Friday, 31 August 2012

Swee waxbill

Estrilda melanotis

Photo by Derek Keats (Flickr)

Common name:
swee waxbill (en); bico-de-lacre-tropical (pt); astrild à joues noires (fr); estrilda ventrigualda (es); grünastrild (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Estrildidae

Range:
This species is patchily distributed in sub-Saharan Africa, mostly along East Africa, from Ethiopia to South Africa, but also in Angola and D.R. Congo.

Size:
They are 9-10 cm long and weigh 6-7 g.

Habitat:
The swee waxbill is mostly found in dry grasslands and scrublands, along forest edges and in pastures, rural gardens and arable land. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.400 m.

Diet:
These birds mainly eat grass seeds, such as catstail grass Sporobolus pyramidalis, Natal redtop Melinis repens and bristle grasses Setaria sp., taken from the ground or directly from plants.

Breeding:
The swee waxbill breeds in December-June. Both sexes build the nest, an oval-shaped structure with a side-top entrance, made of coarse grass and lined with soft grass inflorescences and occasionally moss. The nest is typically placed in scrub or tree 1-5 m above the ground. The female lays 4-5 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 12-14 days. The chicks fed by both parents on a diet of regurgitated seeds and fledge 13-16 days after hatching.

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

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Rock sparrow

Petronia petronia

Photo by Ray Wilson (Ray Wilson's Bird & Wildlife Photography)

Common name:
rock sparrow (en); pardal francês (pt); moineau soulcie (fr)gorrión chillón (es); steinsperling (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Passeridae

Range:
The rock sparrow is found around the Mediterranean, in southern Europe and northern Africa, and eastwards through the Middle East and the Caucasus, through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and into northern China and Mongolia.

Size:
These birds are 14-17 cm long and have a wingspan of 16-17 cm. They weigh 26-39 g.

Habitat:
Rock sparrows are found in rocky areas, dry grasslands and woodlands and rural gardens.

Diet:
They mainly feed on seeds, berries and fruits, but during summer these are complemented with insects, especially grasshoppers and caterpillars.

Breeding:
Rock sparrows breed in April-July. They nest in is a hole or cavity in rocks, earth bank, tree, building or other structure, commonly in old, or sometimes usurped nests of other species, particularly bee-eaters but also nuthatches, swallows and martins, and even in rodent burrows. There the female lays 4-8 white eggs with brown or blackish spots. The eggs are incubated by the female for 11-15 days, while the male provides her food. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 16-22 days after hatching. Each pair may raise 2 clutches per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 20-220 million individuals. In Europe, the population is increasing moderately, but the trend in Africa and Asia is unknown.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Great horned owl

bubo virginianus

Photo by Brendan Lally (Wikipedia)

Common name:
great horned owl (en); corujão-orelhudo (pt); gran-duc d'Amérique (fr); búho cornudo (es); Virginia-uhu (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae

Range:
The great horned owl is widely distributed in the Americas, being found from Alaska and northern Canada, to Tierra del Fuego. They are only absent from the densest rain forests in Central America and the Amazon basin, as well as from the Caribbean islands.

Size:
These large owls are 43-64 cm long and have a wingspan of 91-153 cm. The males are smaller than the female, weighing 0,9-1,6 kg while the females weigh 1,4-2,5 kg.

Habitat:
The great horned owl is found in various habitats, namely deciduous,coniferous, and mixed forests, tropical rainforests, pampas, prairies, mountainous areas, deserts, subarctic tundra, rocky coasts, mangrove and swamp forests, and some urban areas. They are typically found at altitudes of 450-4.400 m.

Diet:
These powerful nocturnal predators take a wide range of prey, mostly mammals such as rodents, rabbits, skunks, armadillos, weasels, martens and bats, but also various birds, reptiles such as de snakes, turtles, lizards, and young alligators, amphibians such as frogs, toads, and salamanders and even fish, large insects, scorpions, centipedes, crayfish, worms, spiders, and road killed animals.

