Thursday, 30 June 2011

Yellowhead

Mohoua ochrocephala

Photo by Stephen Jaquiery (Otago Daily Times)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Pachycephalidae

Range:
This species is endemic to New Zealand where it was formerly widespread in the South and Stewart Islands. Currently it is rectricted to the southern parts of South Island, particularly in the Fiordland and Mt. Aspiring National Parks.

Size:
These birds are 15 cm long and weigh 25-30 g.

Habitat:
Yellowheads are mostly found in lowland red beech Nothofagus fusca forests on river terraces and, to a lesser extent, in podocarp/hardwood forests.

Diet:
These birds are primarily insectivorous, but occasionally feeds on fruits when in season.

Breeding:
Yellowheads breed in October-March. They nests in small cavities in large, old trees. There the female lays 1-5 eggs which she incubates alone for 20 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 23 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - EN (Endangered)
This species has a very small and declining breeding range and the global population is currently estimated at just 1.000-2.500. The population is estimated to be experiencing a very rapid population decline, mostly due to the impact of introduced predators, namely stout Mustela erminea and black rat Rattus rattus. Conservation measures are underway, both in terms of intensive trapping of predators and through the translocated of yellowheads to three mammalian predator-free habitats, including Codfish island. A captive breeding programme is also under-way.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Green-and-gold tanager

Tangara schrankii

Photo by Glenn Bartley (Glenn Bartley Nature Photography)

Common name:
green-and-gold tanager (en); saíra-ouro (pt); calliste de Schrank (fr); tángara de cara negra (es); goldbrusttangare (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Thraupidae

Range:
This South American specis is found in the western and central Amazon Basin in eastern Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, central Bolivia, and north-western Brazil.


Size:
The green-and-gold tanager is 12-13,5 cm long and weighs 19-20 g.


Habitat:
These birds inhabit sub-tropical and tropical moist lowland forests and swamps. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 1650 m.


Diet:
The green-and gold tanager mostly eats fruits, berries and seeds, namely of Cecropiaceae, Orchidaceae, Rubiaceae and Piperaceae. They also hunt for insects in dense foliage on branches.


Breeding:
These birds breed in July-December. They build a cup-shaped nest made of dry leaves, lichens and rootlets and lined with plant fibres. The nest is placed on a small under-story tree less than 2 m above the ground. There the female lays 2 pale reddish brown eggs densely speckled with darker red. The eggs are incubated for 13-17 days by the female alone. The the chicks are mostly fed by the female and fledge 15-16 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The green-and-gold tanager has a very large breeding range and, although the global population size has not been quantified, this species is described as common. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Barking owl

Ninox connivens

(Photo from Silent Range Estate)

Common name:
barking owl (en); coruja-que-ladra (pt); ninoxe aboyeuse (fr); nínox ladrador (es); kläfferkauz (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae

Range:
This species is found in in eastern and northern Australia, in Papua New-Guinea, Indonesia and the Moluccas.

Size:
Barking owls are 35-45 cm long and have a wingspan of 85-100 cm. They weigh 425-510 g.

Habitat:
These birds are mostly found in open country with a choice of large trees for roosting and nesting. They favour creeks and rivers, particularly with river red gums, isolated stands of trees and open woodland. They can also be found in paperbark swamps and even in farms and town buildings.

Diet:
This agile and aggressive hunter, takes a wide range of prey. They take small to medium-sized mammals, including rabbits, gliders, small possums, bats and rodents; birds like house sparrow, magpie lark, small pigeons, blue-faced honeyeater, laughing and blue-winged kookaburra, red-rumped parrot, tawny frogmouth, Australian magpie, white-winged chough, white cockatoo and several species of duck; reptiles and insects.

