Wednesday, 31 December 2014

White-throated treecreeper

Cormobates leucophaea

(Photo from Flickr)

Common name:
white-throated treecreeper (en); trepadeira-austral-de-garganta-branca (pt); échelet leucophée (fr); corretroncos gorjiblanco (es); weißkehl-baumrutscher (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Climacteridae

Range:
This species is endemic to eastern Australia, being found from north-eastern Queensland south to Victoria, and west into south-eastern South Australia.

Size:
These birds are 13-17 cm long and have a wingspan of 19-26 cm. They weigh 22 g.

Habitat:
The white-throated treecreeper is found in various forest habitats, including tropical and sub-tropical rainforests, dry tropical forests, dry savannas and temperate forests. They occur at altitudes of 300-1.200 m.

Diet:
They mainly search for insects and other invertebrates on tree bark and dead wood, particularly ants and spiders, occasionally also taking sap from Acacia or Eucalyptus, and nectar from flowers.

Breeding:
White-throated treecreepers are socially monogamous and breed in August-January. They nest in a tree cavity, about 2 m above the ground, which the female lines with bark, fur and grass. There she lays 2-4 white eggs with sparse brown or purple specks, which she incubates alone for 21-22 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 25 days after hatching. Each pair raises 1-2 broods per season.

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

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Madagascar spinetail

Zoonavena grandidieri

Photo by Markus Lagerqvist (PBase)

Common name:
Madagascar spinetail (en); rabo-espinhoso-de-Madagáscar (pt); martinet de Grandidier (fr); vencejo malgache (es); Madagaskarflagermussejler (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Apodiformes
Family Apodidae

Range:
This species has two disjunct subspecies. Z.g. grandidieri is found throughout Madagascar, while Z.g. mariae is only found on the island of Grand Comoro, in the Comoro Islands.

Size:
These birds are 12 cm long.

Habitat:
They are mostly found over forests, including both dry and moist tropical forests, and gallery forest, also using arable land. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 1.750 m.

Diet:
They forage low over the forest canopy, taking various flying insects.

Breeding:
Madagascar spinetails are believed to breed in April-January, but there is no further information regarding their reproduction.

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

Monday, 29 December 2014

Marquesan ground-dove

Alopecoenas rubescens

Photo by Josep del Hoyo (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
Marquesan ground-dove (en); pombo-perdiz-das-Marquesas (pt); gallicolombe des Marquises (fr); paloma-perdiz de las Marquesas (es); Marquesen-erdtaube (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Columbiformes
Family Columbidae

Range:
This species is endemic to the Marquesas islands, in French Polynesia, only occurring on the uninhabited, cat-free islets of Hatuta'a and Fatu Huku.

Size:
These birds are 20 cm long.

Habitat:
The Marquesan ground-dove is found in dry tropical forests and moist scrublands, namely Pisonia grandis groves, usually preferring the plateau of the islands and rarely descending to vegetation near the sea.

Diet:
They forge on the ground, feeding primarily on seeds such as those of Pisonia.

Breeding:
Marquesan ground-doves nest in a platform made of twigs, wehre the female lays 2 eggs. The incubation period lasts 13-15 days, but there is no information regarding the fledging period.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a very small breeding range and the global population is estimated at 1.000 individuals. The population is believed to be stable at present, although some fluctuations may take place due to droughts. This species was possibly wiped out from other islands in the Marquesas archipelago due to predation by introduced cats, and the same could happen to the remaining populations if cats reach their islands. The likely effects of global warming, such as more frequent and severe weather events could pose a threat in the future.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

White-rumped snowfinch

Montifringilla taczanowskii

(Photo from Zoochat)

Common name:
white-rumped snowfinch (en); pardal-das-neves-de-Taczanowski (pt); niverolle de Taczanowski (fr); gorrión de Taczanowski (es); weißbürzel-erdsperling (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Passeridae

Range:
This species is found from Tibet, northern Nepal and extreme northern India into central and northern China as far as Inner Mongolia and Ningxia.

Size:
These birds are 17-17,5 cm long and weigh 30-55 g.

