Thursday, 31 March 2011

Royal sunangel

Heliangelus regalis

Photo by Nick Athanas (Antpitta)

Common name:
royal sunangel (en); beija-flor-real (pt); héliange royal (fr); colibrí real (es); blaue sonnennymphe (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

Range:
This species is only found in northern Peru, in Cordillera Azul, Cordillera de Colán and Cordillera del Cóndor.

Size:
They are 11-12 cm long and weigh 3,5-4,5 g.

Habitat:
The royal sunangel inhabits subtropical elfin forest edge and shrubbery, often in areas of regular fire disturbance. They are found at altitudes of 1.450-2.200 m.

Diet:
They mostly eat nectar. Males seem to feed mostly on Brachyotum quinquenerve, and females feed mainly from Ericaceae flowers. They also eat small insects.

Breeding:
The royal sunangel breeds in July-September. The female lays 2 eggs, which she incubates alone for 16-19 days. Chicks fledge 23-26 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - EN (Endangered)
This species has a very small and severely fragmented range at only four locations. The population is currently estimated at just 2.500-10.000 individuals and suspected to be declining slowly, owing to on-going habitat destruction and alteration. Regular burning of páramo grasslands adjacent to the elfin forest, to promote the growth of fresh shoots for livestock, has lowered the tree-line by several hundred metres, and continues to destroy large areas of the species's habitat. Also, most of the forests in the southern Cordillera de Colán have already disappeared, with the remnants being rapidly cleared for cash-crops, particularly marijuana and coffee.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Superb lyrebird

Menura novaehollandia


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Menuridae

Range:
These birds are native of south-eastern Australia, being found from southern Victoria to south-eastern Queensland. They were introduced to southern Tasmania.

Size:
The superb lyrebird is 80-100 cm long and weighs 975 g.

Habitat:
They are found in moist forests, spending most of their time on the ground, but roosting in the trees at night.

Diet:
Superb lyrebirds feed on insects, spiders, worms and, occasionally, seeds. They find their food by scratching with their feet through the leaf-litter.

Breeding:
These birds breed in April-October. The male secures a territory, attracting potential mates by singing and dancing on one of several mounds within it, throwing the tail forward over the body and shaking it in display. The male will mate with several females. Each female builds the nest alone, a large domed structure with a side entrance, built of sticks with moss sealing the interstices, often camouflaged with ferns or mosses. There she lays 1 large and grey egg with light speckles, which she incubates alone for 40-45 days. The chick is taken care by the female alone, fledging 6 weeks after hatching, but staying with the female for 9 months before becoming independent.

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 reported to be common where their favoured habitat remains. The superb lyrebird is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat loss and degradation, and predation by introduced mammals, but the species is not considered threatened at present.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Black-eared wheatear

Oenanthe hispanica

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Muscicapidae

Range:
The black-eared wheatear breeds in southern Europe, North Africa, and through the Arabian Peninsula and Middle East into Asia, as far east as the Caspian Sea, southwest Kazakhstan and Iran. They migrate south to winter in sub-Saharan Africa, mostly along the Sahel belt and in north-east Africa.

Size:
These birds are 13,5-15,5 cm long and have a wingspan of 30-31 cm. They weigh 12-21 g.

Habitat:
Black-eared wheatears inhabit open, rocky areas with scrubby vegetation, on slopes or foothills, also occurring in gardens and extensive agricultural land, although it requires at least some low, shrubby vegetation.

Diet:
They commonly forage from a perch up to 3 m above the ground, flying down to catch insects and other invertebrates either in flight or from the ground. Their main prey are Formicidae, Coleoptera, Orthoptera and Heteroptera, although they may occasionally also take seeds and berries.

Breeding:
The black-eared wheatear breeds in March-July. The nest consists of a flat cup of plant stems, moss and fibres, lined with hair or down, and may be built on the ground under a stone, rocky overhang, tussock or thick bush, in a burrow, or in a hole in a ruin. The female lays 3-6 eggs which are incubated for 13-14 days. The young fledge 11-14 days after hatching, but remain dependent on the adults for another 3 weeks.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population of 5-20 million individuals. Populations in south-western Europe have undergone a decline since 1970, particularly in Spain, probably as a result of habitat changes including agricultural intensification and afforestation schemes, combined with droughts in its winter range in Africa. Overall the species is not considered threatened at present.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Amur falcon

Falco amurensis


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Falconiformes
Family Falconidae

Range:
This species breeds in south-eastern Siberia, northern China and North Korea and has an extremely long migration, wintering in southern Africa in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa.

