Saturday, 31 August 2013

Guira cuckoo

Guira guira

Photo by Dario Sanches (Wikipedia)

Common name:
guira cuckoo (en); anu-branco (pt); guira cantara (fr); pirincho (es); guirakuckuck (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Cuculiformes
Family Cuculidae

Range:
This species is found from north-eastern Brazil to Bolivia and south to central Argentina.

Size:
These birds are 34-40 cm long and weigh about 140 g.

Habitat:
The guira cuckoo is mostly found in mixed dry savannas and scrublands and degraded patches of former tropical forest, but also in grasslands and inland wetlands. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.200 m.

Diet:
They feed on large arthropods, such as grasshoppers, cicadas, termite alates, bugs, spiders, millipedes and caterpillars, and also frogs, bird eggs and chicks, small lizards and mice.

Breeding:
Guira cuckoos breed during the local rainy season. They breed in groups of several pair, with multiple females laying their eggs in the same nest. The nest is a large platform made of sticks, placed on a fork in a tree, 2-5 m above the ground. A nest can have 10-20 grey to turquoise eggs covered with a white chalky layer. The eggs are incubated by several adults for 10-15 days. The chicks are fed by several adults and fledge about 2 weeks after hatching.

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 increasing as ongoing habitat degradation is creating new areas of suitable habitat.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Southern black flycatcher

Melaenornis pammelaina

Photo by Alan Manson (Wikipedia)

Common name:
southern black flycatcher (en); papa-moscas-preto-meridional (pt); gobemouche sud-africain (fr); papamoscas sudafricano (es); glanzdrongoschnäpper (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Muscicapidae

Range:
This African species is found from Congo, southern D.R. Congo and Kenya south to northern Namibia, Botswana and eastern South Africa.

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

Habitat:
The southern black flycatcher is mostly found in dry savannas, especially miombo, mopane and acacia, but also in dry scrublands, riparian woodlands, rural gardens, along the edges of plantations and in arable land.

Diet:
They feed mainly on insects and other invertebrates such as termites, beetles, locusts, spiders, centipedes and worms. They are also know to eat some nectar and berries.

Breeding:
These birds breed in May-January. The nest is a shallow, thin-walled cup usually built of twigs, dry grass and other plant material, and lined with fine rootlets. It is typically placed in a tree hollow, but also on human structures, creeper tangles, banana bunches and palm sheaths. The female lays 1-4 eggs which she probably incubates alone for 13-16 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 15-20 day after hatching.

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

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Magpie tanager

Cissopsis leverianus

Photo by Octavio Salles (Flickr)

Common name:
magpie tanager (en); tietinga (pt); tangara pillurion (fr); tangara urraca (es); elstertangare (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Thraupidae

Range:
This species is found from Venezuela and southern Colombia down to Bolivia, Paraguay and south-eastern Brazil.

Size:
These birds are 29-20 cm long and weigh 65-80 g.

Habitat:
The magpie tanager is found in moist tropical forests and swamp forests, also occurring in degraded patches of former forests. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.200 m.

Diet:
They mainly feed on fruits, namely bananas and guavas, but also seeds and some insects.

Breeding:
Magpie tanagers nest in a cup made of grasses, leaves and other plant materials, placed low in a tree or in a dense scrub in the forest understory. The female lays 2-3 reddish-brown eggs with brown spots which are incubated for 12-13 days. There is no information regarding the fledgling period but each pair may raise 2 broods per season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as fairly common. based on current models of Amazonian deforestation, this species is likely to loose 15% of suitable habitat in the near future, but they are know to tolerate some level of habitat degradation.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

White-crowned pigeon

Patagioenas leucocephala

Photo by Cory Gregory (See You At Sunrise...)

Common name:
white-crowned pigeon (en); pombo-de-coroa-branca (pt); pigeon à couronne blanche (fr); paloma coronita (es); weißkopftaube (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Columbiformes
Family Columbidae

Range:
This species is found in the northern Caribbean, from the Bahamas to Guadeloupe, and also in southern Florida and along the eastern coasts of Central America from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico to northern Panama.