Habitat:
The white-rumped snowfinch is mostly found in barren rocky areas with cliffs, also using high-altitude meadows up to the snow line and bogs and swamps. They occur at altitudes of 3.800-5.500 m.

Diet:
During the breeding season they feed mainly on insects, including larval and adult beetles, wasps, flies and caterpillars. Outside the breeding season they eat mostly seeds, also taking scraps at ski resorts.

Breeding:
White-rumped snowfinches breed in April-August. They are socially monogamous and can breed either in solitary pairs or in small, loose colonies of 2-6 pairs, each nesting in a cup built by the female using of grass stems, and placed inside a pika Ochotona curzionae burrow. The female lays 2-6 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 9-15 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 18-24 days after hatching, but continue to receive food from the parents for another 2-3 weeks. Each pair can raise 2 broods per season.

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

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Saffron finch

Sicalis flaveola

Photo by Claudio Marcio (Flickr)

Common name:
saffron finch (en); canário-da-terra-verdadeiro (pt); sicale bouton-d'or (fr); chirigüe azafranado (es); safranammer (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Emberizidae

Range:
This species occur in three disjunct areas in South America. The subspecies S.f. flaveola is found in Colombia, northern Venezuela and along coastal areas of the Guianas and Trinidad. S. f. valida in found in southern Ecuador and north-western Peru. The subspecies S.f. brasiliensis, S. f. pelzelni and S.f. koenigi are found from Maranhão in eastern Brazil, south to Uruguay and northern Argentina and west to Paraguay and Bolivia. The saffron finch has also been introduced to Panama, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Hawaiian Islands.

Size:
These birds are 13,5-15 cm long and weigh 12-23 g.

Habitat:
The saffron finch is found in a wide range of habitats, mainly dry tropical scrublands with scattered trees, but also open dry forests, moist scrublands, second growths, rural gardens, arable land and urban areas.

Diet:
They forage on the ground, mainly taking seeds but also some small arthropods.

Breeding:
Saffron finches breed in April-February, varying among different parts of their range. They nest in a cup made of plant fibres, which can be placed in variety of places, from holes in trees or bamboos, to epiphytes, holes in buildings or even inside the skull of an ox. The female lays 3-5 light grey eggs with brown spots and blotches, which she incubates alone for 12-15 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 14-17 days after hatching, but only become fully independent about 2 weeks later.

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

Friday, 26 December 2014

Black catbird

Melanoptila glabrirostris

(Photo from Flickr)

Common name:
black catbird (en); sabiá-preto (pt); moqueur noir (fr); maullador negro (es); glanzkatzenvogel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Mimidae

Range:
This species is found on the Yucatán Peninsula, in south-eastern Mexico, northern Belize and northern Guatemala.

Size:
These birds are 19-20,5 cm long and weigh 32-42 g.

Habitat:
The black catbird is mostly found in dry scrublands and humid to semi-arid scrubby woodlands and forests. They also use forest edges, second growths and mangroves.

Diet:
During the breeding season they feed mainly on insects and other arthropods, while fruits such as Ficus, Solanum, Metopium and other are more important outside the breeding season.

Breeding:
Black catbirds breed in May-August. The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of an open cup made of twigs and dry leaves, and lined with finer materials. It is placed in a small tree or scrub, about 2 m above the ground. The female lays 2-3 greenish-blue eggs, which she incubates alone for about 17 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 12-13 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a relatively small breeding range and a global population estimated at 20.000-50.000 individuals. the population is believed to be declining at a moderately rapid rate, owing to habitat loss and fragmentation due to tourist development and conversion to coconut plantations. Hurricanes may also affect this species, particularly if their frequency and intensity increases.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas shearwater

Puffinus nativitatis

Photo by Duncan Wright (Wikipedia)

Common name:
Christmas shearwater (en); pardela-de-Natal (pt); puffin de la Nativité (fr); pardela de la Navidad (es); weihnachts-sturmtaucher (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Procellariiformes
Family Procellariidae

Range:
This species breeds in remote islands in the central Pacific, from the Hawaiian Islands, south to Phoenix Island and Kiritimati Island in Kiribati, and east to the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island. Outside the breeding season they ranges across the Pacific, as far as the coasts of Mexico, northern Chile and the Bonin Islands of Japan.