Size:
Amur falcons are 26-30 cm long and have a wingspan of 63-71 cm. Females tend to be larger than male, weighing 111-188 g, while males weigh 97-155 g.

Habitat:
These bird typically inhabit open woodland, including marshy and riverine woodland, as well as wooded steppe around boreal coniferous forests. In winter, they may be found in savanna and grassland, roosting communally in clumps of trees, and often roosting in towns.

Diet:
Their main prey are insects, namely locusts, grasshoppers, beetles and flying termites, usually taken in flight. They can also hunt small mammals and birds, amphibians and reptiles. The young are mostly fed vertebrate prey, while adults are predominantly insectivorous.

Breeding:
Amur falcons typically lay their eggs in May-June. Breeding pairs are either solitary or form small colonies. The nests can be built on tree holes, but most often an abandoned nest is used, usually from corvids like Corvus frugilegus or from other raptors. There the female lays 3-4 white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 28-30 days. Both parents feed the chicks, who fledge about 1 month after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a global population of 1 million individuals and a very large breeding range. Some of the grassland regions they favour during winter are under severe pressure from agriculture and afforestation, but the population is believed to be stable and they are not considered threatened at present.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Point-tailed palmcreeper

Berlepschia rikeri


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Furnariidae

Range:
This South American species is found from southern Venezuela and the Guyanas, into Amazonian and eastern Brazil down to Mato Grosso and Goiás, and through south-eastern Colombia, eastern Peru and north-eastern Bolivia.

Size:
These birds are 18-22 cm long and weigh 35 g.

Habitat:
The point-tailed palmcreeper is found in tropical and subtropical dry forests, mostly in palm groves populated by Mauritia and other Arecaceae. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 300 m.

Diet:
These birds glean the palm fronds for food, taking a variety of insects and other invertebrates.

Breeding:
Point-tailed palmcreepers are monogamous. Males and females have similar roles during breeding, both helping to build nests, incubate eggs, feed nestlings and fledglings and remove fecal sacks. They build their nests at the base of the palm fronds, using twings, palm leaves and other plant material. The female lays 2-5 eggs which are incubated for 14-22 days. The chicks are altricial and fledge 13-29 days after hatching, but may remain in their parent’s territory for several months.

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

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Hermit thrush

Catharus guttatus


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Turdidae

Range:
This North American species breeds in the western and northeastern United States into Alaska and in much of the southern half of Canada. They winter further south, along the western coast of the United States, in the south-eastern and southern United States and into Mexico.

Size:
Hermit thrushes are 14-18 cm long and have a wingspan of 25-29 cm. They weigh 23-37 g.

Habitat:
These birds breeds in the interior of dense deciduous, mixed, and coniferous forest, favoring internal forest edges like ponds, logging roads, and utility cuts. They winter in moist and dense cover of woody growth, forests, open woodlands, and in the northern part of range especially in ravines and sheltered sites.

Diet:
During the breeding season hermit thrushes eat insects and their larvae, spiders, earthworms, snails and small salamanders. In autumn and winter they mostly eat fruits and berries.

Breeding:
These birds breed in April-August. Males establish and defend breeding territories and once a female is accepted into the territory, she begins building the nest. The nest is an open cup built with a variety of vegetable material including grass, leaves, mosses, and lichens. The nest is usually placed on the ground beneath live woody and non-woody plants or in open areas. There the female lays 3-6 pale blue to blue-green eggs with a few brown flecks. The female incubates the eggs alone for 12 days and during this period she is fed by the male. The female feeds the nestlings with food brought to the nest by the male until fledging, which takes place 10-15 days after hatching. Each pair may lay up to 3 broods per season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
Hermit thrushes have an extremely large breeding range and a global population of 60 million individuals. This species had undergone a large increase of roughly 15% per decade over the last 40 years, so it it not threatened at present.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Great bustard

Otis tarda


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Gruiformes
Family Otididae

Range:
The great bustard is found scattered across the temperate latitudes of Europe, northern Africa and Asia, breeding in Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Turkey, Iran, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia and China.