Breeding:
The barking owl breeds in July-October. The nest site is an open hollow in a tree trunk, up to 30 m above the ground, loosely lined with sticks and other wood debris. The same site is often used for many years. The female lays 2-3 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 28-36 days while being provided food by the male. The chicks fledge 35-45 days after hatching, but remain dependent on their parents for several months, and will remain in the family group until a few months before the next breeding season. Each pair produces a single clutch per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and his described as widespread and generally common over this range. However, barking owls have declined rapidly throughout much of their range, mostly due to ongoing habitat destruction and degradation through over-grazing. Loss of hollow-bearing trees and firewood harvesting impacts on the species by removing nesting and roost sites, while competition from feral honeybees for roost sites and competition with foxes and feral cats, as well as predation by foxes is also thought to be a reason for their decline. Barking owl mortality has also been recorded due to secondary agricultural poisoning, barbed wire fences and vehicle collisions. Despite these issues, this species is not considered threatened at present.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Hook-billed bulbul

Setornis criniger
Photo by Azahari Reyes (Bird Forum)

Common name:
hook-billed bulbul (en); tuta-de-bico-comprido (pt); bulbul à long bec (fr); bulbul picudo (es); langschnabelbülbül (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Pycnonotidae


Range:
This Asian species is confined to Borneo, including Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysia, Brunei, and Kalimantan, and the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Bangka.


Size:
These birds are 19-20 cm long .


Habitat:
Hook-billed bulbuls are strongly associated with nutrient-poor vegetation on acid soils. These include peat swamps with lowland evergreen forests characterised by low tree species diversity and strong adaptation to a fluctuating water-table, and heath forests, namely Kerangas dense, low forests of thin-boled, small-leaved and often sclerophyllous trees. It has also been recorded in abandoned rubber plantations, ridge-top heath forest and sometimes tolerates secondary forest, but generally avoids dryland primary forest. It is found from sea level up to an altitude of 1.000 m.


Diet:
They eat small fruits, berries, small beetles, dragonflies and their nymphs, ants and spiders. They also steal spider prey caught on webs.


Breeding:
These birds are monogamous, building a cup-shaped nest high on a tree. The female lays 1-5 purple-pink eggs which she incubates alone for 11-14 days. The chicks fledge 12-16 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a large breeding range but the current population is believed to be just 10.000-20.000 individuals. Although recent data on population size and trend are lacking, large-scale habitat conversion continues at a catastrophic rate across the region, particularly within the specialised habitats occupied by this species, suggesting a rapid and continuing decline. The peatswamp forests on Borneo and Sumatra are under extreme pressure through logging and agricultural, industrial and residential development, particularly oil palm plantation. In addition, recent forest-fires have destroyed vast swathes of primary peat swamp vegetation. Even in protected areas, such as Tanjung Puting National Park, industrial-scale illegal logging is proceeding at such a pace that most peat swamp forest is likely to disappear within the next decade.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

White helmetshrike

Prionops plumatus

Photo by Ruslou Koorts (Flickr)

Common name:
white helmetshrike (en); atacador-de-poupa-branca (pt); bagadais casqué (fr); prionopo crestiblanco (es); brillenwürger (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Prionopidae


Range:
This African species is widespread across much of sub-Saharan Africa, being absent only from parts of Somalia and the lowland forests of west-central Africa.


Size:
These birds are 19-25 cm long and weigh 25-37 g.


Habitat:
The white helmetshrike is quite habitat-specific during the breeding season, preferring deciduous broad-leaved woodland, such as Miombo, Mopane and Burkea woodland. In the non-breeding season it moves more into other habitats, including Acacia savanna and suburban gardens. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 1.800 m.


Diet:
These birds search for food in the canopies of trees as well as on their branches and trunks, and on the ground. They mostly hunt caterpillars, moths, termites, mantids and grasshoppers, but will also eat spiders and lizards.



Breeding:
The white helmetshrike is a monogamous cooperative breeder, with the breeding pair being helped by their siblings and youngsters from the previous breeding season. The group is territorial, noisily defending themselves against other groups and predators. The breeding season varies according to the range. The breeding pair builds a small cup made of bark bound together with spider web and lined with soft material, placed on a fork of a tree branch 2-10 m above the ground. There the female lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated in shifts by all the group members for 16-21 days. The chicks are cared for by all group members and fledge 17-22 days after hatching, but only become fully independent about 5 months later.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and, although the global population size is yet to be quantified, the white helmetshrike is described frequent to common. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Pigeon guillemot

Cepphus columba

Photo by Glenn Bartley (Glenn Bartley Nature Photography)

Common name:
pigeon guillemot (en); airo-d'asa-branca-do-Pacífico (pt); guillemot colombin (fr); arao colombino (es); taubenteiste (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Charadriiformes
Family Alcidae

Range:
The pigeon guillemot is found in the North Pacific, breeding in Russia from the Kuril islands and the Kamchatkan Peninsula to the eastern tip of Siberia, and from the western tip of Alaska down through the Pacific coast of Canada and the United States to southern California. This includes colonies on the Commander and Aleutian islands.


