Saturday, 31 March 2012

Great antshrike

Taraba major

Photo by Csaba Godeny (Hide Photography)

Common name:
great antshrike (en); choró-boi (pt); grand batara (fr); batará grande (es)weißbrust-ameisenwürger (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Thamnophilidae


Range:
This species is found from eastern Mexico, across Central America, and into South America down to northern Argentina and south-eastern Brazil.


Size:
These birds are 19-20 cm long and weigh 55-75 g.


Habitat:
Great antshrikes are mostly found in both dry and moist savannas, but also in moist scrublands, moist forests, second growths, plantations and gardens. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.200 m.


Diet:
They mostly glean insects and other arthropods from foliage, but will also take small lizards and mammals. They sometimes follow ant swarms to eat the small animals flushed by the ants.


Breeding:
The great antshrike breeds in July-December. The nest is a deep cup made of grasses and leaves and lined with soft materials. It is placed in a branch or fork in a scrub. The female lays 2-3 cream-coloured eggs with brown blotches, which are incubated by both parents for 14-18 days. The chicks are raised by both parents and fledge 12-13 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 500.000-5.000.000 individuals. This population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Scaly-breasted munia

Lonchura punctulata

Photo by John Avise (Natural History of Orange County)

Common name:
scaly-brested munia (en); bico-de-chumbo-malhado (pt); capucin damier (fr)capuchino punteado (es); muskatamadine (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Estrildidae


Range:
This species originates from southern Asia, from India to southern China, Malaysia and Indonesia. They have been introduced to several countries around the world, including Australia, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Japan, Portugal and the Seychelles.

Size:
These birds are 10-12 cm long and weigh 14 g.

Habitat:
Scaly-breasted munias are mostly found in open habitats, namely moist scrublands, bot dry and wet grasslands, open forests, rice fields, irrigated crops, arable land, rural gardens and urban areas.

Diet:
They mostly eat grass seeds, especially rice, but also small berries, human scraps and even road kill.

Breeding:
These bird can breed all year rounds, varying between different parts of their range. The nest is an untidy globe made of grass and bamboo leaves, with a side entrance. It is lined with soft seeds or feathers and placed inside bushes. The female lays 4-7 white eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 14-18 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 18-19 days after hatching.


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

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Cape vulture

Gyps coprotheres

(Photo from ELLF)

Common name:
Cape vulture (en); abutre-do-Cabo (pt); vautour chassefiente (fr); buitre de El Cabo (es); Kapgeier (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Falconiformes
Family Accipitridae

Range:
This species is found in southern Africa, being patchily distributed across Namibia, southern Zimbabwe, south-eastern Botswana , southern Mozambique and eastern South Africa. They sometimes wander across the border into Angola.

Size:
These birds are 95-115 cm long and have a wingspan of 225-250 cm. They weigh 7-11 kg.

Habitat:
Cape vultures are found in open grasslands, savannas, scrublands and deserts, and often roost on crags in mountain slopes.

Diet:
They are obligate scavengers, eating the carcasses of medium and large-sized mammals.

Breeding:
The Cape vulture breeds in April-December. They are monogamous and nest in colonies of up to 1.000 pairs. The female builds the nest, a bulky platform of sticks, twigs and dry grass, lined with smaller sticks and grass. The nest is placed in a cliff ledge an is often used over several breeding seasons. The female lays a single white egg with brown streaks, which is incubated by both sexes for 55-59 days. The chick is raised by both parents and fledges 4-6 months after hatching, but only becomes fully independent up to 8 months later.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a large breeding range and a global population estimated at 8.000-10.000 individuals. The population is declining at a moderate to fast rate, with dramatic declines of 60-70% being recorded in eastern South Africa in 1992-2007. This decline is caused by a multitude of threats, including accidental poisoning on agricultural land, electrocution on pylons, collision with overhead cables and with vehicles, food-stress during chick-rearing, persecution for traditional medicines, disturbance at colonies, and drowning. The use of the anti-inflamatory drug Diclofenac in cattle is also a serious problem as it is fatal to vultures eating livestock carcasses.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Iberian chiffchaff

Phylloscopus ibericus

Photo by Patrick Bergier (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
Iberian chiffchaff (en); felosa-ibérica (pt); pouillot ibérique (fr); mosquitero ibérico (es); Iberienzilpzalp (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Sylviidae


Range:
This species is mostly found breeding in Portugal and Spain, but also in southern France and in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. They winter in western Africa, from Senegal to Ghana and Burkina Faso.