Size:
The males of this species are the heaviest flying animals currently in existence, being 90-110 cm long, having a wingspan of 2,1-2,5 m and weighing up to 16 kg. Females are smaller with a length of 80 cm, a wingspan of 1,8 m and a weight of 3,5-5,3 kg.

Habitat:
The great bustard occurs in open, flat or somewhat rolling landscapes, usually with a mixture of steppic grassland, crops (cereals, oilseeds, fodder plants) and bare ground. Areas with little to no disturbance and an abundant supply of insects are required for successful breeding.

Diet:
These birds are omnivorous eating both green plants, seeds, fruits and invertebrates. Among their invertebrate prey are mollusks, oligochaetes, spiders, crickets, beetles, ants and caterpillars.

Breeding:
Great bustards start breeding in March-April. The males form leks, where they attempt to impress females with their displays. After the female has chosen a male and mated with him, she digs a shallow pit on the ground, where she lays 1-3 eggs. The female incubates the eggs alone for 25-28 days. The female will rear the chicks alone, but the chicks can stand soon after hatching and will forage alone after 10 days. The chicks fledge 30-35 days after hatching but stay with the mother for several months.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
Although this species has a very large breeding range, it is mostly found in small scattered pockets of favourable habitat. The current population size is estimated at 45.000 individuals and, although populations in its Iberian stronghold have stabilised and possibly increased, future land-use changes in eastern Europe, Russia and central Asia may have a significant impact on this species's population and the extent of its remaining habitat, such that it is likely to undergo a rapid population reduction over the next three generations. The main threats to this species include habitat fragmentation and habitat loss due to agricultural intensification, increased chick mortality caused by mechanized agriculture, hunting and collision with power lines.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Four-coloured bushshrike

Telophorus viridis


Common name:
four-coloured bushshrike (en); picanço-quadricolor (pt); gladiateur quadricolore (fr); bubú verde (es); vierfarbenwürger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Malaconotidae

Range:
This African species occurs in two separate populations, one along the coast of Tanzania and Kenya and the other in Mozambique, eastern Zimbabwe and north-eastern South Africa.

Size:
These birds are 19 cm long and weighs 37 g.

Habitat:
This species is found in woodlands with dense undergrowth, especially riparian woodland. It also occurs in wooded drainage lines in thornveld, forest fringes, dune forest and coastal evergreen forest patches.

Diet:
The four-coloured bushshrike mostly eats insects, taking beetles, caterpillars, mantids, wasps and bees from the canopy of trees.

Breeding:
These birds breed in October-December. Both sexes construct the nest, which is an untidy, shallow cup built of fine twigs, rootlets, leaf petioles and grass, sometimes secured with spider web. It is usually placed on a horizontal branch or fork of a thorny tree, but also in tangles of creepers. The females lay 1-3 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 13-14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents until fledging, which takes place 12 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and although the population size is yet to be quantified they are common in large parts of their range. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Rose robin

Petroica rosea


Common name:
rose robin (en); rouxinol-rosado (pt); miro rosé (fr); petroica rosada (es); rosenschnäpper (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Petroicidae

Range:
The rose robin is endemic to Australia, being found in the south-easternmost areas of the country, along the coast and Great Dividing Range from south-east Queensland down to Victoria.

Size:
These birds are 11-13 cm long and weigh 8 g.

Habitat:
Rose robins are found in wet sclerophyll forests and rainforests during spring and summer, moving into drier, more open habitats during autumn and winter. They may sometimes occur in farmland and town gardens when migrating.

Diet:
They feed on insects and other small invertebrates which they mostly take from the upper to mid-canopy, but they will also feed from the ground.

Breeding:
Rose robins breed in September-January. The nest is a neat, deep cup, placed towards the outer end of a branch or in a tree fork, and made of green moss, with some twigs and bark, lined with plant down or fur and camouflaged with lichen. The female lays 2-3 pale green or blue-grey eggs marked with brownish-purple spots, which she incubates alone for 16 days. Both parents feed the chicks and each pair may produce up to 3 broods per season.

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 reported to be locally quite common. The population is estimated to be in decline following local extinctions owing to habitat loss, but it is not considered threatened at present.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

African black oystercatcher

Haematopus moquini


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Charadriiformes
Family Haematopodidae

Range:
This species is found along the coasts of southern Africa, from northern Namibia to the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.