Size:
These birds are 30-35 cm long and have a wingspan of 58-60 cm. They weigh 450-550 g.


Habitat:
Pigeon guillemots are pelagic, fishing out in the sea and only coming to shore to breed. They nest in rocky shores, cliffs and islands.

Diet:
These birds take fish and marine invertebrates, including Pacific sandfish Trichodon trichodon, capelin Mallotus villosus, cods (Gadidae), sculpins Myoxocephalus, gunnels Pholis laeta, pricklebacks Lumpenus sagitta and some flounders (Pleuronectidae). Invertebrates include red rock crab Cancer oregonensis, shrimps (Crangon, Pandalus and Heptacarpus), polychaetes, gastropods, and a bivalve mollusks.

Breeding:
Pigeon guillemots start nesting in March-April. They nest under logs, in rock crevices or holes, under bridges, in tree roots, in abandoned puffin burrows, pilings, and waterfront structures, such as wharves, bridges, navigation aids, walls of disused buildings, and old tires, pipes, boxes, and beached ship hulls, all usually within 30 m of the high water mark. The female lays 1-2 greenish or bluish-white eggs with brown marks. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 30-32 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 29-39 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population of 470.000 individuals. The population in North America may have undergone a slight increase, but overall the population trend is believed to be stable. This population is not considered threatened at present.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Savanna sparrow

Passerculus sandwichensis

Photo by Simon Barrette (Wikipedia)

Common name:
savanna sparrow (en); tico-tico-dos-prados (pt); bruant des prés (fr); gorrión sabanero (es); grasammer (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Emberizidae

Range:
This North American species breeds across the northern half of North America, throughout Canada, the northern United States, and along the Pacific coast down to California. They winter in the southern and eastern United States, and across Mexico down to Guatemala. There is also a resident population in the highlands of central Mexico.

Size:
The savanna sparrow is 15-15 cm long and has a wingspan of 20-22 cm. They weigh 15-28 g.


Habitat:
These birds live in open areas, such as grassy and wet meadows, farm fields, pastures, roadsides, bogs, the edge of salt marshes, and tundra.

Diet:
Savanna sparrow mainly eat Insects, insect larvae, and other small arthropods. They also consume seeds, especially outside the breeding season.

Breeding:
These birds nest in February-August. The nests are built on the ground, being woven into the shape of a cup using grasses and other vegetation. Females lay 2-6 pale-bluish or greenish eggs, which are incubated for 10-13 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 7-14 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population estimated at 80 million individuals. This species has had stable population trendover the last 40 years and his not threatened at present.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Brown-cheeked fulvetta

Alcippe poioicephala

Photo by Niranjan Sant (Oriental Bird Images)

Common name:
brown-cheeked fulvetta (en); fulveta-de-face-castanha (pt); alcippe à joues brunes (fr); fulveta cariparda (es); graukopfalcippe (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Timaliidae

Range:
This Asian species is found from southern and central India, westwards to Bangladesh, and into southern China, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.

Size:
Brown-cheeked fulvettas are 15 cm long and weigh 13-16 g.

Habitat:
They are found in dense moist forests and rainforests, being mostly found in the forest undergrowth.

Diet:
These birds eat insects and nectar.

Breeding:
Brown-cheeked fulvettas breed in January-June. The nest is a cup, built with green moss, rootlets, lichen, leaves and grass lined with rootlets and placed in a fork or suspended from the twigs, not far from the ground. The female lays 2-3 eggs which are incubated for 8-12 days. The chicks fledge 10-14 days after hatching.

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 locally very common to uncommon in India, locally common in Bangladesh and China and generally common in its south-east Asian range. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and fragmentation.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Sun parakeet

Aratinga solstitialis

Photo by Jeff Whitlock (The Online Zoo)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Psittaciformes
Family Psittacidae

Range:
This South American species is restricted to Guyana and adjacent parts of Brazil in Roraima state. It may have previously occurred in Surinam.

Size:
The sun parakeet is 30 cm long and weighs 110-130 g.

Habitat:
These birds are restricted to dry, semi-deciduous forests on low mountain slopes. Although it uses forest edge it appears to require quite a large quantity of intact forest and they only use savannas while flying from one hill area to another. They are present up to an altitude of 1.200 m.