Size:
These birds are 10-11 cm long and have a wingspan of 18-19 cm. They weigh 7-8,5 g.


Habitat:
Iberian chiffchaffs use mature, mostly deciduous, woodlands, preferring not too dense canopies and fairly dense, medium to tall, undergrowth. They can also be found in dry scrublands.


Diet:
They are insectivorous, eating a wide range of small insects that are picked from foliage in the tree canopy or in dense thickets.


Breeding:
The Iberian chiffchaff breeds in February-September. The female builds the nest, a domed structure made of coarse plant material such as dead leaves and grass, and lined with finer materials and feathers. The nest is placed near the ground in dense vegetation. The female lays 4-7 cream-coloured eggs with brown spots, which she incubates alone for 13-15 days. The chicks are mostly fed by the female, with occasional help by the male, and fledge 14-15 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a large breeding range and a global population estimated at 1,1-1,6 million individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Mountain trogon

Trogon mexicanus

(Photo from Chiapas Birding Adventures)

Common name:
mountain trogon (en); surucuá-da-montanha (pt); trogon montagnard (fr); trogón mexicano (es); bronzetrogon (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Trogoniformes
Family Trogonidae


Range:
The mountain trogon is found in Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.


Size:
These birds are 29-31 cm long and weigh 70 g.


Habitat:
They are mostly found in moist mountain forests, preferring pine-evergreen and pine-oak woodlands at altitudes of 1.200-3.500 m. Sometimes these birds can be found in coffee plantations.


Diet:
They eat both insects and fruits.


Breeding:
Mountain trogons nest in cavities or rotten stumps, often near the ground. The female lays 2-3 eggs which are incubated for 18-19 days. The chicks fledge 14-16 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a relatively large breeding range and its global population is estimated at 50.000-500.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Lesser elaenia

Elaenia chiriquensis

Photo by Marlos Menêzes (Flickr)

Common name:
lesser elaenia (en); chibum (pt); élénie menue (fr); fiofío belicoso (es); grauwangen-olivtyrann (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Tyrannidae


Range:
This species is found in Central and South America, from Costa Rica to Missiones, in Argentina.


Size:
These birds are 14 cm long and weigh 15-18 g.


Habitat:
Lesser elaenias are mostly found in tropical dry savannas, but also in dry scrublands, dry forests, along river and creeks. They are also found in human-modified habitats, like second growths, plantations and arable land.


Diet:
These birds are mostly insectivorous, capturing insects in flight. When in season, the fruits of Miconia scrubs are also an important food source.


Breeding:
Lesser elaenias breed in September-December. The nest is a shallow cup made of plant fibres and grasses, placed in a fork in a tree. The female lays 1-3 pale cream eggs with dark spots, which are incubated for 12-15 days. The chicks fledge 15 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as common. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to fires, over-grazing by cattle, slash-and burn agriculture and selective logging.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Golden-winged warbler

Vermivora chrysoptera

(Photo from Bornanews)

Common name:
golden-winged warbler (en); mariquita-d'asa-dourada (pt); paruline à ailes dorées (fr); chipe de alas doradas (es); goldflügel-waldsänger (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Parulidae


Range:
This species breeds in south-eastern Canada and in the north-eastern United States. It migrates south to winter in Central America and in northern Colombia and Venezuela.


Size:
The golden-winged warbler is 12-14 cm long and has a wingspan of 19-21 cm. These bird weigh 8-11 g.


Habitat:
These birds breed in open woodlands, patchy scrublands and along forest edges and clearings. They are also found in in marshes and tamarack bogs. During winter they are found in the canopies of tropical forests.


Diet:
They forage by probing and picking among foliage, taking various insects and spiders. Caterpillars and adult moths are an important part of their diet.