Size:
These birds are 42-45 cm long. Females tend to be larger than males, weighing 646-800 g while males weigh 482-757 g.

Habitat:
African black oystercatchers generally prefer rocky and/or sandy shores of islands or the mainland, occasionally moving to lagoons, estuaries and coastal pans.

Diet:
They mostly eat mussels and other aquatic invertebrates, namely limpets, whelks, polychaetes, anemones, clams and sand hoppers. They do most of their foraging in the intertidal zone, dislodging molluscs from rocks with a jab of the bill or probing the sand for other animals.

Breeding:
These monogamous, solitary nester breed in September-April, with a peak in November-January. The nest is a simple scrape in the ground excavated by both sexes, usually dug into sandy soil and lined with shells and rock chips. If the substrate is too hard to dig into, it places extra shells and rock chips along the rim of the nest. It is typically placed close to the high-water mark, concealed by an adjacent object such as kelp or a rock. there the female lays 1-2 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 27-39 days. The chicks leave the nest after about 24 h and are cared for by both parents, who regularly feed them in or near the intertidal zone. They fledge after 35-40 days but only become fully independent 2-6 months later.

Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Neasr threatened)
The African black oystercatcher has a global population of just 5.000-6.000 individuals, being susceptible to human disturbance, especially urban development and the use of off-road vehicles on beaches (destroying nests). Predation of eggs and chicks by domestic dogs and natural predators can also be a problem for this small population with low reproductive rates. Despite this, the population is suspected to be increasing thanks to improved habitat management on near-shore islands.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Verdin

Auriparus flaviceps


Common name:
verdin (en); chapim-de-face-dourada (pt); auripare verdin (fr); pájaro-moscón baloncito (es); goldköpfchen (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Remizidae

Range:
This species is found in the souht-west of the United States, from Colorado and California to Texas, and in northern Mexico from Baja California to the Gulf of Mexico. They are especially common in the Mojave, Sonora, and Chihuahuan deserts.

Size:
The verdin is 9-11 cm long and has a wingspan of 16-17 cm. They weigh 6-8 g.

Habitat:
They are found in areas of desert scrub and thorny bush, preferring areas near rivers or streams.

Diet:
Verdins are mostly insectivorous, but also feed on fruits, berries, flowers, nectar and seeds.

Breeding:
These birds breed in March-August. The nest is often obviously placed in the outer branches of a spiny scrub, consisting of a small spherical or elongated cup, made of small twigs, leaves, spider webbing, and moss, lined with feathers, fur or wool. Usually the male starts building the nest and then the female helps complete the structure. The female lays 3-6 blue-green to greenish white eggs which she incubates alone for 14-18 days. The nestlings are first fed by the female, but after 5-7 days the male also start to feed them. The chicks fledge 17-21 days after hatching. Each pair will attempt to produce 2 broods each season and the female can start to lay the second clutch within 2 days of the first clutch fledging.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
Verdins have a very large breeding range and a global population of 9 million individuals. They are negatively impacted by habitat loss due to commercial and residential development, but seem to adapt well to low levels of disturbance. This species has undergone a small decrease over the last few decades but is not considered threatened at present.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Brown dipper

Cinclus pallasii


Common name:
brown dipper (en); melto-d'água-castanho (pt); cincle de Pallas (fr); mirlo-acuático pardo (es); flusswasseramsel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Cinclidae

Range:
The brown dipper is found in the mountains of southern and central Asia, from Afghanistan and Kazakhstan to Tibet, Nepal, northern India, northern Burma and northern Vietnam. Another disjunct population is found from southern Siberia, to Kamchatka, northern Japan and northern China. They are mostly sedentary, but may move to lower altitudes in winter.

Size:
This large dipper is 21-23 cm long and weighs 66-88 g.

Habitat:
Brown dippers are found along rushing mountain streams and mountain lake, generally in rocky shores. They are typically found at altitudes of 800-5000 m.

Diet:
These birds hunt small aquatic prey, including small fishes and insects like Trichoptera, Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Diptera.