Size:
These birds are 30-40 cm long and have a wingspan of 50-60 cm. They weigh 150-310 g.

Habitat:
The white-crowned pigeon is mostly found in mangroves, especially in isolated offshore islets, but also use coastal rainforests and tropical dry forests, from sea level up to an altitude of 1.500 m.

Diet:
They feed on a wide range of fruits and berries, and are also known to take some insects, such as wasps and flies, as well as small snails.

Breeding:
White-crowned pigeons breed in April-September. The nest is a loose platform of twigs, lined with smaller twigs, placed most often on a mangrove tree over water. The female lays 1-2 white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 13-14 days. The chicks are fed crop milk and fruits by both parents, fledging 17-25 days after hatching. When food is abundant, each pair may raise up to 4 broods in a season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 100.000-1.000.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be declining as a result of habitat degradation and unsustainable levels of hunting, both legal and illegal. Collision with man-made objects is a major source of mortality in Florida, and pesticide use and human impact may also have detrimental effects.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Spiny babbler

Turdoides nipalensis

Photo by Jyotendra Thakuri (Oriental Bird Images)

Common name:
spiny babbler (en); zaragateiro-do-Nepal (pt); cratérope du Népal (fr); turdoide nepalés (es); igeldrossling (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Timaliidae

Range:
This species is endemic to Nepal.

Size:
These birds are 28 cm long and weigh 65-90 g.

Habitat:
The spiny babbler is mostly found in moist tropical and sub-tropical scrublands, and also in areas a few scattered trees, at altitudes of 900-2.100 m.

Diet:
They feed on the ground or among low scrubs, mainly eating insects, such as beetles, butterflies and caterpillars, grasshoppers, dragonflies, bugs, wasps and other insects. Earthworms are also common in their diet. They also eat some fruits, berries, seeds and nectar.

Breeding:
Spiny babblers breed in April-June. The nest is a deep cup made of grasses, placed in a low scrub, attached to a sturdy clump of grasses, or sometimes in a fork in a small tree. The female lays 3-4 pale blue eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 19-20 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 22-24 days after hatching, but only become fully independent 4-6 weeks later.

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

Monday, 26 August 2013

Rufous-throated antbird

Gymnopithys rufigula

Photo by Thierry Nogaro (Oiseaux)

Common name:
rufous-throated antbird (en); mãe-de-taoca-de-garganta-vermelha (pt); fourmilier à gorge rousse (fr); hormiguero gorgirrufo (es); rostkehl-ameisenvogel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Thamnophilidae

Range:
This species is found in northern South America, in southern and south-eastern Venezuela, marginally into eastern Colombia, and in the Guyanas and northern Brazil, north of the Amazon river.

Size:
These birds are 15 cm long and weigh 25-30 g.

Habitat:
The rufous-throated antbirds is found in the understory of lowland tropical rainforests, from sea level up to an altitude of 600 m.

Diet:
They often follow army ant swarms, hunting insects, spiders and other small invertebrates flushed by the ants.

Breeding:
Rufous-throated antbirds nest in a cup made of dead leaves and other plant materials, placed near the ground on a tree cavity or dead stump. There the female lays 2 eggs which are incubated by both parents. The is no information regarding the length of the incubation period. The chicks are raised by both parents and fledge around 13 days after hatching. They will continue to be brooded by the parents for 1 week after fledging.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as fairly common. The rufous-throated antbird is suspected to loose 10% of their habitat in the next 15 years, based on current models of Amazonian deforestation, but is not currently threatened.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Hook-billed hermit

Glaucis dohrnii

Photo by Ciro Albano (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
hook-billed hermit (en); balança-rabo-canela (pt); ermite de Dohrn (fr); ermitaño de Espírito Santo (es); bronzeschwanz-schattenkolibri (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

Range:
This species is endemic to south-eastern Brazil. In was originally found along the coast from southern Bahia to northern Rio de Janeiro, but it is now only found in a few scattered sites within this former range, namely Porto Seguro, Monte Pascoal National Park, Serra de Itamaruja and Linhares Forest Reserve.

