Saturday, 23 November 2013

Yellow-faced grassquit

Tiaris olivaceus

Photo by Astrid Kant (Dutch Birding)

Common name:
yellow-faced grassquit (en); cigarra-de-faces-douradas (pt); sporophile grand-chanteur (fr); semillero tomeguín (es); goldbrauen-gimpelfink (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Emberizidae

This species is found from western and southern Mexico, through Central America and into Colombia, northern Ecuador and north-western Venezuela. They are also found in the northern Caribbean, in Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola and Puerto Rico.

These birds are 10-11 cm long and weigh 6-10 g.

The yellow-faced grassquit is mostly found in dry grasslands and moist scrublands, but also uses dry scrublands, high-altitude grasslands and scrublands, pastures, forests edges, road sides, second growths and overgrown gardens and lawns. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.300 m.

They feed mainly on the seeds of various grasses, particularly Paspalum sp., Digitaria adscendens, Eragrostris sp., and Panicum sp. When seeds are scarce they also feed on berries, insects, nectar and the white protein bodies found on the base of the petioles of Cecropia trees.

Yellow-faced grassquits breed in May-January. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a
domed structure with thick walls and a side entrance, made of straw, grass blades, and weed stems, and lined with fine pieces of grass inflorescences or shredded fibres. It is placed in a grass tussock or low scrub, up to 2 m above the ground. There the female lays 2-4 white eggs with brown speckles, which she incubates alone for 12-14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents, but there is no information on the length of the fledgling period.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and a global population estimated at 0,5-5 million individuals. The population is suspected to be increasing as ongoing deforestation is creating new areas of suitable habitat for the yellow-faced grassquit.

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