Monday, 31 October 2011

Grey catbird

Dumetella carolinensis

Photo by Peter Massas (Wikipedia)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Mimidae

Range:
The grey catbird breeds in the United States and southern Canada, east of the Rocky mountains. They migrate south to winter along the Gulf coast from Florida, through Texas, and all the way down Central America and the Caribbean.

Size:
These birds are 21-24 cm long and have a wingspan of 22-30 cm. They weigh 35-40 g.

Habitat:
Gray catbirds live in dense thickets of shrubs and vines within woodlands, and are occasionally found in residential areas. They are also found around some forest edges and clearings, along roadsides, fencerows, abandoned farmland and stream sides. On their tropical wintering grounds they are mostly found in forests.

Diet:
They are omnivorous, consuming spiders and insects like ants, beetles, flies, aphids, caterpillars and moths, as well as the fruits of plants like Myrica, Sassafras, Prunus, Cordea, and Trema.

Breeding:
Grey catbirds breed in April-August. The female builds the nest, a bulky, open cup made of twigs, straw, bark, mud, and sometimes pieces of trash, lined with grass, hair, rootlets, and pine needles. There she lays 1-6 turquoise-coloured eggs, which she incubates alone for 12-14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 10-11 days after hatching, but will only become fully independent 12 days later.

Conservation:
IUCN - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 10 million individuals. This species has had stable population trends over the last 40 years and is thus not considered threatened at present.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Yellow-fronted woodpecker

Melanerpes flavifrons

Photo by Nick Athanas (Antpitta)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Piciformes
Family Picidae

Range:
The yellow-fronted woodpecker is found in Argentina, Paraguay and southern Brazil.

Size:
These birds are 17-19,5 cm long and weigh 49-64 g.

Habitat:
They are mostly found in both coastal and mountainous areas of Atlantic tropical forests, but also in heavily degraded former forest, plantations and arable land.

Diet:
Yellow-fronted woodpecker mostly eat fruits and seeds, namely oranges, bananas, papayas, avocados and other tropical fruits. They also eat insects and their larvae.

Breeding:
These birds breed in January-April. They are polygynous, with each male mating with 3-4 females, all of which lay their eggs in the same nest or in different nests in the same tree. The nest is excavated in the trunk of a dead tree or palm tree, where each females lay 2-4 shiny white eggs. The eggs are incubated by both sexes for 12 days and the chicks are fed by both sexes and fledge 5 weeks after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The yellow-fronted woodpecker has a very large breeding range and is described as fairly common. This species is targeted by the international pet trade, but the population is not considered threatened at present.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Dead Sea sparrow

Passer moabiticus

Photo by Daniele Occhiato (PBase)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Passeridae

Range:
This species is patchily distributed, from Israel and Turkey, across the Middle East, and into Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Size:
The Dead Sea sparrow is 12-13 cm long and has a wingspan of 19-20 cm. They weigh 18 g.

Habitat:
These birds are found in arid, open areas, mostly scrubland, thick scrub, tamarisk and very sparse woodlands. They are typically found near watercourses or pools.

Diet:
They mostly eat the seeds of grasses, but also of tamarisk and papirus, and will also eat some insects.

Breeding:
Dead Sea sparrows breed in March-July. The nest is a bulky, open globular or cone-shaped structure built of stiff dry twigs, finely interwoven around the branches of a tree, lined with a thick pad of plant down, seed panicles, fibres, and feathers. There the female lays 4-5 ground-coloured eggs with brown spots. The eggs are incubated for 9-16 days and the chicks fledge 11-13 days after hatching. Each pair my produce 2-3 broods per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a patchy and relatively restricted breeding range. The global population is estimated at 11.000-180.000 individuals and is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Namaqua dove

Oena capensis

(Photo from Aprafoga)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Columbiformes
Family Columbidae

Range:
This species is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including Madagascar, only being absent from the lowland forests of West Africa and the D.R. Congo. They are also found in the Middle East, in Israel, Jordan, Iraq and across the Arabian Peninsula.

Size:
This tiny dove is 22-25 cm long and has a wingspan of 28-33 cm. They weigh 40 g.

Habitat:
Namaqua doves are found in dry, open areas, namely Acacia savannas, arid scrublands, agricultural areas, farmyards, rural gardens and occasionally alien tree stands.

