Monday, 30 April 2012

Red kite

Milvus milvus

Photo by Thomas Kraft (Wikipedia)

Common name:
red kite (en); milhafre-real (pt); milan royal (fr); milano real (es); rotmilan (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Falconiformes
Family Accipitridae

Range:
The red kite is almost entirely restricted to Europe, being found from southern Sweden and the Baltic, through Poland and Germany and into France, Great Britain, Italy and the Iberian Peninsula. There is also small population in Morocco.

Size:
These birds are 60-73 cm long and have a wingspan of 150-179 cm. They weigh 800-1.300 g.

Habitat:
They are mostly found in open temperate forests, scrublands and grasslands, but are also common over pastures, agricultural areas and even inside urban areas.

Diet:
Red kites are mostly scavengers, taking a wide range of animal carrion including sheep, rabbits, birds and even waste from refuse dumps. They also hunt small animals such as reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, fishes, insects and earthworms.

Breeding:
These birds are monogamous and may pair for life. They breed in April-August and the nest is an untidy platform made of sticks and twigs and lined with wool and sometimes pieces of paper, plastic or cloth. The nest is placed in a fork in a tree, typically an oak, beech or pine, 12-20 m above the ground. The female lays 1-4 white eggs with reddish-brown spots, which she incubates alone for 32-33 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 48-54 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 42.000-51.000 individuals. After a generalized decline until the 1970s, some populations are now increasing or stable, but further declines are being witnessed in core breeding areas such as Spain, France and Germany, so the overall population trend is still negative. The main threat to the red kite is illegal direct poisoning and indirect poisoning from pesticides and rodent bait, but other threats include habitat loss due to agricultural intensification, electrocution and collision with power lines and wind turbines, hunting and trapping, road-kills, deforestation, egg-collection and possibly competition with the generally more successful black kite M. migrans.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Hawaii amakihi

Hemignathus virens

Photo by Chuck Babbitt (Photo.net)

Common name:
Hawaii amakihi (en); amakigi-do-Hawai (pt); amakihi familier (fr); amakiji hawaiano (es); amakihi (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Drepanididae


Range:
This species is endemic to the island of Hawaii.


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


Habitat:
The Hawaii amakihi is found in all types of habitat of the island, namely tropical moist forests, tropical dry forests and plantations. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 2.400 m.


Diet:
They mostly eat nectar from various flowers, namely Metrosideros polymorpha, Rubus hawaiensis and Sophora chrysophylla. They also suck juices from fruits and hunt spiders and insects.


Breeding:
Hawai amakihis breed in January-March. The nest is an open cup, made of woven plant fibres and placed in a tree. The female lays 1-3 eggs, which she incubates alone for 14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge around 17 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a restricted breeding range, but it is described as locally common. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats, and they are known to be less affected by habitat change than most other Hawaian endemics.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Red-capped robin

Petroica goodenovii

(Photo from Bird Watching Magazine)

Common name:
red-capped robin (en); rouxinol-de-testa-vermelha (pt); miro à front rouge (fr); petroica frentirroja (es); rotstirnschnäpper (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Petroicidae


Range:
This species is endemic to Australia, being found throughout most of the country, with the exception of Tasmania and the northernmost areas of Queensland, of the Northern Territories and of Western Australia.


Size:
The red-capped robin is 10,5-12,5 cm long and has a wingspan of 15-19,5 cm. They weigh 7-9 g.


Habitat:
These birds are found in most inland habitats that have tall trees or scrubs, such as Eucalyptus, Acacia or cypress pine woodlands, particularly in arid and semi-arid areas. They can also be found in coastal areas, orchards and sometimes gardens.


Diet:
They hunt various arthropods, either on the ground or in low scrubs. They are known to take grasshoppers, butterflies and moths, caterpillars, dragonflies, damselflies, mantids, antlions, bugs, beetles, earwigs, flies and spiders.