Size:
These birds are 33-38 cm long and have a wingspan of 83-90 cm. They weigh 270-415 g.

Habitat:
The Christmas shearwater breeds in remote oceanic islands, in areas with dense vegetation and rocky crevices. They forage over pelagic water, occuring over warm waters and generally keeping away from land except near colonies.

Diet:
They usually forage in association with other seabirds and consuming prey that has been driven to the surface by schools of predatory fish such as skipjack tuna Katsuwonus pelamis. They mainly take larval fish and squids, also taking some crustaceans.

Breeding:
Christmas shearwaters can breed all year round, varying among different parts of their range. They nest on a shallow depression in the ground or a simple nest of small twigs and leaves, where the female lays 1 white egg. The egg is incubated by both parents for 50-54 days. The chick is fed by both parents and fledges 100-115 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large range and the global population is estimated at 100.000-300.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Pileated parrot

Pionopsitta pileata

(Photo from Instituto Rã-bugio)

Common name:
pileated parrot (en); cuiú-cuiú (pt); caïque mitré (fr); lorito carirrojo (es); scharlachkopfpapagei (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Psittaciformes
Family Psittacidae

Range:
This species is found in south-eastern Brazil, along the coast from south-eastern Bahia to Paraná, west to southern Paraguay and south to Rio Grande do Sul and extreme north-western Argentina.

Size:
These birds are 22 cm long and weigh 98-120 g.

Habitat:
The pileated parrot is mostly found in moist tropical forests, also using Araucaria stands, second growths and even in rural and suburban gardens. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 2.100 m.

Diet:
They feed on the fruits and seeds of wild plants such as Podocarpus, Solanum mauricianum, Myrcia, Gochnatia polymorpha, and also cultivated such as guava and kaki persimmon.

Breeding:
Pileated parrots are monogamous and pair for life. They breed in November-February and nest in tree holes. The female lays 3-4 eggs, which she incubates alone for 24-25 days while the male brings her food. The chicks fledge 47-54 days after hatching.

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

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Slaty bristlefront

Merulaxis ater

Photo by Don Robertson (Creagrus)

Common name:
slaty bristlefront (en); entufado (pt); mérulaxe noir (fr); macuquiño negro (es); südlicher stirnhaubentapaculo (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Rhinocryptidae

Range:
This species is endemic to south-eastern Brazil, being found along the coast from south-eastern Bahia to northern Santa Catarina.

Size:
These birds are 17-18,5 cm long and weigh 33-37 g.

Habitat:
The slaty bristlefront is mostly found in moist tropical forests, also using mature secondary forests. They prefer areas with sense undergrowth and occur at altitudes of 800-1.800 m.

Diet:
They usually forage in pair, taking insects and other small invertebrates.

Breeding:
Slaty bristlefronts possibly breed in July-February. They nest in holes in earth banks and are believed to be single-brooded, but there is no other information on the reproduction of this species.

Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a large breeding range but is described as uncommon. The population is suspected to be declining at a moderate rate, owing to continuing habitat loss and degradation through agricultural conversion and deforestation for mining, urbanization and associated road-building.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Australasian pipit

Anthus novaeseelandiae

Photo by David Cook (Flickr)

Common name:
Australasian pipit (en); petinha-austral (pt); pipit austral (fr); bisbita austral (es); Australspornpieper (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Motacillidae

Range:
This species is found throughout most of Australia, including Tasmania, in eastern Papua-New Guinea, throughout mainland New Zealand and also in the offshore archipelagos of Chatham, Aukland and Antipodes.

Size:
These birds are 16-19 cm long and weigh 35-40 g.

Habitat:
The Australasian pipit is mostly found in dry, short grasslands, also using pastures, road sides, coastal dunes, arable land, moist grasslands, rural gardens, forest clearings and edges, and wetlands. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 2.000 m.

