Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Common wood-pigeon

Columba palumbus

Photo by Eduardo Balogh (Trek Nature)

Common name:
common wood-pigeon (en); pombo-torcaz (pt); pigeon ramier (fr); paloma torcaz (es); ringeltaube (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Columbiformes
Family Columbidae


Range:
This species is found throughout Europe, into Morocco, northern Algeria and Tunisia in North Africa and east to the Urals in Russia, into the Middle East all the way to Afghanistan and with scattered population as far east as northern India and western China. The northern populations migrate south to winter along the southern range of the species.


Size:
These birds are 38-43 cm long and have a wingspan of 68-80 cm. They weigh 450-600 g.


Habitat:
Common wood-pigeons are mostly found in deciduous and coniferous woodlands, but also in farmland, hedgerows, parks, and gardens, and even in city centres.


Diet:
They mostly eat seeds, grains and crops, often becoming a serious agricultural pest. These birds will also eat fleshy leaves, young shoot and seedlings of various plants. They occasionally also take invertebrates.


Breeding:
Common wood-pigeons breed in April-July. The male brings twigs, grasses and leaves to the female, who uses them to build an untidy platform-like nest, generally placed in a fork in a tree. The female lays 1-3 glossy white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 17-19 days. The chicks are fed pigeon milk, a regurgitated milky substance produced in the crop of the parents, and fledge 29-35 days after hatching. Each pair may raise 2-3 broods per season.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 30-70 million individuals. The population is increasing in many parts of its range as it can exploit human-modified habitats and northward range expansions have also been recorded in northern Scandinavia and the Faeroe islands.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Ashy minivet

Pericrocotus divaricatus

(Photo from Flickriver)

Common name:
ashy minivet (en); minivete-sombrio (pt); minivet cendré (fr); minivete sombrío (es); graumennigvogel (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Campephagidae


Range:
This Asian species breeds in south-eastern Russia, north-eastern China, Korea and Japan. They migrate south to winter in Southeast Asia as far south as Indonesia and the Philippines.


Size:
These birds are 18-20 cm long and weigh 25 g.


Habitat:
Ashy minivets are mostly found in tropical and sub-tropical moist forests and in temperate forests. They can also be found in a wide range of wooded habitats including swamp forests, mangroves, plantations and even dry scrublands and urban parks and gardens.


Diet:
They often join mixed-species flocks, foraging in the forest canopy for insects and other small arthropods.


Breeding:
Ashy minivets breed in March-July. The nest is a broad shallow cup made of twigs, placed high in the tree canopy. There the female lays 4-7 brownish-green eggs with brown blotches, which are incubated for 17-18 days. 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 in China, fairly common but local in Japan and uncommon to locally common in its non-breeding range in Southeast Asia. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Galah

Eolophus roseicapilla

(Photo from Wikipedia)

Common name:
galah (en); cacatua-rosada (pt); cacatoès rosalbin (fr); cacatúa rosa (es); rosakakadu (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Psittaciformes
Family Cacatuidae


Range:
This species is endemic to Australia, being found throughout the country, including Tasmania.


Size:
Galahs are 35-36 cm long and weigh 270-350 g.


Habitat:
These birds generally avoid densely wooded areas, being found in a wide range of open habitats including wooded savannas, grasslands, scrublands, pastures, plantations and farmland. They are also common inside urban areas.


Diet:
They mostly feed on the seeds of grasses and agricultural crops, but will also eat insect larvae, fruits, berries, nuts, grasses, roots, green shoots, leaf buds, flowers and Eucalyptus seeds.


Breeding:
Galahs can breed all year round, with the breeding period varying between different parts of Australia. They nest in tree hollows or in cavities in cliffs. The female lays 2-6 white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 22-24 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 5-7 weeks after hatching, but only become fully independent 2-3 weeks later.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and is described as common. The population is suspected to be increasing as ongoing habitat degradation is creating new areas of suitable habitat.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Eurasian linnet

Carduelis cannabina

Photo by Anne van der  Wal (Flickr)

Common name:
Eurasian linnet (en); pintarroxo-comum (pt); linotte mélodieuse (fr); pardillo común (es); bluthänfling (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Fringillidae


Range:
These birds are found throughout most of Europe, in North Africa, and into Asia as far as western Siberia, western China and northern Afghanistan.