Breeding:
Red-capped robins breed in June-January. The female builds the nest, an open cup made of bark, grass, and rootlets, bound together with spider web, lined with soft materials and often camoflaged with lichen, bark and mosses. The nest is placed on a fork in a tree. The female lays 2-3 white eggs with brown blotches, which she incubates alone for 13-15 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 13-15 days after hatching. Each pair may raise 1-3 broods per season.


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

Friday, 27 April 2012

Trindade petrel

Pterodroma arminjoniana

Photo by Steve Howell (Seabirding Pelagic Trips)

Common name:
Trindade petrel (en); grazina-de-Trindade (pt); pétrel de Trindade (fr)petrel de la Trindade (es)Südtrinidad-sturmvogel (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Procellariiformes
Family Procellariidae


Range:
This species is only found breeding on the islands of Trindade and Martim Vaz, off the coast of Brazil, but they cover wide areas of the southern Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans while searching for food.


Size:
These birds are 35-39 cm long and have a wingspan of 88-102 cm. They weigh around 320 g.


Habitat:
Trindade petrels breed in rocky islands and forage out in the open sea.


Diet:
They mostly eat small fishes and cephalopods.


Breeding:
The Trindade petrel can breed all year round, but with a peak in October-April. They form dense colonies, nesting in crevices and other cliff-cavities, in the highest parts of the islands. The female lays a single eggs, which is incubated by both parents for 49-54 days. The chick is fed by both parents and fledges 9-11 weeks after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a very small breeding range and the global population is estimated at 1.130-15.000 individuals. The population is believed to be stable as there are no major threats, but the small breeding range and population size makes the Trindade petrel susceptible to stochastic events and future human impacts that could arise from naval activities and the spread of wind turbines.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Victoria's riflebird

Ptiloris victoriae

Photo by Lindsay Hansch (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
Victoria's riflebird (en); ave-do-paraíso-de-Vitória (pt); paradisier de Victoria (fr); ave-del-paraíso de Victoria (es); Victoriaparadiesvogel (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Paradisaeidae


Range:
This species is endemic to eastern Australia, only being found in the Atherton Tableland region of north-eastern Queensland.


Size:
These birds are 23-25 cm long and weigh 90-100 g.


Habitat:
The Victoria's riflebird is mostly found in lowland rainforest and sometimes also in mangroves and swamp forests.


Diet:
They eat mostly eat various invertebrates, namely cockroaches, spiders, wood lice, and centipedes, which they dig out of tree bark. They also eat fruits and berries.Breeding:
Victoria's riflebirds breed in August-February. The female builds the nest alone and often decorates it with snake skins. She lays 1-2 eggs which she incubates alone for 18-19 days. The chicks are fed by the female alone and fledge 14-15 days after hatching. 


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a restricted breeding range, but it is reported to be common throughout its remaining habitat. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to habitat loss and hunting pressure.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Silver-eared mesia

Leiothrix argentauris

Photo by J.J. Harrison (Wikipedia)

Common name:
silver-eared mesia (en); rouxinol-de-faces-prateadas (pt); léiothrix à joues argent (fr); leiotrix cariblanco (de); silberohr-sonnenvogel (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Timaliidae


Range:
This Asian species is found around the Himalayas, in Nepal, northern India and in western and south-western China, and through Bangladesh and Myanmar, across Indochina and down to Indonesia.


Size:
These birds are 16-18 cm long and weigh 15-30 g.


Habitat:
They are mostly found along the edges of moist broadleaved forests, in scrublands and plantations. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 2.600 m.


Diet:
They eat both insects and various fruits and berries.


Breeding:
Silver-eared mesias are monogamous and may mate for life. The nest is an open cup, made of grasses, twigs, mosses and plant fibres, and lined with feathers and soft grasses. The nest is usually hidden in dense scrubs. The female lays 2-4 pale blue eggs with brown speckles, which she incubates alone for 13-14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 12-14 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 2-4 weeks later. Each pair may raise 2-3 clutches 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 described as generally common, although locally rare in Nepal. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and fragmentation, but it is not considered threatened at present.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Ruby-throated hummingbird

Archilochus colubris

(Photo from Dream Birding)

Common name:
ruby-throated hummingbird (en); beija-flor-de-garganta-vermelha (pt); colibri à gorge rubis (fr); colibrí de garganta roja (es); rubinkehlkolibri (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae


Range:
This species breeds throughout the eastern United States and south-eastern Canada. They migrate south to winter in Central America from Mexico to Panama.