Diet:
They feed on various insects, such as beetles, wasps, flies, crickets, grubs and larvae, as well as spiders, snails, small crabs and sandhoppers. They also take grass seeds.

Breeding:Australasian pipits can breed all year round, but mainly in August-February. They are monogamous, but the female builds the nest alone, a bulky, deep cup made of woven grass and lined with moss and lichen. It is placed on the ground, well hidden on a steep bank, or at the base of a clump of grass, tussock, fern or scrub. There she lays 2-4 creamy eggs with brown blotches, which are incubated by both parents for 14-16 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge about 14 days after hatching. Each pair can raise 2-3 clutches per year.

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

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Silky-tailed nightjar

Antrostomus sericocaudatus

Photo by Edson Endrigo (Birds Iporanga)

Common name:
silky-tailed nightjar (en); bacurau-rabo-de-seda (pt); engoulevent à queue de soie (fr); chotacabras coladeseda (es); seidennachtschwalbe (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Caprimulgiformes
Family Caprimulgidae

Range:
This species has two disjunct subspecies. A.s. sericocaudatus is found in south-eastern Brazil, south-eastern Paraguay and extreme north-western Argentina. A.s. mengeli is found in eastern Peru and north-western Bolivia, also with scattered records across north-central Brazil.

Size:
These birds are 24-31 cm long and weigh 60-100 g.

Habitat:
The silky-tailed nightjar is mostly found in moist tropical forests, favouring forest clearings and forests edges, but also uses second growths, gallery forests and swamp forests. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 600 m.

Diet:
They feed on various insects, including beetles, crickets, grasshoppers and ants.

Breeding:
Silky-tailed nightjars appear to be monogamous and the northern subspecies A.s. mengeli breeds in August-December. The female lays 2 eggs directly on the forest ground, either on bare ground or among the leaf litter. The eggs are pale pinkish-orange with dark maroon specks. The eggs are incubated by both sexes for about 18 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and start flying short distances 11-12 days after hatching, but remain in the nest-site area until they are about 24 days old.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as rare and patchily distributed. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction, but it is not threatened at present.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Montezuma oropendola

Psarocolius montezuma

(Photo from Ecos del Bosque)

Common name:
Montezuma oropendola (en); japu-de-Montezuma (pt); cassique de Montezuma (fr); cacique de Moctezuma (es); Montezumastirnvogel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Icteridae

Range:
This species is found from southern Mexico south to western Panama, mainly on the lowlands bordering the Carribean Sea.

Size:
This species is sexually dimorphic. Males are 46-51 cm long and weigh about 520 g, while the females are smaller at 38-39 cm long and weighing 230-250 g.

Habitat:
The Montezuma oropendola is mostly found in moist tropical forests, particularly in forest clearing, forest edges and areas near water. They also use banana plantations and bamboo thickets. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 800 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on fruits, but also take nectar, flowers and other plant material, as well as large insects and other arthropods, frogs and other small vertebrates.

Breeding:
Montezuma oropendolas breed in January-August. They are polygynous, with males defending harems, and nest in colonies of 20-150 nests. Females build the nests, which consist of large, elaborate, pear-shaped structures made of plant fibres and twigs that hang from tree branches. Each female lays 1-2 white or buff-coloured eggs with dark spots, which she incubates alone for 15 days. The chicks fledge about 30 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 50.000-500.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. Their rainforest habitats are being reduced by moderate deforestation, but they can adapt to open country with scattered trees.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Greater swamp-warbler

Acrocephalus rufescens

(Photo from Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
greater swamp-warbler (en); rouxinol-grande-dos-pântanos (pt); rousserolle des cannes (fr); carricero rufo (es); papyrusrohrsänger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Sylviidae

Range:
This species is patchily distributed in sub-Saharan Africa, with four disjunct subspecies. The subspecies A.r. sengalensis is found in Senegal and Gambia, A.r. rufescens is found from Ghana to the northern Central African Republic and north-western D.R. Congo, A.r. chadensis is found around Lake Chad, and A.r. ansorgei is found from southern South Sudan, through Uganda, western Kenya and eastern D.R. Congo, and into north-western Angola, Zambia, northern Botswana, north-eastern Namibia and western Zimbabwe.