Size:
These birds are 12-14 cm long.

Habitat:
The hook-billed hermit is only found in lowland primary rainforests, especially inside closed-canopy forests and in damp areas along streams. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 500 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on the nectar of various flowers, but also hunt small arthropods.

Breeding:
Hook-billed hermits breed in September-February. The males are polygynous, having no further part in the breeding process after mating with the females. The female builds the nest, an elongated cup made of fine roots and plant fibres, often adorned with lichens and suspended from the leaves of a palm tree or Heliconia. There she lays 2 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 14-16 days. The chicks are fed by the female and fledge 20-30 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - EN (Endangered)
This species has a small and fragmented breeding range, and the global population is estimated at just 250-1000 individuals. The population is suspected to be declining at a moderate rate, mainly due to habitat destruction and fragmentation caused by massive deforestation taking place within their range. Fires, the construction of roads are further threats. The existing nature reserves seem to provide inadequate protection as they are under threat from settler, fires spreading from surrounding farmland and expansion of roads, and
protect few watercourses that form key habitat for this species.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Blue-winged pitta

Pitta moluccensis

Photo by Alvin Loon (Nature in Singapore)

Common name:
blue-winged pitta (en); pita-d'asa-azul (pt); brève à ailes blueues (fr); pita aliazul (es); blauflügelpitta (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Pittidae

Range:
This species is found breeding from south-eastern Myanmar and Laos to southern Vietnam and Thailand. They migrate south to winter in Malaysia, Singapore and in Indonesia, in Sumatra, Borneo and Java.

Size:
These birds are 18-20,5 cm long and weigh 74-90 g.

Habitat:
The blue-winged pitta is mostly found in both dry and moist tropical forests, but also in mangroves, moist scrublands, plantations and even within urban areas during migration. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.800 m.

Diet:
They feed on various invertebrates, especially earthworms, centipedes and other arthropods, and snails.

Breeding:
Blue-winged pittas breed in May-August. They are monogamous, solitary nesters, the nest consisting of a large, untidy, spherical structure with a side entrance, made of twigs, roots, grasses, leaves and mosses. The nest is usually placed on the ground, often between the roots of a tree and near water, or sometimes in a low scrub. The female lays 3-6 white or cream eggs with light purple speckles, which are incubated by both parents for 14-17 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge about 2 weeks after hatching, but continue to be fed by the parents for several days afterwards.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is reported to be fairly common. The blue-winged pitta is fairly tolerant of habitat alteration and survives well in secondary habitats. However, it is commonly caught for the cage bird trade and is hunted locally in Thailand.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Slaty flowerpiercer

Diglossa plumbea

Photo by Jerry Oldenettel (Wikipedia)

Common name:
slaty flowerpiercer (en); fura-flor-ardósia (pt); percefleur ardoisé (fr); pinchaflor plomizo (es); einfarb-hakenschnabel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Emberizidae

Range:
This species is found in the mountain ranges of central Costa Rica and western Panama.

Size:
These birds are 10 cm long and weigh 9 g.

Habitat:
The slaty flowerpiercer is mostly found in high-altitude moist tropical scrublands, but also in in clearing and along the edges of mountain tropical forests, second growths and arable land. They are present at altitudes of 1.200-3.300 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on the nectar of various scrubs and epiphytes, namely Ericaceae. Unlike hummingbirds and other nectar feeders, they piercing the base of the flower to get to the nectar, thus not pollinating the plants in most cases. They also catch small insects among the foliage, namely flies, wasps, beetles and caterpillars.

Breeding:
Slaty flowerpiercers breed in August-March. The nest is a large cup made of moss, dead leaves and other coarse plant fibres, and lined with finer fibres. It is placed in a dense scrub, up to 4 m above the ground. There the female lays 2 pale blue eggs with brown speckles, which she incubated for 12-14 days. The is no information regarding the length of the fledgling period.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a relatively small and patchy breeding range but is described as common. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and their mountainous distribution suggests they could suffer impacts from climate change in the future. Despite this, the slaty flowerpiercer is not considered threatened at present.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Greater rhea

Rhea americana

Photo by Lip Kee (Flickr)

Common name:
greater rhea (en); ema (pt); nandou d'Amérique (fr); ñandú común (es); nandu (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Struthioniformes
Family Rheidae

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

Size:
These birds are 125-140 cm long and weigh 20-27 kg.

