Sunday, 30 September 2012

Greater blue-eared glossy-starling

Lamprotornis chalybaeus

Photo by Loot Eksteen (Trek Nature)

Common name:
greater blue-eared glossy-starling (en); estorninho-metálico-grande-d'orelha-azul (pt); choucador à oreillons bleus (fr); estornino orejiazul (es); grünschwanz-glanzstar (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Sturnidae

Range:
This species is widely distributed in sub-Saharan Africa, from southern Mauritania and Senegal to Ethiopia and south through eastern Africa to north-eastern South Africa and Angola. They are absent from the rainforests along the Gulf of Guinea and the congo river basin.

Size:
These birds are 22 cm long and weigh around 90 g.

Habitat:
They are mostly found in dry savannas with dense undergrowth, namely Acacia and mopane Colosphermum mopane, but also in dry scrublands and some moist forests. They are also found in agricultural areas and around human settlements.

Diet:
These birds mainly feed on insects, such as grasshoppers, beetles and termites, but also frogs, small lizards, mice and some fruits.

Breeding:
They breed in August-January. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a simple pad of dry grass and feathers placed in a tree cavity, either natural or an old woodpecker or barbet hole. The female lays 2-5 eggs, which she incubates alone for 13-14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 3-4 weeks after hatching.

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

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Bananal antbird

Cercomacra ferdinandi

Photo by Ciro Albano (NE Brazil Birding)

Common name:
bananal antbird (en); chororó-de-Goiás (pt); grisin de bananal (fr); hormiguero de bananal (es); bananalameisenfänger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Thamnophilidae

Range:
This species is endemic to the wetlands of the central Araguaia and Tocantins rivers in central Brazil, between Goiás and Maranhão.

Size:
These birds are 15-18 cm long and weigh 13-18,5 g.

Habitat:
The bananal antbird is found in riparian thickets and igapó flooded rainforests, always near water.

Diet:
They hunt for insects and other invertebrates in forest understorey, usually individually, in pairs or in small family groups.

Breeding:
Bananal antbirds breed in May-July. The nest is a small cup made of plant fibres and twigs, placed hanging from a fork in a tree or vine up to 3 m above the ground. There the female lays 2 pink eggs with reddish-brown markings, which are incubated by both parents for 12-14 days. The chicks fledge 9-11 days after hatching. 

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a restricted breeding range and a global population estimated at 10.000-20.000 individuals. This population is suspected to be facing a rapid and on-going decline, mainly due to habitat loss caused by the construction of large hydroelectric plants along the entire Tocantins river and most of the Araguaia river.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Allen's hummingbird

Selasphorus sasin

Photo by Alexander Viduetsky (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
Allen's hummingbird (en); beija-flor-de-Allen (pt); colibri d'Allen (fr); colibrí de Allen (es); Allenkolibri (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

Range:
This species occurs in western North America. The nominate susbspecies S. s. sasin is migratory, breeding along the western coast of the United States, from Oregon to southern California, and wintering in central Mexico. The other subspecies S. s. sedentarius is resident, originally being found on the Channel Islands, off southern California, but having colonized since the 1960s the Los Angeles and Orange counties in southern California.

Size:
These tiny birds are 7,5-9 cm long and have a wingspan of 11 cm. They weigh just 2-4 g.

Habitat:
They breed in moist coastal areas, including scrublands, chaparral and forests. Outside the breeding season they are found in both dry and moist scrublands and dry tropical forests.

Diet:
Allen's hummingbirds mainly feed on the nectar of various flowers, especially red tubular flowers such as penstemons, red monkeyflowers, red columbines, paintbrush and scarlet sage. They also eat tree sap and small insects such as flies, ants, small beetles and tiny wasps, and spiders.

Breeding:
These birds breed in November-June. They are polygynous, with each male matting with several females and having no further part on the breeding process. The female builds the nest alone, a tiny cup made of moss, lichens, spider webs, bark flakes and pine needles, placed in a scrub or on a small twig or branch of a tree. There she lays 2 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 16-22 days. The chicks are raised by the female and fledge 22-25 days after hatching, immediately becoming independent from their mother.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a relatively small breeding range and a global population estimated at 530.000 individuals. The population may the undergoing a small decline but the quality of data is not very reliable.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Streak-throated barwing

Actinodura waldeni

Photo by Yathin Krishnappa (Mango Verde)

Common name:
streak-throated barwing (en); asa-malhada-de-Walden (pt); actinodure de Walden (fr); actinodura de Yunán (es); Yünnansibia (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Timaliidae

Range:
This species is found in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and marginally across the border into southern China and northern India.