Size:
These birds are 16-18 cm long and weigh 22-24 g.

Habitat:
The greater swamp-warbler is found in inland wetlands, such as Cyperus papyrus swamps, reedbeds, Typha stands, wet elephant grass and along river banks, also using seasonaly flooded agricultural fields.

Diet:
They feed mainly on insects, including beetle larvae, moths and their larvae, damsel flies and other aquatic insects, but also take small frogs.

Breeding:
Greater swamp-warblers can breed all year round, varying among different parts of their range. The nest is a deep cup made of papyrus and other reed leaves, attached to a number of papyrus stems, usually 1-2,5 m above the water level. There the female lays 2-3 eggs which are incubated by both sexes for about 14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge about 14 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as scarce to locally common, with an estimated global population of 2,9 million individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. In some areas local destruction of swamps may be cause for concern for this species.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Saffron toucanet

Pteroglossus bailloni

Photo by Celi de Medeiros (Flickr)

Common name:
saffron toucanet (en); araçari-banana (pt); toucan de Baillon (fr); tucán banana (es); goldtukan (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Piciformes
Family Ramphastidae

Range:
This species is found in south-eastern Brazil, from southern Bahia, through eastern Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, and into São Paulo, Paraná and northern Rio Grande do Sul, and also across the border into eastern Paraguay and extreme north-eastern Argentina.

Size:
These birds are 35-40 cm long and weigh 130-170 g.

Habitat:
The saffron toucanet is found in moist subtropical forests, particularly Atlantic forests on slopes and beside streams, also using forest edges and second growths. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.550 m.

Diet:
They forage on the forests canopy, in pairs or small groups, mainly taking fruits such as
Cecropia, Ficus, Euterpe, Eugenia uniflora and Melia azedarach, which are supplemented with insects during the breeding season. Occasionally, may also hunt fledglings of smaller bird species, such as woodpeckers.


Breeding:
Saffron toucanets breed in December-July. They are possibly monogamous, with both sexes excavating out an old woodpecker nest where the female lays 2-4 white eggs. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 16 days and the chicks fledge 40-42 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a large breeding range and is described as fairly common. However, a moderately rapid and on-going population decline is suspected owing to habitat loss, hunting and capture for the cage bird trade. Mountain forests have suffered less destruction than adjacent lowland forest in Brazil, but isolated forests in the north of its range have been reduced by the expansion of pasture and cultivation, and fires spreading from cultivated areas. Cage bird trade and hunting are apparently minimal in Argentina, but the saffron toucanet is still hunted in Paraguay.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Sooty-headed tyrannulet

Phyllomyias griseiceps

Photo by Leif Gabrielsen (iGoTerra)

Common name:
sooty-headed tyrannulet (en); piolhinho-de-cbeça-cinza (pt); tyranneau nain (fr); mosquerito cabecigrís (es); rußkappen-kleintyrann (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Tyrannidae

Range:
This species is patchily distributed from eastern Panama, through Venezuela and Colombia, east into Guyana and extreme northern Brazil, and south through Ecuador into central Peru.

Size:
These birds are 10 cm long and weigh 8 g.

Habitat:
The sooty-headed tyrannulet is mostly found in moist tropical forests, particularly along the edges of humid tropical and upper tropical evergreen forest, also using dry tropical forests, second growths and plantation. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 1.800 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on insects and other arthropods, but also take some small fruits and berries.

Breeding:
Sooty-headed tyrannulets are known to breed in February, but their overall phenology has not been described. They nest in a small cup covered in lichen, located high up in a tree, in one case 13 m above the ground. There is no further information regarding the reproduction of this species.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and is described as fairly common but patchily distributed. The sooty-headed tyrannulet is suspected to lose 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.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

American black duck

Anas rubripes

Photo by Ed Post (Flickr)

Common name:
American black duck (en); pato-escuro-americano (pt); canard noir (fr); ánade sombrío (es); dunkelente (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Anseriformes
Family Anatidae

Range:
This species breeds in north-eastern North American, in Canada from northern Saskatchewan to Newfoundland, and south to Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania and North Carolina in the United States. The population from Canada migrate south to winter throughout the eastern United States down to the Gulf Coast.

