Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Black-capped vireo

Vireo atricapillus

Photo by Cody Conway (Flickr)

Common name:
black-capped vireo (en); juruviara-de-barrete-preto (pt); viréo à tête noire (fr); vireo cabecinegro (es)schwarzkopfvireo (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Vireonidae

This species is only found breeding in Texas and Oklahoma, in the southern United States, and across the border into northern Mexico. They migrate south to winter along the western coast of Mexico.

These birds are 11-12 cm long and have a wingspan of 18 cm. They weigh 8-10 g.

Black-capped vireos are found in sparse dry scrubland and open woodlands, in areas of rocky or eroded soils.

These birds are insectivorous, taking adult and larval insects and sometimes also spiders.

Black-capped vireos breed in March-June. Both sexes help build the nest, a cup made of leaves, grasses, plant fibers and animal silk, lined with fine grass. The nest is placed in a fork in a branch up to 2 m above the ground. The female lays 2-5 white eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 14-17 days. The chicks are fed insects by both parents and fledge 10-12 days after hatching.

IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a relatively restricted breeding range and the global population is estimated at just 8.000 individuals. The population is undergoing a rapid decline caused by habitat loss and degradation through fire suppression, urban development, agricultural conversion and intensive grazing. The increase in the numbers of brown-headed cowbirds Molothrus ater has resulted in high rates of brood-parasitism and the rates of nest predation are high, primarily from snakes, fire ants and mammals.

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