Sunday, 31 August 2014

Hook-billed jite

Chondrohierax uncinatus

(Photo from Wiki Aves de Colombia)

Common name:
hook-billed kite (en); caracoleiro (pt); milan bec-en-croc (fr); milano picogarfio (es); langschnabelweih (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Falconiformes
Family Accipitridae

Range:
This species is found from Mexico, and marginally in southern Texas, south to northern Argentina, Paraguay and south-eastern Brazil. They are also found in the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago, and Grenada.

Size:
These birds are 38-41 cm long and have a wingspan of 78-98 cm. They weigh 215-400 g.

Habitat:
The hook-billed kite is mostly found in moist tropical forests, including swamp forests and gallery forests, as well as mangroves, dry tropical forests, dry scrublands and shade coffee plantations. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.700 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on tree snails, such as Homolanyx, Polymita and Bulimulus wiebesi, as well as some ground snails, using their hooked bill to remove the flesh from the shell. They also hunt frogs, salamanders, lizards, birds, large insects and spiders.

Breeding:
Hook-billed kites breed in March-November. The nest is a flimsy, unlined platform made of small twigs. It is placed in a fork or horizontal branch of a tree, usually 5-10 m above the ground. There the female lays 1-3 dull white eggs with chocolate brown blotches, which are incubated by both parents for 34-35 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 35-45 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 200.000 individuals. The population is declining owing to deforestation which is leading to loss of suitable tree snail prey and, locally, to persecution by farmers who mistakenly believe it preys upon chickens.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Black-winged petrel

Pterodroma nigripennis

Photo by Nigel Voaden (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
black-winged petrel (en); freira-d'asa-preta (pt); pétrel à ailes noires (fr); petrel alinegro (es); schwarzflügel-sturmvogel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Procellariiformes
Family Procellariidae

Range:
This species breeds in the south-western Pacific, from Lord Howe Island, Australia, and eastern Australia in the west, New Caledonia in the north, the Chatham Islands, New Zealand in the south and Austral Islands, French Polynesia in the east. Outside the breeding season it migrates to the northern and eastern Pacific as far as northern Japan, Mexico and Peru.

Size:
These birds are 28-30 cm long and have a wingspan of 63-71 cm. They weigh 140-200 g.

Habitat:
The black-winged petrel is highly pelagic, leaving in the open seas and only coming to land to breed. They breed in oceanic islands.

Diet:
They feed mostly on cephalopods and prawns, but also sea insects Halobates sp., which are
caught mainly by surface-seizing and dipping, but also pattering. This species is often recorded feeding in association with other Procellariiformes.


Breeding:
Black-winged petrels breed in December-May. They breed in colonies on oceanic islands, nesting in burrows that they excavate on high ground inland amongst scrubs or tussock grasses. The female lays a single white egg, which is incubated by both parents for 45-46 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 84-85 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status -  LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large range and the global population is estimated at 8-10 million individuals. Despite an ongoing range expansion, population is suspected to be in decline owing to predation by invasive species.

Friday, 29 August 2014

White-banded swallow

Atticora fasciata

Photo by Josef Widmer (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
white-banded swallow (en); peitoril (pt); hirondelle à ceinture blanche (fr); golondrina fajiblanca (es); weißbandschwalbe (de)

Taxonomy:Order Passeriformes
Family Hirundinidae

Range:

This species is found from southern Colombia, southern and eastern Venezuelas and the Guyanas south through eastern Ecuador, eastern Peru and northern Brazil and into northern Bolivia and as far south in Brazil as Mato Grosso and Maranhão. They are only present east of the Andes.


Size:
These birds are 14,5-16 cm long and weigh 12-16 g.

Habitat:
The white-banded swallow is mostly found in rivers and lakes bordered by rainforests, using both white water and black water rivers. They also rocky outcrops, waterfalls along large rivers and second growths. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.000 m.

Diet:
They hunt insects on the wing, taking varous flying insects such as bees, wasps, beetles, flying ants, bugs and flies.