Size:
These birds are 53-61 cm long and have a wingspan of 95-96 cm. Females tend to be smaller than males, weighing 720-1.380 g, while males weigh 820-1.760 g.

Habitat:
The American black duck breeds in freshwater wetlands, including lakes, beaver ponds, streams, boreal bogs and woody swamps, favouring areas bordered by trees. Outside the breeding season they also use brackish and saltwater wetlands, including saltmarshes, estuaries and coastal lagoons, as well as agricultural fields.

Diet:They feed on the seeds, roots ,stems and leaves of aquatic and crop plants, as well as aquatic insects such as larvae of mayflies, caddisflies, dragonflies, flies, midges and beetles, crustaceans, molluscs and sometimes fish.


Breeding:
American black ducks are monogamous and breed in March-June. The female builds the nest alone, a scrape on the ground lined with grass, twigs, leaves, stems, conifer needles and down feathers, usually hidden among vegetation or sometimes in a tree cavity. There she lays 7-12 eggs which she incubates alone for 23-33 days. The male remains with the female for the first 2 weeks of incubation, helping defend the nest. The chicks leave the nest within 1-3 hours of hatching and follow the mother to a rearing area which is abundant in invertebrates and vegetative cover. They start flying about 60 days after hatching and reach sexual maturity at 1 year of age.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is currently estimated at 715.200-1.274.000 individuals. The population has possibly declined by about 50% since the 1950s, but the rate of decline became slower in recent decades. The main threats affecting the American black duck are hunting, competition and hybridization with mallards Anas platyrhynchos, wetland pollution and lead poisoning.

Monday, 15 December 2014

White-bellied redstart

Hodgsonius phaenicuroides

Photo by Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok (Ayuwat)

Common name:
white-bellied redstart (en); rabirruivo-de-barriga-branca (pt); bradybate à queue rouge (fr); colirrojo ventriblanco (es); kurzflügel-rotschwanz (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Muscicapidae

Range:
This species is found in the Himalayas and from central and southern China south to yanmar, northern Thailand, northern Laos and northern Vietnam. The population that breed at higher altitudes in the Himalayas migrate south to winter in north-eastern India.

Size:
These birds are 18-19 cm long and weigh 22-25 g.

Habitat:
The white-bellied redstart is mostly found in the transition between open scrublands and closed forests, using moist tropical forests, temperate forests, moist scrublands, high-altitude scrublands, dry grasslands and arable land. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 4.300 m.

Diet:
They forage mainly on the ground, taking mostly insects but also some berries and other vegetable material.

Breeding:
White-bellied redstarts breed in May-September. The nest is a deep, bulky cup made of grass, dead leaves, roots and stems, lined with finer grass, hair and feathers. It is hidden in a dense scrub, up to 1,5 m above the ground. The female lays 2-4 dark blue-green eggs, which she incubates alone for 10-16 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 11-17 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as widespread and fairly common in the Himalayas and rare to uncommon in Myanmar, northern Laos and northern Vietnam. In China, which represents a large proportion of the white-bellied redstart breeding range, the population is estimated to be below 100.000 breeding pairs. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Corn crake

Crex crex

(Photo from Hortobágyi Madárpark)

Common name:
corn crake (en); codornizão (pt); râle des genêts (fr); guión de codornices (es); wachtelkönig (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Gruiformes
Family Rallidae

Range:
This species breeds from western Europe, in France, Ireland and Scotland, through central Europe and southern Scandinavia, and into central Asia as far as Kazakhstan, northern China, Mongolia and south-eastern Russia. They migrate south to winter in sob-Saharan Africa, mainly from Tanzania and southern D.R. Congo to Botswana and eastern South Africa.

