Saturday, 30 June 2012

Horned sungem

Heliactin bilophus

Photo by Arthur Grosset (Arthur Grosset's Birds)

Common name:
horned sungem (en); chifre-de-ouro (pt); colibri aux huppes d'or (fr); colibrí cornudito (es); goldhauben-schmuckkolibri (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae


Range:
This species is found in the southern half of Brazil and marginally across the border into Bolivia, and there is a disjunct population in northern Brazil and Surinam.


Size:
These birds are 8-10 cm long and weigh 2-2,5 g.


Habitat:
Horned sungems are found in dry savannas, dry grasslands, open forests, forest edges and rural gardens. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.000 m.


Diet:
They feed on the nectar of various plants, namely Caesalpinoideae, Vochysiaceae and Asteraceae. They also eat small insects.


Breeding:
These birds nest in a small cup made of soft plant material and cobweb, usually placed in a fork of a small scrub, 1 m above ground. The female lays 2 eggs which she incubates alone for 12-13 days. The chicks fledge 20-23 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as uncommon. The species is suspected to be increasing since it readily adapts to man-made habitats such as gardens and cultivated areas. It is believed to be expanding northwards, probably due to deforestation.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Bornean bristlehead

Pityriasis gymnocephala

Photo by James Eaton (Birdtour Asia)

Common name:
Bornean bristlehead (en); gimnocéfalo-do-Bornéu (pt); barite chauve (fr)gimnocéfalo (es); warzenkopf (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Pityriaseidae


Range:
This species is endemic to the island of Borneo, where it is patchily distributed in eastern Malaysia, Brunei and in Kalimantan, Indonesia.


Size:
These birds are 25 cm long and weigh 130 g.


Habitat:
The Bornean bristlehead is found in moist primary and secondary forests, in peat swamp forests and in mangroves. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 1.200 m.


Diet:
They mainly eat insects, namely Orthoptera, Phasmida, Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, Hemiptera and Blattodea, but also spiders, small reptiles, amphibians and sometimes fruits.


Breeding:
There is little information regarding the breeding biology of the Bornean bristlehead. They possibly breed in May-October. They are believed to make a cup-shaped nest with  sticks and grasses and the eggs are white with grey and brown spots. They may nest communally as two females where once observed feeding the same fledgling.


Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a relatively large, even if patchy, breeding range. The population is believed to be declining as a result of widespread and rapid forest destruction within its range, but this threat may be allayed by the species tolerance of logged, secondary and hill forest, although more research is required to determine the full habitat requirements of this species.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Willow flycatcher

Empidonax traillii

Photo by Larry Thompson (Discover Life)

Common name:
willow flycatcher (en); maria-fibiu (pt); moucherolle des saules (fr); mosquero saucero (es); weidenschnäppertyrann (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Tyrannidae


Range:
This species breeds in southern Canada and in most of the United States with the exception of the south-easternmost corner of the country. They migrate south to winter in Central America and in Colombia, western Venezuela, northern Ecuador and northern Peru.


Size:
These birds are 13-17 cm long and have a wingspan of 19-24 cm. They weigh 11-16 g.


Habitat:
Willow flycatchers are found breeding in moist scrublands and scrub-dominated wetlands. Outside the breeding season they are found in dry scrublands, moist forests and pastures. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 2.500 m.


Diet:
They hunt insects on the wing, mostly taking Hymenoptera, Diptera, Cicadellidae, Coleoptera and Formicidae.


Breeding:
Willow flycatchers breed in May-July. The nest is an open cup woven of weed stems, plant fibres, pine needles, shredded bark, and grass, lined with feathers, hair, rootlets, and fine materials. The nest is placed low in a scrub or small tree. The female lays 3-5 creamy white or buff eggs with dark markings, which are incubated for 13-14 days. The chicks fledge 13-15 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated 3,3 million individuals. The population has undergone a small increase over the last 4 decades.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Wahlberg's honeyguide

Prodotiscus regulus

Photo by Alan Manson (Flickr)

Common name:
Wahlberg's honeyguide (en); indicador-de-bico-aguçado (pt); indicateur de Wahlberg (fr); indicador dorsipardo (es); Wahlberglaubpicker (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Piciformes
Family Indicatoridae


Range:
This African species is patchily distributed in western Africa, mostly in and around Nigeria, and more widely found in eastern  Africa, from Tanzania and southern D.R. Congo to Angola, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa.