Breeding:
White-banded swallows breed in September-March. They can breed in solitary pairs or in loose groups, and nest in burrows that are not excavated by themselves, lining the nest chamber with grass. The female lays 4-5 white eggs. There is no available information on the incubation and fledgling periods.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as common but patchily distributedthe white-banded sallow is suspected to lose 13-14% of suitable habitat within its range over the next decade based on a model of Amazonian deforestation, so it is suspected to suffer a small decline in the near future.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Blue-crowned hanging-parrot

Loriculus galgulus

Photo by Lip Kee Yap (Wikipedia)

Common name:
blue-crowned hanging-parrot (en); lorículo-de-coroa-azul (pt); coryllis à tête bleue (fr); lorículo coroniazul (es); blaukrönchen (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Psittaciformes
Family Psittacidae

Range:
This species is found from southern Thailand and Malaysia to northern Indonesia in Borneo, Sumatra and adjacent islands.

Size:
These tiny parrots are 12 cm long and weigh 22-35 g.

Habitat:
The blue-crowned hanging parrot is found in moist tropical forests and forest edges, in mangroves, peat swamps and riverine forests, scrublands, plantations and rural gardens. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.300 m.

Diet:
They feed on various fruits, namely those of figs such as Ficus caulocarpa, F. virens, F. delosyce, and F. pisocarpa.

Breeding:
These birds breed in January-August. They nest in natural cavities in dead or living trees, including palms and rubber trees. The female lays 3-4 eggs which she incubates alone for 20 days. The chicks fledge 5 weeks after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is reported to be common to very common and widespread throughout all of its range, with the exception of Singapore. Despite being very popular as cage birds, the population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Knysna warbler

Bradypterus sylvaticus

Photo by Trevor Hardaker (Trevor and Margaret Hardaker)

Common name:
Knysna warbler (en); felosa-de-Knysna (pt); bouscarle de Knysna (fr); zarzalero del Knysna (es); Kapbuschsänger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Sylviidae

Range:
This species is endemic to South Africa, being restricted to a few coastal patches in the Eastern and Western Cape regions, namely the coast between Port St. Johns and Dwesa Nature Reserve, the Southern Cape, from Tsitsikamma to Sedgefield, the south slopes of the Langeberg Mountains, near Swellendam, and the east slopes of Table Mountain.

Size:
These birds are 14-15 cm long and weigh 16-21 g.

Habitat:
The Knysna warbler is mostly found in dense undergrowth of moist temperate forests and native fynbos dry scrublands, particularly along watercourses and drainage lines, but also uses non-native bramble Rubus sp. thickets and suburban areas.

Diet:
They feed mainly on the ground, taking grasshoppers, insect larvae, spiders, slugs, worms, woodlice, cockroaches, earwigs, stick insects and crane flies.

Breeding:
Knysna warblers breed in August-December. They are monogamous, solitary nesters, and the female builds the nest alone. The nest is a thick-walled cup made of dry grass and narrow-bladed leaves, constructed on a platform of dead and dying leaves and lined with finer plant material. The female lays 2-3 pinkish white eggs with reddish speckles and spots, which she incubates alone for 16-19 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 12-14 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a relatively small and fragmented breeding range and the global population is estimated at 2.500-10.000 individuals. The overall population is suspected to be declining, with a decrease of over 50% in the Cape peninsula, and the extirpation of the population in Durban due to habitat loss and degradation. Habitat loss is mainly caused by the clearance of coastal forests, while the lack of a natural fire regime may also prove detrimental, as fynbos vegetation may eventually become replaced by forest and the understorey vegetation required for nesting may become more sparse. Removal of non-native brambles, the subject of several eradication campaigns, may ironically have negative impacts, and inbreeding depression may become a problem, particularly in the tiny, fragmented Eastern Cape sub-population.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Buff-throated partridge

Tetraophasis szechenyii

Photo by Hu Yong (Oriental Bird Images)

Common name:
buff-throated partridge (en); perdiz-faisão-de-papo-pardo (pt); tétraophase de Szecheny (fr); perdiz-faisán gorgiclara (es); rostkehl-keilschwanzhuhn (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Galliformes
Family Phasianidae

Range:
This species is found in the mountains of Tibet, in south-western China and marginally into extreme north-eastern India.

Size:
These birds are 30-60 cm long and weigh 660-1.800 g.