Breeding:
Golden-winged warblers breed in April-July. The female builds the nest, an open cup made of leaves, grapevine bark, and grass, lined with fine plant material. The nest is placed on the ground, at base of scrub or in a tussock of grass or sedge, usually hidden by foliage. The female lays 3-7 pale cream or pink eggs with brown streaks, which she incubates alone for 10-11 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 8-9 days after hatching, but continue to receive food from parents for another month. Each pair raises a single brood per year.


Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near-threatened)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 210.000 individuals. The population has undergone a large decline of 22% per decade over the last 4 decades, mostly caused by advancing succession and reforestation, and the invasive range expansion of blue-winged warbler Vermivora pinus. Other possible causes of population declines are loss of wintering habitat through agricultural expansion and clearance for plantations, nest parasitism by brown-headed cowbird Molothrus ater and hybridisation with Vermivora pinus.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

House crow

Corvus splendens

Photo by Anton Croos (Wikipedia)

Common name:
house crow (en); gralha-indiana (pt); corbeau familier (fr); cuervo indio (es); glanzkrähe (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Corvidae


Range:
This species originates from southern Asia, from southern Iran and Pakistan, throughout India, Sri Lanka and Nepal, and into Bangladesh and south-western Thailand. In recent decades, these birds colonized coastal cities in Australia, eastern and southern Africa, Europe, eastern North America and several island states, which they reached by travelling in ships.


Size:
These birds are 40-42 cm long and weigh 250-370 g.


Habitat:
The house crow is only found in human settlements, especially in industrial areas.


Diet:
These birds are omnivorous, feeding largely on human refuse, but also taking small reptiles, insects and other invertebrates, eggs and nestlings of other birds, small mammals, fishes, frogs, crustaceans, cereal grains, fruits and nectar.


Breeding:
Within their native range, house crows breed in March-July. The nest is a large bowl of sticks and wires, lined with soft plant and animal fibres. It is usually placed in a fork of a tree, or less often on a telephone pole or in a building. There the female lays 3-6 pale blue-green eggs with brown speckles, which she incubates alone for 16-17 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 21-28 days after hatching, but only becoming fully independent several weeks later. Each pair raises 1-2 broods per year.


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

Friday, 23 March 2012

Red-winged parrot

Aprosmictus erythropterus

Photo by David Cook (Wikipedia)

Common name:
red-winged parrot (en); papagaio-d'asa-vermelha (pt); perruche érythroptère (fr)papagayo alirrojo (es)rotflügelsittich (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Psittaciformes
Family Psittacidae


Range:
This species is found in northern and north-eastern Australia, in southern New Guinea and Irian Jaya.


Size:
These birds are 30-33 cm long and weigh 120-210 g.


Habitat:
The red-winged parrot is mostly found in open forest, dry woodlands, timber-lined watercourses, arid scrublands and wooded grasslands with Eucalyptus. In some areas they are also found in mangroves and in urban parks and gardens. This species is present from sea level up to an altitude of 600 m.


Diet:
They feed on the seeds of Acacia and Eucalyptus, mistletoe berries, fruits, flowers, pollen, nectar and adult and larval insects.


Breeding:
Red-winged parrots breed in July-January. They nest in a hollow trunk of a tall tree, up to 11 m above the ground, often near water. The female lays 3-6 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 20-21 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 5-6 weeks after hatching. Each pair raises a single brood per year.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and, although the global population size has not been quantified, it is reported to be generally common and locally abundant. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction, and is also sometimes shot for damaging fruit crops. The young are sometimes taken for pet trade, but overall the red-winged parrot is not threatened at present.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Red-breasted nuthatch

Sitta canadensis

Photo by Wolfgang Wander (Wikipedia)

Common name:
red-breasted nuthatch (en); trepadeira-azul-do-Canadá (pt); sittelle à poitrine rousse (fr); trepador canadiense (es)Kanadakleiber (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Sittidae


Range:
These birds are found throughout southern and north-western Canada as well as in the western and north-eastern United States. Some population migrate south to winter throughout the United States and sometimes down to northern Mexico.


Size:
They are 10-12 cm long and have a wingspan of 18-22 cm. They weigh 8-13 g.