Breeding:
The breeding season of the brown dipper varies between different regions, but generally occurs
in December-July. The nest is built by both parents, usually on a ledge or in a crack in the rocks, behind a waterfall or, more rarely, between stones, always within 2 m of the water. The nest is built using moss with some grass and rootlets and is lined with dry leaves. The female lays 3-5 eggs which she incubates alone for 19-20 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 20-24 days after hatching, but continue to be fed by the parents for a few more weeks. The pair may start a second brood while still feeding the first chicks.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
Although the population size is unknown, the species is described as common and widespread on suitable watercourses throughout its range. It may be susceptible to habitat degradation, but much of its range has very sparse human habitation, and there is no evidence for any declines or substantial threats, so this species is not considered threatened.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Greater sooty owl

Tyto tenebricosa


Common name:
greater sooty owl (en); coruja-sombria (pt); effraie ombrée (fr); lechuza tenebroza (es); rußeule (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Strigiformes
Family Tytonidae

Range:
This species is found in the mountain rainforests of New Guinea, in the mountains of south-eastern Australia, and in Flinders Island, off the northern coast of Tasmania.

Size:
In the greater sooty owl, males tend to be smaller than females. Females are 44-51 cm long and weigh 750 g, while males are 37-43 cm long and weigh 500-700 g.

Habitat:
In Australia, this species prefers deep, wet gully forests dominated by eucalypts, occurring in drier forest only when hunting. In New Guinea they occur in lowland and mountain rainforest and Araucaria pine forests, emerging into subalpine grassland and alpine boulderfields and ridges at altitudes of up to 4000 m to hunt.

Diet:
This powerful nocturnal hunter takes some remarkably big prey, mostly arboreal mammals like the sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps) and the ring-tailed possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus).

Breeding:
The breeding season of the greater sooty owl is variable, but most eggs seem to be laid in January-June. The nest is in a large hollow tree or a cave, where the female remains for several weeks before laying 1-2 dull white eggs. The eggs are incubated by the female for 42. During the whole period the female remains in the nest she is fed by the male who usually brings one large prey item per night. The chicks fledge about 3 months after hatching but continue to be dependent on its parents for another month.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as probably rare over its very large breeding range. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction, mostly due to logging and forest clearance for agriculture. Although there is some fragmentation of its former habitat, in some areas the rainforest is rapidly expanding. Overall the species is not considered threatened at present.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Aquatic warbler

Acrocephalus paludicola


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Sylviidae

Range:
This species breeds across a highly fragmented range at less than 50 regular breeding sites in eastern Europe and near Asia, from eastern germany, through Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and into south-western Russia. They migrate across western and southern Europa and over the Sahara, to winter in western Africa, namely in Senegal and Mali.

Size:
This medium-sized warbler is 11,5-13 cm long and has a wingspan of 17-19 cm. They weigh around 12 g.

Habitat:
The aquatic warbler breeds in large open lowland marsh habitats with low grassy vegetation (mostly sedge fen mires) with water mostly less than 10 cm deep. During migration they prefer reed beds with sedge and other low-lying vegetation close to open water, normally along rivers, estuaries and coastal lagoons. They also winter in marsh habitats, namely the grassy saline Scirpus marshes of the Senegal delta.


Diet:
This species is mostly insectivorous, taking small insects in dense, low vegetation. Occasionally they also eat berries.

Breeding:
Aquatic warblers breed in May-July. Each male will normally mate with more than one female. The nest is is a neatly but rather loosely constructed cup of grass, plant stems and leaves, spider webs, and plant down, lined finer material, typically placed over marshy ground or in a clump of sedge in shallow water. Females lay 4-6 eggs which are incubated by both parents for 12-15 days. The chicks fledge 13-14 days after hatching. This species produces 1-2 broods per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species as a large, but highly fragmented breeding range and a global population of just 22.000-30.000 individuals. The population probably declined rapidly until the late 1990s, as a result of the destruction of its habitat at a rate equivalent to 40% in ten years. The decline in the central European core population has recently been stopped owing to intensive management and conservation projects but other populations continue to decline through habitat loss and degradation owing to drainage for agriculture and peat extraction, damming of floodplains, unfavourable water management and the canalisation of rivers. Uncontrolled fires in spring and summer pose a direct threat to birds and nests, and can burn out the upper peat layer of fens. In the wintering grounds, agricultural cultivation and irrigation (creation of rice and sugar cane plantations), drought, wetland drainage, intensive grazing, succession to scrub, desertification and salinisation of irrigated soils are all potential threats.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Black-and-red Broadbill

Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos


Common name:
black-and-red broadbill (en); bico-largo-vermelho-e-preto (pt); eurylaime rouge et noir (fr); eurilaimo rojinegro (es); kellenschnabel-breitrachen (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Eurylaimidae

Range:
They are found in Borneo, Myanmar, southern Thailand, southern Laos, southern Vietnam, peninsular Malaysia, and Sumatra in Indonesia.