Breeding:
The great horned owls breed in December-June. They don't build nests, using abandoned nest of another birds, such as hawks or crows, typically in trees, cliffs, buildings or even on the ground. The female lays 1-5 white eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 27-37 days. The chicks leave the nest 6-7 weeks after hatching, but only become competent fliers at 10-12 weeks old and continue to receive food from their parents for another 2-3 months.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and is described as widespread and relatively common. The population trend is stable and in some areas the great horned owl may pose a threat to endangered species on which they may prey upon.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Chalk-browed mockingbird

Mimus saturninus

(Photo from Terra de Gente)

Common name:
chalk-browed mockingbird (en); sabiá-do-campo (pt); mouqueur plombé (fr)sinsonte de cejas blancas (es); camposspottdrossel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Mimidae

Range:
This South American species is found from central and eastern Brazil and Bolivia down to central Argentina.

Size:
These birds are 24-27  cm long and weigh around 70 g.

Habitat:
The chalk-browed mockingbird is found in dry, open woodlands, scrublands, pastures, swamp forests and urban and sub-urban gardens. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 2.500 m.

Diet:
They eat both fruits and insects, but also seeds, worms and spiders. The fruits include oranges, avocados, tapias and various other wild fruits, while the insects include ants, termites and beetles.

Breeding:
Chalk-browed mockingbirds breed in August-January. They are monogamous, but several helpers assist with territorial defence, nest-guarding and feeding of young. The nest is a cup made of twigs, placed in a scrub or tree up to 2 m above the ground. The female lays 3-4 white eggs which are incubated for 12-15 days. The chicks fledge 12-15 days after hatching, but remain within the parents, where they may become helpers and assist with the clutch in the next year.

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

Monday, 27 August 2012

Ashy tailorbird

Orthotomus ruficeps

Photo by David Yeo (Flickr)

Common name:
ashy tailorbird (en); costureiro-de-cabeça-ruiva (pt); couturière à tête rousse (fr); sastrecillo ceniciento (es); rostwangen-schneidervogel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Sylviidae

Range:
This species is found is South-East Asia, in Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Size:
They are 11-12 cm long and weigh 5-7 g.

Habitat:
The ashy tailorbird is mostly found in moist tropical forests and mangroves, but can also be found in swamp forests, dry forests, second growths and rural gardens.

Diet:
They eat small insects including caterpillars, beetles, ants and small flies.

Breeding:
The ashy tailorbird breeds in May-November. The adults build the nest by using a large leaf or 2-3 smaller leaves, pulling the edges together and helding these together with strands or cotton or spider webs drawn through holes pierced along the leaf edges. The nest is lined with soft cottony materials. The female lays 2-4 white or pinkish eggs with brown or purple spots, which are incubated for 16 days. The chicks fledge 12-14 days after hatching.

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

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Shelley's francolin

Francolinus shelleyi

Photo by Achim Mittler (Flickr)

Common name:
Shelley's francolin (en); francolim-de-Shelley (pt); francolin de Shelley (fr); francolín de Shelley (es); Shelley-frankolin (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Galliformes
Family Phasianidae

Range:
This African species is found in in the south-eastern portion of the continent, from Kenya and Tanzania, through Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique and down to eastern South Africa.

Size:
The Shelley's francolin is 30-35 cm long and weighs 480-500 g.

Habitat:
These birds are found in dry savannas, woodlands and dry grasslands, particularly in areas of rocky ground. They are mainly found at altitudes of 700-3.000 m.

Diet:
Shelley's francolins mainly eat corms, bulbs, seeds and grains, but will also take insects during the summer.

Breeding:
They can breed all year round, varying between different parts of their range. The nest is a scape in the ground, lined with grasses and roots and placed among grass or bushes. There the female lays 3-8 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 20-22 days. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and are able to fly short distances after 12 days, but only become fully independent 5 weeks after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The Shelley's francolin has a very large breeding range and is reported to be generally common to locally rare. The population is declining owing to habitat degradation caused by over-grazing and burning.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Long-billed gnatwren

Ramphocaenus melanurus

Photo by Greg Lavaty (PBase)

Common name:
long-billed gnatwren (en); bico-assovelado (pt); microbate à long bec (fr); saltón picudo (es); schwarzschwanz-degenschnäbler (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Polioptilidae

Range:
This species is found in Central and South America, from southern Mexico down to Bolivia and south-eastern Brazil.