Size:
These birds are 7-9 cm long and have a wingspan of 8-11 cm. They weigh 3-4 g.


Habitat:
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are mostly found breeding in open deciduous forests, but also in pine forests, along forest edges, in grasslands and in orchards and gardens. During winter they are found in deciduous tropical forests, in agricultural areas and along rivers and marshes. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 1.900 m.


Diet:
They mostly eat the nectar of a wide variety of flowering plants, namely red buckeye Aesculus pavia, jewelweed Impatiens sp., columbine Aquilegia canadensis, trumpet creeper Campsis radicans, red morning-glory Ipomea coccinea, coral honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens, fly honeysuckle Lonicera canadensis, cardinal flower Lobelia cardinalis, catchfly Silene armeria and fire-pink Silene virginica. They also hunt small invertebrates such as mosquitos, gnats, fruit flies, small bees and spiders.


Breeding:
The ruby-throated hummingbird breeds in March-July. They are polygynous and the males have no further part in the breeding process after mating with the females. The female builds the nest, a small cup made of thistle or dandelion down held together with strands of spider silk and sometimes pine resin, and with some pieces of lichen and moss for camouflage. The nest is placed on top of a branch, 3-7 m above the ground. The female lays 1-3 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 10-14 days. The chicks are raised by the female and fledge 18-22 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 1 week later. Each female may raise 1-2 broods per season.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 7 million individuals. The population has undergone a large increase of 27% per decade over the last 4 decades.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Ashy prinia

Prinia socialis

Photo by J.M. Garg (Wikipedia)

Common name:
ashy prinia (en); fuinha-cinzenta (pt); prinia cendrée (fr); prinia ahumada (de); rostbauchprinie (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Cisticolidae


Range:
This species is found across India and in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and western Myanmar.


Size:
These birds are 13-14 cm long and weigh 7-10 g.


Habitat:
The ashy prinia is found in dry open grasslands, in open woodland, scrublands and in urban parks and gardens. They can also be found in mangroves, agricultural areas and various wetlands.


Diet:
They eat various insects.


Breeding:
Ashy prinias can breed all year round, but mostly after the monsoons. They are believed to be monogamous. The nest is made by stitching leaves together with webs and hair, and placed close to the ground in a scrub or tall grass. The female lays 3-5 brick-red or chestnut eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 12 days. The chicks are fed by both parents.


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

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Olive thrush

Turdus olivaceus

Photo by Stefan Helming (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
olive thrush (en); tordo-oliváceo (pt); merlo olivâtre (fr); zorzal oliváceo (es); kapdrossel (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Turdidae


Range:
This African species is found from Zimbabwe and Mozambique down to eastern South Africa.


Size:
The olive thrush is 24 cm long and weighs 80-110 g.


Habitat:
They are mostly found in evergreen forests and along forest edges, but can also be found in scrublands, rural gardens and orchards, urban areas and alien Acacia thickets.


Diet:
These birds eat both fruits and various invertebrates including earthworms, snails, slugs, spiders, beetles, moths and caterpillars, glow-worms and bivalves.


Breeding:
Olive thrushes breed in August-December. The female builds the nest alone, a large, moist bowl made of grass stems, twigs, earth, wet leaves and moss, lined with plant stems, fibres, tendrils and bracken. It is placed in a fork in a tree branch, 3-16 m above ground. There the female lays 2-3 blue eggs, which she incubates alone for 14-16 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 16 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 2 months later.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as generally common and sometimes abundant. The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the impacts of habitat modification on population sizes, but they are known to adapted extremely well to the introduction of man-made habitats.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Indian bustard

Ardeotis nigriceps

Photo by Csaba Barkoczi (Animal News

Common name:
Indian bustard (en); abetarda-da-Índia (pt); outarde à tête noire (fr); avutarda india (es); hindutrappe (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Gruiformes
Family Otididae


Range:
Previously widespread across India and Pakistan, this species is now restricted to scattered populations in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, in India; and in Sind, Pakistan.