Size:
These birds are 20-22 cm long and weigh 39-56 g.

Habitat:
The streak-throated barwing is found in tropical and sub-tropical moist mountain forests and scrublands, at altitudes of 1.700-3.300 m.

Diet:
They are omnivorous, eating insects and molluscs, but also various fruits, seeds and visiting flowers to take their nectar.

Breeding:Streak-throated barwings breed in April-October. The nest is a compact cup made of grasses, moss and lichens, lined with fine rootlets. It is typically placed in a tree sapling, not far from the ground. There the female lays 2 brownish-red eggs with grey spots. There is no available information regarding the incubation and fledgling periods.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and is described as as locally fairly common in India and very rare in China. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and fragmentation.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

White-winged triller

Lalage tricolor

Photo by Tony Ashton (Tyto Tony)

Common name:
white-winged triller (en); lagarteiro d'asa branca (pt); échenilleur tricolore (fr); gorjeador de alas blancas (es); weißflügel-lalage (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Campephagidae

Range:
This species is endemic to Australia, being found throughout the Australian mainland and in northern Tasmania.

Size:
These birds are 17-19 cm long and weigh 26 g.

Habitat:
The white-winged triller is found in dry savannas and forests, tree-lined waterways in semi-arid regions, dry scrublands and also in arable land and within urban areas.

Diet:
They hawk flying insects in the air, but will also forage on the ground taking insects, fruits and seeds. They are also known to eat nectar.

Breeding:
White-winged trillers breed in September-December. They nest in colonies with many nests in the same tree. Each nest is a small cup made of bark, grasses and spider webs, placed in an horizontal branch or fork in a tree. They sometimes may use the empty nests of other birds, favouring the mud nests of magpie larks Grallina cyanoleuca. The female lays 2-3 eggs which are incubated by both parents for 14 days. The chicks are raised by both parents and fledge 12 days after hatching.

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

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Chinese egret

Egretta eulophotes

Photo by Tim Edelsten (Birds Korea)

Common name:
Chinese egret (en); garça-chinesa (pt); aigrette de Chine (fr); garceta china (es)schneereiher (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Ciconiiformes
Family Ardeidae

Range:
These birds breed in small islands off the coasts of South Korea, North Korea and across the border into north-eastern China and south-eastern Russia. They migrate south to winter in Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and northern Indonesia.

Size:
The Chinese egret is 65-68 cm long and has a wingspan of 97-114 cm. They weigh 450-500 g.

Habitat:
They are mostly found in coastal areas such as estuaries, bays and offshore islands, along mangroves, mudflats and rocky shores. They are also found in rice fields and aquaculture ponds.

Diet:
Chinese egrets feed on fish, small crabs and other crustaceans, worms, insects, small aquatic invertebrates, amphibians and small reptiles.

Breeding:
These birds breed in April-July. They form breeding colonies in offshore islands, with each pair building a disc-shaped nest made of straws and sticks, lined with grasses. The nests are typically placed on trees, 12-18 m above the ground, or sometimes in lower trees or scrubs. The female lays 3-5 pale blue-green eggs, which she mostly incubates alone for 24-35 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 36-40 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
The Chinese egret has a relatively large breeding range, but the global population is estimated at just 2.500-10.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be declining by 20% per decade due to habitat loss and degradation through reclamation of tidal flats, estuarine habitats and uninhabited offshore breeding islands for infrastructure, industry, aquaculture and agriculture. Pollution and disturbance of the breeding colonies are two additional problems.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Buff-bellied warbler

Phyllolais pulchella

Photo by Volker Sthamer (Bird Forum)

Common name:
buff-bellied warbler (en); felosa-das-acácias (pt); phyllolaïs à ventre fauve (fr); prinia ventripálida (es); akaziensänger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Sylviidae

Range:
This African species is found in two separate populations. One is found in northern Nigeria, northern Cameroon, southern Chad and southern Niger, while the other is found further east, from southern Sudan, through Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda and down to Tanzania.