Size:
These birds 15-18 cm long and weigh 12-16 g.

Habitat:
The Wahlberg's honeyguide is mostly found in dry savannas, but also in dry grasslands, scrublands, open woodlands, forest edges and also in plantations and rural gardens. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.000 m.

Diet:
They forage by gleaning insects from foliage, twigs and bark, taking aphids, tree hoppers, beetles, moths and caterpillars. They are also knonw to eat beeswax.

Breeding:
Wahlberg's honeyguides breed in November-January. They are brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other birds, usually cisticolid warblers such as Cisticola fulvicapilla, C. aberrans, C. lais, C. chiniana, C. rufilatus, C. tinniens, Camaroptera brevicaudata, Prinia subflava, P. flavicans and P. maculosa. The female lays 1-3 eggs which are incubated by the host. The chicks are fed by the host and fledge 17-21 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is reported to be common. The species is suspected to be expanding its range in parts of South Africa as a result of tree planting.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Asian paradise-flycatcher

Terpsiphone paradisi

Photo by Steve Garvie (Wikipedia)

Common name:
Asian paradise-flycatcher (en); monarca-asiático (pt); tchitrec de paradis (fr); monarca colilargo asiático (es); fahlbauch-paradiesschnäpper (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Monarchidae


Range:
This species is found trhoughout south-eastern Asia, from Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to north-eastern China and extreme south-eastern Russia, and south to Indonesia. the more northern population migrate south to winter within the southern parts of their range.


Size:
These birds are 19-22 cm long, plus 24-30 cm long tail streamers in adults. They weigh around 20 g.


Habitat:
They are mostly found in rainforests with dense undergrowth, but also in mangroves, temperate forests, moist scrublands, rural gardens, plantations and urban areas. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 3.100 m.


Diet:
These birds are insectivorous, hunting insects in flight amongst the forest understory.


Breeding:
Asian paradise-flycatchers breed in May-July. The nest is cone-shaped and built with fine roots, plant fibres and small leaves, compacted with spider webs. The nest is placed in a scrub or small tree, up to 3 m above the ground. The female lays 3-4 pinkish-white eggs, which  are incubated by both parents for 13-16 days. The chicks fledge 12-14 days after hatching.


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

Monday, 25 June 2012

Red-faced warbler

Cardellina rubifrons

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

Common name:
red-faced warbler (en); mariquita-de-faces-vermelhas (pt); paruline à face rouge (fr); chipe cara roja (es); dreifarben-waldsänger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Parulidae

Range:
This North American species is found breeding in northern Mexico and in Arizona and New Mexico, United States. Some population migrate south to winter in southern Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Size:
These birds are 14-15 cm long and have a wingspan of 19-21 cm. They weigh 8-11 g.

Habitat:
They breed in high elevation coniferous forests, mainly Douglas fir, Engelmann spruce, and Ponderosa pine, especially where small groves of deciduous trees such as oak, maple, or aspen grow among the conifers. In winter they are found in pine, alder and oak forests. These birds occur at altitudes of 1.500-3.100 m.

Diet:
These birds are insectivorous, mostly eating caterpillars, but also some adult insects.

Breeding:
Red-faced warblers nest on the ground, in an open cup built by female using dry leaves, conifer needles, grasses, weeds and bark, and lined with plant fibres and hairs. It is well hidden at base of scrub, rock, grass tuft, tree trunk, or under a log. There she lays 3-6 white or pinkish-white eggs with fine brown speckles, which she incubates alone for 11-13 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 11-13 days after hatching. The fledglings are then split between the two parents, each taking care of half the chicks for another 4-5 weeks.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and a global population estimated at 400.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction, but the red-faced warbler is not considered threatened at present.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Red-billed tropicbird

Phaethon aethereus

Photo by Jean-Christophe Delattre (Nunda Foto)