Habitat:
The buff-throated partridge is found in high-altitude habitats including fir and oak forests and grasslands and scrublands above the treeline, also using rocky areas. They are present at altitudes of 3.300-4.600 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on the leaves, roots, stems, bulbs, fruits and seeds of various herbs and scrubs, also taking moss and in some areas rice and corn provided by local monasteries.

Breeding:
Buff-throated partridges breed in April-June. They are monogamous and can either breed in solitary pairs or show cooperative breeding, with up to 3 helpers, mostly males, participating in brooding and nest defense. They nest either in scrapes in the soil, lined with leaves, sticks, and bark, and usually located at the base of a tree or scrub, or in a stick nest placed on a tree branch. The female lays 3-4 eggs which are incubated for about 4 weeks. The chicks are precocial, leaving the nest soon after hatching, and are then guided by the mother until fledging.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and is considered very rare and local in India, but thought to remain widespread and not uncommon in the China. The population in eastern Tibet was estimated at 25.000-40.000 individuals. There is no information on population trends.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Rudd's lark

Heteromirafra ruddi

Photo by Warwick Tarboton (Warwick Tarboton)

Common name:
Rudd's lark (en); cotovia-de-Rudd (pt); alouette de Rudd (fr); alondra de Rudd (es); Transvaalspornlerche (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Alaudidae

Range:
This species is endemic to South Africa, being patchily distributed across south-eastern Mpumalanga, western KwaZulu-Natal, the north-eastern Free State and farther north in the Dullstroom-Machadodorp district.

Size:
These birds are 14-15 cm long and weigh 26-27 g.

Habitat:
The Rudd's lark is found in open, grazed mountain grasslands without forb invasion, in areas of high rainfall at altitudes of 1.600-2.200 m.

Diet:
They feed on adult and larval insects, such as caterpillars, grasshoppers and beetles, as well as seeds.

Breeding:
Rudd's larks breed in November-February. They are monogamous and territorial, and nest on the ground in a cup covered with a dome, made from old grass and lined with fresh dry grass. There the female lays 2-4 eggs which are incubated for 13-14 days. The chicks fledge about 13 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a relatively large but patchy breeding range, and a global population estimated at just 1.700-3.300 individuals. The population is believed to be declining and current rates of habitat loss could lead to a further decline of 30-50% in the next decade. This species is greatly affected by habitat loss and fragmentation through agricultural intensification, inappropriate pasture management and afforestation. Human settlement and mining are also considered major threats for its habitat. Further threats include wild fires and nest predation by mongooses, rodents and snakes.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Apricot-breasted sunbird

Cinnyris buettikoferi

Photo by Craig Robson (Bird Quest)

Common name:
apricot-breasted sunbird (en); beija-flor-de-Sumba (pt); souimanga de Sumba (fr); suimanga de Sumba (es); Sumbanektarvogel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Nectariniidae

Range:
This species is endemic to the island of Sumba in southern Indonesia.

Size:
These birds are 10-11 cm long.

Habitat:
The apricot-breasted sunbird is found along the edges of tropical forests, in secondary forests, dry scrublands and arable land. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 950 m.

Diet:
They feed on nectar and small arthropods.

Breeding:
There is almost no available information on the reproduction of this species. They probably lay a clutch of 2 eggs which are incubated for 14-17 days.

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

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Lesser spotted woodpecker

Dendrocopos minor

Photo by Zsombor Károlyi (Zsombor Károlyi's Photo Blog)

Common name:
lesser spotted woodpecker (en); pica-pau-malhado-pequeno (pt); pic épeichette (fr); pico menor (es); kleinspecht (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Piciformes
Family Picidae

Range:
This species is found through continental Europe and southern Great Britain, through Turkey and the Caucasus into northern Iran, and along the middle and southern latitudes of Russia into northern Kazakhstan, northern Mongolia, North Korea and northern Japan.

Size:
These birds are 14-16,5 cm long and have a wingspan of 24-29 cm. They weigh 16-28 g.

Habitat:
The lesser spotted woodpecker is mostly found in temperate and boreal deciduous forests, also using the vegetation surrounding fresh water lakes and rivers, rural gardens and urban parks. they occur from sea level up to an altitude of 2.000 m.

Diet:
They feed on small adult and larval insects such as caterpillars, aphids, ants, beetles, and other surface-dwelling arthropods, taken from decaying wood, but also from the surface of branches and from reeds.