Size:
This large bustard is sexually dimorphic, with the smaller females measuring 90-95 cm in length and weighing 3,5-7 kg, while the males are a20-a25 cm long and weigh 8-14,5 kg.


Habitat:
The Indian bustard is found in arid and semi-arid grasslands with scattered low scrubs and bushes in open, stony and frequently slightly rolling semi-desert country. They can also be found in arable land.


Diet:
They are omnivorous opportunist, taking advantage of seasonally abundant food items. These include invertebrates such as grasshoppers, beetles, locusts, crickets, mole-crickets, mantids, termite alates, large ants, caterpillars, centipedes, spiders and worms. Also various small vertebrates including lizards and snakes, frogs, birds and eggs, mice, rats, gerbils and other small mammals. Their diet also includes a large vegetable portion, namely seeds, shoots, leaves, herbs, wild berries, oil seeds, cultivated grains and pods of legumes.


Breeding:
Indian bustards can breed all year round, but mostly in March-September. The nest is a depression on the ground, either on open ground or hidden in stony or scrubby areas. The female lays a single eggs, which she incubates alone for 27-40 days. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and can feed by themselves after 1 week, but are only able to maintain sustained flight after 7 months and remain with their mother for up to 1 year.


Conservation:
IUCN status - CR (Critically endangered)
This species has a large breeding range, but this range contracted by 90% during the last century. At present, the global population is estimated at just 50-250 individuals and it declined by over 80% over the last 3 generations. This decline was mostly caused by hunting for sport and food, as well as egg collection and habitat loss due to agricultural development. Livestock grazing and mining are further threats to this species. The Indian bustard is legally protected in India and several protected areas have been specifically established for the species, but some poaching still takes place.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Olive-striped flycatcher

Mionectes olivaceus

Photo by Torres Monttenegro (Planet of Birds)

Common name:
olive-striped flycatcher (en); abre-asa-listado (pt); pipromorphe olive (fr); mosquero oliváceo (es); olivkopf-pipratyrann (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Tyrannidae


Range:
This species is found from Costa Rica, south to northern Venezuela and along the western slopes of the Andes to northern Bolivia. It is also found in Trinidad and Tobago.


Size:
These birds are 12,5-14 cm long and weigh 11-15 g.


Habitat:
Olive-striped flycatchers are mostly found in moist tropical forests, but also in plantations and patches of degraded former forest. They occur at altitudes of 500-3.000 m.


Diet:
Unlike most flycatcher, their diet includes a large portion of seeds, fruits and berries, but they also eat some insects and spiders.


Breeding:
The nest of the olive-striped flycatcher is a moss-covered ball with a side entrance, which is suspended from a root or branch, often over water. There the female lays 2-3 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 18-20 days. The chicks fledge 18-21 days after hatching.


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

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Cliff swallow

Petrochelidon pyrrhonota

(Photo from Birds)

Common name:
cliff swallow (en); andorinha-de-dorso-acanelado (pt); hirondelle à front blanc (fr)golondrina de alcantarilla (es); fahlstirnschwalbe (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Hirundinidae


Range:
This species breeds throughout most of North America, migrating south to winter in South America, from Venezuela to northern Argentina.


Size:
These birds are 13-15 cm long and have a wingspan of 28-30 cm. They weigh 19-34 g.


Habitat:
They breed in open canyons and river valleys with rocky cliffs, but forage over various habitats including farmland, pastures, wetlands, grasslands, forests and urban areas. They can be found from sea level up to an altitude of 3.200 m.


Diet:
Cliff swallows hunt various insects on the wing.