Diet:
These birds are granivorous, eating small seeds on various grasses, sedges and weeds, namely Amaranthus, Aridaria and Chenopodium.

Breeding:
Namaqua doves can breed all year round, with a peak in July-December. Both sexes build the nest, a fragile saucer made of rootlets, twigs and petioles, with the inside lined with grass and rootlets. The nest is placed in an Acacia sapling, scrub, dead branch or occasionally a grass tuft, generally about 1 m above the ground. The female lays 1-2 cream-coloured eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 13-16 days. The chicks fledge 16 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and is described as common to abundant. The population is suspected to be increasing in abundance and expanding its range in, for example, Israel and Arabia, since the mid-1970s. This species is often the target of illegal capture or the pet trade, but overall the species is not considered threatened.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Melodious warbler

Hippolais polyglotta


Photo by Jorge Silva (Verdes Ecos)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Sylviidae

Range:
The melodious warbler is found breeding in north-west Africa, from Morocco to Tunisia, and in south-west Europe, from Portugal and Spain, through France and Italy, and as far north as The Netherlands and southern Germany and as far east as Croatia and Austria. They winter in sub-Saharan Africa.

Size:
These birds are 12-13 cm long and have a wingspan of 17-20 cm. They weigh 10-13 g.

Habitat:
Melodious warblers mostly breed in temperate forests and scrublands, favouring riverine areas. They are also found in pastures, plantations and rural gardens. During winter they are found in dry savannas, tropical and subtropical dry scrubland and in tropical and subtropical moist forests.

Diet:
They are mostly insectivorous, gleaning a wide variety of adult and larval insects from the vegetation. They also eat some berries.

Breeding:
Melodious warblers breed in May-July. The nest is a deep cup, made of plant stems and leaves, spider webs and down, lined with hairs, rootlets, plant down, and sometimes feathers. The nest is placed on a dense bush or small tree, 1-2 m above the ground. There the female lays 3-5 greenish-grey eggs, which she incubates alone for 12-14 days while being fed by the male. The chicks fledge 11-13 days after hatching, but continue to receive food from their parents for another 2 weeks.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 3-10 million individuals. The population is suspected to be increasing owing to a northerly and easterly range expansion, but in most countries the populations is stable.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Wedge-tailed eagle

Aquila audax

Photo by Julian Robinson (Oz Animals)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Falconiformes
Family Accipitridae

Range:
This species is found throughout mainland Australia, Tasmania and southern New Guinea.

Size:
The wedge-tailed eagle is 87-105 cm long and has a wingspan of 1,8-2,5 m. They weight 2,5-5,3 kg.

Habitat:
These birds are found in a wide range of terrestrial habitats, including savannas, forests, rainforests, and mountainous regions, though they show some preference for more open areas such as woodlands or grasslands. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.000 m.

Diet:
Wedge-tailed Eagles eat both live prey and carrion. Their primary prey is the introduced European rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus and other medium-sized mammals, such as wombats, bandicoots, and bilbies. They will also hunt lizards, smaller birds, and sick or weakened lambs. In groups, wedge-tailed eagles have even been known to hunt animals as large as kangaroos. Road kill and carcasses of lambs are also a main food source.

Breeding:
These birds breed in April-October. They are monogamous, mating or life, building a huge stick nest, lined with leaves, placed on a tall tree up to 73 m above the ground, but sometimes also on cliff ledges, hillsides, or even on the ground. The female lays 1-3 white eggs with reddish-brown spots, which are incubated for 42-45 days. The chicks are fed by both parents until fledging, 75-95 days ater hatching, and in lean years the first hatched young may kill his siblings either through out-competing them for food or through direct aggression. The chicks will remain dependent on their parents for 3-6 weeks after leaving the nest.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The wedge-tailed eagle has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 100.000 individuals. The population is increasing owing to the introduction of rabbits and deforestation. However it is still persecuted in parts of its range through shooting, trapping and poisoning of carcasses.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Scaly thrush

Zoothera dauma

(Photo from Passeriformes-Turdidae)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Turdidae

Range:
This Asian species breeds across Siberia and the Himalayas, wintering in northern India and Bangladesh, Myanmar, southern China and southern Japan. There are also some resident populations in south-west India and in the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumbawa.

Size:
The scaly thrush is 26-31 cm long and weighs up to 140 g.