Size:
These birds are 22-30 cm long and have a wingspan of 42-53 cm. They weigh 130-210 g.

Habitat:
The corn crake breeds in open and semi-open habitats, particularly moist, tall grasslands. Originally they would almost certainly have used riverine meadows of Carex-Iris-Typhoides and alpine, coastal and fire-created grasslands with few trees or scrubs, but are now mainly associated with managed agricultural grasslands. Outside the breeding season they mainly use dry grasslands and savannas, also using riverine grasslands, and man-made habitats such as cereal fields, sewage ponds and golf courses.

Diet:
They feed mainly on invertebrates, including beetles, flies, grasshoppers, dragonflies, earwigs, earthworms, millipedes, spiders, isopods, slugs and snails, but also take small vertebrates such as fishes and amphibians, seeds and shoots.

Breeding:
Corn crakes breed in April-August. They can form seasonal monogamous pairs, but serial polygyny regularly occurs. The nest is made of dead stems and leaves, and placed on the ground among dense vegetation. The female lays 8-12 eggs, which she incubates alone for 14-21 days. The chicks leave the nest within a few hours of hatching and are able to feed themselves after 3-4 days, becoming independent of their mother at about 12 days of age. However, they only start flying 30-35 days after hatching. Each female may raise 1-2 broods per season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 5,45-9,72 million individuals. The population in Russia, which holds the vast majority of the global population, has remained stable even increased over the last decade, with some fluctuations due to extreme weather. However, in Europe the population is predicted to decline by up to 20% over the next decade, due to land use changes. Chick mortality due to mechanized mowing and intensification of grassland management are the main threats affecting corn crakes, although illegal hunting, land abandonment and nest predation by introduced mammals may pose a problem in some areas.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Great spinetail

Siptornopsis hypochondriacus

Photo by Christian Nunes (Flickr)

Common name:
great spinetail (en); joão-grande (pt); synallaxe à poitrine rayée (fr); curutié grande (es); weißbrust-dickichtschlüpfer (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Furnariidae

Range:
This species is endemic to an area of north-western Peru, on the slopes above the dry upper Marañón river valley in south Amazonas, south-east Cajamarca, east La Libertad and north Ancash.

Size:
These birds are 17-19 cm long and weigh 23-26 g.

Habitat:
The great spinetail  is found in arid and desert scrublands with cacti, and sometimes mixed with Acacia and Bombax trees, at altitudes of 1.650-3.000 m.

Diet:
They usually forage in pairs gleaning beetles and other arthropods from dense foliage.

Breeding:
Great spinetails build a large, enclosed stick nest. There is no further information regarding the reproduction of this species.

Conservation:
IUCN status - VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a relatively small breeding range and the global population is estimated at 6.000-15.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be declining rapidly, in line with rates of habitat loss within its range. The Marañón river drainage has been under cultivation for a long time and habitat in the valley has progressively deteriorated. The spread of oil-palms, cattle-ranching and logging are all serious threats to remaining habitat, with oil extraction a potential future problem.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Taiwan partridge

Arborophila crudigularis

Photo by Kun Chin Chung (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
Taiwan partridge (en); perdiz-da-Formosa (pt); torquéole de Formose (fr); arborófila de Formosa (es); Taiwanbuschwachtel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Galliformes
Family Phasianidae

Range:
This species is endemic to Taiwan, being found throughout most of the island with the exception of the westernmost and southernmost parts.

Size:
These birds are 22-28 cm long and weigh 210-310 g.

Habitat:
The Taiwan partridge is found in primary, temperate broad-leaved forests, at altitudes of 700-2.300 m.

Diet:
They feed on seeds, berries, seedlings, leaves, worms and insects.

Breeding:
Taiwan partridges breed in February-August. They are believed to be monogamous and nest in a crevice among boulders, or hidden at the base of a tree. There the female lays 6-8 which are incubated for 20-21 days. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching, but there is no information on fledging age.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a relatively large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 20.000-50.000 individuals. Although there are no data on population trends, habitat loss is suspected to be causing a slow to moderate decline.