Breeding:
Lesser spotted woodpeckers breed in April-July and are mostly monogamous with pair bonds sometimes extending over several years. They nest on a hole excavated in a decaying tree, usually 3-20 m above the ground, where the female lays 4-8 white eggs. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 13-14 days and the chicks fledge 19-21 days after hatching. Each pair usually raises a single brood per year.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 2,8-13,2 million individuals. The population in Europe have undergone a moderate decline over the last 3 decades, possibly owing to loss of deciduous habitats, loss of orchards, forest fragmentation and admixture of conifers.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Pearly-vented tody-tyrant

Hemitriccus margaritaceiventer

Photo by Hector Bottai (Wikipedia)

Common name:
pearly-vented tody-tyrant (en); sebinho-de-olho-dourado (pt); todirostre à ventre perle (fr); titirijí perlado (es); perlbauch-todityrann (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Tyrannidae

Range:
This species is found in two disjunct areas of South America. They are found in western and northern Colombia and throughout northern Venezuela into western Guyana. Also from Bolivia and central and eastern Brazil south to Paraguay and northern Argentina.

Size:
These birds are 10-10,5 cm long and weigh 7-10 g.

Habitat:
The pearly-vented tody-tyrant is mostly found in dry scrublands and among the lower growth of dry deciduous woodlands, also using moist scrublands and pastures. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.000 m.

Diet:
They forage alone or in pairs, among the lower levels of the vegetation, taking various insects.

Breeding:
These birds breed in January-June in the northern part of their range and in October-December in the southern part. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of an elongated, domed purse with a side entrance, made of grasses, plant fibres and spider webs, and lined with plant down. It is placed hanging from a branch of a scrub, small tree or herb. The female lays 2-3 light-coloured eggs, which she incubates alone for 13-15 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 13-14 days after hatching.

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

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Southern masked-weaver

Ploceus velatus

Photo by Ian White (Flickr)

Common name:
southern masked-weaver (en); tecelão-de-mascarilha (pt); tisserin à tête rousse (fr); tejedor enmascarado (es); maskenweber (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Ploceidae

Range:
This species is found in southern Africa, from southern Angola, Zambia and Malawi south to South Africa. It has also been introduced to the island of São Tomé.

Size:
These birds are 11-15 cm long and weigh 25-35 g.

Habitat:
The southern masked-weaver is found in semi-arid scrublands and open savannas, edges of dry tropical forests, riverine thickets, pastures and arable land with scattered trees, plantations, rural gardens and urban areas.

Diet:
They feed on seeds of grasses and other plants, fruits, flowers and nectar, as well as adult and larval insects, and human scraps.

Breeding:
Southern masked-weavers breed in July-April. They are polygynous, with males building nests to attract females and then mating with up to 12 females in a single breeding season. They nest in colonies of up to 9 males, and each nest is a kidney-shaped structure with a large entrance on the bottom, made of woven grass, palm leaves or reeds with a ceiling of leaves. It is placed hanging from a tree, reed or even a barbed wire fence. If a female accepts the nest she will line it with leaves, grass inflorescences and feathers, and lay 2-4 eggs that can have various colour to evade parasitisation by cuckoos. The female incubates the eggs alone for 12-14 days and then feeds the chicks alone until they fledge 15-17 days after hatching. Each female can raise multiple broods per season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as common to abundant in most of this range. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. In fact, they adapted well to the introduction of man-made habitats, using Eucalyptus and other alien trees in areas which were previously barren, such as the Namib desert.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Fiery-throated hummingbird

Panterpe insignis

Photo by Joseph Boone (Wikipedia)

Common name:
fiery-throated hummingbird (en); colibri-garganta-de-fogo (pt); colibri insigne (fr); colibrí insigne (es); feuerkehlkolibri (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

Range:
This species is found along Cordillera de Guanacaste and Cordillera de Tilarán, from northern Costa Rica to western Panama.

Size:
These birds are 10,5-11 cm long. The females are smaller than males, weighing 5 g while males weigh 6 g.

Habitat:
The fiery-throated in mostly found in moist tropical forests in mountainous areas, including cloud forests and elfin forests, also using timberline scrublands and grasslands, second growths and pastures. They occur at altitudes of 1.400-3.200 m.