Size:
Black-and-red broadbills are 21-24 cm long and weigh 50-76,5 g.

Habitat:
These birds are found in tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests and in tropical and subtropical mangrove forests, always near water.

Diet:
Their food mostly consist of insects, but also mollusks, crabs, and small fish.

Breeding:
Black-and-red broadbills breed in March-June. Both sexes take part in building the nest, a bulky, untidy ball hanging from the tip of a dead branch or stick about 1-2 m above the water surface. The female lays 2-3 eggs which are incubated by both parents for 21 days. The chicks are fed by both parents until fledging which takes place 17 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
The global population size of this has not been quantified, but the species is reported to be uncommon to locally common over its very large breeding range. The population has decreased considerably as a result of ongoing destruction of lowland rainforest. Also, forest fires, predators and human disturbance all threaten the survival of young birds. Still, this species is not considered threatened at present.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Golden-plumed parakeet

Leptosittaca branickii


Common name:
golden-plumed parakeet (en); piriquito-de-pincéis-dourados (pt); conure à pinceaux d'or (fr); perico paramuno (es); pinselsittich (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Psittaciformes
Family Psittacidae

Range:
This South American species is found in the Andean slopes of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Size:
The golden-plumed parakeet is 35 cm long and weighs 180-280 g.

Habitat:
These birds are found in temperate, cloud forests and elfin forests, usually dominated by evergreen conifers (particularly Podocarpus). They are typically present at altitudes of 2.400-3.400 m.

Diet:
Golden-plumed parakeets predominantly feed on conifer seeds (mostly Podocarpus) as well as the seeds and fruits from a few other plants, including Rosacea, Elaeocarpaceae, Lauraceae, Brunelliaceae, Loranthaceae, Moraceae and cultivated maize. They may occasionally take other plant material, namely leaves.

Breeding:
This species has a very variable breeding season, probably corresponding to food availability, and may not be seasonal. Nests are mostly made in wax palms (Ceroxylon), although other plant species may also be used, and consist of a cavity near the top of the tree trunk. holes made by other bird species (e.g. Piculus rivolii and Campephilus pollens) may also be used. The female lays 2-3 eggs which are incubated by both parents or 28-32 days. Only the female incubates by day, while both adults incubate during the night. Chicks fledge 64-68 days after hatching and are fed by both parents while in the nest.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
The golden-plumed parakeet has a relatively small breeding range and a global population estimated at 2.500-10.000 individuals. The population is believed to be declining rapidly due to ongoing large-scale habitat destruction, degradation and fragmentation. In some areas of Colombia over 90% of the original mountain forests have been lost. Elsewhere the rate of destruction is not as serious, but burning and grazing of páramo, settlement, clearance for agriculture, road construction, logging, narcotics and gold mining are all negatively affecting this species. The golden-plumed parakeet is also trapped as a maize pest and as a pet in Colombia.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Yellow-bellied flycatcher

Empidonax flaviventris


Common name:
yellow-bellied flycatcher (en); papa-moscas-de-barriga-amarela (pt); moucherolle à ventre jaune (fr); mosquero ventriamarillo (es); birkenschnäppertyrann (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Tyrannidae

Range:
This species breeds across southern and eastern Canada and in the north-eastern United States. They migrate south Mexico and Central America.

Size:
The yellow-bellied flycatcher is 13-15 cm long and has a wingspan of 18-20 cm. They weigh 9-16 g.

Habitat:
These birds breed in boreal coniferous forests and peatlands, preferring cool, moist forests, bogs, swamps and muskegs. They winter in a wide range of habitats, from forests to semi-open habitats, being the most common in dense rain forests, mountain evergreen forests, pine-oak forests and shaded coffee plantations.

Diet:
They mostly eat insects and spiders, which they catch either in flight or hovering over foliage. They sometimes eat berries or seeds.