Habitat:
The greater rhea is mostly found in pampas and campo cerrado grasslands, and also in open chaco woodlands and savannas, pastures and arable land, from sea level up to an altitude of 1.200 m.

Diet:
They mainly feed on grasses blades, seeds and some fruits and berries, especially of Amaranthaceae, Asteraceae, Bignoniaceae, Brassicaceae, Fabaceae, Lamiaceae, Myrtaceae, Solanaceae, Magnoliaceae, Annonaceae and Lauraceae. They also take grasshoppers, scorpions and small vertebrates such as lizards, frogs, small birds are snakes.

Breeding:
Greater rheas breed in August-January and are polygynous, but unlike most other cases the male is responsible for most of the parental care. Groups of females copulate with a single male and all lay their eggs on the nest he built. The nest is a shallow hole on the ground surrounded by twigs and other plant material. A nest may have 10-60 eggs, from various females, which the male incubates alone for 29-43 days. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching but remain with the father for up to 6 months, and often remain together after becoming independet and up until they reach sexual maturity at 2-3 years of age.

Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as uncommon to fairly common. The population is undergoing a moderately rapid decline, mainly due to hunting for their skins and meat, and also because of habitat destruction and fragmentation through large-scale conversion of central South American grasslands for agriculture and cattle-ranching.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Hooded warbler

Wilsonia citrina

Photo by Paul Guris (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
hooded warbler (en); mariquita-de-capuz (pt); paruline à capuchon (fr); chipe encapuchado (es); kapuzenwaldsänger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Parulidae

Range:
This species breeds in the eastern United States, from Connecticut to Wisconsin and south to northern Florida and eastern Texas. They also breed in southern Ontario, Canada. They migrate south to winter in the Caribbean and in Central America from south-eastern Mexico to Panama.

Size:
These birds are 12-14 cm long and have a wingspan of 20-22 cm. They weigh 9-12 g.

Habitat:
The hooded warbler breeds within dense temperate forests with a well developed understory, generally avoiding the forest edge. The sexes use different wintering habitats, with males preferring moist tropical forests and females preferring scrublands.

Diet:
They feed mainly on small insects, spiders and other invertebrates, which they either pick from the foliage or catch in flight.

Breeding:
Hooded warblers breed in April-June. They are socially monogamous, but extra-pair paternity is common. The female builds the nest, a cup made of bark, dead leaves and other plant material placed in a low scrub on the forest understory. There she lays 3-5 eggs which are incubated for 12 days. The chicks are fed by both sexes and fledge 8-9 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and a global population estimated at 4 million individuals. The population has undergone a small decline over the last 4 decades, but it is not threatened at present.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

White-throated fantail

Rhipidura albicollis

Photo by Nabarun Sadhya (Flickr)

Common name:
white-throated fantail (en); cauda-de-leque-de-garganta-branca (pt); rhipidure à gorge blanche (fr); abanico gorgiblanco (es); weißkehl-fächerschwanz (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Rhipiduridae

Range:
This species is found from north-eastern Pakistan and western India, through Tibet, Nepal and southern China, and into Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodja, Vietnam, Malaysia and also Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia.

Size:
These bird are 17,5-20,5 cm long and weigh 9-13 g.

Habitat:
The white-throated fantail is mostly found in rainforests, but also in tropical dry forests, secondary growths, wooded gardens within urban areas, arable land and bamboo thickets. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 3.000 m.

Diet:
They are insectivorous and forage mostly on the forest undergrowth, along branches and also outside of foliage.

Breeding:
White-throated fantails breed in February-March. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a cup made of fine grass stems held together by spider webs, with a dangling tail of grasses hanging underneath. There the female lays 3 spotted eggs which are incubated for 12-13 days. The chicks fledge 13-15 days after hatching. Each pair raises 1-2 broods per season.