Size:
Eurasian linnets are 13-14 cm long and have a wingspan of 23 cm. They weigh 15-20 g.


Habitat:
They are mostly associated with farmland areas, but occur in weedy fields, hedgerows, orchards, heathland, scrubland, grassland, saltmarshes, gardens and parks.


Diet:
They mostly eat the seeds of various herbs and trees, including polygonums, crucifers, chickweeds, dandelions, thistle, sow-thistle, mayweed, common groundsel, common hawthorn and birch. They also eat small insects, especially aphids.


Breeding:
Eurasian linnets are monogamous. They breed in April-June and both sexes build the nest, a thick cup made of dry grass , weed stems and moss, lined with animal hair , wool or fine roots. The nest is placed in a dense hedge, scrub or thorny tree. There the female lays 4-7 white or bluish-green eggs with red-brown spots. The female incubates the eggs alone for 11-13 days while being fed by the male. The chicks are fed by the female, but the male is responsible for collecting the food. They fledge 12-14 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 2 weeks later.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population estimated at 40-150 million individuals. Populations in Europe have undergone a moderate decline over the last 3 decades, but the species is not threatened at present.

Friday, 27 January 2012

South Georgia diving petrel

Pelecanoides georgicus

Photo by Mike Danzenbaker (Mike Dazenbaker's Bird Photography)

Common name:
South Georgia diving petrel (en); petrel-mergulhador-da-Geórgia-do-Sul (pt); puffinure de Géorgie du Sud (fr); potoyunco geórgico (es); breitschnabel-lummensturmvogel (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Procellariiformes
Family Pelecanoididae


Range:
These birds breed in several sub-Antarctic islands, namely South Georgia in the Atlantic, Prince Edward, Crozet, Kerguelen, Heard and McDonald in the Indian Ocean, and Codfish in New Zealand. They mostly forage in the seas surrounding the breeding colonies.


Size:
They are 18-21 cm long and have a wingspan of 30-33 cm. They weigh 90-150 g.


Habitat:
The South Georgia diving petrel breeds in cooled lava or under sand dunes. During the breeding season they forage in coastal waters, while outside the breeding season they forage offshore or in cool pelagic waters.


Diet:
They mostly feed on planktonic crustaceans, particularly krill, but will also feed on some small fish and young cephalopods. Prey are caught either under water in a pursuit-dive or by surface-seizing.


Breeding:
These birds breed in October-February. They nest in a deep burrow with a nest chamber at the end, dug into volcanic ash or sand dunes. There the female lays a single brownish egg. The egg is incubated for 44-52 days and the chick is fed by both parents, fledging 43-60 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a large breeding range and a global population estimated at 15 million individuals. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to predation by invasive species and human disturbance of breeding colonies.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Magellanic tapaculo

Scytalopus magellanicus

Photo by Jose Cañas (Flickriver)

Common name:
Magellanic tapaculo (en); tapaculo-de-Magalhães (pt); mérulaxe des Andes (fr); churrín del sur (es); Magellantapaculo (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Rhinocryptidae


Range:
This South American species is found from central Chile and western Argentina, south to Tierra del Fuego.


Size:
These birds are 10-12 cm long and weigh 11-15 g.


Habitat:
Magellanic tapaculos are found in densely vegetated areas, including moist forests, temperate forests, dry grasslands and scrublands, often near water and along rivers and streams. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 3.500 m.


Diet:
These birds are insectivorous, taking various small insects that they find on or near the ground.


Breeding:
The Magellanic tapaculo breeds in September-February. They build a domed nest made of moss, lichens and root fibres, that is placed in an tunnel excavated into sandy bank or wall. There the female lays 2-3 white eggs which are incubated for 19 days. The chicks fledge 11 days after hatching. Each pair may raise 2-3 broods per season.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a large breeding range and is described as generally common to fairly common. There is no information regarding population trends.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Forty-spotted pardalote

Pardalotus quadragintus

(Photo from Oz Animals)

Common name:
forty-spotted pardalote (en); pardalote-da-Tasmânia (pt); pardalote de Tasmanie (fr); pardalote tasmano (es); Tasmanpanthervogel (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Pardalotidae


Range:
This species is endemic to Tasmania, only being found along the south-eastern coast and in the offshore islands of Maria, Bruny and Flinders.