Diet:
Sun parakeets feed on fruits, flowers, berries, buds, soft leaves and nuts. They may also consume insects.

Breeding:
These birds start breeding in February, nesting in holes in palm trees. There the female lays 4-5 eggs which are incubated by both parents for about 23 days. The chicks fledge 8 weeks after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - EN (Endangered)
This species has a restricted breeding range and the population has suffered a rapid decline over the last 3 decades, currently being estimated at just 1.000-2.500 wild individuals. The main threat affecting this species is their illegal capture for the pet trade. This threat is more serious in Guyana, but the trappers often cross the border with Brazil to buy birds for export.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Amethyst sunbird

Chalcomitra amethystina

Photo by Frans Swanepoel (Trek Nature)

Common name:
amethyst sunbird (en); beija-flor-preto (pt); souimanga améthyste (fr); suimanga amatista (es); amethystlangzköpfchen (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Nectarinidae

Range:
This species is found in Africa south of the equator, from Kenya and Tanzania through southern DR Congo and Zambia and into South Africa.

Size:
Amethyst sunbirds are 14-15 cm long and weigh 13-15 g.

Habitat:
This species generally favours in coastal evergreen forests and mature valley bushveld, but it may also move into drier, more open woodland. It sometimes goes out of its way to visit a large clump of nectar-bearing plants, such as Aloe.

Diet:
Amethyst subirds are mostly nectivorous, eating the nectar of many different flowers including Aloe, Strelitzia, Salvia, Cestrum, Bauhinia, Eucalyptus, Hibiscus, Protea, Eryrthrina, Knipholia, Schotia, Leonotis, Tecoma capensis, Callistemon viminalis, Greyia sutherlandii, Leucospermum, Combretum, Crotalaria capensis, Halleria lucida, Dalbergia nitidula, Cordyla africana, Faurea speciosa, Baikiaea plurijuga. They also eat flying insects and spiders.

Breeding:
They breed in September-February. The nest is built solely by the female, consisting of an oval-shaped structure built of lichen, grass, stalks and bark cemented with spider web. It is strongly attached to a drooping branch of a tree, bush or creeper usually 2-6 m above ground. The female lays 1-3 grey eggs which she incubates alone for 13-18 days. The chicks are fed mainly by the female, fledging 14-18 days after hatching and becoming independent 1 week after.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is reported to be uncommon to abundant, varying between different parts of their range. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats, and its range may have increased recently due to the spread of wooded gardens.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Thorn-tailed rayadito

Aphrastura spinicauda

Photo by Diego Arellano (Flickr)

Common name:
thorn-tailed rayadito (en); raiadinho (pt); synallaxe rayadito (fr); rayadito (es); festland-stachelschwanzschlüpfer (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Furnariidae

Range:
The thorn-tailed rayadito is distributed in central and southern Chile and the adjacent extreme western edge of Argentina.

Size:
These birds are 13-15 cm long and weighs 10-12 g.

Habitat:
They are mostly found in temperate forests with trees such as Araucaria and Nothofagus beech.

Diet:
Thorn-tailed rayaditos often forage in mixed species flocks, gleaning insects and other invertebrates from leaves and tree bark.

Breeding:
These birds breed in October-January. They nest in in holes or behind the bark of the trees in deciduous forests, and the inside of the nest is lines with small twigs, grasses, ferns and feathers. There the female lays 3-6 eggs which are incubated for 11-15 days by both parents. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 20-23 days after hatching. Some pairs may produce 2 clutches per season.

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

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Amazon kingfisher

Chloroceryle amazona

Photo by Lip Kee (Flickr)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Coraciiformes
Family Alcedinidae

Range:
This species is found in South America, east of the Andes, from central Argentina to Venezuela, and then north into Central America up to northern Mexico.

Size:
The Amazon kingfisher is 29-31 cm long. Males weigh 100-120 g while females tend to be larger, weighing 125-140 g.

Habitat:
They are found in inland water bodies, along wooded lakeshores and large-slow flowing rivers. Usually found in the lowlands, this species may be found at altitudes of up to 2.500 m in some parts of their range.


Diet:
Amazon kingsfishers mostly eat fish, but also crustaceans, amphibians and aquatic insect larvae. They perch low above the water and dives head first to catch their prey.