Habitat:
Red-breasted nuthatches are mostly found in dense coniferous forests, such as balsam fir, spruce, pine, hemlock, larch, and western red cedar. They can also be found in mixed coniferous-deciduous forests and along riverine forests. During irruptive winters they may even be found in orchards, scrubs, parks, plantations, and shade trees. This species is present from sea level up to an altitude of 3.100 m.


Diet:
During the spring and summer, these birds eat insects and other arthropods, namely beetles, caterpillars, spiders, ants, and earwigs. In autumn and winter they mostly eat conifer seed. During outbreaks of the spruce budworm this becomes an important prey item.


Breeding:
Red-breasted nuthatches breed in May-July. They are monogamous and nest in holes in trees, sometimes using old woodpecker nests or nest boxes. The inside of the nest is lined with grasses, mosses, rootlets, shredded bark, and plant fibers. The female lays 2-8 white or pinkish eggs with brown speckles, which she incubates alone for 12-13 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 18-21 days after hatching. Each pair raises a single brood per year.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 18 million individuals. The population has undergone a large increase of 24% per decade over the last 4 decades.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Spotted barbtail

Premnoplex brunnescens

Photo by Gary Clark (Bird Forum)

Common name:
spotted barbtail (en); joão-malhado (pt); anabasitte tachetée (fr); subepalo moteado (es); westlicher fleckenstachelschwanz (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Furnariidae


Range:
This species is found from Costa Rica and Panama, through northern Venezuela and Colombia and into Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.


Size:
The spotted barbtail is 13-14 cm long and weighs 16-18 g.


Habitat:
These birds are found in dense understory, in moist mountain forests, typically occurring along rivers and streams. They are found at altitudes of 600-2.600 m.


Diet:
They eat various arthropods including beetle, ants, roaches and spiders.


Breeding:
Spotted barbtails can breed all year round, with a peak in March-August. Both sexes help build the nest, a large globular structure made of living mosses and liverworts, clay and rootlets, placed in tree trunks, soil banks or rock faces, often over water. The female lays 2-3 white eggs which are incubated by both sexes for 27-31 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 19-22 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a large breeding range and is described as fairly common. This population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats, but its dependence on mountain streams may make it vulnerable to human alterations to these delicate ecossystems.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Australian owlet-nightjar

Aegotheles cristatus

Photo by Edward Smith (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
Australian owlet-nightjar (en); noitibó-coruja-australiano (pt); égothèle d'Australie (fr); egotelo australiano (es); baumschwalm (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Caprimulgiformes
Family Aegothelidae

Range:
This species is found across Australia, Tasmania and in southern New Guinea.

Size:
These birds are 21-25 cm long and weigh 42-53 g.

Habitat:
Australian owlet-nightjars are mostly found in dry open woodlands and forests, but can also use moist forests, mangroves and dry scrublands. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.000 m.

Diet:
These birds are insectivorous, eating ants, beetles and grasshoppers.

Breeding:
These birds breed in July-December. They nest in a tree hollow or rock crevice, inside which they form a bed of green leaves where the eggs are layed. The female lays 2-5 eggs, which she incubates alone for 25-28 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 21-29 days after hatching, but remain with the parents for another 2 weeks.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The Australian owlet-nightjar has a very large breeding range and is reported to be widespread in Australia and moderately common over much of its range. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Cape white-eye

Zosterops pallidus

(Photo from Flickrhivermind)

Common name:
Cape white-eye (en); olho-branco-do-Cabo (pt); zostérops clair (fr); anteojitos de El Cabo (es); Kapbrillenvogel (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Zosteropidae


Range:
This species is found throughout most of South Africa, with the exception of the kalahari desert, and it expands into southern Mozambique, south-eastern Mozambique and Namibia.


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


Habitat:
Cape white-eyes are found in a wide variety of habitats including dry savannas, evergreen forests, dune scrubland, inland wetlands, rural gardens, plantations and urban gardens.


Diet:
They are mostly insectivorous, often eating aphids, but also termite alates, butterflies, beetles, spiders and mantids. They also eat the fruits and nectar of various plants including wild figs and other native species, as well as introduced agricultural crops like oranges, pears, blackberries, plums and grapes.