Size:
Forty-spotted pardalotes are 9-10 cm long and have a wingspan of 18 cm. They weigh 9-13 g.


Habitat:
These birds are only found in dry, open white gum Eucalyptus viminalis forests or woodlands, at altitudes of 0-1.000 m.


Diet:
They always feed on the canopies of the white gum Eucalyptus, gleaning small invertebrates, such as beetles, flies, bugs, wasps, caterpillars, millipedes and spiders, eating the manna from the Eucalyptus and also the sugary secretions produced by psyllid insects that are known as lerps.


Breeding:
Forty-spotted pardalotes breed in August-January. They build a dome or cup-shaped nest made of Eucalyptus bark and grasses, generally placed in a hollow in a trunk or limb of a Eucalyptus tree, although they may also nest in a hollow stump, log or fence-post, or, occasionally, in a hole in the ground. The female lays 4-5 white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 16-23 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 23-25 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - EN (Endangered)
This species has a very small breeding range and a global population estimated at just 3.800 individuals. The population is believed to be stable, however, habitat loss and degradation through forest clearance, sheep-grazing, subdivision and urban development may pose a threat to the species. Also, habitat degradation allow the aggressive noisy miner Manorina melanocephala and the introduced laughing kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae to invade their habitat.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Blue-throated hummingbird

Lampornis clemenciae

Photo by Joe McDonald (McDonald Wildlife Photography)

Common name:
blue-throated hummingbird (en); beija-flor-de-garganta-azul (pt); colibri à gorge bleue (fr); colibrí gorgiazul (es); blaukehlnymphe (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae


Range:
This North American species is found in the southern United States, in southern Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas, and into Mexico as far south as Oaxaca.


Size:
These birds are 11-12,5 cm long and have a wingspan of 19 cm. They weigh 6-8,5 g.


Habitat:
The blue-throated hummingbird is generally found in open woodlands and secondary growth forests, preferring pine-oak and deciduous forests. They are also found in scrublands and tend to be near water. They are mostly found at high altitudes, breeding at 1.800-3.300 m, but come down to elevations as low as 300 m during the winter.


Diet:
They feed on the nectar of various plant, including Salvia, Penstemon, Lobelia laxiflora and Nicotiana, but will also take small insects and spiders found in or around flowers.


Breeding:
Blue-throated hummingbirds breed in February-September. The female builds the nest, a cup made of soft plant fibres, mosses and lichens, held together and attached to its support using spider webs. The nest may be attached to a tree branch, flowering plant, fern, vine, rock shelf, or to man-made object such as a wire or nail. There she lays 2 white eggs which she incubates alone for 17-19 days. The chicks are fed by the female alone and fledge 24-29 days after hatching. Each female may raise 1-3 broods per year, often with different males.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a large breeding range and a global population estimated at 2 million individuals. Habitat loss may pose a threat in some areas, mainly due to logging, but overall the population has an increasing trend.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Green-backed camaroptera

Camaroptera brachyura

Photo by Trevor Hardaker (Biodiversity Explorer

Common name:
green-backed camaroptera (en); felosa-de-dorso-verde (pt); camaroptère à tête gris (fr); camaroptera de lomo verde (es); grünrücken-camaroptera (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Cisticolidae


Range:
These birds are found across much of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal to Ethiopia and south to South Africa.


Size:
Green-backed camaropteras are 11,5-13 cm long and weigh 10-11 g.


Habitat:
They are generally found in dry scrublands and in areas of riparian vegetation within savanna woodlands. They also occur along forest edges and in parks and gardens. This species is present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.200 m.


Diet:
These birds forage low in the undergrowth or on the ground, taking various insects including bugs, beetles, flies, locusts, ants and butterflies.


Breeding:
They breed in October April. The nest is a globular structure with an entrance near the top, which they build by sewing together living leaves. The nest is concealed in a scrub, very close to the ground. The female lays 2-4 eggs which are incubated for 13-15 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 13-15 days after hatching, but remain with the parents for a few more weeks.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and is described as common to abundant in many areas. The population is believed to be increasing following recorded local increases owing to the spread of invasive alien plants and ongoing deforestation.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Red avadavat

Amandava amandava

Photo by Jayaprakash Siddapura (Flickr)


Common name:
red avadavat (en); bengali-vermelho (pt); bengali rouge (fr); bengalí rojo (es); tigerfink (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Estrildidae


Range:
These birds originate from southern Asia, being found from central Pakistan, through India and Bangladesh, and into Myanmar, southern China, Vietnam, Cambodja, south-eastern Thailand, Indonesia and East Timor. This species is commonly used in the pet trade and introduced population have been recorded in Italy, Spain, Brunei, Fiji, Portugal, Malaysia, Puerto Rico, Singapore and Hawaii.