Breeding:
These birds are monogamous and form large colonies. The nest is a covered bowl made of mud pellets, with a small entrance tunnel on one side. It is lined with grass and placed on vertical walls, natural or man-made, or sometimes on barns, bridges, and other large buildings. The female lays 3-6 creamy white eggs with brown speckles, which are incubated by both parents for 14-16 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 21-23 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population estimated at 90 million individuals. The population has undergone a small increase over the last 4 decades.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Scarlet macaw

Ara macao

Photo by Fabián Avellán (Raxa Collective)

Commom name:
scarlet macaw (en); araracanga (pt); ara rouge (fr)guacamaya roja (es)arakanga (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Psittacidae


Range:
This species is found from southern Mexico to Peru, Bolivia and western Brazil.


Size:
The scarlet macaw is 80-96 cm long and has a wingspan of 110-120 cm. They weigh 900-1.500 g.


Habitat:
They are mostly found in lowland rainforest, mangroves and in dry savannas along rivers. They are mostly present from sea level up to an altitude of 900 m.


Diet:
These birds eat a wide range of fruits, seeds, nuts, flowers, nectar, bark and leaves.


Breeding:
Scarlet macaws breed in October-May. They nest in large tree cavities, about 20 m above the ground. The female lays 1-4 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 22-28 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 12-15 weeks after hatching, but often remain with the parents until the next breeding season.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 20.000-50.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be in decline as a result of habitat loss, hunting for food and feathers, and capture for the pet trade, but the species is not considered threatened at present.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Greater short-toed lark

Calandrella brachydactyla

Photo by Lior Kislev (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
greater short-toed lark (en); calhandrinha-comum (pt); alouette calandrelle (fr); terrera común (es); kurzzehenlerche (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Alaudidae

Range:
This species is found in southern Europe, from Portugal to Greece, and in northern Africa from Morocco to Egypt and south to the Sahel belt. It is also found along the middle latitudes of Asia all the way east to eastern China, Mongolia and Korea.

Size:
These birds are 13-14 cm long and have a wingspan of 25-32 cm. They weigh 18-25 g.

Habitat:
The greater short-toed lark is mostly found in dry grasslands, dry scrublands, fallow agricultural fields and pastures. They are also found in semi-desert and steppe. This species is found from sea level up to an altitude of 2.400 m.

Diet:
During spring and summer they mostly eat invertebrates, namely beetles, ants, bugs and snails. During the rest of the year they eat seeds and other vegetable matter, mostly of grasses, herbs and also cereal grains.

Breeding:
Greater short-toed larks breed in April-July. The female builds the nest, a shallow scrape on the ground lined with grasses, rootlets and finer materials. There she lays 3-5 yellowish or greenish eggs with brown spots. The female incubates the eggs alone for 11-13 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 9-12 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 1-3 weeks later.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population estimated at 100-1.000 million individuals. The population is estimated to be in decline owing to recorded regional declines in recent decades, especially in Europe.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Kalahari scrub-robin

Cercotrichas paena

Photo by Ian White (Flickr)

Common name:
Kalahari scrub-robin (en); rouxinol-do-mato-do-Kalahari (pt); agrobate du Kalahari (fr); alzacola del Kalahari (es); Kalahariheckensänger (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Muscicapidae


Range:
This African species is found from south-western Angola, through Namibia and Botswana and into northern South Africa and Zimbabwe.


Size:
These birds are 14-16 cm long and weigh 20 g.


Habitat:
The Kalahari scrub-robin is mostly found in scrublands and dry savannas, often preferring patches of bare ground. They are also found in rural gardens and farm land. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.200 m.


Diet:
They hunt for insects and other arthropods on the ground, taking ants, termites, beetles, butterflies and caterpillars, bugs, grasshoppers, mantids and spiders.


Breeding:
Kalahari scrub-robins can breed all year round, depending on rainfall. The nest is built by the female, consisting of a compact cup, made of dry grasses, leaves and twigs, lined with tendrils, rootlets and animal hair. It is placed on a scrub near the ground, or occasionally in a man-made objects such as a tin. There the female lays 2-4 eggs, which she incubates alone for 12-13 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 11-14 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 4-6 weeks later.


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 stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Crested bobwhite

Colinus cristatus

Photo by Karla León (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
crested bobwhite (en); uru-do-campo (pt); colin huppé (fr)codorniz crestada (es); haubenwachtel (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Galliformes
Family Odontophoridae


Range:
This species is found from Costa Rica to western Colombia and northern Brazil. They are also found on the island of Aruba in the Netherlands Antilles.


