They are also found in plantations, orchards and urban gardens. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 2.000 m.

Diet:
The white-rumped munia mostly eats seeds from grasses and other plants. In areas with rice paddies, the rice seeds are their main food source. They are also know to take bamboo seeds and the seeds from Casuarina cones. In coastal areas they eat filamentous green algae (Spirogyra spp.).

Breeding:
This species breeds all year round. Both sexes participate in nest building. The nest is a rough looking ball with end-entrance part concealed by a wispy fringe of grass floweringheads, built of bamboo and other leaves and coarse grass-stems and heads , with an outer layer of twigs and larger leaves bound in by thin epiphyte stems and fibre from the base of palm-fronds. The nest is generally placed on a bamboo clump, or among leafy twigs of a shrub or small tree. The female lays 4-5 matt white eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 13 days. The chicks are fed and brooded by both parents and fledge 21-25 days after hatching, but only become independent 2-3 weeks later. The entire family will continue to roost in the nest at night.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as common or locally common over its very large breeding range. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Piping plover

Charadrius melodus


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Charadriiformes
Family Charadriidae

Range:
The piping plover breeds in the central prairies of the United States and Canada and along the north-east coast of the United States. They winter in the south and south-east coast of the United States and in both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of northern Mexico.

Size:
This stout plover is 17-18 cm long and has a wingspan of 46-48 cm. They weigh 43-48 g.

Habitat:
It nests on sandy beaches, sandflats, barrier islands, alkali lakes, riverine sand/gravel bars, reservoirs, and sand/gravel pits. Ephemeral pools, bay tidal flats and areas of open vegetation are all important brood-rearing habitats. They winter in sandy bays, lagoons, and both algal and muddy tidalflats.

Diet:
Piping plovers eat a variety of aquatic marine worms, insects, mollusks and crustaceans. They forage by day and by night, always using their acute sight to hunt their prey.

Breeding:
They start nesting in April. The male begins digging out several scrapes on the ground by kicking the sand. The female will choose a good scrape and will decorate the nest with shells and debris to camouflage it. There the female lays 4 eggs which are incubated by both parents for 27 days. After hatching, the chicks are able to feed within hours. The parents will both protect the chicks from the elements by brooding them, they will also alert them to any danger. It takes about 30 days before a chick achieves flight capability.

Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near threatened)
The piping plover global population is currently estimated at just 6.400 individuals. The population declined by more than 70% in the last 4 decades, but it is now increasing a result of intensive conservation management. The main threats affecting this species are droughts, inappropriate water and beach management, gas/oil industry dredging operations, development, shoreline stabilization and beach disturbance (including cat and dog predation).

Monday, 21 February 2011

Buff-throated saltator

Saltator maximus


Common name:
buff-throated saltator (en); trinca-ferro (pt); saltator des grands-bois (fr); saltator gorjileonado (es); buntkehlsaltator (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Cardinalidae

Range:
This species occurs from southern Mexico south to northwestern Colombia. then found east of the Andes from Colombia, east through Venezuela and the Guyanas and south to eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, and south central Brazil. There also is an isolated population in the Atlantic forest region of south-eastern Brazil.

Size:
Buff-throated saltators are 20 cm long and weigh 46-50 g.

Habitat:
They favor the edges of humid lowland forest, and can be found foraging in mid-level foliage or less often in the canopy inside the forest. This species enters forests only a short distance in order to forage and rarely enters to nest. They also visit shady plantations, dense vegetation, brushy pastures and gardens near the edge of forests. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 1.600 m.

Diet:
The buff-throated saltator eats fruits, buds, seeds, nectar and slow-moving insects including ants and wasps.

Breeding:
They breed in February-August. The nest is a bulky cup placed in a tree or bush from ground level up to 9 m high. The female lays 2-3 pale blue eggs which she incubates alone for 13-14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents, fledging 13-15 days after hatching. Each pair may produce 1-2 broods per season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
With a very large breeding range and a population estimated at 5-50 million individuals, this species is not considered threatened at present.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Brown-headed cowbird

Molothrus ater


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Icteridae

Range:
This North American species is found in western and southern Canada, throughout the United States and in Mexico. The northern populations are migratory, moving south to Mexico in winter.