Diet:
They feed on the nectar, visiting the flowers of various epyphytes, particularly ericads, bromeliads and gesneriads, as well as those of scrubs and small trees such as Centropogon valerii and Gaiadendron.

Breeding:
Fiery-throated hummingbirds breed in August-January. Males are territorial and will mate with multiple females, having no further part in the breeding process. The female builds the nest, a bulky cup made of treefern scales and plant down woven together with cobwebs and heavily decorate the outside with moss and lichens. It is placed usually placed at the end of a drooping bamboo stems or rootlets overhanging a bank, 2-4 m above the ground. There she lays 2 white eggs which she incubates for 14-19 days. She raises the chicks alone and they fledge 18-28 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a relatively small breeding range, but is described as common to abundant over most this range. There is no information on population trends, but there are no known relevant threats at present. However, due to its mountainous distribution, global warming may in the future restrict their range to higher altitudes.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Streak-capped antwren

Terenura maculata

Photo by Luíz Ribenboim (ICMBio)

Common name:
streak-capped antwren (en); zidedê (pt); grisin à tête rayée (fr); tiluchí enano (es); rostrücken-ameisenfänger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Thamnophilidae

Range:
This is found in south-eastern Brazil, from Bahia south to Parana and Santa Catarina, and marginally into south-eastern Paraguay and north-eastern Argentina.

Size:
These birds are 9-10 cm long and weigh about 7 g.

Habitat:
The streak-capped antwren is found in the canopy and mid-storey of rainforests and second growths, from sea level up to an altitude of 1.250 m.

Diet:
They feed on small insects and spiders.

Breeding:
They nest in a small pending cup-nest, but nothing else is known about their reproduction.

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

Monday, 18 August 2014

Asian glossy starling

Aplonis panayensis

Photo by Yap Lip Kee (Wikipedia)

Common name:
Asian glossy starling (en); estorninho-bronzeado (pt); stourne bronzé (fr); estornino bronceado (es); Malaienstar (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Sturnidae

Range:
This species is found in southern Bangladesh and extreme eastern India, through southern Myanmar and southern Thailand and into southern Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and the Indonesian islands of Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi.

Size:
These birds are 20 cm long and weigh 50-60 g.

Habitat:
The Asian glossy starling is mostly found in moist tropical forests and plantations, often along forest edges and in forest clearings. They also use second growths, mangroves and other coastal vegetation, arable land, rural gardens and even urban areas. they are present from sea level up to an altitude of 700 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on fruits, but also take berries, nuts, nectar and arthropods such as adult and larval beetles, caterpillars, mole crickets, grasshoppers and spiders.

Breeding:
Asian glossy starlings breed in January-August, varying among different parts of their range. They are probably monogamous and can nest either in solitary pairs or in colonies. They nest in cavities, using natural cavities, old woodpecker nests and holes in cliffs or banks, as well as nest boxes. Inside the hole they build a rough cup made of roots, grass and leaves, where the female lays 3 bluish eggs with dark markings. there is no available information on the incubation and fledgling periods.

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

Sunday, 17 August 2014

White-faced quail-dove

Geptrygon albifacies

Photo by Michael Retter (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
white-faced quail-dove (en); juriti-de-faces-brancas (pt); colombe des nuages (fr); paloma-perdiz cariblanca (es); sclatertaube (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Columbiformes
Family Columbidae

Range:
This species is found from central and southern Mexico south to northwestern Nicaragua.

Size:
These birds are 28-36 cm long and weigh 180-300 g.

Habitat:
The white-faced quail-dove is found in humid evergreen and pine evergreen mountain forests, also using shade coffee plantations. They occur at altitudes of 1.000-2.700 m.

Diet:
They possibly feed on fallen fruits, seeds and perhaps also insects and other small invertebrates, like other similar quail-doves.