Size:
These birds are 18-24 cm long and weigh 115-155 g.


Habitat:
Crested bobwhites are mostly found in tall grasslands with a few scattered trees, in dry scrublands or dry savannas. They can also be found along forest edges, in pastures and in shade coffee plantations. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 3.200 m.


Diet:
They mostly eat the seeds of various plants, namely Asteraceae, Cyperaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Fabaceae and Poaceae, but also eat berries other vegetable matter and some invertebrates like ants and termites.


Breeding:
The crested bobwhite breeds in February-October. The nest is built on the ground in a cavity lined with grass stems, where the female lays 8-16 cream-coloured eggs with brown spots. She mostly incubates the eggs alone for 21-23 days and the chicks leave the nest soon after hatching, after which they follow the parents until fledging.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 1 million individuals. The population may be increasing as it benefits from clear-cutting of forests and the development of agriculture.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Red-billed quelea

Quelea quelea

(Photo from Purple "O" Purple)

Common name:
red-billed quelea (en); quelea-de-bico-vermelho (pt); travailleur à bec rouge (fr); quelea común (es); blutschnabelweber (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Ploceidae


Range:
This species is found across much of sub-Saharan Africa, only being absent from the lowland forests of West Africa, and the most arid areas of southern Namibia, south-western Botswana and the southern half of South Africa.


Size:
The red-billed quelea is 11-13 cm long and has a wingspan of 14 cm. They weigh 15-20 g.


Habitat:
These birds are mostly found in pastures and arable land, but also in dry grasslands, dry savannas and dry scrublands like thornveld. 


Diet:
They mostly eat seeds, including wild grasses, but also several cereal crops like maize, sorghum, manna, millet, oats, buckwheat, rice and wheat, making this species a serious crop pest. They also eat some arthropods, including beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, bugs, ants, termites, dragonflies and spiders.


Breeding:
Red-billed queleas are monogamous and highly colonial, forming large colonies that can span for several kilometres. They breed in November-April and the male builds the nest, a small oval grass ball with a side-top entrance covered by a small hood. The nests are typically attached to thorny trees. The female lays 1-5 light-blue eggs, which she mostly incubates alone for 10-12 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 10-14 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 is possible the most abundant wild bird on the planet with an estimated global population of over 1.500 million individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Rufous owl

Ninox rufa

(Photo from Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
rufous owl (en); coruja-ruiva (pt); ninoxe rousse (fr); nínox rojizo (es); rostkauz (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae

Range:
This species is found in northern Australia, New Guinea and the Aru Islands.

Size:
These birds are 46-57 cm long and have a wingspan of 100-120 cm. Females tend to be smaller than male, weighing 700-1.050 g while males weigh 1.050-1.300 g.

Habitat:
These birds are found in rainforests, gallery forests, forested gulleys, forest edges and wooded savannas. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 2.000 m.

Diet:
These powerful hunters take a wide range of prey, from large insects like beetles and phasmids, to large birds including brush-turkeys, scrubfowl, frogmouths, kookaburras, white cockatoos, herons, ducks and parrots. They are also known to eat flying foxes and crayfish.

Breeding:
Rufous owls breed in June-September. They nest in a large hollow in the trunk or in a large branch, most often in a dead tree up to 30 m above the ground. The female lays 1-2 dull white eggs, which she incubates alone for 36-38 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge about 50 days after hatching, but continue to depend on the parents for several months after fledging, and can remain with the parents until the next breeding season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a large breeding range but is reported to be uncommon to rare. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction by the clearing of forests and increasing numbers of forest fires, and unsustainable levels of hunting.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Spotless starling

Sturnus unicolor

Photo by Celestino Costa (Flickriver)

Common name:
spotless starling (en); estorninho-preto (pt); étourneau unicolore (fr); estornino negro (es); einfarbstar (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Sturnidae


Range:
This species is found in south-western Europe, in Portugal, Spain, France and in the islands of Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica. It is also found in north-west Africa, in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.