Size:
These birds are 10 cm long and weigh 6 g.

Habitat:
These birds are mostly found in dry savannas and other Acacia woodlands, favouring areas dominated by Acacia xanthophloea and Acacia abyssinica. They are also found in dry scrublands and rural gardens.

Diet:
The buff-bellied warbler feeds on aphids, scale insects, insects larvae and spiders, often foraging in mixed-species flocks on the branches of Acacia trees.

Breeding:
They breed in April-October. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a purse-shaped bag with a side entrance near the top, made of vegetable down, Acacia bark and spider webs. it is placed in a thorny scrub or young Acacia 1-9 m above the ground. There the female lays 2-4 white, light green or greenish blue eggs with brown spots. The eggs are incubated for 12 days and the chicks fledge around 16 days after hatching.

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

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Hammond's flycatcher

Empidonax hammondii

Photo by Pablo Leautaud (Flickr)

Common name:
Hammond's flycatcher (en); papa-moscas-de-Hammond (pt); moucherolle de Hammond (fr); mosquero de Hammond (es); tannenschnäppertyrann (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Tyrannidae

Range:
This species breeds in western North America, from Alaska to central California and New Mexico. They migrate south to winter from northern Mexico to Nicaragua.

Size:
These birds are 12,5-14,5 cm long and have a wingspan of 22 cm. They weigh 8-12 g.

Habitat:
The Hammond's flycatcher is mostly found in mature mountain forests, especially cool coniferous forests or mixed forests with Douglas firs Pseudotsuga or spruces Picea mixed with aspens Populus or other deciduous trees. Outside the breeding season they are also found in tropical moist forests and dry scrublands always at high altitudes. They are present at altitudes of 1.000-3.000 m.

Diet:
They catch insects on the wing, sallying out from a perch to take beetles, moths, flies, leafhoppers and small wasps. They also glean caterpillars from the foliage.

Breeding:
Hammond's flycatchers breed in June-July. The female builds the nest, a compact cup made of weed stems, grass, bark and lichens, lined with finer materials such as feathers, fur and plant down. The nest is placed in an horizontal branch of a tall tree, 3-30 m above the ground. There she lays 3-4 white or yellowish eggs, sometimes with light reddish-brown spots. The female incubates the eggs alone for 12-15 days and the chicks are fed by both parents fledging 16-18 days after hatching. The chicks may remain with the parents for another 1-2 weeks.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and a global population estimated at 5-50 million individuals. The population as undergone a small increase over the last for decades so, although the logging of old-growth forests may pose an eventual threat, the species is not threatened.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Wrybill

Anarhynchus frontalis

Photo by Nick Talbot (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
wrybill (en); borrelho-de-bico-torto (pt); pluvier anarhynque (fr); chorlito piquituerto (es); schiefschnabel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Charadriiformes
Family Charadriidae

Range:
This species is endemic to New Zealand, breeding in Canterbury and Otago, South Island, and wintering along the northern coasts of South Island and the coasts of North Island.

Size:
These birds are 20-21 cm long and have a wingspan of 50 cm. They weigh 40-70 g.

Habitat:
They breed in rocky river beds and winter in mudflats at the mouths of large rivers and in coastal lagoons. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 600 m.

Diet:
The wrybill uses its sideways bended bill to search for various invertebrates under pebbles and shingle.

Breeding:
Wrybills breed in September-December. The nest is a slight depression amongst gravel or sand, lined with pebbles. The female lays 2 eggs, which are well camouflaged and resemble the pebbles around them. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 29-36 days. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and follow the parent on foraging trips until they fledge, 35-37 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a small breeding range and a global population estimated at 4.500-5.000 individuals. The population as suffered a slow decline over the last 4 decades, mostly due to loss of breeding habitat through changes in river flow caused by hydroelectric development, gravel extraction and agricultural intensification. Predation by introduced stouts Mustela erminea and cats, as well as by the increasing kelp gull Larus dominicanus. Aditional threats included loss of coastal habitats and human disturbance. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

Bay-breasted warbler

Dendroica castanea

Photo by Brian Small (Lananhbirds Club)

Common name:
bay-breasted warbler (en); mariquita-de-peito-castanho (pt); paruline à poitrine baie (fr); chipe castaño (es)braunbrust-waldsänger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Parulidae

Range:
This species is found breeding in central and eastern Canada, and across the border into the north-western United States. They migrate along the eastern half of North America and Central America to winter in northern Colombia, Venezuela and the Caribbean.