Breeding:
These birds nest in a hole, excavated in a river bank, eroded ravine, or road embankments, generally located near water. There the female lays 3-4 eggs which are incubated for 22 days. Usually the female incubates during the night and the male incubates during the day. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 29-30 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The Amazon kingfisher has an extremely large breeding range and a global population of 500.000-5.000.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Azure-winged magpie

Cyanopica cyana

Photo by Jiri Jech (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Corvidae

Range:
This species has two disjunct populations, one in southern Portugal and Spain, and the other in eastern Asia, in most of China, Korea, Japan and north into Mongolia. Recent studies suggested splitting the two populations into different species, but the genetic divergence is probably not sufficient to justify the split.

Size:
Azure-winged magpies are 31-35 cm long and have a wingspan of 38-40 cm. They weigh 65-75 g.

Habitat:
They mostly occur in sparse woodlands and surrounding scrubland. In Asia they prefer broadleaved forests along river banks, while in Europe they are mostly found in cork and Holm oak woodlands, pines and even Eucalyptus stands. They are also present in open cultivated land, grasslands, hedgerows, orchards and olive groves.

Diet:
Azure-winged magpies typically forage in flocks, mostly taking invertebrates, seeds and fruits from the ground. They will also eat small vertebrates, carrion, scraps and refuse. They sometimes store acorns, olives and pine seeds for later consumption.

Breeding:
These birds start nesting in March-April. They nest in loose, open colonies and each breeding pair is usually helped by one to several helpers who collaborate in nest building, feeding the incubating and brooding female, feeding nestlings and removing fecal sacs. The nest is a rough, loose foundation of twigs, inside which they add compacted pellets of earth, mud, or dung lined with roots, pine needles, small twigs, moss, lichen, animal hair, and feathers. There the female lays 4-7 eggs which she incubates alone for 15-19 days.The chicks are fed by both parents and the helpers and fledge 14-19 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large, even if disjunct, breeding range. The global population is estimated at 3-30 million individuals and believed to be increasing, so this species is not threatened at present.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Bananaquit

Coereba flaveola

Photo by Leon Bojarczuk (Flickr)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Coerebidae

Range:
This species is found throughout South America, from northern Argentina north to Central America into southern Mexico. They also found in the Caribbean islands with the exception of Cuba.

Size:
The bananaquit is 9,5-11cm long and weighs 9 g.

Habitat:
These birds are found in a wide range of habitats, from open fields, areas of cover, to dense, humid rainforests, and even in certain desert areas. They are most common in lowland areas but can be found up to an altitude of 2.000 m.

Diet:
The banaquit mostly eats nectar and pierces fruits for their juices. They sometimes supplements their diet with small insects and spiders, which they gleans from the vegetation.

Breeding:
They can breed all year round and produce 2-3 broods per year. The nest is a compact globe with a round doorway facing obliquely downward, built using varied vegetable materials, often with much green moss, softly lined with seed down, fine fibres or feathers. The female lays 2-3 white-cream eggs which she incubates alone for 12-14 days. The chicks fledge 2-3 weeks ater hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population of 5-50 million individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Eared dove

Zenaida auriculata

Photo by Cláudio Timm (Flickr)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Columbidae

Range:
The eared dove is a resident breeder throughout South America from Colombia to southern Argentina and Chile, and on the offshore islands from the Grenadines southwards. It may be a relatively recent colonist of Tobago and Trinidad.

Size:
These birds are 22-25 cm long and weigh 100-120 g.

Habitat:
The eared dove is found in savannas, secondary growth scrubs and other open areas, including agricultural land. They readily adapt to human habitation, being seen on wires and telephone posts near towns and even in public spaces of large urban areas. These birds are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.000 m.

Diet:
These granivores eat the seeds of a wide variety of wild plants, but also consume maize, wheat, rice, and soybeans which form the bulk of their diet in agricultural areas.

Breeding:
Eared doves can breed all year round, the exact breeding season varying between different parts of their range. They build a small stick nest several meters up in a tree, where the female lays 2 white eggs. The eggs are incubated for 12-14 days and the chicks fledge about 9 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and, although the global population size has not been quantified, it is described as common. The population is suspected to be increasing as ongoing habitat degradation is creating new areas of suitable habitat, so this species is not threatened at present.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Bernier's vanga

Oriolia bernieri

Photo by Pete Morris (Surfbirds)

Common name:
Bernier's vanga (en); vanga-preto (pt); oriolie de Bernier (fr); vanga de Bernier (es); schwarzvanga (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Vangidae

Range:
This species is endemic to Madagascar, being scarce and patchily distributed in the north-eastern parts of the island, between Marojejy and Zahamena.