Size:
These birds are 19-23 cm long and have a wingspan of 30-40 cm. They weigh 70-100 g.


Habitat:
The spotless starling is found in open woodlands, scrublands, grasslands  and pastures, often associated with cattle, but they are also common in urban areas, rural gardens, plantations and arable land.


Diet:
They mostly eat invertebrates during spring and summer and seeds and fruits during the rest of the year. These birds are rather opportunistic, taking advantage of occasional food sources, like fruits in vineyards and olive orchards, insects flushed by ploughing and cattle grazing and even eating human trash.


Breeding:
Spotless starlings breed in March-July. The nest is a foundation of twigs, dry grass, herbs and cereal stalks lined thickly with rootlets, grass, leaves, flowers, and feathers. It is placed in a hole, usually in a human-made structure but also in trees or rock faces. The female lays 3-6 blue-greenish eggs, which are incubated for 10-12 days. The chicks fledge 20-22 days after hatching. Each pair typically  raises 2 broods per season.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a large breeding range and a global population estimated at 10-20 million individuals. The population is suspected to be increasing due to a range expansion in Iberia.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Laysan duck

Anas laysanensis

Photo by Melinda Webster (Melinda Annie's Website)

Common name:
Laysan duck (en); pato-de-Laysan (pt); canard de Laysan (fr); ánade de Laysan (es); Laysanente (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Anseriformes
Family Anatidae


Range:
This species is endemic to the island of Laysan, in the Hawaii archipelago.


Size:
These birds are 40-42 cm long and weigh up to 400 g.


Habitat:
Laysan ducks use all habitats in the island of Laysan. During the day they are mostly found hidden in dense scrubland, coming out during the evening and night to forage along the sea shores or on the brackish lake inside the island.


Diet:
They mostly eat brine flies Scatella sexnotata, shrimps, snails and other invertebrates such as insect larvae and moths, but will also take grass seeds, sedge seeds and some algae.


Breeding:
The Laysan duck can breed almost all year round, with the breeding season varying significantly between years. The female builds the nest on the ground, under dense vegetation, where she lays 3-4 eggs which she incubates alone for 24-28 days. The precocial chicks leave the nest within 2 days of hatching, but are guarded, brooded, and led to foraging sites by the female for 40-60 days.


Conservation:
IUCN status - CR (Critically endangered)
In the past the Laysan duck occurred throughout the Hawaiian islands, but the introduction of rats lead to its disapearance everywhere but in Laysan. At present, the species has an extremely small breeding range and the global population is estimated at 888-1.064 individuals. The Laysan duck nearly became extinct in the beginning of the XX century, and although the population is currently increasing it shows extreme fluctuations caused by extreme weather, diseases and the accidental introduction of competitors. Some conservation measures, including habitat restoration in Laysan and the relocation of 42 birds  to the Midway Atoll, are under-way to try and save this critically endangered species. 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Yellow-billed grosbeak

Eophona migratoria

Photo by Tim Edelsten (Birds Korea)

Common name:
yellow-billed grosbeak (en); bico-grossudo-chinês (pt); gros-bec migrateur (fr); pepitero de cola negra (es); weißhand-Kernbeißer (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Fringillidae


Range:
These birds breed in south-eastern Russia, Korea, Mongolia and eastern China, and migrate south to winter in southern China and Taiwan, in Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.


Size:
The yellow-billed grosbeak is 16-18 cm long and weighs 40-50 g.


Habitat:
They are mostly found in temperate forests, both coniferous, deciduous and mixed. They can also be found in bamboo thickets, scrublands, plantations, gardens and parks.


Diet:
They mostly eat seeds of various trees and scrubs, but are also known to eat bamboo leaves and the chicks are mostly fed insects during the nestling period.


Breeding:
Yellow-billed grosbeaks breed in May-October. The nest cup is made of twigs and roots and placed in a fork in a tree or scrub. There the female lays 3-5 bluish eggs with brown markings, which she incubates alone for 11-13 days. The chicks fledge 10-14 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 2-3 weeks later. 


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