Size:
These are 14 cm long and have a wingspan of 20-22 cm. They weigh 10-17 g.

Habitat:
Bay-breasted warbler nest in open boreal forests, especially spruce and fir either in pure stands or mixed with clumps of aspens, birch and balsam poplar. During winter they are found in tropical moist forests and second growths.

Diet:
They mainly feed on caterpillars, particularly spruce budworms Choristoneura sp., but also take adult insects, spiders and fruits during winter.

Breeding:
Bay-breasted warblers nest in a small cup made with dried grass, stalks, mosses, roots, twigs, lichens, insect and spider webs. The nest is lined with strips, hair of rabbit and plant down and placed in a spruce, birch, hemlock tree or even in scrubs, 4-12 m above the ground. The female lays 4-7 white or creamy eggs with dark spots, which she incubates alone for 12 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 10-11 days after hatching, but continue to be fed by the adults for several days.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and a global population estimated at 3-3,5 million individuals. the population has undergone a small decline over the last 4 decades, possibly as result of spraying for spruce budworms. Loss of wintering habitat may also be a problem.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Corn bunting

Miliaria calandra

Photo by Lior Kislev (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
corn bunting (en); trigueirão (pt); bruant proyer (fr); triguero (es); grauammer (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Emberizidae

Range:
These birds are mostly found in Europe, from Scotland and Denmark south to Portugal, Spain and Italy, and east to Poland, the Ukraine and Turkey. They are also found in the Canary islands, in north-western Africa from Morocco to Tunisia and in central Asia from southern Kazakhstan to Afghanistan. The corn bunting is mostly resident but some population migrate south to winter in Lybia, Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula.

Size:
These birds are 16-19 cm long and have a wingspan of 27-30 cm. They weigh 35-60 g.

Habitat:
Corn buntings are found in temperate grasslands and pastures, steppes and also arable land and mixed farmland. They avoid forested areas. This species is found from sea level up to an altitude of 500 m.

Diet:
They are primarily granivorous, taking grass seeds and agricultural grain, but they also eat other plant materials and will hunt insects to feed their young during the breeding season.

Breeding:
Corn buntings breed in February-July. They are polygynous, with each male mating with up to 18 females during the course of a breeding season. Each female builds its nest, a shallow depression on the ground, lined with dried grasses. There she lays 2-6 reddish eggs with large brown stains, which she incubates alone for 10-14 days. The male may sometimes help feed the chicks who fledge 9-12 days after hatching. 

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 30-130 million individuals. In Europe, where 50-75% of the population is found, the corn bunting has been declining at a moderate rate since the 1980s. This decline is particularly serious in north-western Europe, but it is also taking place in central Europe and is believed to be caused by changing agricultural practices and climate change. Extensive use of pesticides has reduced the numbers of arable weed species, an important food source for the adults, and insects, vital for rearing chicks.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Bearded woodpecker

Dendropicos namaquus

Photo by José Kemp (PBase)

Common name:
bearded woodpecker (en); pica-pau-de-bigodes (pt); pic barbu (fr); pico barbudo (es); Namaspecht (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Piciformes
Family Picidae

Range:
This species is found in sub-Saharan Africa, from the Central African Republic and Sudan to Senegal and south to South Africa, only being absent from the dense rainforests of the Congo basin.

Size:
These birds are 25-28 cm long and weigh 67-98 g.

Habitat:
The bearded woodpecker avoids dense forests, typically being found in deciduous woodlands, dry savannas, wooded grasslands and dry scrublands with some large trees. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 3.000 m.

Diet:
They probe the bark of the trees in search of beetle larvae and pupae, caterpillars, termites, and spiders. They are also known for occasionally hunting lizards.

Breeding:
Bearded woodpeckers can breed all year rounds, varying between different parts of their range. The nest is an oval-shaped hole excavated by both sexes on a large tree, either dead or alive, usually 2-20 m above the ground. There the female lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 13 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge around 27 days after hatching, only becoming fully independent 1-2 months later.