Common name:
red-billed tropicbird (en); rabo-de-palha-de-bico-vermelho (pt); phaéton à bec rouge (fr); rabijunco etéreo (es); rotschnabel-tropikvogel (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Pelecaniformes
Family Phaethontidae


Range:
This species is found in the tropical Atlantic Ocean, from Angola to Brazil and north to the Canary Islands and the Caribbean, the north-western Indian Ocean between Pakistan, the Arabian Peninsula, Somalia and the Seychelles, and in the eastern Pacific Ocean from California to Ecuador. Breeding colonies are found on the Galapagos Islands, off the Pacific coast of Mexico, in the Carribean, on the Canary Islands, on islands in the southern Atlantic, and on the coasts of Yemen, Oman and Saudi Arabia.


Size:
These birds are 90-105 cm long, including the tail streamers, and have a wingspan of 100-115 cm. They weigh around 700 g.


Habitat:
The red-billed tropicbird breeds in cliffs and open rocky areas with sparse vegetation, most often in remote oceanic islands. They are highly pelagic, spending most of their time foraging in open oceanic waters, usually over areas of upwelling and other marine features that support dependable sources of prey.


Diet:
They eat fishes, including Clupeidae, Scombridae, Carangidae, Exocoetidae, Belonidae and Haemulidae, and squids Loligo sp., which they catch by plunge-diving, or sometimes taking flying fish from the air.


Breeding:
Red-billed tropicbirds are monogamous and breeds in January-May. The nest is a mere scrape on the ground, usually in a crevice in a cliff or beneath rocks. There the female lays a single egg which is incubated for 42-44 days. The chick is fed by both parents and fledges 80-90 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a restricted breeding range and a global population estimated at 5.000-20.000 individuals. Although the population is suspected to be in decline owing to predation by invasive species, human disturbance on nesting sites and persecution by fishermen, the red-billed tropicbird is not considered threatened at present.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Blue-grey tanager

Thraupis episcopus

Photo by Taran Rampersad (Flickr)

Common name:
blue-grey tanager (en); sanhaçu-da-Amazónia (pt); tangara évêque (fr); azulejo de jardín (es)bischofstangare (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Thraupidae


Range:
This species is found in northern South America and in Central America, from northern Brazil, Bolivia and Peru to southern Mexico. They are also found in Trinidad and Tobago.


Size:
These birds are 16-18 cm long and weigh 30-40 g.


Habitat:
Blue-grey tanagers are found in open woodlands, namely dry savannas, moist forests and second growths. They are also found in moist scrublands, rural gardens, plantations and urban areas, from sea level up to an altitude of 2.600 m.


Diet:
They mainly eat fruits, but also insects, spiders  and nectars, foraging in the foliage 3-10 m above the ground.


Breeding:Blue-grey tanagers nest in a deep, open cup, in a high tree fork or building crevice. The female lays 1-3 whitish to grey-green eggs with dark markings. The eggs are incubated by the female for 14 days, and the chicks fledge 17 days after hatching. Each pair raises 2-3 clutches per year.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 5-50 million individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Velvet asity

Philepitta castanea

Photo by Dubi Shapiro (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
velvet asity (en); asite-veludo (pt); philépitte veloutée (fr); filepita aterciopelada (es); seidenjala (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Philepittidae


Range:
This species is endemic to Madagascar, being found along the eastern side and extreme north-western corner of the island.


Size:
These birds are 14-17 cm long and weigh 34-42 g.


Habitat:
The velvet asity is mostly found in the understory of lowland rainforests, but also in mountain rainforests and second growths, at altitudes of 400-1.600 m.


Diet:
They are frugivorous, eating various fruits and berries of Myrsinaceae, Rubiaceae, Piperaceae, Oleaeceae and Loranthaceae.


Breeding:
Velvet asities breed in September-November. They are polygynous, with males forming leks where they display to passing females. The female is responsible for building the nest, a pear-shaped woven structure hanging from branches. She also incubates the eggs and raises the chicks alone, but there is no information on the duration of these stages.