Size:
Males tend to be larger than females in this species. The males are 19-22 cm long, have a wingspan of 36 cm and weigh 42-50 g. The females are 16-20 cm long, have a wingspan of 28-32 cm and weigh 38-45 g.

Habitat:
Brown-headed Cowbirds occur in grasslands with low and scattered trees as well as woodland edges, brushy thickets, prairies, fields, pastures, orchards, and residential areas. They generally avoid forests.

Diet:
They feed mostly on seeds from grasses and weeds, with some crop grains. Grasshopper and beetles are also taken, often been caught as cows and horses stir them into movement. The females also eat snails and even the eggs of other birds in order to supply the extraordinary calcium demand of laying so many eggs.

Breeding:
Brown-headed cowbirds are brood-parasites, so the females lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. Over 140 host species of the brown-headed cowbird have been described, from birds as small as kinglets to as large as meadowlarks. Common hosts include the yellow warbler (Dendroica petechia), song and chipping sparrows (Melospiza melodia and Spizella passerina), Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus), Eastern and spotted towhees (Pipilo erythrophthalmus and P. maculatus), and red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus). A female can lay up to 36 eggs in a season, usually 1-7 per nest. The eggs hatch after 10-12 days of incubation by their hosts. Cowbird chicks tend to grow faster than their nestmates, allowing them to get more attention and food from their foster parents, and will fledge 8-13 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
Originally a bison-following bird of the Great Plains, the brown-headed cowbird spread eastward in the 1800s as forests were cleared. This species greatly benefited from the human caused changes to the landscapes of North America and its population is now 56 million strong and believed to be mostly stable or slightly increasing. Its habit of nest parasitism can threaten species with small populations, such as the endangered Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii) and black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapillus).

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Blue-rumped parrot

Psittinus cyanurus

Photo by John Wright (Lazy Lizard's Tales)

Common name:
blue-rumped parrot (en); papagaio-de-urupígio-azul (pt); perruche à croupion bleu (fr); lorito dorsiazul (es); rotachselpapagei (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Psittaciformes
Family Psittacidae

Size:
This small parrot is 18 cm long and weighs 85 g.

Range:
This Asian species is confined to the Sundaic lowlands of Myanmar, peninsular Thailand, peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei.

Habitat:
The blue-rumped parrot is found in lowland forests, generally below 700 m, and also in open woodland, orchards and plantations, mangroves, dense scrub, and coconut groves.

Diet:
They eat seeds, fruit and blossoms.

Breeding:
Blue-rumped parrots breed in February-September. They nest in holes in trees or hill sides. The female lays 3-5 eggs which are incubated for 26 days. The chicks fledge after 6 weeks.

Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near Threatened)
Although the global population size is yet to be precisely quantified, it is believed to be in excess of 100,000 individuals. The population is declining due to the rapid rates of forest destruction in the Sundaic lowland, but also because of hunting and trapping. Forest destruction in the Sundaic lowlands of Indonesia and Malaysia has been extensive, in some areas as much as 30% of the forest has been lost in the last 25 years because of logging and land conversion. Still, ability of the blue-rumped parrot to survive in secondary forest as minimized some losses. Trapping for the cage-bird industry is the other main threat affecting this species.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Rufous-eared warbler

Malcorus pectoralis

Photo by Alastair Rae (Wikipedia)

Common name:
rufous-eared warbler (en); felosa-de-faces-ruivas (pt); prinia à joues rousses (fr); prinia carirrufa (es); rotohrsänger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Cisticolidae

Range:
This South African species is found in Namibia, southern Botswana and throughout South Africa.

Size:
Rufous-eared warblers are 16 cm long and weigh around 10 g.

Habitat:
This species is found in lowland scrublands and dry grasslands, including some areas in the Kalahari desert.

Diet:

The rufous-eared warbler mainly eats invertebrates supplemented with small fruit and seeds. They often glean prey from the stems and leaves, taking Coleoptera, Hemiptera, Orthoptera, termites, ants, spiders and ticks.