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

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Red-legged honeycreeper

Cyanerpes cyaneus

(Photo from Associazione Ornitologica Europea)

Common name:
red-legged honeycreeper (en); saíra-beija-flor (pt); guit-guit saï (fr); mielero patirrojo (es)Türkisnaschvogel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Thraupidae

Range:
This species is found from southern Mexico to central Brazil and Bolivia. There is also a disjunct population in the Atlantic rainforest of south-eastern Brazil.

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

Habitat:
The red-legged honeycreeper is found along the edges of rainforests and swamp forests, in open dry woodlands and savannas, second growths, rural areas and plantations. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 1.200 m.

Diet:
They feed on insects, some fruits and nectar.

Breeding:
The female builds a cup-shaped nest made of spider webs, placed in a fork in a tree. There she lays 2-3 white eggs with brown blotches, which she incubates alone for 12-13 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 14 days after hatching. Each pair can raise 2-3 broods per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The red-legged honeycreeper 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.

Monday, 17 September 2012

White-breasted waterhen

Amaurornis phoenicurus

Photo by M.V. Sheeram (Flickr)

Common name:
white-breasted waterhen (en); franga-d'água-de-peito-branco (pt); râle à poitrine blanche (fr); gallineta pechiblanca (es); weißbrust-kielralle (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Gruiformes
Family Rallidae

Range:
This Asian species is found from Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan, across India and southern China and as far east as Japan and as far south as southern Indonesia.

Size:
These birds are 28-33 cm long. Males tend to be larger than females, weighing 200-330 g while female weigh 165-225 g.

Habitat:
The white-breasted waterhen is found in a wide range of wetland habitats where water is surrounded by thick vegetation, namely marshes, swamps, bamboo stands, river banks, reedbeds, ponds and lakes, mangroves, wet grasslands and even along forests edges and scrubland far from water. They can also be found in arable land and waste water treatment areas. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.000 m.

Diet:
They eat a wide range of aquatic invertebrates, including insects, worms, spiders, snails, and also small fishes and also the shoots and roots of marsh plants and grass seeds.

Breeding:
White-breasted waterhens can breed all year round, varying between different areas. the nest is a shallow cup made with twigs, stems or leaves, placed on the ground among reeds or other dense vegetation. There the female lays 4-9 brownish or grey eggs with reddish-brown markings, which are incubated by both sexes for 19-20 days. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and follow their parents around until they are able to fly. Each pair may raise up to 3 broods per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 10.000-100.000 individuals. The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the impacts of habitat modification on population sizes.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Plain-crowned spinetail

Synallaxis gujanensis

Photo by Maxime Dechelle (Oiseaux)

Common name:
plain-crowned spinetail (en); joão-teneném-becuá (pt); synallaxe de Cayenne (fr); pijuí coronipardo (es); braunkappen-dickichtschlüpfer (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Furnariidae

Range:
This South American species is found from Colombia, Venezuela and the Guynas south to central Brazil, Peru and northern Bolivia.

Size:
These birds are 15-17 cm long and weigh 20-30 g.

Habitat:
The plain-crowned spinetail is mostly found in rainforests, gallery forests and swamp forests, especially along rivers and streams. They are also found in moist scrublands, second growths and plantations. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 1.200 m.

Diet:
They glean various arthropods from foliage in the forests understorey, sometimes also hunting on the ground.

Breeding:
Plain-crowned spinetails are presumed to be monogamous. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting a globe-shaped mass of sticks with a sideways entrance, placed 1-2 m above ground in low dense vegetation. The female lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 17-19 days. The chicks are fed by both parents.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as common. The population is suspected to suffer a moderate decline in the near-future based on current estimates of habitat loss due to Amazonian deforestation, but it is not considered threatened at present.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Pine grosbeak

Pinicola enucleator

(Photo from Wikipedia)

Common name:
pine grosbeak (en); pintarroxo-de-bico-grosso (pt); dubec des sapins (fr); camachuelo picogrueso (es); hakengimpel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Fringillidae

Range:
These birds are widely distributed in the northern parts of America and Eurasia, being found in Alaska, Canada and the northern United States, as well as Scandinavia, Russia, Mongolia, north-eastern China and northern Japan.