Size:
This medium-sized vanga is 23 cm long and weighs 59 g.

Habitat:
The Bernier's vanga is restricted to undisturbed, primary tracts of lowland humid evergreen forest.

Diet:
These birds mostly take large invertebrates, including beetles, crickets, cockroaches and spiders, but also geckos. They forage by searching the leaves and rooting around in the leaf-bases of pandanus Pandanus, ravenala Ravenala madagascariensis and palms, also levering rotten bark and moss off large tree-branches with its wedge-like bill.

Breeding:
Bernier's vangas breed in August-November. Both sexes build the nest, a cup made of decomposed roots, palm fibres, dry leaves, and moss. There the female lays 3 eggs which are incubated by both parents for about 17 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge about 17 days after hatching. The incubation and chick rearing duties may be shared between the breeding couple and young birds from previous clutches.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a small breeding range and a global population of 2.55-10.000 individuals. This population is suspected to be in decline owing to the clearance and degradation of forests within the species's range. The principal threat to primary, lowland rainforest is posed by subsistence slash-and-burn cultivation, which results in progressively more degraded regrowth and leads eventually to bracken-covered areas or grassland. Much of the eastern coastal plain has either already been cleared or is covered by highly degraded forest, and the remaining habitat is under pressure from the increasing human population and commercial logging. If the present trends continue, the remaining forest (especially at lower altitudes) will disappear within decades.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Australian swiftlet

Aerodramus terraereginae

Photo by Ian Montgomery (Birdway)

Common name:
Australian swiftlet (en); andorinhão-australiano (pt); salangane d'Australie (fr); salangana australiana (es); Südseesalangane (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Apodidae

Range:
This species is endemic to Queensland, in north-eastern Australia, being found in the mainland and in a number of offshore islands in that region..

Size:
This small swift is 11-12 cm long and has a wingspan of 25-28 cm. They weigh 9-12 g.

Habitat:
Australian swiftlets are usually found over dry savanna but also seen over rainforest margin, pastures, beaches and gorges. They are mostly present near the coast and in offshore islands and tend to remain at altitudes below 500 m.

Diet:
They take insects and drifting spiders in flight.

Breeding:
Australian swiftlets breed in October-March. They nest in colonies of hundreds of individuals, typically located in caves or sometimes amongst boulders. The nest is translucent and basket-shaped, and made from saliva mixed with grasses, casuarina needles, twigs and feathers. It is attached to the walls or ceiling of the cave, 2-20 m above the ground. There the female lays 2 successive clutches, each consisting of 1 egg, so that the incubation of the second egg is aided by warmth from the first chick and the parents can thus spend more time gathering food. Each egg is incubated by both parents for 26-27 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 45-51 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a relatively large breeding range. Although the global population size is yet to be quantified, the Australian swiftlet is described as common, particularly in the lowlands. Numbers are believed to be declining in several colonies, but overall this species is not considered threatened at present.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Pale rosefinch

Carpodacus synoicus

Photo by Avi Meir (Flickr)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Fringillidae

Range:
This Asian species has a patchy distribution in the Middle East, in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and into adjacent areas of Egypt. A separate population is found from northern Afghanistan to central and north-western China.

Size:
These birds are 13-14,5 cm long and has a wingspan of 18-20 cm. They weigh 21 g.

Habitat:
The pale rosefinch is mostly found in arid, rocky deserts in mountainous areas. They occur is wadis, gullies and ruins, passing to plateaus and dunes dotted with bushes in winter, but always in areas with access to water. They are found at altitudes of 2.000-3.350 m.

Diet:
They eat various small seeds, leaves, shoots, buds and occasionally fruits. In areas where they have frequent contact with humans they become less timid and will even eat food scraps left by tourists.

Breeding:
Pale rosefinches breed in March-June. The nest is a cup of twigs and leaves with a soft lining, usually placed in a rock cavity, but sometimes on the ground. There the female lays 4-7 eggs which she mostly incubates alone for 13-14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 15 days after hatching. Each pair raises 2 broods per season.

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