Habitat:
These birds are mostly found breeding in wet taiga forests, but are also found in humid tropical rainforests and eucalyptus woodlands with underbrush. They winter in open drier areas, secondary forests and large gardens.

Diet:
Scaly thrushes are omnivorous, eating a wide variety of insects, earthworms, molluscs and berries.

Breeding:
These birds breed in June-February. The nest is a large bowl-shaped structure, made with bark strips, twigs, stems, grasses and leaves. It is lined with moss, fine grass and rootlets, and placed in a fork in a tree or branch, in a tree crevice or in a depression on the top of a stump, up to 15 m above the ground. There the female lays 2-4 dull green eggs which are incubated by both parents for about 14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 14 days after hatching. Each pair typically produces 2 broods per season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The scaly thrush has a very large breeding range and, although the global population size has not been quantified, the species is described as uncommon to fairly common across much of its range. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and degradation. Deforestation and the introduction of invasive alien predators are the two main threats to this species.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Boat-billed flycatcher

Megarynchus pitangua

Photo by Steve Garvie (Internet Bird Collection)


Common name:
boat-billed flycatcher (en); neinei (pt); tyran pitangua (fr); bienteveo pitanguá (es); starkschnabel-maskentyrann (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Tyrannidae

Range:
This species is found from Mexico south to Bolivia, southern Brazil and Argentina, and also in the Caribbean island of Trinidad.

Size:
This large tyrant flycatcher is 23 cm long and weighs 60-80 g.

Habitat:
These birds are mostly found in dry open woodlands and scrublands, but are also ound in moist forests, degraded former forests, rural gardens and plantations. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.900 m.

Diet:
Boat-billed flycatchers mostly eat insects and berries, but are also known to hunt small lizards and birds.

Breeding:
They breed in March-July. The female is responsible for building the nest, an open saucer of sticks lined with rootlets, placed on a tree 7-30 m above the ground. There she lays 2-3 whitish eggs with brown and lilac blotches, which are incubated by both parents for 17-18 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 23-26 days after hatching. Each pair may raise 1-2 broods per season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population estimated at 5-50 million individuals. Boat-billed flycatcher tolerate degraded habitats, and are therefore likely to resist large-scale habitat changes taking place throughout their range. Consequently, the population is suspected to be stable.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Harlequin quail

Coturnix delegorguei

(Photo from Flickr)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Galliformes
Family Phasianidae

Range:
This African species is found from the Ivory Coast to Kenya and Uganda, and south to South Africa, being absent from the Congo basin and Namibia. They are also found in most of Madagascar.

Size:
The harlequin quail is 16-20 cm long and weighs 57-64 g.

Habitat:
These birds are found in open grasslands, savannas and savanna woodlands, favouring patches of bristle grasses Setaria and sorghum Sorghum purpureosericum.

Diet:
These birds eat both seeds, shoots and leaves of plants, as well as a wide variety of invertebrates. They are known to eat the seeds of grasses like Eleusine, Setaria and Sorghum purpureosericum, and snails, slugs and insects including grasshoppers, beetles, bugs, ants, termites and caterpillars.

Breeding:
Harlequin quails mostly breed in October-March, but the rain is the main factor controlling the timing of the breeding season. They form loose colonies, with the females building the nests on the ground, in a scrape lined with weeds, generally hidden within grassy vegetation. There the female lays 4-8 brown eggs with darker spots, which she incubates alone for 14-18 days. The chicks are able to fly short distances after 5 days, but the male protects them against predators for a few more weeks. Each pair may produce 2-3 clutches per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is reported to be common to abundant in some areas. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Chestnut-collared longspur

Calcarius ornatus

Photo by Robert Royse (Robert Royse's Bird Photography)


Common name:
chestnut-collared longspur (en); escrevedeira-de-peito-preto (pt); pectrophane à ventre noir (fr); arnoldo ventinegro (es); rothalsammer (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Emberizidae

Range:
This species breeds in the prairies of the northern Great Plains in Canada and the United States. They migrate south to winter in the southern United States, from western Oklahoma to south-eastern Arizona and into northern Mexico.

Size:
The chestnut-collared longspur is 13-17 cm long and weighs 18-23 g.

Habitat:
Historically, this species was associated with prairies grazed by the great bison herds of North America. Nowadays they are mostly found in short and mixed-grass prairies, preferring pastures and mowed areas such as airstrips, as well as grazed native prairie habitats. During winter they are mostly found in open cultivated fields.