Size:
They are 20-25 cm long and have a wingspan of 32-35 cm. They weigh 52-78 g.

Habitat:
During the breeding season pine grosbeaks are found in open sub-Arctic and boreal forests, especially in areas dominated by conifers, but also in mixed forests. Outside the breeding season they are also found in agricultural areas and even within urban areas.

Diet:
They feed on the seeds, buds and fruits of mountain ash, ash trees, box elder, juniper and spruce, also taking Rowan berries in winter. During the breeding season they hunt insects to feed the nestlings.

Breeding:
Pine grosbeaks breed in May-July. The female builds the nest, a loosely built cup made of twigs and dwarf shrub stems, lined with root fibre, straw, reindeer hair and moss fragments. There she lays 2-5 pale blue eggs with dark-brown, purple and black markings. The eggs are incubated by the female alone for 13-14 days, while the male provides her food. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 13-14 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population estimated at over 4 million individuals. The population in North America has undergone a large decline of over 25% per decade over the last 4 decades, but the species is not considered threatened at present.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Rainbow bee-eater

Merops ornatus

Photo by Patrick Ingremeau (Oiseaux)

Common name:
rainbow bee-eater (en); abelharuco-australiano (pt); guêpier arc-en-ciel (fr); abejaruco australiano (es); ragenbogenspint (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Coraciiformes
Family Meropidae

Range:
This species is found throughout mainland Australia, in New Guinea and eastern Indonesia. They are also found in the Solomon Islands.

Size:
These birds are 19-28 cm long, including the elongated tail feathers, and have a wingspan of 31-34 cm. They weigh 25-30 g.

Habitat:
The rainbow bee-eater is mainly found in open forests and woodlands, scrublands, and in various cleared or semi-cleared habitats, including farmland and human settlements. They are also found in coastal and inland sand dunes and mangroves, as well as along fresh water lakes and rivers.


Diet:
They catch insects on the wing, mostly bees and wasps, as well as dragonflies, beetles, damselflies, butterflies and moths, flies, ants and bugs. They occasionally also take other animals such as earthworms, spiders and tadpoles.

Breeding:
The rainbow bee-eater breeds in socially monogamous pairs that are sometimes assisted a number of helpers that are usually male. They breed in August-January and the nest in a chamber at the end of a long burrow or tunnel excavated by both sexes in flat or sloping ground, in the banks of rivers, creeks or dams, in roadside cuttings, in the walls of gravel pits or quarries, in mounds of gravel, or in cliff-faces. The female lays 2-8 pearl-white eggs, which are incubated by 22-31 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and the helpers, fledging 23-28 days after hatching, but continue to receive food for another 2-4 weeks.


Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 1 million individuals. Although the introduced cane toad Bufo marinus is known to reduce their breeding success by feeding on eggs and especially nestlings, the overall population is suspected to be stable an is not considered threatened at present.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Cocoa woodcreeper

Xiphorhynchus susurrans

Photo by Paul Kusmin (Flickr)

Common name:
cocoa woodcreeper (en); arapaçu-do-cacao (pt); grimpar cacao (fr); trepatroncos cacao (es); kleiner fahlkehl-baumsteiger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Dendrocolaptidae

Range:
This species is found from Guatemala to northern Colombia and Venezuela, also being found in the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago.

Size:
These birds are 23-28 cm long and weigh 35-65 g.

Habitat:
These birds are mostly found in rainforests, gallery forests along rivers, swamp forests and mature mangroves, but also in cerrado woodlands, dry scrublands, second growths and plantations. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 2.400 m.

Diet:
They forage by gleaning, pecking or probing into bark crevices, dead leafs, clumps of moss or knotholes, mostly tacking various arthropods, but sometimes also small vertebrates. They sometimes follow columns of army ants.