Breeding:
These birds can possibly breed all year round, but with a peak in March-June. The nest is a frail platform of sticks, well concealed among the forest undergrowth, 0,5-6 m above the ground. There the female lays 2 pale buff eggs, which are incubated for 11-13 days. There is no information regarding the fledgling period.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and a global population estimated at 50.000-500.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction in many parts of their range.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

House finch

Carpodacus mexicanus

Photo by John Benson (Wikipedia)

Common name:
house finch (en); peito-rosado-doméstico (pt); roselin familier (fr); carpodaco doméstico (es); hausgimpel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Fringillidae

Range:
This species is originates from Mexico, the western United States and southern British Columbia and Alberta in Canada. They were introduced in New York in the 1940s and have since colonized eastern North America as far south as northern Florida and as far north as southern Quebec and Ontario, and east to Minnesota, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Size:
These birds are 12,5-15 cm long and have a wingspan of 20-25 cm. They weigh 16-27 g.

Habitat:
The house finch is mostly found in dry scrublands and grasslands, but also in human-created habitats such as pastures, plantations, arable land and rural gardens. Tey are present from sea level up to an altitude of 3.000 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on seeds, buds, fruits and berries, including wild mustard seeds, knotweed, thistle, mulberry, poison oak, cactus, and many other wild species, as well as cultivated plants such as cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries, blackberries, and figs. They also take a few insects.

Breeding:
House finches breed in March-August. They are monogamous and the female builds the nest, a shallow cup made of fine stems, grasses, leaves, rootlets, thin twigs, string, wool, and feathers, with similar, but finer materials for the lining. It can be placed in a tree, scrub, cactus, rock ledge or building. The female lays 2-6 bluish or greenish-white with fine black and pale purple speckles, which she incubates alone for 13-14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 12-19 days after hatching. Each pair can raise up to 3 broods per season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 21 million individuals. The  population has undergone a large increase of 16% per decade over the last 4 decades.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Whistling heron

Syrigma sibilatrix

Photo by Ken Erickson (Wikipedia)

Common name:
whistling heron (en); maria-faceira (pt); héron flûte-su-soleil (fr); garza chiflona (es); pfeifreiher (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Ciconiiformes
Family Ardeidae

Range:
This South American species has two subspecies with disjunct distributions. S.s. fostersmithi is found in eastern Colombia and in northern and western Venezuela, while S.s. sibilatrix is found from Bolivia and adjacent western Brazil, east to southern Minas Gerais and south through Paraguay and Uruguay into north-eastern Argentina as far as Mar del Plata.

Size:
These birds are 50-64 cm long and weigh 370-545 g.

Habitat:
The whistling heron is mostly found in wet grasslands, but also uses dry grasslands and savannas, marshes and swamps, and pastures. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 1.200 m.

Diet:
They mainly hunt invertebrates, including grasshoppers, dragonfly larvae, stick insects, mantids, beetles, caterpillars, various flying insects, spiders and earthworms, but also take small vertebrates such as frogs, tadpoles, eels and other small fish, and aquatic snakes.

Breeding:
Whistling herons breed in April-January, varying among different parts of their range. They nest either in solitary pairs or in scattered colonies. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a loose, unlined platform of twigs placed on a thick horizontal branch of a mature tree, 3-11 m above the ground. The female lays 1-4 pale blue eggs with dark speckles, which are incubated for about 28 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 1 month after hatching, but usually only 2 chicks survive until fledging.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as locally common but patchily distributed. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats and S.s. sibilatrix it appears to be expanding its range northwards across the Brazilian cerrado.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Cut-throat finch

Amadina fasciata

Photo by Philip Perry (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
cut-throat finch (en); degolado (pt); amadine cou-coupé (fr); estrilda degollada (es); bandamadine (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Estrildidae

Range:
This species is found along the Sahel belt, from Senegal and southern Mauritania east through Mali, northern Burkina Faso, southern Niger, northern Nigeria, Southern Chad and into southern Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia. Also along East Africa from Ethiopia to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa.

Size:
These birds are 11-12 cm long and weigh 15-32 g.

Habitat:
The cut-throat finch is mostly found in dry savannas, particularly Acacia sp. and Colophospermum mopane, also using dry tropical grasslands and scrublands. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 2.100 m.

Diet:
They forage on the ground, usually in small groups, taking various grass seeds and termites.