Diet:
They mostly feed on grains such as wheat and seeds of native plants, but also eat insects and other invertebrates.

Breeding:
Chestnut-collared longspurs are monogamous and breed in May-June. The female excavates and build the nest on the ground, where she lays 3-5 eggs. The female incubates the eggs alone for 10-13 days, while the male guards the nest against predators. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 10 days after hatching, but continue to receive food from the male for another 2 weeks.

Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a large breeding range and a global population estimated at 5,6 million individuals. The population has undergone a large decline over the last 4 decades, declining at a rate of 25,2% per decade. The main threat to this species is the conversion of native prairies to cropland and urban developments on their breeding grounds. Other threats include brood-parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds Molothrus ater, high levels of nest predation and human disturbance near the nesting sites.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Long-wattled umbrellabird

Cephalopterus penduliger

(Photo from Flickr)

Common name:
long-wattled umbrellabird (en); anambé-papudo (pt); coracine casquée (fr); paragüero corbatudo (es); langlappen-schirmvogel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Cotingidae

Range:
This South American species is only found in the Pacific slopes and adjacent lowlands of south-west Colombia and western Ecuador.

Size:
These birds are 38-51 cm long and have a wingspan of 66-71 cm. They weigh 320-570 g.

Habitat:
The long-wattled umbrellabird is found in both humid and wet forests, but also in second growth areas, appearing to be somewhat tolerant of degraded habitats and human activity. They are present at altitudes of 80-1.800 m.

Diet:
This species often eats fruits and seeds, being an important seed disperser within its range. They also eat amphibians, snakes, Anolis spp. lizards, spiders and various insects including butterflies and caterpillars, cicadas, grasshoppers and walking sticks.

Breeding:
These birds possibly breed all year round, with males forming leks where they perform elaborate displays using their crest and their huge wattle and making grunting vocalisations to attract a mate. After mating, the female is solely responsible for building the nest, incubating the eggs and brooding the chicks. The nest is an open, bulky cup made of dry sticks and lined with thinner twigs, epiphyte roots, tree fern twigs and mosses, placed at the top of a tree fern Cyathea sp. There the female lays 1 whitish egg with brown speckles, which she incubates for 27-28 days. The chick fledges 8-10 weeks after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a small and fragmented breeding range and a global population estimated at 10.000-20.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be facing a rapid and on-going decline. The main threats to this species are the high hunting pressure and the rapid habitat loss caused by deforestation. The intensive agricultural development, especially oil palm and banana plantations and livestock-farming, together with the rapid expansion of the road network, illegal coca plantations and gold mining are the main drivers of the current rate of habitat loss.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Black-headed ibis

Threskiornis melanocephalus

Photo by J.M. Garg (Wikipedia)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Ciconiiformes
Family Threskiornithidae

Range:
This Asian species is found from Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, through Bangladesh and Myanmar down to Indonesia, and along the Philippines and China all the way to Japan.

Size:
The black-headed ibis is 65-75 cm long and weigh up to 1,5 kg.

Habitat:
These birds are found in freshwater marshes, lakes, rivers, flooded grasslands, paddy fields, tidal creeks, mudflats, saltmarshes and coastal lagoons. They generally occur in lowland areas, but may occasionally be present up to an altitude of 950 m. They tend to be nomadic, in response to water levels and feeding conditions.

Diet:
They mostly eat fishes, frogs and aquatic arthropods, generally feeding in shallow waters where they use their bill to probe soft muddy substrates.

Breeding:
Black-headed ibises generally breed in July-March. They breed in colonies, sometimes together with other ibises, herons and even cormorants. Each pair builds an unlined cup-shaped stick nest in a tree, usually over water, where the female lays 2-4 eggs. The eggs are incubated for 23-25 days and the chicks fledge 36-44 days after hatching. Each pair produces a single brood each season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 20.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be declining at a slow to moderate rate, owing to hunting, egg collecting, disturbance at breeding colonies, drainage and agricultural conversion.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Western tanager

Piranga ludoviciana

Photo by Juan Carlos Marín (Internet Bird Collection)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Thraupidae

Range:
This species breeds across western North America, from Alaska down to the southern United States. They migrate south to winter in Central America, from southern Mexico down to Panama.

Size:
Western tanagers are 16-19 cm long and weigh 24-36 g.

