Saturday, 23 May 2015

Screaming cowbird

Molothrus rufoaxillaris

Photo by Jorge Vicente (Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur)

Common name:
screaming cowbird (en); vira-bosta-picumã (pt); vacher criard (fr); tordo chillón (es); rotachsel-kuhstärling (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Icteridae

Range:
This species is found from south-eastern Bolivia and Goiás in central Brazil, through Paraguay and Uruguay and into Argentina as far south as Río Negro and north-eastern Chubut.

Size:
These birds are 18-21 cm long and weigh 45-60 g.

Habitat:
The screaming cowbird was originally associated with grasslands and open woodlands, but is now mostly found in arable land and man-made pastures. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 1.000 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on insects and other arthopods, particularly beetles and ants, but also eat seeds.

Breeding:
These birds are apparently monogamous and breed in October-March. They are obligate brood parasites, meaning they never build their own nests, always laying their eggs on the nests of other birds. Most often they parasitize bay-winged cowbirds Agelaioides badius, but can also lay eggs on the nests of chopi blackbirds Gnorimopsar chopi and brown-and-yellow marshbirds Pseudoleistes virescens. Each female lays 2 eggs which are incubated by the host for 12-14 days. The chicks are fed by the host and fledge 12-16 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as fairly common. The screaming cowbird has more than doubled the extent of its range in the last 50 years, probably due to conversion of natural vegetation into pastures and arable land.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Lilac-tailed parrotlet

Touit batavicus

Photo by Cesar Villalba (Flickr)

Common name:
lilac-tailed parrotlet (en); apuim-de-sete-cores (pt); touit à sept couleurs (fr); cotorrita sietecolores (es); siebenfarbenpapagei (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Psittaciformes
Family Psittacidae

Range:
This species is patchily distributed from northern Colombia, along northern Venezuela, and into Guyana, Suriname, French Guyana and possibly marginally across the border into Amapá, in extreme northern Brazil.

Size:
These birds are 14 cm long and weigh 52-72 g.

Habitat:
The lilac-tailed parrotlet is mostly found in mountain cloud forests, but also in lowland rainforests and rural gardens. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 1.700 m.

Diet:
They feed on flowers, nectar, buds, berries, seeds and fruits.

Breeding:
Lilac-tailed parrotlets possibly breed in November-March. They nest in large, arboreal termite mounds, or in tree cavities including old woodpecker nests. The female lays 5-6 white eggs, which she incubates alone for about 19 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 4-5 weeks after hatching, but may continue to receive food from the parents for another 3-4 weeks.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and is described as fairly common. the lilac-tailed parrotlet is suspected to lose 8% of suitable habitat within its range over the next 15 years, based on a model of Amazonian deforestation, which given its susceptibility to hunting and trapping suggests they are likely to suffer a small decline in the near future.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Rufous-crested tanager

Creurgops verticalis

Photo by Peter Franze (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
rufous-crested tanager (en); saíra-de-crista-ruiva (pt); tangara à cimier roux (fr); tangara crestirrufa (es); ockerschopftangare (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Thraupidae

Range:
This species is found in the Andes, from central Colombia south to central Peru.

Size:
These birds are 15 cm long and weigh 21-27 g.

Habitat:
The rufous-crested tanager is found in humid and wet mossy mountain forests, especially clound forests and ocasionally also along forest edges. They occur at altitudes of 1.400-2.700 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on insects, but also take some fruits.

Breeding:
Rufous-crested tanagers possibly breed in March-June. There is no further information regarding their reproduction.

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

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Blyth's kingfisher

Alcedo hercules

(Photo from World Birds)

Common name:
Blyth's kingfisher (en); guarda-rios-de-Blyth (pt); martin-pêcheur de Blyth (fr); martín pescador hércules (es); Herkules eisvogel (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Coraciiformes
Family Alcedinidae

Range:
This species is found from extreme north-eastern India and eastern Nepal, into extreme southern China, and southwards into Myanmar, northern Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

Size:
These birds are 22 cm long and weigh around 60 g.

Habitat:
The Blyth's kingfisher is found along streams and small rivers, and adjacent areas of moist tropical forests, favouring deep ravines and hilly country. They occur at altitudes of 200-1.200 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on fish, but are also known to take some insects.

Breeding:
Blyth's kingfishers breed in March-July. They nest is placed at the end of a deep tunnel, excavated into the bank of forest stream or vertical face of forest ravine. There the female lays 4-6 eggs which are incubated by both parents. There is no available information regarding the length of the incubation and fledging periods.