Size:
These birds are 11-13 cm long and weigh 9-11 g.

Habitat:
The long-billed gnatwren is found in dry forests and woodlands, moist tropical forests, second growths and scrublands. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 750 m.

Diet:
They eat insects and small spiders, which they find in dense undergrowths.

Breeding:
Long-billed gnatwrens breed in April-June. The nest is a deep cup made of plant fibres and placed in a small plant, sapling or vine, near the ground. The female lays 2 white eggs with reddish-brown spots, which are incubated by both parents for 16-17 days. The chicks fledge 11-12 days after hatching.

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 in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and fragmentation, but it is not considered threatened at present.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Red-tailed laughingthrush

Garrulax milnei

Photo by David Blank (Animal Diversity Web)

Common name:
red-tailed laughingthrush (en); zaragateiro-de-cauda-vermelha (pt); garrulaxe à queue rouge (fr); charlatán colirrojo (es); rotschwanzhäherling (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Timaliidae

Range:
The red-tailed laughingthrush is found in south-eastern Asia, from southern China to Myanmar, Laos, northern Thailand and Vietnam.

Size:
These birds are 25-28 cm long and weigh 100-130 g.

Habitat:
The red-tailed laughingthrush is mostly found in tropical and sub-tropical moist forests, but also in temperate forests and high altitude grasslands and scrublands. They ar present at altitudes of 610-2.500 m.

Diet:
They mainly feed on seeds and small fruits, but will also take some insects and other invertebrates.

Breeding:
Red-tailed laughingthrushes breed in April-July. They nest in an open cup made of sticks and grasses, placed in dense forests undergrowth. The female lays 2-4 white eggs with reddish-brown or black dots, which are incubated for 13-16 days. The chicks fledge 35-45 days after hatching.

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

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Ibisbill

Ibidorhyncha struthersii

Photo by Yeshey Dorji (Birding in India and South Asia)

Common name:
ibisbill (en); bico-de-ibis (pt); béc-d'ibis tibétain (fr); pico de ibis (es); ibisschnabel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Charadriiformes
Family Ibidorhynchidae

Range:
This Asia species is found from Kazakhstan and Afghanistan, through northern Pakistan and India and into China as far east as the Yellow Sea coast and southern Mongolia.

Size:
These birds are 38-42 cm long and weigh 270-320 g.

Habitat:
The ibisbill is mainly found along stony riverbeds, or sometimes also in sandy or silty areas with some rocks. They are typically found at altitudes of 1.700-4.400 m, but may come down to lower areas during winter.

Diet:
They forage by probing with their long bills under rocks or gravel, mainly taking aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, such as caddisfly and mayfly larvae and grasshoppers. They also eat small fishes.

Breeding:
The ibisbill is monogamous and breeds in April- July. The nest is a shallow scrape on the ground, sometimes lined with pebbles and placed on a bank, island or peninsula along a river. There the female lays 2-4 greenish-grey eggs with brown spots which are incubated by both parents. There is no information regarding the length of the incubation period. The chicks leave the nest within hours of hatching, but remain with the parents for at least 25 days. They fledge 45-50 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range, but the global population size has not been quantified. The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the extent of threats to the species.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Fasciated antshrike

Cymbilaimus lineatus

Photo by Dave Wendelken (Flickr)

Common name:
fasciated antshrike (en); choca-zebrada (pt); batara fascié (fr); hormiguero rayado (es); zebra-ameisenwürger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Thamnophilidae

Range:
This species is found from south-eastern Honduras to north-western Venezuela and south through Colombia to north-western Ecuador and northern Brazil, across virtually all of Amazonia and in the Guyanas.

Size:
These birds are 17-18 cm long and weigh 30-40 g.