Size:
These birds are 9-10 cm long and have a wingspan of 13-14,5 cm. They weigh around 10 g.


Habitat:
These birds are mostly found in marshes and riparian areas, in tall grasses, reedbeds and also in rice fields and sugar cane plantations.


Diet:
Red avadavats mostly feed on grass seeds, but can also eat small insects like termites.


Breeding:
These birds mostly breed in June-January. Both sexes build the nest, a globular structure made of grasses that is placed in a dense scrub. There the female lays 4-7 white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 11-14 days. The chicks fledge 20-21 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 2-3 weeks later.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as common or locally common. Despite its common use in the international pet trade, the population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Crowned solitary eagle

Harpyhaliaetus coronatus

(Photo from Flickriver)

Common name:
crowned solitary eagle (en); águia-cinzenta (pt); buse couronnée (fr); águila coronada (es); zaunadler (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Falconiformes
Family Accipitridae

Range:
This South American species is found in southern Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina.

Size:
These birds are 75-85 cm long and have a wingspan of 170-185 cm. They weigh 2,9-3,5 kg.

Habitat:
Crowned solitary eagles are found in semi-open areas of seasonally dry country, including palm savanna, sparse woodlands, steppes with bushes, chaco and campo cerrado. They have also been recorded in gallery forests, marshes and palm groves. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.200 m.

Diet:
These powerful hunters take a wide range of prey including armadillos, skunks, weasels, hares, rodents, monkeys, snakes, lizards and even fishes and domestic lambs. They occasionally also eat birds, including tinamous and poultry.

Breeding:
Crowned solitary eagles breed in July-November. They build a platform made of sticks and branches, on a main fork in a tall tree. There the female lays a single white egg with grey or yellow spots. The female incubates the egg alone for 39-45 days and the chick is fed by both parents, only becoming fully independent after over a year. Consequently, each pair only breeds once every 2 years.

Conservation:
IUCN status - EN (Endangered)
This species has a very large breeding range, but it occurs at very low densities and the global population is estimated at just 250-1.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be undergoing a moderate decline, caused by habitat destruction, hunting and persecution. Large areas of campo cerrado habitats are being rapidly destroyed by mechanised agriculture, intensive cattle-ranching, afforestation, invasive grasses, excessive use of pesticides and annual burning. Persecution, including shooting and deliberate disturbance, may be a significant threat in central Argentina and Paraguay.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Great tit

Parus major

Photo by Slawomir Staszczuk (Wikipedia)

Common name:
great tit (en); chapim-real (pt); mésange charbonnière (fr); carbonero común (es); kohlmeise (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Paridae


Range:
The great tit is found throughout continental Europe and the British isles, as well as in northern Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Their range extends into Turkey and the Middle East all the way to central Iran, and along southern Russia, through northern Kazakhstan and Mongolia, and into north-eastern China.


Size:
These birds are 12,5-15 cm long and have a wingspan of 22-25,5 cm. They weigh around 20 g.


Habitat:
Great tits occupy a wide range of habitats including open deciduous woodlands, mixed forests, forest edges, boreal forests, grasslands, dry scrublands, mangroves, temperate deserts, arable land, plantations, rural gardens and urban areas. They have been recorded from sea level up to an altitude of 4.400 m.


Diet:
During spring and summer they are mostly carnivorous. Their main prey are caterpillars, but they take a wide range of invertebrates including cockroaches, grasshoppers and crickets, lacewings, earwigs, bugs, ants, flies, caddis flies, beetles, scorpion flies, woodlice, harvestmen, bees and wasps, snails and woodlice. During autumn and winter, when invertebrate abundance declines, they mostly eat seeds, berries and fruits. Great tits are even known to occasionally kill and eat small birds and bats.