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, 19 August 2013

Red-legged crake

Rallina fasciata

Photo by Edwin Matias (Gear Up, Get Out)

Common name:
red-legged crake (en); franga-d'água-de-patas-vermelhas (pt); râle barré (fr); polluela patirroja (es); Malaienralle (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Gruiformes
Family Rallidae

Range:
This species is found in south-eastern Asia, from Bangladesh and extreme north-eastern India, through Myanmar and southern Thailand and into southern Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Size:
These birds are 21-25 cm long and have a wingspan of 38-41 cm. They weigh 55-115 g.

Habitat:
The red-legged crake is found in swamps and marshes with reeds, ricefields, wet grasslands, riparian areas within rainforests and sometimes also among scrubland and second growths. It is present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.400 m.

Diet:
They feed on aquatic invertebrates, earthworms and small aquatic vertebrates.

Breeding:
Red-legged crakes nest among thick marshy vegetation. The female lays 3-6 eggs which are incubated by both parents, but there is no information regarding the length of the incubation period. The chicks are precocial, leaving the nest 2-3 days after hatching. They follow the parents for several weeks until they become fully independent.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as not very common.
The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the extent of threats to the species and the fact that they are often concealed in dense vegetation, making them very difficult to observe.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Seychelles white-eye

Zosterops modestus

Photo by Johann Mols (National Geographic)

Common name:
Seychelles white-eye (en); olho-branco-das-Seychelles (pt); zostérops des Seychelles (fr); anteojitos de Seychelles (es); Mahé-brillenvogel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Zosteropidae

Range:
This species is endemic to Mahé, in the Seychelles archipelago, only being found in a few small patches in the centre and north of the island and in the offshore islet of Conception. In recent years some birds have been translocated and established small population on Frégate Island, North island and Cousine.

Size:
These bird are 10-11 cm long and weigh 8-10 g.

Habitat:
In Conception the Seychelles white-eye is found in dense tropical woodlands, while in Mahé they are mostly found in man-made habitats, such as farmland, urban areas, orchards and also along the edges of forests and scrublands.

Diet:
They feed mainly on insects, but also take berries and nectar.

Breeding:
Seychelles white-eyes breed in September-April. They nest on a small cup where the female lays 2-7 eggs. The eggs are incubated for 13-15 days and the chicks fledge 11-16 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - EN (Endangered)
This species has an extremely small and fragmented breeding range, and the global population is estimated at just 50-250 individuals. The population is increasing moderately, especially in the offshore islands. The Seychelles white-eye nearly went extinct due to loss of native vegetation and invasion by alien plant species, as well as nest predation by introduced black rats Rattus rattus and common mynas Acridotheres tristis. Conservation actions have focused on the erradication of rats and restoration of native vegetation, as well as the translocation of individuals to rat-free islands, which successfully halted the population decline. However, this species is still threatened by fires, diseases and is very vulnerable to stochastic events due to the very small and fragmented range and population.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Bearded vulture

Gypaetus barbatus

Photo by Dan Logen (The Guardian)

Common name:
bearded vulture (en); quebra-ossos (pt); gypaète barbu (fr); quebrantahuesos (es); bartgeier (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Falconiformes
Family Accipitridae

Range:
This species is patchily distributed in southern Europe, from northern Spain to Austria, in Morocco and northern Algeria, from Greece, through Turkey and the Middle East and into Mongolia and China, in north-eastern Africa from Egypt to northern Tanzania, and in eastern South Africa.

Size:
These birds are 95-125 cm long and have a wingspan of 230-285 cm. They weigh 4,5-7 kg.

Habitat:
The bearded vulture is mostly found in rocky mountainous areas, also foraging over grasslands, scrublands and sometimes even in urban areas. They are present at altitudes of 1.000-7.500 m.

Diet:
They are scavengers, specializing at feeding on bones. The small bones are eaten whole, while the larger bones are carried into the air, and dropped from height onto rocks below, which results in the bones shattering on the rocks, provides the bird with access to the nutritious marrow inside.