Habitat:
These birds are found in evergreen rainforests, typically in the mid-storey canopy, but also along forest edges and in rior in second growths and thickets.

Diet:
The fasciated antshrike feeds on large insects and sometimes small frogs and lizards, but unlike other antshrikes they rarely follow ant swarms. They may ocasionally also eat fruits.

Breeding:
These birds breed in April-June. The nest is a thick-walled cup made of dark plant fibres, placed in a fork of foliage branches 2-8 m above the ground. There the female lays 2-3 cream-coloured eggs with brown and lilac spots. There is no information regarding the incubation and fledging periods.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The fasciated antshrike has a very large breeding range and is described as fairly common. This species is expected to lose 15% of its available habitat over the next 3 generations, due to deforestation in the Amazonian basin, but it is not considered threatened at present.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Drakensberg rockjumper

Chaetops aurantius

Photo by Robert Wienand (Flickr)

Common name:
Drakensberg rockjumper (en); tordo-de-peito-alaranjado (pt); chétopse doré (fr); saltarrocas del Drakensberg (es); orangebrust-felsenspringer (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Turdidae


Range:
This species is endemic to South Africa and Lesotho, being found in the highlands of Lesotho and the nearby mountain grassland regions of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State Province.


Size:
These birds are 23-25 cm long and weigh 75-100 g.


Habitat:
The Drakensberg rockjumper is found in high altitude grasslands and rocky areas, typically at altitudes above 1.800 m.


Diet:
They are strictly insectivorous, taking grasshoppers, moths and insect larvae and pupae which they collect on the ground.


Breeding:
Drakensberg rockjumpers breed in August-February. They are monogamous and the breeding pair is sometimes assisted by 1-2 helpers. The nest is a large untidy cup made of grass and twigs and lined with soft rootlets, grass and hair. It is usually placed on the ground, well concealed by tufts of grass, an overhanging rock, or sometimes a small scrub. The female lays 2-3 white eggs, which are incubated by both sexes. There is no information on the length of the incubation and fledging periods, but the chicks are known to be fed by both sexes.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a restricted breeding range, but the population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Toucan barbet

Semnornis ramphastinus

Photo by Tadeusz Stawarczyk (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
toucan barbet (en); capitão-tucano (pt); cabézon toucan (fr); tucán barbudo (es); tukan-bartvogel (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Piciformes
Family Capitonidae


Range:
This species is found along the western slopes of the Andes, in southern Colombia and northern Ecuador.


Size:
These birds are 19-25 cm long and weigh 85-110 g.


Habitat:
The toucan barbet is found in mountain evergreen forests, secondary forests, open woodlands and pastures, at altitudes of 1.000-2.400 m.


Diet:
They are mainly frugivorous, eating a wide range of fruits, namely Cecropia and Ficus, but will also eat termites and other insects when they come across them.


Breeding:
Toucan barbets breed in February-October. They live in small family groups of up to 6 birds, with an adult pair and young that help raising the new clutch. They nest in a tree cavity, where the female lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated by all group members for 15 days. The chicks are fed by all group members and fledge 43-46 days after hatching, but only becomy fully independent 4 weeks later.


Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a relatively small breeding range and is described as uncommon. The population is declining at a moderately rapid rate, due to illegal trapping for the international cage bird trade and habitat loss through intensive logging, human settlement, cattle grazing, mining and coca and palm cultivation.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Red-headed bunting

Emberiza bruniceps

Photo by Audevard Aurelien (Mango Verde)

Common name:
red-headed bunting (en); escrevedeira-de-cabeça-ruiva (pt); bruant à tête rousse (fr); escribano de cabeza roja (es); braunkopfammer (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Emberizidae


Range:
This species is found breeding in central Asia, from southern Russia and Kazakhstan to northern Iran and Afghanistan. They migrate south to winter in India.


Size:
These birds are 16-17 cm long and have a wingspan of 25-28 cm. They weigh around 25 g.