Breeding:
Great tits breed in March-July. The nest is built in a tree-hole, nest-box or in other man-made structures, consisting of moss, dry grasses and other plant materials lined with hair, wool and feathers. The female lays 5-12 white eggs with reddish spots, which she incubates alone for 12-15 days while being fed by the male. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 16-22 days later, but continue to receive food for another 3-4 weeks, or even longer in the case of the second brood. Each pair raises 1-2 broods per year.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population estimated at 300-1.100 million individuals. The population is estimated to be increasing following recorded range expansions, although moderate declines have been recorded in several European countries during the last 3 decades.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Cape sugarbird

Promerops cafer

Photo by Tadeusz Stawarczyk (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
Cape sugarbird (en); papa-açucar-do-Cabo (pt); promérops du Cap (fr); mielero-abejaruco de El Cabo (es); Kaphonigfresser (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Promeropidae


Range:
This species is endemic to South Africa, only being found in the fynbos biome of the Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces.


Size:
The males are 34-44 cm long, while the shorter-tailed and shorter-billed females are 25-29 cm long. They weigh 30-40 g.


Habitat:
They are mostly found in the dry scrublands that form the fynbos biome, and are highly dependent on Protea plants for both food and nesting sites. They may also be found in rural gardens and even within urban areas.


Diet:
Cape sugarbirds mostly feed on the nectar of Protea, Leucospermum and Mimetes, but can also consume the nectar of other plants including introduced Eucalyptus. They also eat various arthropods including beetles, flies, wasps, ants, aphids, grasshoppers, butterflies and caterpillars, lacewings and spiders.


Breeding:
These birds are monogamous and breed in March-August. The female builds the nest, a cup made of leaves, dry grasses and stems, lined with grass and brown fluff from Protea flowers. The nest is placed in the foliage of a bush, especially Protea. There the female lays 1-2 eggs which she incubates alone for 12-20 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 18 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 3 weeks later.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a relatively large breeding range and is described as common in areas of suitable habitat. The population is believed to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats, but the invasion by alien plants such as rooikrans Acacia cyclops and decreases in nest site availability due to frequent fires in fynbos may have a negative impact on this species.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Kagu

Rhynochetos jubatus

(Photo from Maya en Nouvelle Caledonie)

Common name:
kagu (en); cagu (pt); cagou huppé (fr); kagú (es); kagu (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Gruiformes
Family Rhynochetidae


Range:
This species is endemic to New Caledonia, in the south-west Pacific. They have a fragmented range, mostly being found in the Parc Provincial Rivière Bleue, in Province Sud an in the forests between Bourail and Thio.


Size:
These birds are 55 cm long and weigh around 900 g.


Habitat:
They are mostly found in humid forests, but also in drier forests and in close-canopy scrublands. They are present at altitudes of 100-1.400 m.


Diet:
Kagus are carnivorous, hunting lizards, worms, snails, insects, spiders and centipedes in the forest floor.


Breeding:
These birds are monogamous, possibly mating for life. They breed in June-December, building a simple nest consisting of a heaped pile of leaves. The female lays a single grey egg with dark blotches, which is incubated by both parents for 33-37 days. The chick can leave the nest just 3 days after hatching, but is fed by the parents for 12-14 weeks. The chick may remain within the parental territory for several years and even help defend this territory. Each pair raises a single chick per year.


Conservation:
IUCN status - EN (Endangered)
The kagu has a very restricted and fragmented breeding range and the global population is estimated at just 850-1.000 individuals. The population is believed to be stable, although it may be increasing in the southern parts of its range and declining in the northern parts. The main threat to this species is the predation by introduced dogs, cats and rats. Feral pigs may also take some eggs and the introduced Rusa deer Cervus timorensis is severely damaging the forests where kagus live. Habitat loss and degradation caused by mining, logging and fires are also a problem for this species.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Pleske's grasshopper-warbler

Locustella pleskei

Photo by Nial Moores (Birds Korea)

Common name:
Pleske's grasshopper warbler (en); cigarrinha-de-Pleske (pt); locustelle de Pleske (fr); buscarla de Pleske (es); Pleske-schwirl (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Sylviidae


Range:
This Asian species breeds only in a few small offshore islands along the Pacific coast, from the southernmost parts of eastern Russia, through the Korean peninsula and Japan and south to eastern China. They migrate south to winter in southern China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.


Size:
These birds are 15-17 cm long and weigh 16-24 g.