Breeding:
The cocoa woodcreeper builds a bark-lined nest in a tree hole or hollow stump, usually near the ground. There the female lays 1-3 eggs which are incubated for 18-19 days. The chicks fledge 19 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and is described as fairly common to common throughout most of its range, although uncommon to rare at higher altitudes, in north-west Costa Rica and in northern Honduras. This population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Eurasian collared dove

Streptopelia decaocto

Photo by Jirí Bohdal (Naturephoto CZ)

Common name:
Eurasian collared dove (en); rola-turca (pt); tourterelle turque (fr); tórtola turca (es); Türkentaube (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Columbiformes
Family Columbidae

Range:
This species was originally found in temperate and sub-tropical Asia, from Turkey to southern China and south to India and Sri Lanka. Since the late 19th century it started to expand westwards and is now found throughout most of Europe, as far west as Portugal and Ireland and as far north as Norway and central Russia. At present, it is also found in northern Africa, from Egypt to Morocco.

Size:
These birds are 30-33 cm long and have a wingspan of 47-55 cm. They weigh 150-200 g.

Habitat:
The Eurasian collared dove is found in temperate and boreal forests, dry scrublands, degraded tropical forests and also in rural areas, arable land and within urban areas. They are typically found from sea level up to an altitude of 1.300 m.

Diet:
They mainly feed on seeds, but also green vegetable parts such as buds and shoots, fruits and sometimes garbage and invertebrates.

Breeding:
Eurasian collared doves breed in March-October. The nest is a loose platform made of sticks and twigs, sometimes lined with grasses. It is placed in a scrub or tree, 2-20 m above the ground. There the female lays 2 whitish eggs which are incubated by both parents for 14-18 days. The chicks are fed crop milk and regurgitated seeds by both parents and fledge 15-19 days after hatching, but still receive food from the parents for another weeks. Each pair may raise 3-6 broods per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 20-100 million individuals. The population is currently suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and unsustainable levels of exploitation.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Blue-and-white flycatcher

Cyanoptila cyanomelana

Photo by Robin Newlin (Birds Korea)

Common name:
blue-and-white flycatcher (en); papa-moscas-azul-e-branco (pt); gobemouche bleu (fr); papamoscas blanco y azul (es); Japanschnäpper (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Muscicapidae

Range:
This species breeds in north-eastern China, extreme south-eastern Russia, Korea and Japan, migrating south to winter in Vietnam, Cambodja, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Size:
These birds are 16-17 cm long and weigh 22-25 g.

Habitat:
The blue-and-white flycatcher breeds in various wooded habitats, namely taiga, moist forests and swamp forests, but also in moist scrublands, from sea level up to an altitude of 1.200 m. During migration and winter they are found in tropical forests, scrublands and also coastal woodlands, plantations, parks and gardens within rural and urban areas.

Diet:
They mainly feed on larval and adult insects, mostly moths and beetles, but will also take berries when in season.

Breeding:
The blue-and-white flycatcher breeds in May-August. The cup-shaped nest is made of moss, plant fibres and lichens, and placed near the ground, in a rock crevice, among the roots of a tree, or under the overhanging bank of a stream, often sheltered by vegetation or branches. There the female lays 4-6 pale brown eggs with darker markings, which she incubates alone for roughly 14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents.

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

Monday, 10 September 2012

Red-lored amazon

Amazona autumnalis

Photo by John C. Avise (Avise's Birds of the World)

Common name:
red-lored amazon (en); papagaio-diadema (pt); amazone à lores rouges (fr); loro cariamarillo (es); gelbwangenamazone (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Psittaciformes
Family Psittacidae

Range:
This species occurs in two disjunct populations. One is found from south-eastern Mexico down to western Colombia and Ecuador, while the other is found in central Brazil in the lower Rio Negro area.

Size:
These birds are 32-35 cm long and weigh 315-485 g.

Habitat:
Red-lored amazons are mainly found in rainforests, but also in mangroves, swamp forests, dry tropical forests, second growths, dry scrublands and plantations, from sea level up to an altitude of 1.100 m.

Diet:
They are strictly herbivorous, eating seeds, fruit, nuts, berries, greens, blossoms and buds.

Breeding:
The red-lored amazon breeds in January-June. They nest in tree cavities, where the female lays 2-5 white eggs. The female incubates the eggs alone for 25-28 and the chicks are fed by both parents until fledging, which takes place 8-10 weeks after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and a global population estimated at 500.000-5.000.000 individuals. the population is suspected to be declining owing to habitat destruction and unsustainable levels of exploitation due to its use as a food source, for its colourful feathers that are used in ceremonial dances and for the international pet trade.