Habitat:
Red-headed buntings are found in open habitats, such as grasslands and steppes, scrublands, semi-desertic areas and oasis, and also in arable land. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 2.000 m.


Diet:
They feed on the ground, mainly eating seeds and other plant material, but during the breeding season insects and other invertebrates become an important part of their diet.


Breeding:
Red-headed buntings breed in May-July. The nest is a loose structure made of cereal stems and grasses, placed close to the ground in a dense or thorny shrub, vine or fruit tree. The female lays 3-6 eggs, which she incubates alone for 10-14 days. The chicks fledge 2 weeks after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range. There is no information on population size, but the population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

House martin

Delichon urbicum

(Photo from Wild About Britain)

Common name:
house martin (en); andorinha-dos-beirais (pt); hirondelle de fenêtre (fr); avión común (es); mehlschwalbe (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Hirundinidae


Range:
This species breeds throughout most of Europe and the middle and northern latitudes of Asia, and also in north-western Africa and the Middle East. They migrate south to winter in Africa south of the Sahara, in the Red Sea coast and in south-east Asia.


Size:
These birds are 12-13 cm long and have a wingspan of 26-29 cm. They weigh 16-25 g.


Habitat:
House martins are mostly found in open habitats with low vegetation, namely pastures and grasslands, urban areas, agricultural areas and rocky areas. During winter they are also found over dry savannas. They can occur from sea level up to an altitude of 4.500 m.


Diet:
They mainly catch insects on the wing, taking flies, mosquitoes, flying ants, beetles, bugs, butterflies, mayflies, aphids and spiders.


Breeding:
House martins breed in March-June. The nest is a neat closed convex cup fixed below a suitable ledge, with a narrow opening at the top. The nests are made of mud and lined with grasses and fine materials. They often breed colonially with several nests built in contact with each other. The female lays 4-5 white eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 13-19 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 19-32 days after hatching. Each pair typically raises 2 broods per season.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population of 60-290 million individuals. The population is suspected to be decreasing, and data from 21 European countries indicates a moderate decline since 1980.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Brown violet-ear

Colibri delphinae

Photo by Dusan Brinkhuizen (Sapayoa)

Common name:
brown violet-ear (en); beija-flor-castanho (pt); colibri de Delphine (fr); colibrí pardo (es)brauner veilchenohrkolibri (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae


Range:
This species is found in the mountains of Central America and western and northern South America, from Guatemala to Colombia and then south along the Andes to Bolivia, and east to Venezuela, the Guyanas and northern Brazil. There are also isolated populations in Trinidad and Tobago and in the Brazilian state of Bahía.


Size:
These birds are 11,5-12,5 cm long and have a wingspan of 15 cm. They weigh 6,5-7 g.


Habitat:
The brown violet-ear is mostly found in the canopy of rainforests but may also be found in second growth areas and coffee plantations. They are found at altitudes of 100-2.800 m.


Diet:
They mainly feed on the nectar of various trees and epiphytes, but will also take insects and spiders.


Breeding:
The brown violet-ear is polygamous, with the males gathering in leks to attract females and having no further part in the breeding process after the copulation. After mating, the female builds a cup-shaped nest made of soft plant down other fibres, held together with spider webs. The nest is placed in a scrub or tree, typically 1-4 m above the ground. There she lays 2 white eggs, which she incubates alone. There is no information about the length of the incubation period, but the chicks, who the female feeds alone, fledge 9-14 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as common and patchily distributed. The population is suspected to be declining do to ongoing habitat loss.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Black phoebe

Sayornis nigricans

Photo by Matthew Field (Wikipedia)


Common name:
black phoebe (en); papa-moscas-fibi-preto (pt); moucherolle noir (fr); mosquero negro (es)schwarzkopf-phoebetyrann (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Tyrannidae


Range:
This species is found along the south-western coast of the United States, throughout Mexico and Central America and into South America, where it is found along the foothills of the Andes from Venezuela to northern Argentina.


Size:
These birds are 16 cm long and weigh 15-22 g.