Habitat:
The Pleske's grasshopper-warbler breeds in open, wet areas of thick grasses, reeds, or low bushes, almost exclusively on small offshore islets. During winter they are found in reedbeds and in low scrubs near reedbeds and mangroves.


Diet:
They are believed to take insects and other small arthropods.


Breeding:
Pleske's grasshopper-warblers breed in May-July. The nest is hidden among grasses or in a low willow thickets or scrub, less than 2 m above the ground. There the female lays 3-6 eggs which are incubated for 14 days. The chicks fledge 13-15 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a very restricted breeding range and a global population estimated at just 2.500-10.000 individuals. The population is believed to be undergoing a moderate decline caused by the impact of human activities both in their breeding and wintering areas. The may threats include habitat loss and degradation, environmental contamination and even volcanic eruptions in at least one of the islands where they breed.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Golden-fronted woodpecker

Melanerpes aurifrons

(Photo from Animal Pictures Archive)

Common name:
golden-fronted woodpecker (en); pica-pau-de-testa-dourada (pt); pic à front doré (fr); carpintero frentidorado (es); goldstirnspecht (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Piciformes
Family Picidae


Range:
This species is found from Texas and Oklahoma, in the United States, through Mexico and into Honduras and northern Nicaragua.


Size:
These birds are 22-27 cm long and have a wingspan of 43 cm. They weigh 65-102 g.


Habitat:
Golden-fronted woodpeckers are found in open and semi-open woodlands, second-growth forests and scrublands, generally preferring mesquite and riparian areas. They can also be found in rural areas and parks. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.500 m.


Breeding:
These birds are omnivorous, eating both insects, namely grasshoppers, beetles and ants, but also acorns, seeds, fruits and berries. They are also known to take bird eggs and small lizards.


Breeding:
Golden-fronted woodpeckers nest in holes excavated into trees, fence poles, posts or sometimes cacti. The female lays 4-7 white eggs which are incubated by both sexes for 12-14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 30 days after hatching. Each pair may raise 1-3 broods per year.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 1,7 million individuals. The population in the United States has had a stable trend over the last 4 decades; however, this represents less than half of the overall population.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Sayaca tanager

Thraupis sayaca

Photo by Celi Aurora (Flickriver)

Common name:
sayaca tanager (en); sanhaçu-cinzento (pt); tangara sayaca (fr); celestino común (es); prälattangare (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Thraupidae


Range:
These birds are found in eastern, central and southern Brazil, as well as in Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and north-eastern Argentina.


Size:
Sayaca tanagers are 17-18,5 cm long and weigh 25-42 g.


Habitat:
They are mostly found in open forests and scrublands, as well as in plantations, pastures, and gardens and parks within urban areas.


Diet:
Sayaca tanagers are omnivorous, eating a wide range of fruits, flowers, buds, insects and spiders.


Breeding:
These birds breed in August-October. Both sexes build the nest, an open cup made of moss, rootlets and leaves. The nest is hidden among dense vegetation, generally being placed in a fork in a tree, 1,5-9 m above the ground. There the female lays 2-3 white or greyish eggs with brown spots, which she incubates alone for 12-14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 20 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
The sayaca tanager has a very large breeding range and is described as common. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Rufous whistler

Pachycephala rufiventris

Photo by Tobias Hayashi (Flickr)

Common name:
rufous whistler (en); sibilante-ruivo (pt); siffleur itchong (fr); silbador rufo (es); schlichtmantel-dickkopf (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Pachycephalidae


Range:
This species is found in Papua-New Guinea, in New Caledonia and throughout mainland Australia.


Size:
They are 16-18 cm long and weigh 25 g.


Habitat:
These birds are mostly found in forested areas, including woodlands, open forests and savannas, but can also be found in scrublands, gardens and agricultural areas.


Diet:
Rufous whistler mostly eat insects, but will also take seeds, fruits and, occasionally, leaves. They do most of their foraging in the forest canopy.


Breeding:
They form monogamous pairs and breed in July-February. The female build the nest, a fragile cup made of twigs, grass, vines and other materials, bound and attached to a tree fork with spider web. There she lays 2-3 which she incubates alone for 13 days. The chicks are cared for by the female and fledge 11 days after hatching. Each pair raise 1-2 broods per season.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
The rufous whistler has a very large breeding range and is reported to be fairly common. There is evidence for both local increases and decreases, so the overall population trend is not clear, but this species is not considered threatened at present.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Rufescent tiger-heron

Tigrisoma lineatum

Photo by Alejandro Tabini (Birding Peru)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Ciconiiformes
Family Ardeidae

Range:
These birds are found from southern Guatemala down to Ecuador, Brazil, northern Uruguay and north-eastern Argentina.