Breeding:
The yellow-bellied flycatcher breeds in May-August. They nest near or on the ground, with the female building a cup alone, using sphagnum moss, lined with rootlets, pine needles, or grass stems. There the female lays 2-5 white eggs with small blotches of brown. The female incubates the eggs alone for 15 days. The chicks are tended by both parents while in the nest and fledge 13 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
With a global population of 6 million and a very large breeding range, this species has undergone a slight increase over the last few decades and is thus not considered threatened at present.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Wire-tailed manakin

Pipra filicauda


Common name:
wire-tailed manakin (en); rabo-de-arame (pt); manakin filifère (fr); saltarín uirapuru (es); fadenpira (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Pipridae

Range:
The wire-tailed manakin is found upriver in the western Amazon Basin, in Brazil and the neighboring countries of northern Peru, eastern Ecuador and Colombia, and in thesouthern and western portions of Venezuela.

Size:
These birds are 10-11 cm long and weigh 14-17 g.

Habitat:
Wire-tailed manakins prefer the edges of humid, tropical forests, forest clearings, and the edges of agricultural land, especially near streams and rivers.

Diet:
They mostly eat berries and fruit, but also hunt small insects which are taken during quick, sallying flights.

Breeding:
Wire-tailed manakins are polygamous with males forming widely scattered leks in forest, in perches located 1-8 m above the ground. After copulation, the females fly off alone to build the nests, incubate the eggs, and raise the young. The nest is constructed using woven fibers and grasses to form a tiny hammock in small trees or ferns, usually over water. There the female lays 1-2 eggs which she incubates for 17–21 days. The chicks fledge 13-15 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
Although The global population size has not been quantified, this species is described as 'fairly common but patchily distributed' throughout its very large breeding range. With no evidence for any declines or substantial threats this species is not considered threatened at present.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Greater honeyguide

Indicator indicator


Common name:
greater honeyguide (en); indicador-grande (pt); grand indicateur (fr); indicador grande (es); schwarzkehl-honiganzeiger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Piciformes
Family Indicatoridae

Range:
This African species is found throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal through the Sahel to Ethiopia, then south through the great lakes region and into Angola, Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa.

Size:
The greater honeyguide is 18-20 cm long and weighs 50 g.

Habitat:
They are found in a wide range of habitats, such as woodlands, savanna, fynbos, grassland, riverine forest and rarely in miombo and Baikaiea plurijuga forests.

Diet:
The greater honeyguide feeds primarily on the contents of bee colonies, including eggs, larvae, pupae, waxworms and beeswax. They also eat other insects including termites, ants, moths and beetles. Like certain other honeyguides, they are known to guides mammals to bees nests, after which they scavange the remains for food. Interestingly, they are only known to guide humans, although it is possible they also guide honey badgers Mellivora capensis.

Breeding:
This species is a brood parasite, laying their eggs in the nests of other birds, namely barbets. The host, thinking that the egg is its own, incubates the egg and cares for the chick. Among the host species are also woodpeckers, hoopoes and wood-hoopoes, kingfishers, bee-eaters, tits, swallows and martins, ant-chats, starlings and sparrows. The egg-laying season is in September-January, peaking in September-October, and the females lay series of 4-7 eggs, each in a different nest, laying about 21 eggs in the whole breeding season. The chicks stays in the nest for roughly 38 days, after which they are fed by the host for another 7-30 days.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
Although the global population size has not been quantified, the species is reported to be fairly common and widespread throughout its extremely large breeding range. The population is suspected to be increasing as ongoing habitat degradation is creating new areas of suitable habitat.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Rock ptarmigan

Lagopus muta

Photo by Jan Haugseth (Wikipedia)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Galliformes
Family Tetraonidae

Range:
This sedentary species breeds across most of Arctic and sub-Arctic Eurasia and North America, including Greenland. There are a few isolated populations in mountainous areas of Scotland, the Pyrenees, the Alps, Bulgaria, the Urals, the Pamir mountains, the Altay mountains and Japan.

Size:
The rock ptarmigan in 34-36 cm long and has a wingspan of 54-60 cm.

Habitat:
These birds favour upland habitats. They prefer to live in areas where rocks are interspersed with carpets of moss and lichen, with plenty of dwarf birch and willows.

Diet:
The rock ptarmigan feeds primarily on birch and willow buds, and catkins when available. It will also eat various seeds, leaves, flowers and berries of various plant species. Developing young also eat insects, spiders and snails.