Breeding:
Bearded vultures are typically monogamous, although polyandrous trios are known to occur in some areas. They can breed all year round, varying geographically and the nest is a massive pile of branches lined with wool, dung, dried skin and sometimes even rubbish, placed on a rocky outcrop in a cliff. The female lays 1-2 greyish eggs with light brown blotches, which are incubated for 53-60 days. The chicks fledge 100-130 days after hatching. They reach sexual maturity at 8-9 years of age.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 1.300-6.700 individuals. The population is declining throughout its range with the exception of northern Spain where the it has increased in recent decades. The main factors affecting bearded vulture populations are poisoning, both accidental and targeted, as well as habitat degradation, disturbance of breeding site and collision with power lines, but the species is not considered threatened at present.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Northern cardinal

Cardinalis cardinalis

(Photo from Wikipedia)

Common name:
northern cardinal (en); cardeal (pt); cardinal rouge (fr); cardenal rojo (es); rotkardinal (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Cardinalidae

Range:
This species is found throughout the eastern United States, as far west as Nebraska, eastern Colorado and Texas, also marginally into south-eastern Canada, in southern New Mexico and Arizona, and through Mexico down to northern Guatemala.

Size:
These birds are 20-23,5 cm long and have a wingspan of 25-31 cm. They weigh 35-65 g.

Habitat:
The northern cardinal is mostly found in scrublands, and also along the edges of temperate and tropical forests, in swamps and marshes, along rivers and streams and within urban areas. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.500 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on weed seeds, grains, berries and fruits, such as dogwood, wild grape, buckwheat, grasses, sedges, mulberry, hackberry, blackberry, sumac, tulip-tree, and corn. They also eat sunflower seeds, snails and a few insects such as beetles, cicadas and grasshoppers.

Breeding:
Northern cardinals are serially monogamous , although polygyny occurs sometimes. They breed in March-September. The female builds the nest, using materials collected by the male, consisting of a cup made of coarse twigs and sometimes bits of trash, covered in a leafy mat, and lined with grapevine bark, grasses, stems, rootlets, and pine needles. It is placed in a dense tangle of vines or scrubs, 1-3 m above the ground. There she lays 2-5 white to greenish eggs with pale grey or brown speckles, which she incubates alone for 11-13 days while being fed by the male. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 7-13 days after hatching, but continue to receive food from the parents for 4-8 weeks. Each pair can raise up to 4 broods per season, often with the female incubating one brood while the male is still tending the chicks from the previous brood.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is generally common. The population has had a stable trend over the last 4 decades in North America.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Stitchbird

Notiomystis cincta

Photo by Damian Davalos (Flickr)

Common name:
stitchbird (en); melífago-hihi (pt); méliphage hihi (fr); hihi (es); hihi (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Meliphagidae

Range:
Once common throughout the North Island of New Zealand and in several offshore islands, the stitchbird in now only found naturally in Little Barrier Island, with small translocated populations also on the islands of Kapiti and Tiritiri Matangi and also in Karori Wildlife Sanctuary and Maungatautari on mainland North Island, as a result of conseration efforts.

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

Habitat:
The stitchbird is found in a variety of temperate forest habitats, requiring mature forests with plenty of tree holes for nesting. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 750 m.

Diet:
They feed on the nectar of various flowers, as well as various fruits, insects and other invertebrates.

Breeding:
Stichbirds can be socially monogamous, or form breeding groups where 2 male and 2 females breed in the same territory. There are also high levels of extra-pair parentage. They breed in September-March. The nest in a tree hole, where they build a bowl-shaped net with twigs, grass and fern rhizomes. The female lays 3-5 eggs, which she incubates alone for about 15 days. Both parents feed the chicks, which fledge about 30 days after hatching.