Breeding:
The Cape white-eye breeds in August-April. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a small cup made of lichens, dry grass, rootlets, tendrils and other dry plant fibres, bound together with spider webs. The nest is concealed in the foliage of a tree or bush. The female lays 2-4 pale blue eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 10-12 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 12-13 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as very common to uncommon. The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the impacts of habitat modification on population sizes.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Common babbler

Turdoides caudatus

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

Common name:
common babbler (en); zaragateiro-de-cauda-comprida (pt); cratérope indien (fr); turdoide indio (es); langschwanzdrossling (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Timaliidae


Range:
This Asian species is found from Iraq, Kuwait and Iran, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, across India and into Nepal.


Size:
These birds are 23 cm long and weigh 30-40 g.


Habitat:
The common babbler is mostly found in arid and semi-arid areas, often using Tamarix and other dry scrublands, dry grasslands, rocky areas and also orchards, rural gardens and other plantations. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 2.100 m.


Diet:
They mostly forage on the ground, eating insects and other small invertebrates.


Breeding:
Common babblers can breed all year round, but with a peak in March-September. They live in small social groups of 6-11 birds, in which only 1, or sometimes 2 pairs breed, while the other individuals help feeding the chicks and defending against predators. The breeding pair builds the nest, a deep, compact cup, neatly made using grass roots and stems. The nest is placed in a small thorny bush, 0,5-2,5 m above the ground. The female lays 2-5 pale blue eggs, which are incubated for 13-16 days. The chicks fledge 13-18 days after hatching. They raise 2-3 broods per year.


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

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Hoopoe

Upupa epops

Photo by Ahmet Karatash (Trek Nature)

Common name:
hoopoe (en); poupa (pt); huppe fasciée (fr); abubilla (es); wiedehopf (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Coraciiformes
Family Upupidae


Range:
This species is widely distributed across most of Europe, Asia and Africa. They are found in southern and eastern Europe and across the middle latitudes of Asia all the way to eastern Russia, eastern China and Korea. They are also found across southern Asia. In Africa they are found in north-eastern Africa and throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa, including Madagascar. The more northern populations are migratory while the population in Iberia, southern Asia and Africa are resident.


Size:
These birds are 26-32 cm long and have a wingspan of 44-48 cm. They weigh 60-80 g.


Habitat:
This species is found in a wide range of habitats, including dry savannas and woodlands, dry and temperate grasslands, pastures, plantations, rural gardens and urban areas. They tend to avoid dense forests and deserts. The hoopoe is found from sea level up to an altitude of 3.650 m.


Diet:
Hoopoes are mostly insectivorous. They eat crickets, mole crickets, beetles, grubs, locust, earwigs, cicadas, ants and various larval insects. They also eat other invertebrates, including spiders, woodlice, millipedes and earthworms, and sometimes take larger prey like frogs and small lizards. Occasionally, they also eat seeds and berries.


Breeding:
The hoopoe is monagamous, although the pair bond only lasts for a single season. They nest in a narrow hole in a tree or wall, where the female lays 5-12 milky blue eggs. The female incubates the eggs for 15-19 days while the male brings her food. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 26-29 days after hatching, but remain with the parents for another week. 


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and has a global population estimated at 5 million individuals. The hoopoe seems to be is declining throughout its range as a result of habitat destruction and over-hunting, but it is not considered threatened at present.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Sharpbill

Oxyruncus cristatus

(Photo from Bird Forum)

Common name:
sharpbill (en); araponga-do-horto (pt); oxyrhynque huppé (fr); picoagudo (es)flammenkopfkotinga (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Cotingidae


Range:
This species is found in a series of disjunct areas from Costa Rica to south-eastern Brazil, including the tepuis of southern Venezuela and the Guianas, Amapa, eastern Para, the Brazilian coast from Bahia to Santa Catarina, and various spots on the eastern slopes of the Andes.



Size:
The sharpbill is 17-18 cm long and weighs 40-45 g.


Habitat:
These birds are found in tropical and sub-tropical moist forests, generally preferring dense, tall forests, but but occasionally venturing to the forest edge. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.200 m.


Diet:
They mostly eat fruits, but will also take small arthropods and their larvae.