Habitat:
The black phoebe is mostly found in open areas near water, around lakes, river, streams, channels and ditches. They are also found in rocky cliffs, scrublands and even within urban areas. This species occurs from sea level up to an altitude of 3.000 m.


Diet:
They are mainly insectivorous, taking beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, wild bees, wasps, flies, moths, caterpillars. They are also kwon to eat small fishes and small berries.


Breeding:
Black phoebes nest in open, semi-circular cups made of mud mixed with moss and grasses, and lined with feathers and hairs. The nest is plastered to a sheltered spot such as a crevice in a cliff face, bridge supports, culverts or walls, most often near water. The female lays 3-6 white eggs with a few faint speckles, which she incubates alone for 15-17 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 14-21 days after hatching. Each pair may raise 2-3 broods per year.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the population is believed to be increasing overall. In North America the population has increased by 32% per decade over the last 4 decades. The black phoebe may benefit from many human activities, but destruction of riparian habitats and diversion of water is a concern.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Black swan

Cygnus atratus

Photo by Rosie Perera (My Swan)

Common name:
black swan (en); cisne-preto (pt); cygne noir (fr); cisne negro (es); trauerschwan (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Anseriformes
Family Anatidae


Range:
This species originates from Australia, being mostly found in the southern and eastern parts of the country, including Tasmania. Since the 19th century the black swan has been introduced in New Zealand, Japan, western Europe and North America.


Size:
Black swans are 110-142 cm long and have a wingspan of 160-200 cm. They weigh 3,7-8,7 kg.


Habitat:
These birds are found in fresh water, salt water and brackish wetlands, including lakes, rivers and swamps, preferring areas with aquatic vegetation. They are also found in flooded fields and even in dry pastures when food is scarce.


Diet:
Black swans are mainly herbivorous, eating sub-aquatic foliage, namely of Typha, Potamogeton, Myriophyllum, Ruppia and various algae. They also eat plants on pastures and farm land and are known to occasionally eat insects.


Breeding:
Within their native range, black swans breed in February-September. They are largely monogamous and most often pair for life. Typically, the female builds the nest, a floating mound of sticks, dead leaves and debris, on shallow water or sometimes in small islands. There she lays 4-8 greenish-white eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 35-48 days. The precocial chicks leave the nest 2-3 weeks after hatching and are able to feed themselves, but only fledge 5-6 months after hatching and may remain with their parents for even longer. During this period they are protected by their parents and in the first weeks they may even ride on their backs.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 100.000-1.000.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Purple-throated fruitcrow

Querula purpurata

Photo by Paul Willoughby (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
purple-throated fruitcrow (en); anambé-una (pt); coracine noire (fr); frutero gorgirrojo (es)purpurbrustkotinga (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Cotingidae


Range:
This species is found from Nicaragua and Costa Rica to northern Bolivia, the Guyanas and northern Brazil, down to Mato Grosso, Tocantins and Maranhão.


Size:
These birds are 22-30 cm long and weigh 105-115 g.


Habitat:
These birds are found in lowland rainforests, from sea level up to an altitude of 1.000 m.


Diet:
The purple-throated fruitcrow forages on the forest canopy, feeding on insects and fruits.


Breeding:
They form family groups of 3-8 individuals who breed cooperatively. Only one pair breeds, nesting on an untidy cup of small twigs, lined with even smaller twigs. The female lays 1-2 eggs which are incubated by all group members for 24-25 days. The chicks are fed by all group members and fledge 32-33 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 declining, due to the rapid deforestation of the Amazon forest, and this decline may be over 10% per decade. Despite this, the population is not considered threatened at present.

Monday, 13 August 2012

White-tailed wheatear

Oenanthe leucopyga

Photo by Marco Valentini (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
white-tailed wheatear (en); chasco-de-barrete-branco (pt); traquet á tête blanche (fr); collalba negra de Brehm (es); Saharaschmätzer (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Muscicapidae

Range:
This species is found in North Africa and the Middle East, from Morocco and Mauritania to Sudan and Saudi Arabia.