Breeding:
This species breeds all year round, but it generally prefers to lay eggs after periods of rainfall. The nest is an untidy oval shape with a side-top entrance, built of grey grass leaves and stems, or alternatively from strips of milkweed (Asclepias buchenaviana), reinforced with spider web and lined with plant down. It is typically placed up to 1 m above ground in a bush or shrub, such as driedoring (Rhigozum trichotomum), doringvygie (Ruschia spinosa) and bloubrakbossie (Galenia fruticosa). The female lays 2-4 eggs which are incubated for 12-13 days. The chicks are fed by both parents, fledging after 11-13 days.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
Although the global population size has not been quantified, the species is described as common throughout its large breeding range. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Crimson topaz

Topaza pella

Photo by Jim Watt (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

Range:
This South American species is found in the northern parts of the Amazon Basin, in northern Brazil, Venezuela, Suriname and the Guyanas.

Size:
In this species males are considerably larger than female. Males are 21-23 cm long and weigh 10-14 g while females are 13-14 cm long and weigh 10 g.

Habitat:
This species is found in tropical and subtropical lowland rainforests, up to an altitude of 500 m. It is often found in the canopy, in gallery-forest along rivers and creeks.

Diet:
The crimson topaz feeds mainly on nectar from flowers of different plants species. It also catches flying insects in the air.

Breeding:
Breeding season varies according to the range, but in the Guyanas, the crimson topaz breeds twice, in January-April, and again in July-November. The nest is a cup-shaped bowl made with pale coloured plant fibres, often of Bombax seeds. These fibres are fastened with spider webs. The female lays 2 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 14-23 days. The chicks fledge after 3 weeks, but they remain with the female for another 3 weeks.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range. The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as uncommon. There is no information about population trends, but the species is not considered threatened at present.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Purple glossy-starling

Lamprotornis purpureus

Photo by Steve Riall (Flickr)

Common name:
purple glossy-starling (en); estorninho-metálico-purpura (pt); choucador pourpré (fr); estornino purpúreo (es); purpurglanzstar (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Sturnidae

Range:
This African species is found from Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, eastwards along souther Mali, northern, southern Chad and into South Sudan, Uganda and western Kenya.

Size:
They are 22-27 cm long and weigh 140 g.

Habitat:
They are typically found in open woodlands, savannas, scrublands and cultivated areas.

Diet:
The purple glossy-starling is omnivorous, taking fruits, berries, seeds and various invertebrates.

Breeding:
These birds nest in tree holes, where the female lays 2-4 eggs which she incubates alone for 12-14 days. Both male and female feed the chicks until fledging, which takes place 19-22 days after hatching. The chicks may continue to be fed by their parents for another 2 weeks.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and although the global population size has not been quantified, the species is described as common and often abundant. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats, so this species is not considered threatened at present.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Bearded reedling

Panurus biarmicus

Photo by György Szimuly (Flickr)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Paradoxornithidae

Range:
This species is found in most of temperate Europe, from Spain, France and the United Kingdom all the way to Kazakhstan, then into western Mongolia and northern China.

Size:
The bearded reedling is 14-16 cm long and has a wingspan of 16-18 cm. They weigh up to 20 g.

Habitat:
They are mostly found in reedbeds and associated vegetation, namely bulrushes (Typha), along fresh or brackish water lakes, marshes, swamps and rivers. They are generally found at low altitudes, near sea-level, but in China they may occur at altitudes of up to 3.000 m.

Diet:
During winter the bearded reedling mostly subsists on the seeds of Phragmites, Typha and Juncus. In spring and summer they become almost exclusively carnivorous, taking insects such as mayflies, aphids and the larvae and pupae of various moths, but also spiders and snails.

Breeding:
This species breeds in loose colonies in reedbeds. Both male and female build the nest, a deep cup of reed leaves and other plants, lined with reed flower-heads and feathers, located deep amidst plant stalks, above water, or on land. The female lays 4-8 pale, streaked, and speckled eggs which are incubated by both parents for 10-14 days. The pair raises the chicks together, until fledging 12-15 days after hatching. Each pair may produce up to 3 clutches per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
With a global population of 1,5-6 million and an extremely large breeding range, this species is not threatened. The overall population trend is difficult to determine as some populations are increasing and others decreasing, and populations are subject to considerable fluctuations.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Peruvian booby

Sula variegata

Photo by Alejandro Tabini (Birding Peru)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Pelecaniformes
Family Sulidae

Range:
The Peruvian booby is found in the area of the Humboldt Current, breeding from Punta Pariñas , in northern Peru, to Concepción, in central Chile. Non-breeders can be found as far as south-west Ecuador.