Breeding:
Shapbills nest in a small cup-shaped nest, built by the female out of moss, lichens and spider webs, glued together with saliva. The female lays 2 eggs, which she incubates alone for 14-24 days. The chicks fledge 25-30 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range, but it is described as uncommon and patchily distributed. It is not considered threatened at present.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Melanesian flycatcher

Myiagra caledonica

Photo by Patrick Ingremeau (Oiseaux)

Common name:
Melanesian flycatcher (en); monarca-da-Melanésia (pt); monarque mélanésien (fr); miagra de Nueva Caledonia (es); hebridenmyiagra (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Monarchidae


Range:
This species is found in New Caledonia, Vanuatu and on the island of Rennell, in the Solomon Islands.


Size:
These birds are 13-14 cm long and weigh 10-12 g.


Habitat:
The Melanesian flycatcher is found in moist forests, open woodlands, second growth, plantations and mangroves. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.100 m.


Diet:
Like other flycatcher, they mostly forage by sallying from the foliage to catches insects in flight, but will also eat other small arthropods and larvae.


Breeding:
Melanesian flycatchers breed in August-February. The nest is built by both sexes, consiting of a neat and compact cup, made of plant fibres, and decorated with lichens, fine chips of bark, and sometimes moss and spider webs. The nest is placed on an horizontal branch or in a fork in a tree, 2-10 m above the ground. The female lays 2-3 pale eggs with pale brown and grey spots, which are incubated by both sexes for 18 days. The chicks are brooded and fed by both parents and fledge 17-19 days after hatching. Each pair only raises a single brood per season.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a restricted breeding range, but it is described as quite common on New Caledonia and fairly common throughout the rest of its range. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Sapphire-spangled emerald

Amazilia lactea

Photo by Marcelo Cazani (Flickr)

Common name:
sapphire-spangled emerald (en); beija-flor-de-peito-azul (pt); ariane saphirine (fr); diamante pechizafiro (es); saphiramazilie (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae


Range:
This South American species has 3 subspecies with separate breeding ranges. A. l. lactea is found in south-eastern Brazil, from Bahía to Paraná; A. l. barletti is found in central and southern Peru and northern Bolivia, and may also occur in Ecuador; A. l. zimmeri is found in south-eastern Venezuela.


Size:
These birds are 9-10 cm long and weigh 3,5-5 g.


Habitat:
The sapphire-spangled emerald is found in moist forests, second growth woodlands, plantations, rural gardens and within urban areas.


Diet:
They eat the nectar of various plants, both native and exotic, being an important pollinator. They also eat insects, sometimes collecting them from spider webs.


Breeding:
Sapphire-spangled emeralds breed in October- December. The nest is a shallow cup, made of plant fibres, spider webs and lichens, placed in an horizontal branch or vine not far from the ground. The female lays 2 eggs, which she incubates alone for 13-15 days. The chicks are fed by the female alone and fledge 18-19 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as fairly common. The population is believed to be stable, so the species is not threatened at present.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Great crested grebe

Podiceps cristatus

Photo by Ken Billington (Wikipedia)

Common name:
great crested grebe (en); mergulhão-de-crista (pt); grèbe huppé (fr)somormujo lavanco (es); haubentaucher (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Podicipediformes
Family Podicipedidae


Range:
This species is found across most of Europe and central Asia, wintering also in southern Asia. There are some scattered colonies in Africa, from Tunisia and Egypt in the north, through a few colonies in central Africa and into South Africa. There are also nesting colonies in southern Australia and New Zealand, with individuals wintering in eastern and northern Australia.


Size:
These birds are 46-51 cm long and have a wingspan of 59-73 cm. They weigh 0,8-1,4 kg.


Habitat:
Great crested grebes are mostly found on fresh or brackish waters with abundant emergent and submerged vegetation, showing a preference for non-acidic eutrophic waterbodies with flat or sloping banks and muddy or sandy substrates, and with large areas of open water. They are can also be found in swamps, saltpans, estuaries and reservoirs.



Diet:
They eat fishes, aquatic insects, amphibians, crustaceans, spiders and seeds.