Breeding:
Cut-throat finches breed in August-May, varying among different parts of their range. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting a ball of grass with a short entrance tunnel, lined with feathers. It is typically placed in an old nest of a Ploceus weaver, red-billed buffalo weaver Bubalornis niger, red-headed weaver Anaplectes rubriceps, or of a woodpecker, occasionally also using holes in fence posts. The female lays 2-7 white eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 12-13 days. The chicks fledge 18-23 days after hatching.

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

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Gurney's sugarbird

Promerops gurneyi

Photo by Alan Manson (Wikipedia)

Common name:
Gurney's sugarbird (en); papa-açúcar-de-Gurney (pt); promérops de Gurney (fr); mielero-abejaruco de Gurney (es); Natalhonigfresser (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Promeropidae

Range:
This species is patchily distributed in south-eastern Africa, with populations along the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique and in north-eastern and eastern South Africa, including Lesotho.

Size:
These birds are 23-29 cm long and weigh 23-46,5 g.

Habitat:
The Gurney's sugarbird in mountain scrublands and grasslands dominated by Aloe, Protea and Strelitzia, being strongly associated with the presence of silver protea Protea roupelliae. Occasionally, they also use moist tropical forests.

Diet:
They feed mainly on nectar, particularly of P. roupelliae and P. caffra, but also Greyia, Erythrina, Halleria lucida, Kniphofia, Leonotis, Leucosidia sericea, Leucospermum, Buddleja, Faurea, Watsonia, ans alien plants such as Callistemon viminalis and Eucalypus. They also hunt beetls, ants and spiders.

Breeding:
Gurney's sugarbirds can breed all year round, but with a peak in September-February coinciding with the flowering of Protea plants. The female builds the nest alone, consisting of a shallow cup made of rootlets, twigs and bark fibres, lined with grass and the brown fluff and seeds of proteas. It is typically placed in a fork, between branches or at the base of an inflorescence with branches below it, usually in silver protea P. roupelliae, but also common protea P. caffra and cultivated proteas on flower farms. There she lays 1-2 eggs which she incubates alone for 16-28 days. The chicks are mainly fed insects, by both parents, and fledge 19-23 days after hatching. They only become fully independent about 20 days after fledging.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large but patchy 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.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Caspian tern

Hydroprogne caspia

Photo by Vladimirs Suščinskis (Ornitofaunistika)

Common name:
Caspian tern (en); gaivina-grande (pt); sterne caspienne (fr); pagaza piquirroja (es); raubseeschwalbe (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Charadriiformes
Family Sternidae

Range:
This species has a cosmopolitan but scattered distribution, breeding in the Baltic sea, in eastern Europe and central Asia from the southern Ukraine to western Mongolia, along the coast of China, in West Africa, around the eastern Mediterranean, in Pakistan, in Sri Lanka, in Madagascar and the coasts of southern Africa, in Australia and New Zealand, in the great lakes of North America, in the western United States and along the coast of Texas. Outside the breeding season they also spread along most of the coasts and inland wetlands of Central America, Africa and India.

Size:
The largest tern in the world, the Caspian tern is 48-56 cm long and has a wingspan of 127-140 cm. They weigh 580-780 g.

Habitat:
These birds are found in various coastal and inland wetlands, including coastal waters and estuaries, bays, harbours, coastal lagoons, saltmarshes, lakes, inland seas, large rivers, creeks, reservoirs and sewage ponds. They breed in sandy beaches, sand dunes, rocky coasts, sheltered reefs and islands with sparse vegetation and flat or gently sloping margins surrounded by clear, shallow, undisturbed waters.

Diet:
They feed mainly on small and medium-sized fish, as well as the eggs and young of other birds, carrion, aquatic invertebrates such as crayfish, flying insects and earthworms.

Breeding:
Caspian terns can breed all year round, varying among different parts of their range. They breed most often in large colonies, often together with other terns, although they can also breed in smaller colonies or even in isolated pairs. Each pair nests on a shallow depression in sand or gravel, or sometimes on flat stone, where the female lays 2-3 buff-coloured eggs with dark spots and blotches. The eggs are incubated for 22-28 days and the chicks are able to leave the nest after a few days, but are fed by both parents until they fledge 35-45 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 240.000-420.000 individuals. The overall population trend is increasing, although some populations are decreasing, stable, or have unknown trend. Population in North America have increased by 38% per decade over the last 4 decades.