Breeding:
These birds start laying eggs in May. Males may breed with 2-3 females within their territory. The nest is a shallow scrape lined with vegetation and feathers, where the female lays 5-8 eggs. The eggs are incubated for 21-23 days and the chicks leave the nest within a day of hatching. Each female tends to her young, but they feed for themselves. The chicks are able to fly 10-15 days after hatching and are fully fledged at 20-26 days. They become fully independent after 10-12 weeks.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population of 8 million individuals. The population has declined locally owing habitat loss, especially due to over-grazing by sheep and mountain tourism, including establishment of ski-resorts. The species is not thought to be vulnerable to over-hunting and not considered threatened at present.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Chestnut sparrow

Passer eminibey


Common name:
chestnut sparrow (en); pardal-castanho (pt); moineau d'Emin (fr); gorrión castaño (es); maronensperling (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Passeridae

Range:
These birds are found in eastern Africa, from Darfur in southern Sudan, through Somalia, Uganda and Kenya, an into Tanzania.

Size:
This small sparrow is 10,5-11,5 cm long and has a wingspan of 17-20 cm. They weigh 12-17 g.

Habitat:
They are mostly found in dry savanna, but also in agricultural fields, inside vilages and occasionally in swamps of papyrus.

Diet:
Chestnut sparrows often forage in large, multi-specific flocks, together with queleas and other weavers. They mostly eat grass seeds and those near human habitations will also eat crumbs and other household scraps. Nestlings may sometimes be fed insects, namely small beetles.

Breeding:
The chestnut sparrow may breed all year round, following rains, and the breeding seasons of its hosts in areas where it parasitises nests. In some areas they use the nest other birds, namely weavers, while in other areas they build their nest on a tree, an untidy domed structure, made of grass and lined with feathers. Females lay 3-4 white or bluish-white eggs, which are incubated for 18-19 days. Some observations indicate that nestlings are fed by the female alone.

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

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Magnificent hummingbird

Eugenes fulgens

Photo by Larry Thompson (Discover Life)


Common name:
magnificent humminbird (en); beija-flor-magnífico (pt); colibri de Rivoli (fr); colibrí magnífico (es); violettkron-brilliantkolibri (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

Range:
These birds are found in mountain areas from the south-west of the United States down to Panama.

Size:
The magnificent hummingbird is 11-14 cm long and has a wingspan of 18 cm. They weigh 6,5-10 g, with males tending to be heavier than females.

Habitat:
They are found in the edges and clearings of humid mountain oak forest, and also pastures, open woodland, pine-oak association and scrubby areas, generally from 2.000 m above seal level up to the timberline.

Diet:
The magnificent hummingbird feeds on the nectar from various species of flowers, but also eats some small insects.

Breeding:

Females are entirely responsible for nest building and incubation in this species. They lay 2 white eggs in a cup-shaped nest built in a tree branch about 3 m above ground. The female incubates the eggs for 15-19 days and the chicks fledge 20-26 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 2 million individuals. Habitat destruction may be a problem in Mexico and Central America, but the population trend is increasing in North America so this species is not considered threatened at present.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Black-faced antthrush

Formicarius analis


Common name:
black-faced antthrush (en); tauoca (pt); tétéma coq-de-bois (fr); formicario enmascarado (es); graubrust-ameisendrossel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Formicariidae

Range:
This species is found in the neotropics from southern Mexico, through Central America to the northern regions of South America in Colombia, Venezuela, Trinidad and Brazil, and nearly in all of the Amazon Basin with the exception of the north-westernmost regions.

Size:
The black-faced antthrush is 17-19 cm long and weighs 59 g.

Habitat:
They are found in moist tropical and subtropical forests, at low and middle altitudes. More often in the forest interior than in the edges, always near the ground.

Diet:
The black-faced antthrush is mostly an insectivore, taking insects, spiders and other invertebrates from the foliage on the forest floor. They will often follow columns of army ants in order to take their prey and may occasionally capture small snakes, toads, and lizards.

Breeding:
These birds breed in February-May. They build a leaf-lined nest on a cavity in a hollow branch or stump. The nest is a mat of flowery material placed on a bottom of dead leaves with the entrance less than 4 m above the ground. The female lays 2 white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 19-20 days. The chicks fledge 18-19 days after hatching. Each pair may raise up to 3 broods in a season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
The black-faced antthrush has a very large breeding range a global population estimated at 5-50 million individuals. This population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats, so the species is not threatened at present.