Size:
The Peruvian booby is 71-76 cm long

Habitat:
This strictly marine species feeds close to the coast in cool, rich waters of upwellings where food is abundant. They breed in bare, arid islets along rocky coasts, mostly on cliff ledges in Chile, but preferring open, flat ground in Peru.

Diet:
This fish eater feeds almost exclusively on the abundant supplies of anchoveta (Engraulis ringens) found in their range, but will switch to other fish species, including sardine (Sardinops), mackerel (Scomber), and other fish, when stocks collapse. Feeding mostly occurs by plunge-diving from moderate height.

Breeding:

Peruvian Boobies breed throughout the year, but the main breeding season takes place during the austral spring and summer, in September-March. They nest on the ground, in a bowl made of guano where the female lays 1-4 pale blue eggs. The eggs are incubated by both adults for 4-5 weeks and the chick rearing period lasts about 3 months. Most pairs may attempt to breed for a second time during the year depending on food availability.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
With a global population estimated at 1,2 million and a large breeding range, this species is not considered threatened at present. Still, the population is suspected to be fluctuating owing to fluctuations in prey populations, and El Niño events may cause dramatic mortality events in some years.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Eurasian nuthatch

Sitta europaea

(Photo from Fotografija by Beno)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Sittidae

Range:
These birds are found throughout Europe, with the exception of Ireland, Iceland and northern Scandinavia. There are also found in Turkey, the Middle East and northern Iran, and across the temperate latitudes of Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China and Japan. They are also present in Taiwan.

Size:
The Eurasian nuthatch is 14-15 cm long and has a wingspan of 20-25 cm. They weigh 20-24 g.

Habitat:
They prefer mature deciduous woodland, but will also be found in gardens and parks with some old trees for nesting.

Diet:
The Eurasian nuthatch feeds mainly on nuts and seeds, such as acorns and hazel nuts, in the autumn and winter, but invertebrates, such as spiders and beetles in the summer.

Breeding:
These birds start breeding in late April. They will nest either in a hole in a tree or wall, or take over an abandoned nest. They often use nest boxes. The hole may be reduced in size by plastering it with mud and the nest is made from bark chips and dead leaves. There the female 4-13 glossy white eggs with reddish-brown spots. The eggs are incubated by the female alone, for 14-18 days. After hatching, the chicks are fed by both parents and fledge at the age of 23-25 days. Each pair may produce 1-2 clutches per year.

Conservation:

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
With a global population of 50-250 million individuals and an extremely large breeding range, this species is not threatened at present. The population is suspected to be fluctuating owing to fluctuations in food availability.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

New Zealand bellbird

Anthornis melanura

Photo by Richard Thomas (The Guardian)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Meliphagidae

Range:
This species is endemic to New Zealand, being found throughout the main islands of the country with the exception of the extreme north of the North Island, and also in several offshore islands and the Auckland Islands.

Size:
New Zealand bellbirds are 20 cm long. Males weigh 34 g while females weigh just 26 g.

Habitat:
Their natural habitat are the indigenous temperate forests of New Zealand. They can also be found in temperate scrubland, rural gardens and plantations and even within urban areas.

Diet:
They mostly eat nectar, honeydew and fruits. They also take insects to some extent.

Breeding:
The New Zealand bellbird breed in September-December. The nest is mostly built by the female, consisting of a loose bag of twigs and coarse grasses, lined with fine grasses, feathers and leaves. The nest is either placed on a dense forest canopy or on a rock face concealed by dense vegetation. The female lays 2-4 pinkish-white eggs with red-brown blotches, which she incubates alone for 14-16 days. Only the female broods the nestlings, by their are fed by both parents. The chicks fledge 16-20 days after hatching but continue to be fed by the parents for at least 7 more days.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
Although the global population size is yet to be determined, this species as a relatively large breeding range. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and the effects of introduced mammals, namely cats, stoats, weasels, ferrets and rats, which depredate their eggs, and introduced wasps which compete for food. Still, this species is not considered threatened at present.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Arizona woodpecker

Picoides arizonae


Photo by Alan Wilson (Naturepicsonline)

Common name:
Arizona woodpecker (en); pica-pau-do-Arizona (pt); pic d'Arizona (fr); carpintero de Arizona (es); Arizonaspecht (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Piciformes
Family Picidae

Range:
This species cccurs in the United States, the mountains of extreme southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona, and in Mexico through the Sierra Madre Occidental of Sonora, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Zacatecas, and Michoaca.