Size:
They are 66-76 cm long and weigh 800-900 g.


Habitat:
Rufescent tiger-herons are found in a wide range of inland wetlands, including bogs, marshes, rivers, lakes, swamps, fens and peatlands, but also in mangroves and swamp forests. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.000 m.

Diet:
They mostly forage at dusk and night, feeding on fishes, amphibians, reptiles and insects including grasshoppers, water beetles and dragonfly larvae.

Breeding:
Rufescent tiger-herons build solitary nests in tall trees, consisting of large platforms of sticks. There the female lays 2-3 eggs which she incubates alone for 31-34 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 4-5 weeks after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and is described as common, at least in Brazil. The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the impacts of habitat modification on population sizes, but overall it is not considered threatened at present.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Ruddy turnstone

Arenaria interpres

(Photo from Purple "O" Purple)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Charadriiformes
Family Scolopacidae

Range:
Ruddy turnstones breed in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere, from Alaska, through the Canadian Arctic and Greenland, and into Scandinavia and northern Russia. They migrate south to winter along the coasts of all continents except Antarctica.

Size:
These birds are 21-26 cm long and have a wingspan of 50-57 cm. They weigh 85-150 g.

Habitat:
They breed near the coast or up to several kilometres inland in the high Arctic, nesting on coastal plains, marshes and tundra and showing a preference for mosaics of bare rock, clay or shingle and vegetation near water or in areas that remain damp until late summer. During winter and migration they are found along rocky and shingle shores, breakwaters, sandy beaches with storm-racked seaweed, short-grass saltmarshes, sheltered inlets, estuaries, mangroves swamps, exposed reefs and mudflats with beds of molluscs.

Diet:
During the breeding season they mostly eat insects, including larval and adult Diptera, larval Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera, Coleoptera, but also spiders and, occasionally, also taking vegetable matter. Outside the breeding season they eat insects, crustaceans, molluscs, annelids, echinoderms, small fish, carrion and birds eggs.

Breeding:
Ruddy turnstones breed in May-August. They form monogamous pairs and nest is a shallow scrape on the ground, lined with a small amount of vegetation, often located on a slight ridge or hummock. There the female lays 4 green-brown eggs with dark brown markings, which she mostly incubates alone for 22-24 days. The chicks are able to leave the nest and feed themselves within a day of hatching, but the adults will brood them and defend them from predators until they fledge, 19-21 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 460.000-800.000 individuals. The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations have unknown trends, and in North America the trend is increasing. They are known to suffer nest predation from feral American mink Neovison vison in some regions but overall the ruddy turnstone is not considered threatened.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Red-billed buffalo-weaver

Bubalornis niger

Photo by Ian White (Flickr)


Common name:

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Ploceidae

Range:
This African species occurs in two separate areas in sub-Saharan Africa. One population extends from Somalia and Ethiopia through to Tanzania and the other from southern D.R. Congo, Angola and Zambia to Namibia, Botswana, southern Mozambique and northern South Africa.

Size:
These birds are 24 cm long and weigh 65-80 g.

Habitat:
Red-billed buffalo-weavers are found in dry savannas and sparse woodlands of Acacia and Adansonia, preferring areas disturbed by humans and livestock.

Diet:
They forage on the ground, taking various arthropods including Orthoptera, larval Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Diptera, Aranea and Scorpiones, but also various seeds and fruits.

Breeding:
These birds breed in colonies and the males may be polygamous, each controlling 1-8 nest chambers and up to about 3 females. They breed in September-June and the nest is a huge, bulky mass of interconnected thorny twigs, divided into separate complexes with multiple egg chambers, each with a nest built by a female, consisting of a ball of grass, leaves and roots. Each female lays 2-4 eggs, which she incubates alone for about 14 days. The chicks are mostly fed by the female alone and fledge 20-23 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
The red-billed buffalo-weaver has a very large breeding range and, although the global population size has not been quantified, the species is described as common. The population is suspected to be stable and in fact it has benefited from the destruction, disturbance and settlement by humans in savannas.