Habitat:
These birds breed in open coniferous and mixed deciduous-coniferous forests, from sea level up to an altitude of 3.000 m. During the winter they are found in open mountain pine woodlands, second growth, and in parks and gardens.

Diet:
Western tanagers are mostly insectivorous, but also eat fruits and berries. They are known to take wasps and ants, beetles and woodborers, true bugs, grasshoppers and caterpillars. The fruits and berries eaten by western tanagers include hawthorn apples Crataegus spp., raspberries Rubus spp., mulberries Morus spp., elderberries Sambucus spp., serviceberries Amelanchier spp., and wild and cultivated cherries Prunus spp.

Breeding:
These birds breed in May-July. The female builds the nest cup, using twigs, rootlets, grasses, and pine needles. The female lays 3-5 bluish-green eggs with brown spots, which she incubates alone for 13 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 11 to 15 days after hatching, but remain with the parents for another 2 weeks.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 8,9 million individuals. This species has undergone a small increase over the last 4 decades and is not considered threatened at present.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Common greenshank

Tringa nebularia

Photo by Rajiv Lather (Birding in India and South Asia)

Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Charadriiformes
Family Scolopacidae

Range:
These birds breed from from Scotland and Scandinavia, eatwards along the tundra and taiga areas of Siberia all the way to Kamchatka. They migrate south to winter in western Europe, the Mediterranean region, along the the coasts of Africa down to South Africa, then into southern Asia, in the Middle East, across the Indian sub-continent, in the Sunda islands and in Australia.

Size:
Greenshanks are 30-34 cm long and have a wingspan of up to 70 cm. They weigh around 280 g.

Habitat:
This species breeds in boreal forest, in swampy forest clearings, woody moorland, open bogs and marshes, and in eutrophic lakes with margins of dead and decaying vegetation. During wintering and migration they are found in a variety of freshwater, marine and artificial wetlands, including swamps, open muddy or rocky shores of lakes and large rivers, sewage farms, saltworks, inundated rice-fields, ponds, reservoirs, flooded grasslands, saltmarshes, sandy or muddy coastal flats, mangroves, estuaries, lagoons and pools on tidal reefs or exposed coral, although it generally avoids open coastlines.

Diet:
Greenshanks are carnivorous, eating insects and their larvae, crustaceans, annelids, molluscs, amphibians, small fishes like mullets Liza spp., clinids Clinus spp. and tilapias Oreochromis spp. Occasionally they also eat rodents.

Breeding:
These birds breed in May-July. The nest is a shallow scrape on open ground, where the female lays 4 yellowish-green eggs with speckles. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 24-25 days. The chicks are precocial and leave the nest within 24 h of hatching, but follow the parents until fledging, 25-31 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population estimated at 440.000-1.500.000 individuals. The overall population trend is stable, although some populations have unknown trends. In the Chinese, North Korean and South Korean regions of the Yellow Sea this species is threatened by the degradation and loss of its preferred wetland habitats through environmental pollution, reduced river flows and human disturbance. The same types of threats also occur in other parts of their range, but on a much smaller scale.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Yellow-breasted apalis

Apalis flavida

Photo by Trevor Hardaker (Trevor and Margaret Hardaker)

Common name:
yellow-breasted apalis (en); apalis-de-peito-amarelo (pt); apalis à gorge jaune (fr); apalis de pecho amarillo (es); gelbbrust-feinsänger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Cisticolidae

Range:
This African species is patchily distributed from Senegal and Gambia to Ethiopia, and through Tanzania down to Mozambique, Angola, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.

Size:
The yellow-breasted apalis is 12 cm long and weighs 8-9 g.

Habitat:
These birds are found in dry scrublands as well as in a variety of wooded habitats, including evergreen forests, arid riverine forests, Acacia and mopane savannas and even mangroves. They are found at altitudes of 150-2.200 m.

Diet:
The yellow-breasted apalis mostly gleans insects from the foliage of the canopy, taking cetoniid beetles, grasshopper nymphs, ants, mantids, scale insects and caterpillars. They also eat fruits and sometimes the nectar of the mountain aloe Aloe marlothii.