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

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Chaco chachalaca

Ortalis canicollis

Photo by Ian Barker (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
Chaco chachalaca (en); aracuã-d0-Pantanal (pt); ortalide du Chaco (fr); charata (es); Chacoguan (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Galliformes
Family Cracidae


Range:
This South American birds are found in the Chaco region of south-eastern Bolivia, northern Argentina, Paraguay and south-western Mato Grosso, Brazil.


Size:
These birds are 50-56 cm long and weigh 480-600 g.


Habitat:
The Chaco chachalaca is mostly found in swamp forests and moist scrublands, but also in dry savannas, dry forests and plantations. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 1.200 m.


Diet:
They mostly eat fruits, herbaceous leaves, seeds and flowers, but can also eat caterpillars and other invertebrates.


Breeding:
Chaco chachalacas breed in November-February. The nest is a shallow platform, made with sticks, stems and leaves, placed in a tree 2-4 m above the ground. There the female lays 2-4 eggs, which she incubates alone for 24 days. The chicks leave the nest very soon after hatching, but will receive food from parents for the first few days.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as common. The population is declining due to habitat destruction caused by overgrazing, fires and wood extraction. It is also hunted and kept as a cage bird, but overall the Chaco chachalaca is not considered threatened at present.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Carolina wren

Thryothorus ludovicianus

(Photo from Free Desktop Backgrounds)

Common name:
Carolina wren (en); carriça-da-Carolina (pt); troglodyte de Caroline (fr); ratona carolinense (es); Carolinazaunkönig (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes

Family Troglodytidae


Range:
These birds are found throughout the eastern United States, in southern Ontario, Canada, in north-eastern Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.


Size:
The Carolina wren is 12-14 cm long and weigh 18-22 g.


Habitat:
These birds are mostly found in dry forest, but also in moist forests, brushy clear-cuts, dense scrublands, wooded swamps and wooded riparian areas. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 2.200 m.


Diet:
They mostly eat spiders and insects, such as caterpillars, moths, stick bugs, leafhoppers, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, and cockroaches. They are also known to take small lizards, frogs or snakes and plant matter, such as fruit pulp and seeds from bayberry, sweetgum, or poison ivy.


Breeding:
Carolina wrens breed in March-October. Male and female build the nest together, a bulky cup or dome, made bark strips, dried grasses, dead leaves, pine needles, hair, feathers, straw, shed snakeskin, paper, plastic, or string. It may be placed in a wide variety of natural and artificial sites, including upturned roots, tree stumps, vine tangles, conifer branches, overhangs, abandoned woodpecker holes, boxes, tin cans, old shoes, mailboxes, old articles of clothing and furniture, window sills and coffee pots. The female lays 3-7 white or pinkish white eggs with rusty spots, which she incubates alone for 12-16 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 12-14 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 4 weeks later.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population of 17 million individuals. The population has undergone a large increase of 16,8% per decade over the last 4 decades.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Eurasian blackbird

Turdus merula

Photo by Bojan Bencic (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
Eurasian blackbird (en); melro-preto (pt); merle noir (fr); mirlo común (es); amsel (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Turdidae


Range:
This species is found breeding in northern Africa, throughout Europe and into southern Asia to India and southern China. The northern and eastern populations migrate south to winter in north-eastern Africa, the Middle East and South-east Asia. It was introduced to eastern Australia and New Zealand.


Size:
These birds are 23,5-29 cm long and have a wingspan of 35-38 cm. They weigh 80-125 g.


Habitat:
The Eurasian blackbird is able to explore a wide range of habitats, from urban centres to woodlands and forests, scrublands and agricultural areas. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 4.600 m.


Diet:
They are omnivorous, eating a wide range of food items including fruits and berries, earthworms, insects, snails, leaches, centipedes, spiders and even small reptiles and mammals. They are also known to occasionally eat the eggs of other birds.