Conservation:
IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a large breeding range and is reported to be widespread, but occurring at low densities. The population is suspected to be declining at a slow to moderate rate, mainly due to habitat loss and fragmentation caused by ongoing deforestation. Construction of dams, human disturbance and river pollution possibly also affect this species.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Ochre-breasted brush-finch

Atlapetes semirufus

Photo by Tony Morris (Wiki Aves de Colombia)

Common name:
ochre-brested brush-finch (en); tico-tico-de-peito-ocre (pt); tohi demi-roux (fr); atlapetes semirrufo (es); ockerbrust-buschammer (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Emberizidae

Range:
This species is found in the mountain of northern Venezuela and in the eastern slopes of the Andes in western Venezuela and northern Colombia as far south as Bogotá.

Size:
These birds are 18 cm long and weigh 29-33 g.

Habitat:
The ochre-breasted brush-finch is mostly found in the understorey of mountain rainforests, particularly along forest borders, also using second growths. They occur at altitudes of 600-3.500 m.

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

Breeding:
These birds breed in March-July. The nest is built by the female, consisting of an open cup made of thick grasses and small sticks, and lined with thinner grasses and rootlets. It is concealed among grasses, vines or scrubs, and located up to 3 m above the ground. The female lays 2 white eggs with reddish-brown spots, which she incubates alone for 14-15 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 10-11 days after hatching. Each pair is believed to raise a single brood per season.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a relatively 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.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Vermiculated screech-owl

Megascops vermiculatus

Photo by Arlene Koziol (Flickr)

Common name:
vermiculated screech-owl (en); corujinha- (pt); petit-duc vermiculé (fr); autillo vermiculado (es); kritzel-kreischeule (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae

Range:
This species is found from northern Costa Rica to Colombia, and along the Andes south to northern Bolivia. There are also separate populations in north-western Colombia and northern Venezuela, and in southern Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and extreme northern Brazil.

Size:
These birds are 20-23 cm long and weigh 90-130 g.

Habitat:
The vermiculated screech-owl is mostly found in humid tropical forests, also using dry tropical forests. They are mainly found in lowland areas, but can occur up to an altitude of 1.800 m.

Diet:
They feed mainly on large insects, but possibly also some small vertebrates.

Breeding:
Vermiculated screech-owls breed in March-July. They nest in natural tree cavities, or sometimes in old nest holes of other birds such as trogons. The female lays 2-3 eggs which she mainly incubates alone for 26-37 days. There is no information regarding the fledging period, but when food is scarce the larger chicks may eat their smaller siblings.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range. There is very little information about its abundance, but its possibly not rare, at least in some areas. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and fragmentation.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Black-throated blue warbler

Dendroica caerulescens

Photo by Paul Jones (Flickr)

Common name:
black-throated blue warbler (en); felosa-azul-de-garganta-preta (pt); paruline bleue (fr); reinita azulada (es); blaurücken-waldsänger (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Parulidae

Range:
This species breeds in south-eastern Canada, from southern Ontario to Nova Scotia, and southwards into the eastern United States as far south as Tennessee and northern Georgia. they migrate south to winter in the Caribbean, from southern Florida south to Panama and Barbados.

Size:
These birds are 13 cm long and weigh about 8,5-12 g.

Habitat:
The black-throated blue warbler breeds in undisturbed deciduous and mixed-deciduous forests, particularly maple, birch, beech, hemlock, spruce and fir, favouring areas with dense understory. Outside the breeding season they also use moist tropical forests, tropical scrublands, plantation, rural gardens and urban areas.

Diet:
During the breeding season they are mainly insectivorous, taking beetles, caterpillars, butterflies, flies, bugs and spiders. During the rest of the year they complement this diet with fruits, berries and seeds.

Breeding:
These birds are generally monogamous, although extra-pair copulations are common in both sexes. The nest is built by the female, consisting of a cup made of bark, dried grasses and twigs, and lined with fur, mosses or rootlets. the nest is usually place less than 1,5 m above the ground in dense foliage. There the female lays 2-5 white eggs with dark speckles, which she incubates alone for 12-13 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 8-10 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and is described as common. Overall the population has undergone a small increase in the last 4 decades, although some local decreases took place at the edges of the range and have been attributed to habitat loss and fragmentation.