Breeding:
These birds breed in October-March. The nest is an oval ball with a side entrance, made of grass, bark, tendrils, dead leaves, lichen, flowers and seed pods, although it is sometimes constructed entirely of lichen. It is typically placed in a tree or shrub, often near Usnea lichens. There the female lays 2-3 eggs which are incubated by both sexes for 12-14 days. The chicks are cared for by both adults, fledging 15-17 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 yellow-breasted apalis is described as common. The population is estimated to be increasing following a recorded range expansion in Gambia.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Abbott's babbler

Malacocincla abbotti

Photo by Gaurav Bhatnagar (Flickr)


Common name:
Abbott's babbler (en); zaragateiro-de-Abbott (pt); akalat d'Abbott (fr); tordina de Abbott (es);
rotschwanz-maustimalie (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Timaliidae

Range:
This Asian species is found from the foothills of the Himalayas, in Nepal and Bhutan, through northern India and Bangladesh, and into south-east Asia down to Indonesia.

Size:
Abbott's babblers are 12-13 cm long and weigh 25-30 g.

Habitat:
These birds are found in the understory of broadleaved evergreen forests, in forest edges, in areas of secondary growth and scrubland. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 900 m.

Diet:
The Abbott's babbler does most of its foraging on the ground level, often among the leaf litter, taking various insects and other small invertebrates.

Breeding:
These birds breed in April-July. The nest is a bulky cup of plant materials, placed in a palm tree or on the undergrowth. There the female lays 3-5 bright salmon eggs with dark blotches and red lines. The eggs are incubated for 14-15 days and the chicks fledge 10-12 days after hatching. Each pair may produce several broods per season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The Abbott's babbler has a very large breeding range and is described as fairly common in much of its range, although very rare and local in most of Nepal and rare in Bhutan. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any current declines or substantial threats.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

African rail

Rallus caerulescens

Photo by Callie de Wet (Oiseaux)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Gruiformes
Family Rallidae

Range:
This African species is occurs from Ethiopia, south through Uganda, Kenya, southern D.R. Congo, Tanzania, eastern Angola and Zambia, and into Namibia, northern Botswana, southern Mozambique and large parts of South Africa.

Size:
These birds are 28-30 cm long and weigh 160-170 g.

Habitat:
The African rail inhabits permanent and temporary swamps and marshes often at the edge of lakes, pools, rivers and streams, and also occurs in seasonally wet sugar-cane plantations and paddy-fields adjacent to natural marshes. It requires shallowly flooded areas with mud and floating vegetation for foraging, and shows a preference for habitats lined with reedbeds or dense species-rich vegetation with channels and runways linking patches of more open growth.

Diet:
These birds do most of their foraging in mud or shallow water along the edges of reedbeds, taking worms, crabs and crayfish, aquatic and terrestrial adult and larval insects, spiders, small fish, small frogs and some vegetable matter including seeds.

Breeding:
African rails are monogamous, solitary nesters and can breed all year round, but with a peak in September-February. They breed in seasonally inundated grasslands and sedge meadows, building a shallow saucer of leaves, sedge stems, bulrushes and grasses, typically concealed within or between grass or sedge tufts, usually over water. The female lays 2-6 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for around 20 days. The chicks are precocial, leaving the nest soon after hathcing, but only become fully independent 42-56 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as uncommon to locally common. The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the extent of threats to the species, but the African rail is not considered threatened at present.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Plain-crested elaenia

Elaenia cristata

(Photo from Guia das Aves do Pantanal)


Common name:
plain-crested elaenia (en); guaracava-de-topete-uniforme (pt); élénie huppée (fr); fiofío crestado (es); braunscheitel-olivtyrann (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Tyrannidae

Range:
This species is found in northern South America, occurring in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru,Suriname, and Venezuela.

Size:
The plain-crested elaenia is 15-15 cm long and weighs 19-21 g.

Habitat:
This species is found in dry savanna, subtropical or tropical dry scrubland, and subtropical or tropical seasonally wet or flooded lowland grassland. They are often found in savanna with scattered bushes and in cerrado.

Diet:
Plain-crested elaenias eat both insects and fruits.

Breeding:
These birds breed in September-December. The nest is a woven cup of fine materials, lined with wool, generally placed in bush or small tree up to 3 m above the ground. There the female lays 2 white eggs which may or may not have brown speckles. The eggs are incubated for 15-16 days and the chicks fledge 16-17 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as fairly common throughout this range. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to fires, over-grazing by cattle, slash-and burn agriculture and selective logging, but overall this species is not considered threatened at present.