Breeding:
Within their native range, Eurasian blackbirds breed in February-August. The nest is a stout cup made of twigs, stems, mud and dry grass, placed in a tree or scrub. The female lays 3-5 bluish eggs with reddish-brown mottles, which she incubates alone for 12-17 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 13-14 days after hatching, but continue to receive food from parents for another 2-3 weeks.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population estimated at 150-500 million individuals. The population is suspected to be stable overall, and in Europe several population have shown moderate increases over the last 3 decades.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Malabar parakeet

Psittacula columboides

Photo by Bishan Monnappa (India Nature Watch)

Common name:
Malabar parakeet (en); piriquito-de-colar-de-Malabar (pt); perruche de Malabar (fr); cotorra de Malabar (es); taubensittich (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Pasittaciformes
Family Psittacidae


Range:
This species is endemic to the Western Ghats of southern India.


Size:
The Malabar parakeet is 36-38 cm long and weighs around 90 g.


Habitat:
These birds are found in upland evergreen rainforests, moist scrublands, deciduous forests with bamboo, arable land and abandoned coffee and rubber plantations, from sea level up to an altitude of 1.600 m.


Diet:
They feed on seeds, fruits, particularly wild figs, buds, flowers and nectar. They may also take sorghum and fruit crops.


Breeding:
Malabar parakeets breed in December-March. They nest in tree holes, especially old woodpecker and barbet nests, often in Ceylon ironwoods Mesua ferrea. The female lays 4 eggs, which are incubated for 21-23 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 28-32 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a somewhat restricted breeding range, but is reported to be common throughout the core of its range. Although the Malabar parakeet is affected by hunting for the pet trade and by habitat loss, the population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Reed parrotbill

Paradoxornis heudei

Photo by Coke Smith (Coke & Som Smith Photography)

Common name:
reed parrotbill (en); bico-de-papagaio-do-Yangtzé (pt); paradoxornis du Yangtsé (fr); picoloro del Yangtsé (es); Jangtsepapageimeise (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Paradoxornithidae


Range:
This Asian species occurs in two separate areas, one in north-eastern China, and across the border into Mongolia and Russia, and another in south-eastern China, along the Yangtze river.


Size:
These birds are 20-24 cm long and weigh 17-28 g.


Habitat:
These birds are found in reed beds, in freshwater lakes, rivers and streams. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 800 m.


Diet:
Reed parrotbills mostly eat insects, but also seeds.


Breeding:
These birds nest in a cup-shaped nest, made of leaves and grasses, attached to the stalk of a reed. There the female lays 3-5 eggs, which are incubated for 12-13 days. The chicks fledge 12 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a restricted breeding range and is described as locally common, but totally dependent on reedbeds. The reed parrotbill is likely to be declining throughout its range as a result of human encroachment, development and habitat degradation within reed bed habitats due to reed harvesting.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Puerto Rican tody

Todus mexicanus

Photo by Vanessa Ortiz (Talking Naturally)

Common name:
Puerto Rican tody (en); todi de Porto Rico (pt); todier de Porto Rico (fr); San Pedrito (es); gelbflankentodi (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Coraciiformes
Family Todidae


Range:
This species is endemic to the archipelago of Puerto Rico.


Size:
These birds are 11 cm long and weigh 5-6,5 g.


Habitat:
The Puerto Rican tody is found in almost all habitats available within its range, including rainforests, wet woodlands, dry scrublands and shaded coffee plantations, often near watercourses. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 1.000 m.


Diet:
They mostly eat insects such as mantises, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, bugs, moths, butterflies, dragonflies, flies, and also spiders. These birds are also known to take small lizards and fruits are often used to feed the chicks.


Breeding:
Puerto Rican todies are monogamous and nest in long burrows, excavated by both sexes in earth banks. The female lays 1-4 glossy white eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 21-22 days. The chicks are fed by both parents, and some times by helpers, and fledge 19-20 days after hatching. They only become fully independent 3 weeks later. Each pair raises a single clutch per year.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a small breeding range, but is described as common within this range. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to predation by the introduced Indian mongoose, habitat destruction and increasing use of non-shade coffee plantations

Friday, 15 June 2012

Baer's pochard

Aythya baeri

Photo by Lester Wareham (The Holding Tank)

Common name:
Baer's pochard (en); zarro-de-Baer (pt); fuligule de Baer (fr); porrón de Baer (es); Baermoorente (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Anseriformes
Family Anatidae


Range:
This Asian species breeds in the Amur and Ussuri basins, in south-eastern Russia and north-eastern China. It migrates south to winter from southern China, west to Bangladesh and eastern India, and south to Taiwan, Myanmar and occasionally Vietnam.