Breeding:
The breeding season of the great crested grebe varies between different parts of its range, occurring in April-September in Europe and Asia, all year round in Africa and in November-March in Australia. The nest is a platform of aquatic plant matter either floating on water and anchored to emergent vegetation or built from the lake bottom in shallow water. The female lays 3-4 eggs which are incubated by both parents for 27-29 days. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and are often carried around on the backs of their parents, fledging 71-79 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 920.000-1.400.000 individuals. The overall population trend is uncertain, as some populations are decreasing, while others are increasing or have unknown trends.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Brown-backed honeyeater

Ramsayornis modestus

(Photo from Wikipedia)

Common name:
brown-backed honeyeater (en); melífago-modesto (pt); méliphage modeste (fr); mielero modesto (es); sumpfhonigfresser (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Meliphagidae


Range:
This species is found in southern New Guinea and in north-eastern Queensland, Australia and adjacent islands.


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


Habitat:
These birds are mostly found in Melaleuca swamps and woodlands, but also occur in mangroves, rainforests, riverine vegetation, scrubland along creeks in dry woodlands and sometimes in open country.


Diet:
They eat the nectar of various plants, as well as insects and other small invertebrates.


Breeding:
Brown-backed honeyeaters breed in August-December. The nest is a domed or roofed pensile structure, made of Melaleuca bark and bound together with spider webs. The nest is placed at the end of a branch of a tree or scrub, 1-8 m above the ground and sometimes over water. The female lays 1-3 eggs which are incubated for 14-16 days. The chicks fledge 12-15 days after hatching.


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

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Coppersmith barbet

Megalaima haemacephala

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

Common name:
coppersmith barbet (en); barbudo-de-peito-vermelho (pt); barbu à plastron rouge (fr); barbudo calderero (es); kupferschmied (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Piciformes
Family Capitonidae

Range:
This species is found in southern Asia, from north-eastern Pakistan, through India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh, and into southern China, the Malay Peninsula, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Size:These birds are 15-17 cm long and weigh 30-53 g.

Habitat:Coppersmith barbets are mostly found in moist forests, but also in dry deciduous woodlands, along forest edges, in teak forests, mangroves, irrigated orchards and plantations with fruiting trees, and urban areas that contain trees. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.250 m.

Diet:They mostly eat wild figs and other fruits and berries, but also insects such as beetles, crickets, mantids and various insect larvae.

Breeding:These birds breed in December-September. They nest in a hole, excavated by both sexes in a tree trunk or branch, often on the underside of an horizontal branch. There the female lays 2-4 eggs which are incubated by both sexes for 12-14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 5 weeks after hatching. Each pair may raise 1-2 broods per season.

Conservation:IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
The coppersmith barbet has a very large breeding range and is reported to be widespread and common throughout this range. The species has expanded in range, as it can easily adapt to man-made and altered habitats.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Boat-tailed grackle

Quiscalus major

Photo by Connie Denyes (Wikipedia)

Common name:
boat-tailed grackle (en); iraúna-dos-paúis (pt); quiscale des marais (fr); zanate marismeño (es); bootschwanzgrackel (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Icteridae


Range:
This species is found breeding along the eastern coast of North America, from New York to Florida, and along the Gulf of Mexico coast to Texas. Some populations migrate south and may reach northern Mexico.


Size:
These birds are 26-37 cm long and have a wingspan of 39-50 cm. They weigh 90-240 g.


Habitat:
The boat-tailed grackle is mostly found in coastal saltwater marshes, but also in inland wetlands near the coast, in agricultural fields and even in urban areas.


Diet:
They mostly eat small crabs, shrimps and other aquatic invertebrates, but also insects, earthworms, seeds and fruits. Rice is an important part of their diet in autumn and they are also known to eat small lizards, frogs, turtles, eggs and even garbage.


Breeding:
Boat-billed grackles nest in colonies. Both males and females are often promiscuous and the females are responsible for building the nest, a bulky cup of twigs, grass, weeds and bulrushes placed in a tree or bush near water. The female lays 2-5 light blue eggs with dark spots, which she incubates alone for 13-15 days. The chicks are fed only by the female and fledge 20-23 days after hatching. This species produces 2-3 clutches per year.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a relatively large breeding range and a global population estimated at 4 million individuals. The population has undergone a large increase of 16% per decade over the last 40 years.