Size:
This small woodpecker is 18-20 cm long and has a wingspan of 36 cm. They weigh 34-51 g.

Habitat:
The Arizona woodpecker is restricted to Madrean woodland and forests riparian areas, where they are especially dependent on evergreen oaks and adjacent riparian woodland, occuring in mountain oak or pine-oak habitats. They are found at altitudes of 1.200-2100 m.


Diet:
They mostly eat adult and larval insects, especially beetle larvae. They also take fruits and acorns.

Breeding:
These birds breed in April-May. They nest in cavities, excavated by the male and possibly also the female, in dead wood in evergreen oaks, sycamores, maples and cottonwoods, riparian walnuts, and occasionally in agave stalk. There the female lays 2-4 white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 14 days. The chicks are brooded and fed by both parents and fledge 24-27 days after hatching. In the first weeks after fledging the chicks may continue to receive food from parents.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
Although this species has a restricted breeding range, the population of 200.000 individuals is believed to be increasing, so the Arizona woodpecker is not threatened at present. This species is dependent on healthy oak and riparian forests and being one of the primary cavity nesters in the area, it is responsible for providing nest sites for a large number of additional species.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Asian fairy-bluebird

Irena puella

(Photo from Wikipedia)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Irenidae

Range:
These birds are found from the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal and north-east India, into Bangladesh, southern China and Myanmar. Also throughout Indochina, and south to Sumatra, Borneo and the Palawan archipelago of the Philippines. There is a disjunct population along the western coast of India and in Sri Lanka.

Size:
They are 25 cm long and weigh 56-76 g.

Habitat:
Asian fairy-bluebirds are in the canopies and understorey of lowland dry forests from sea level up to 1.900 m. they are mostly found in mature forests, but also in secondary forests. They are less common in swamp forests, and in the higher parts of mountain forests.

Diet:
These birds are mostly frugivorous, often taking the fruits of Ficus trees. They also take the fruits of Simarubacea, Burseraceae and Anacardiaceae. They are also known to raid coffee plantations for coffee berries and will occasionally hunt arthropods.

Breeding:
The Asian fairy-bluebird mostly breeds in February-June. The nest is a tidy open cup of rootlets and twigs camouflaged with moss, usually placed in a sapling or thin bushes deep in the forest, usually about 6-7 m above the ground. The female lays 2 greenish-white eggs, which she incubates alone for 12-14 days. the chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 11-13 days after hatching.

Conservation:

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
Although the global population size is yet to be quantified, this species is described as common throughout its very large breeding range. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and fragmentation as well as hunting pressure, but the species is not considered threatened at present.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Emerald-spotted wood dove

Turtur chalcospilo

Photo by Johann Grobelaar (Biodiversity Explorer)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Columbiformes
Family Columbidae

Range:
They are found from south-east Sudan, Ethiopia and West Somalia, south through eastern Africa and into northern Namibia, northern Botswana, Mozambique and eastern South Africa. they are also found in coastal Gabon and south-west Angola.

Size:
Emerald-spotted wood doves are 19-20 cm long and weigh about 65 g.

Habitat:
This species generally prefers closed woodland, thicket in open woodland, arid savanna, dry sand forest, valley bushveld, gardens and orchards.

Diet:
They forage on sparsely vegetated ground, feeding on invertebrates like snails and termites, on small seeds and fallen fruits.

Breeding:
Emerald-spotted wood doves are monogamous, only changing partners if one bird dies. they breed in February-September and the nest is a flimsy platform of twigs, stems and roots placed in a tree or bush. There the female lays 1-2 cream-coloured eggs which are mostly incubated by the female for 13-17 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge at the age of 15-17 days.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as abundant throughout its very large breeding range. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats, and is reported to adapt readily to man-made habitats.