Size:
These birds are 41-46 cm long and weigh 650-700 g.


Habitat:
The Baer's pochard is found breeding in shallow lakes and freshwater marshes, but also in fast-flowing rivers, as long as there is rich aquatic vegetation where they can build a secure nest. Outside the breeding season in lakes, reservoirs, rivers, freshwater marshes, rice fields and in islands within freshwater lakes.


Diet:
They dive up to a depth of 2 m to hunt aquatic insects, molluscs, shrimps and fishes. They also eat algae, aquatic plants and seeds, especially during winter.


Breeding:
Baer's pochards breed in May-July. The nest is made of aquatic vegetation and placed in a tussock, in floating vegetation, in dense reedbeds or sometimes in the branches of trees. There the female lays 9-15 eggs, which she incubates alone for 23-28 days while the male guards the nest and collects food for the female. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching, but remain with their parents for 2-4 weeks.


Conservation:
IUCN status - EN (Endangered)
This species has a very large breeding range, but the global population is estimated at just 5.000 individuals. The population is estimated to be undergoing a fast decline caused by hunting and habitat loss due to wetland destruction in both their breeding and wintering grounds.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Maui parrotbill

Pseudonestor xanthophrys

Photo by Michael Neal (Neal Studios)

Common name:
Maui parrotbill (en); bico-de-papagaio-de-Maui (pt)psittirostre de Maui (fr); pinzón loro de Maui (es); papageischnabelgimpel (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Drepanidae


Range:
This species is endemic to the island of Maui, in Hawaii, where it is only found on the north-eastern slopes of Haleakala.


Size:
These birds are 14 cm long and weigh 20-25 g.


Habitat:
The Maui parrotbill is only found in mountain mesic and wet tropical forest, at altitudes of 1.200-2.150 m.


Diet:
They are insectivorous, using their bill to remove the bark of small trees and scrubs and collect the insects found underneath. They are known to eat larvae and pupae of wood- and fruit-boring beetles, moths and other invertebrates.


Breeding:
Maui parrotbills breed in November-June. The female builds the cup-shaped nest, using lichens and small twigs. The nest is placed in the outer canopy forks of mature ohia trees Metrosideros polymorpha, up to 12 m above the ground. There the female lays 1 egg, which she incubates alone for 16-17 days while receiving food from the male. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 18-20 days after hatching, but remain with their parents for another 5-8 months.


Conservation:
IUCN status - CR (Critically Endangered)
This species has a very small breeding range and the global population is estimated at just 500 individuals. The population is suspected to be declining owing to the effects of invasive species and other threats, although the rate of this decline as not been estimated. The Maui parrotbill is mostly threatened by habitat degradation caused by the spread of feral pigs, which have also facilitated the spread of disease-carrying mosquitoes causing avian malaria outbreaks. Furthermore, having a mountain distribution that is close to the maximum altitude within its range, this species is potentially susceptible to climate change

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Zebra finch

Taeniopygia guttata

Photo by Biswarup Satpati (Trek Nature)

Common name:
zebra finch (en); mandarim (pt); diamant mandarin (fr); pinzón cebra (es); zebrafink (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Estrildidae


Range:
This species is found throughout Australia, East Timor and southern Indonesia. A common cage bird, it has also been introduced to several other countries, namely Puerto Rico, Brazil, Portugal and the United States.


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


Habitat:
These birds are found in a wide range of habitats, usually near rivers or other water sources. These include dry grasslands and woodlands, saltmarshes, dry savannas, dry scrubland, pastures, agricultural land, rural gardens and urban areas.


Diet:
Zebra finches forage in large flocks, taking fallen or ripening grass seeds and also insects, especially during the breeding season.