Conservation:IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a very small breeding range and a global population estimated at just 3.000-4.500 individuals. There is no detailed information on population trends, but it believed to be declining. The stitchbird became extinct on the North Island mainland, probably due to the introduction of black rats Rattus rattus, avian desease and probably also deforestation in parts of its original range. Conservation efforts lead to the translocation of individuals into two offshore islands and a couple of areas in North Island but they appear to require large expanses of mature forest to survive which represents a major hurdle to conservation efforts.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Eared quetzal

Euptilotis neoxenus

Photo by Steven Whitebread (Flickr)

Common name:
eared quetzal (en); quetzal-orelhudo (pt); quetzal oreillard (fr); trogón silbador (es); haarbüscheltrogon (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Trogoniformes
Family Trogonidae

Range:
This species is endemic to Mexico, being found in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range and the adjacent Pacific slope.

Size:
These birds are 32-35,5 cm long and weigh 100-150 g.

Habitat:
The eared quetzal is found in the pine, pine-oak, and pine-evergreen forests, mostly in the upper and middle storeys of forest, particularly along watercourses in canyons and riparian corridors. They are present at altitudes of 1.800-3.000 m.

Diet:
They feed on insects and fruits, namely caterpillars and other insect larvae, katydids, moths, and blackberries and madrone berries.

Breeding:
Eared quetzals are monogamous and breed in June-October. They nest in either natural tree cavities or old woodpecker nests, 7-15 m above the ground. The female lays 2-4 greenish-blue eggs, which are incubated by both parents for about 22 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 29-31 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 20.000-50.000 individuals. The population is believed to be stable, but widespread forest destruction adversely affect the species through the removal of trees with suitable nesting cavities. Competition for cavities may be a limiting factor in breeding success.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Black-crowned tchagra

Tchagra senegalus

Photo by Javier Falco (Salidún)

Common name:
black-crowned tchagra (en); picanço-assobiador-de-barrete-preto (pt); tchagra à tête noire (fr); chagra del Senegal (es); Senegaltschagra (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Malaconotidae

Range:
This species is found in sub-Saharan Africa, from the Sahel down to Angola, Zimbabwe and north-eastern South Africa, also from Morocco to north-eastern Libya and in the southern Arabian Peninsula, in Yeman, Oman and marginally into Saudi Arabia.

Size:
These birds are 19-23 cm long and weigh 35-55 g.

Habitat:
The black-crowned tchagra is mostly found in dry scrublands and savannas, but also in dry tropical forests, rural gardens, plantations and arable land. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 3.000 m.

Diet:
They hunt insects and other invertebrates, pounding on them from a perch.

Breeding:
Black-crowned tchagras are monogamous and can breed all year round, varying between different parts of their range. They nest on a shallow cup, built in a scrub or small tree up to 2 m above the ground. The female lays 2-3 eggs, which she mostly incubates alone for 12-15 days.The chicks fledge 15-16 days after hatching. Each pair typically raises a single clutch per year.

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

Monday, 12 August 2013

Yellow-crowned amazon

Amazona ochrocephala

Photo by Erick Houli (Flickr)

Common name:
yellow-crowned amazon (en); papagaio-campeiro (pt); amazone à front jaune (fr); loro real amazónico (es); gelbscheitelamazone (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Psittaciformes
Family Psittacidae

Range:
This species is found from Panama south to central Bolivia and north-western Brazil as far south as Mato Grosso and Pará.

Size:
These birds are 31-38 cm long and weigh 380-560 g.

Habitat:
The yellow-crowned amazon is mostly found in rainforests and swamp forests, but also in degraded patches of former forests, deciduous woodlands, tall scrubland and agricultural areas. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 850 m.

Diet:
They usually forage in small flock of up to 30 individuals, eating fruits, nuts, seeds, berries, blossoms and leaf buds. They often gather at clay licks.

Breeding:
Yellow-crowned amazons are monogamous. They breed in December-May and nest on a hollow in a tree or termite mound, where the female lays 2-4 eggs. She incubates the eggs alone for 24-28 days and the chicks are fed by both parents, fledging 8-9 weeks after hatching. They reach sexual maturity at 3 years of age. Each pair raises a single clutch per season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as common in at least parts of its range. The population is expected to suffer a small decline in the future, based on current models of Amazonian deforestation, but their tolerance of fragmented and degraded forests such minimize this decline.