Size:
These birds are 17-18 cm long and have a wingspan of 27-29 cm. They weigh 23-32 g.

Habitat:
The white-tailed wheatear is mostly found in hot deserts, namely in rocky areas, but also in dry grasslands and scrublands.

Diet:
They mainly feed on insects, which they catch both in flight and on the ground, but they also eat plant material and small reptiles.

Breeding:
White-tailed wheatears breed in February-May. The nest is a cup of dry grasses and twigs, lined with wool and feathers, placed in a hole in rocks, under stones, in banks, or occasionally in the walls of buildings. The female lays 3-5 eggs, which she incubates alone for 14-17 days. The chicks fledge 14-17 days after hatching.



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

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Green-cheeked parakeet

Pyrrhura molinae

(Photo from The Gemini Geek)

Common name:
green-cheeked parakeet (en); tiriba-de-cara-suja (pt); conure de Molina (fr); cotorra de Molina (es); Molinasittich (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Psittaciformes
Family Psittacidae


Range:
This South American species is found in west-central and southern Mato Grosso, Brazil, through northern and eastern Bolivia to northwestern Argentina and northern Paraguay.


Size:
These birds are 25-26 cm long and weigh 60-80 g.


Habitat:
The green-cheeked parakeet is found is forests and open woodlands, from sea level up to an altitude of 2.600 m.


Diet:
They feed on various seeds, nuts and fruits.


Breeding:
Green-cheeked parakeets nest in tree cavities. The female lays 4-6 eggs which she incubates alone for 22-25 days while being fed by the male. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 7 weeks after hatching.


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

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Chat tanager

Calyptophilus frugivorus

Photo by José Pantaleón (Flickr)

Common name:
chat tanager (en); saíra-de-Hispaniola (pt); tangara cornichon (fr); chirrí (es); schmätzertangare (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Thraupidae


Range:
This species is endemic to the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, being found both in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.


Size:
These birds are 17-20 cm long and weighs around 50 g.


Habitat:
The chat tanager is mostly found in dense understory of moist forests and in scrublands, at altitudes of 750-2.200 m.


Diet:
They mainly feed on invertebrates such as spiders, worms, beetles and grubs.


Breeding:
Chat tanagers breed in May-July. The nest is an open cup made of moss, small herbaceous stems, leaf fragments, lichens, and other plant fibres, placed among dense vegetation, 1-5 m above the ground. The female lays 2 pale blue eggs with brown mottles, which she incubates alone. The chicks are fed by both parents but there is no information regarding the length of the incubation and fledging periods.


Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a small and fragmented breeding range and the global population is estimated at just 1.500-7.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be declining rapidly as a result of ongoing habitat loss through agricultural conversion and logging.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Chucao tapaculo

Scelorchilus rubecula

Photo by Arthur Grosset (Arthur Grosset's Birds)

Common name:
chucao tapaculo (en); tapaculo-de-peito-ruivo (pt); tourco rougegorge (fr); chucao (es); rotkehltapaculo (de)


Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Rhinocryptidae


Range:
This South American species is found in central and southern Chile and across the border into neighbouring regions of Argentina.


Size:
These birds are 16-18 cm long and weigh 35-43 g.


Habitat:
The chucao tapaculo is found in temperate forests from sea level up to an altitude f 1.500 m.


Diet:
They are omnivorous, eating invertebrates, fruits and seeds. They are known to eat various insects, including Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Diptera, Lepidoptera, Hemiptera, Orthoptera, Dermaptera, Psocoptera and Anoplura, spiders, mites, and occasionally also snails, isopods and chilopods, as well as the fruits and seeds of various herbs and grasses.


Breeding:
Chucao tapaculos breed in September-February. The nest is placed in a cavity in a live tree or stump, or within the leaves of epiphytes, up to 2 m above the ground. There the female lays 1-3 white eggs which are incubated for 23 days. The chicks fledge 21 days after hatching.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a relatively large breeding range and is described as fairly common. The population trend for this species cannot be determined based on the available information, but the chucao tapaculo is not considered threatened at present.