Breeding:
They breed in October-April, varying according to rainfall. The female selects the nest site, which may be a small tree, a scrub, a cavity, a termite hill, a rabbit burrow, the nest of other birds or even open ground. She builds the nest, a loose dome made of a wide range of vegetable or even man-made materials collected by the male. There she lays 2-7 white eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 12-14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge18-21 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 abundant. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats, and it may be expanding in range due to the introduction of artificial dams and water tanks in arid areas.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Rufous-cheeked nightjar

Caprimulgus rufigena

(Photo from River's Wild Notes)

Common name:
rufous-cheeked nightjar (en); noitibó-de-faces-ruivas (pt); engoulevent à joues rousses (fr); chotacabras carirrojo (es); rostwangen-nachtschwalbe (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Caprimulgiformes
Family Caprimulgidae


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


Size:
These birds are 24 cm long and weigh 50-60 g.


Habitat:
The rufous-cheeked nightjar is mostly found in dry savannas and open mopane and miombo woodlands, but also in dry scrubland, freshwater marshes, plantations and arable land. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.600 m.


Diet:
They are strictly insectivorous, taking beetles, butterflies and moths, cockroaches, termites, mantids, lacewings, grasshoppers, wasps and ants.


Breeding:
Rufous-cheeked nightjars breed in September-March. They nest in a natural, shallow depressions in coarse soil, where the female lays 1-2 light reddish-brown eggs with lilac markings. The eggs are incubated for 15-17 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 18-20 days after hatching.


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. The rufous-cheeked nightjar is in fact tolerant of areas disturbed by humans.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Red-billed chough

Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax

(Photo from Wikipedia)

Common name:
red-billed chough (en); gralha-de-bico-vermelho (pt); crave à bec rouge (fr); chova piquirroja (es); Alpenkrähe (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Corvidae


Range:
This species is found in the British Isles, in southern Europe from Portugal to Turkey, in Morocco and Algeria, and into the middle latitudes of Asia as far east as eastern China and Mongolia.


Size:
These birds are 37-41 cm long and have a wingspan of 68-90 cm. They weigh 270-310 g.


Habitat:
The red-billed chough is found in rocky areas, both on the coast, in river valleys and mountains, in pastures, grasslands, scrublands and low-intensity agricultural areas. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 7.900 m, in the Himalayas.


Diet:
They mostly collect invertebrates from the ground, namely beetles, fly larvae, spiders and ants. They also eat the parasites of domestic mammals, grain and berries.


Breeding:
Red-billed choughs tend to breed in small, loose colonies, but will sometimes breed singly. The bulky nest is made of roots and stems, and lined with wool or hair. It is placed in a cave or similar fissure in a crag or cliff face. There the female lays 3-5 creamy eggs with brown spots, which she incubates alone for 17-18 days while receiving food from the male. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 31-41 days after hatching. Each pair raises a single brood per year.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 300.000-1.500.000 individuals. The population is estimated to be in decline following noted decreases in the European population, but this represents just 25-50% of the global population and not all countries show the same trend, so the overall trend is uncertain.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Grey-winged trumpeter

Psophia crepitans

Photo by José Formentí (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
grey-winged trumpeter (en); jacamim-de-costas-cinzentas (pt); agami-trompette (fr); trompetero ala gris (es); grauflügel-trompetervogel (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Gruiformes
Family Psophiidae


Range:
This species is found in the northern Amazon forests, from northern Brazil, Suriname and the Guyanas, to south-eastern Venezuela, southern Colombia, Ecuador and northern Peru.


Size:
These birds are 45-56 cm long and weigh 1,3-1,5 kg.


Habitat:
Grey-winged trumpeters are found in lowland rainforests, from sea level up to an altitude of 700 m.


Diet:
They eat a wide variety of fruits collected in the forest floor, but also some seeds, insects and  sometimes small reptiles.


Breeding:
Grey-winged trumpeters live in small groups for 3-12 individuals, but only the dominant female breeds. She will mate with up to 3 dominant males and lays 2-4 white eggs in a tree cavity. The eggs are incubated for 27-28 days by different members of the group. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and join the rest of the group on the forest floor.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as uncommon. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and unsustainable exploitation, but it is not considered threatened at present.