Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Jamaican blackbird

Nesopsar nigerrimus

Photo by Jaremy Gatten (Flickr)

Common name:
Jamaican blackbird (en); iratauá-da-Jamaica (pt); carouge de Jamaïque (fr); turpial de Jamaica (es); bromelienstärling (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Icteridae

This species is endemic to Jamaica, being found in Cockpit Country, the central hills the Blue and John Crow Mountains.

These birds are 18 cm long and weigh about 40 g.

The Jamaican blackbird is found in mountain rainforests, including elfin and limestone forests and forest edges, favouring areas with heavy epiphytic growth of bromeliads or Phyllogonium moss. They are present at altitudes of 500-2.200 m.

They forage among epiphytes, moss-covered trunks and dead leaves, picking various insects.

Jamaican blackbirds are monogamous and breed in May-August. The nest is a cup made of plant material and placed against the trunk of a tree in the lower canopy. The female lays 2 eggs, which she incubates alone for bout 14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents, but there is no information on the length of the fledgling period.

IUCN status - EN (Endangered)
This species has a relatively small and fragmented breeding range. The global population is estimated at just 1.500-7.000 individuals and is likely to be slowly decreasing as a result of habitat loss. Habitat loss has been caused primarily by afforestation, mainly with Caribbean pine Pinus caribaea, coffee plantations, removal of trees for charcoal-burning, deliberate fires, small-scale farming and development, and ongoing habitat degradation leds to an increase in parasitism by shiny cowbird Molothrus bonariensis. The removal of mature trees reduces the availability of large tank bromeliads in which it forages. However, the most significant current threat is bauxite mining in its stronghold in Cockpit Country.

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