Month: January 2014

Black-and-orange Flycatcher (Ficedula nigrorufa)

The Black-and-orange Flycatcher (Ficedula nigrorufa) is a species of flycatcher endemic to the central and southern Western Ghats, the Nilgiris and Palni hill ranges in southern India. It is unique among the Ficedula flycatchers in having rufous coloration on its back and prior to molecular studies was suggested to be related to the chats and thrushes. A distinctly coloured bird found mainly in the high-elevation areas of the Western Ghats, the Nilgiris, the Palnis and associated hill ranges. The male is distinctly black headed with black wings. The female has the black replaced by dark brown and has a light eye-ring. They are usually seen singly or in pairs. The young bird at around two weeks of age is brownish orange with a whitish vent and abdomen. The head has dark streaks and the wings appear bluish with a trace of brown. There is a pale ring around the eye and the orange tail appears stumpy. Eight weeks after fledging they appear almost like adults except for patches of brown feathers in the crown. The main population of this bird is found in the high elevation plateaus (above 1500m) areas of the Nilgiris, Palani Hills, Biligirirangans (Bellaji and Honnametti) and Kannan Devan Hills. They prefer areas with high leaf litter and undergrowth in open shola grassland habitats. The density was about 2.8 ha per pair during the breeding season. It is a highly parochial bird and no local movements other than dispersal of young has been noted.[6] To the north, it occurs in the Kudremukh National Park and the Bababudan Hills and south to the Ashambu Hills.[7] Some old records of the species from Maharashtra and Sri Lanka[8] have been considered dubious.

Malabar Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros griseus)

The Malabar Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros griseus) is a hornbill that is endemic to the Western Ghats and associated hills of southern India. They have a large beak but lack the casque that is prominent in other species of hornbills. They are found mainly in dense forest and around rubber, arecanut or coffee plantations.[2] They move around in small groups, feeding on figs and other forest fruits. Their loud cackling and laughing call makes them familiar to people living in the region. The Malabar Grey Hornbill is a large bird and mid-sized hornbill, at 45 to 58 cm (18 to 23 in) in length with a 23 cm (9.1 in) tail and pale or yellowish to orange bill.[3] Males have a reddish bill with a yellow tip while the females have a plain yellow bill with black at the base of the lower mandible and a black stripe along the culmen. They show a broad whitish superciliary band above the eye running down to the neck. They fly with a strong flap and glide flight and hop around heavily on the outer branches of large fruiting trees. They has brown-grey wings, a white carpal patch and black primary flight feathers tipped with white. The Indian Grey Hornbill which is found mainly on the adjoining plains is easily told apart by its prominent casque and in flight by the white trailing edge to the entire wing. The Malabar Grey Hornbill has a grey back, and a cinnamon vent. The long tail is blackish with a white tip, and the underparts are grey with white streaks. The long curved bill has no casque. Immature birds have browner upperparts and a yellow bill.[4] Young birds have a dull white or yellow iris. Their loud calls are distinctive and include “hysterical cackling”, “laughing” and “screeching” calls. The Malabar Grey Hornbill is a common resident breeder in the Western Ghats and associated hills of southern India. They are mainly found in dense forest habitats and the thinner dry forest habitat of the plains is typically occupied by the Indian Grey Hornbill. In the past the Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill was included with this species but is now considered distinct.

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus)

The Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus) is a medium-sized Asian bird which is distinctive in having elongated outer tail feathers with webbing restricted to the tips. They are placed along with other drongos in the family Dicruridae. They are conspicuous in the forest habitats often perching in the open and by attracting attention with a wide range of loud calls that include perfect imitations of many other birds. It has been suggested that these imitations may help in the formation ofmixed-species foraging flocks, a feature seen in forest bird communities where many insect feeders forage together. These drongos will sometimes steal insect prey caught or disturbed by other foragers in the flock. They are diurnal but are active well before dawn and late at dusk. Owing to their widespread distribution and distinctive regional variation, they have become iconic examples of speciation by isolation and genetic drift.

In most of its range in Asia, this is the largest of the drongo species and is readily identifiable by the distinctive tail rackets and the crest of curled feather that begin in front of the face above the beak and along the crown to varying extents according to the subspecies. The tail with twirled rackets is distinctive and in flight it can appear as if two large bees were chasing a black bird. In the eastern Himalayas the species can be confused with the Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, however the latter has flat rackets with the crest nearly absent. This widespread species includes populations that have distinct variations and several subspecies have been named. The nominate form is found in southern India, mainly in forested areas of the Western Ghats and the adjoining hill forests of peninsular India. The subspecies in Sri Lanka is ceylonicus and is similar to the nominate form but slightly smaller. The subspecies found along the Himalayas is grandisand is the largest and has long glossy neck hackles. The Andaman Islands form otiosus has shorter neck hackles and the crest is highly reduced while the Nicobars Island form nicobariensis has a longer frontal crest and with smaller neck hackles than otiosus.[3] The Sri Lanka Drongo D. lophorinus used to be treated as a subspecies due to the suggestion that it formed hybrids with ceylonicus is considered a separate species in newer taxonomic treatments on the basis of their overlapping ranges.[3][4] Specimens of the nominate form have sometimes been confused with lophorinus.[5] Considerable variation in shape of the bill, extent of the crest, hackles and tail rackets exists in the island populations of Southeast Asia. The Bornean brachyphorus (=insularis), banguey of Banggai lack crests (banguey has frontal feathers that arch forwards) while very reduced crests are found in microlophus (=endomychus; Natunas, Anambas and Tiomans) and platurus (Sumatra). A number of forms are known along the Southeast Asian islands and mainland including formosus (Java), hypoballus (Thailand), rangoonensis (northern Burma, central Indian populations were earlier included in this) and johni (Hainan). Young birds are duller, and can lack a crest while moulting birds can lack the elongate tail streamers. The racket is formed by the inner web of the vane but appears to be on the outer web since the rachis has a twist just above the spatula.

Victoria’s Riflebird (Ptiloris victoriae)

The Victoria’s Riflebird (Ptiloris victoriae) also known as Duwuduwu to the local Aboriginal people, is a bird of paradise endemic to the Atherton Tableland region of northeastern Queensland, Australia where it resides year-round. The smallest riflebird, it measures between 23–25 cm. Males have an iridescent purple sheen plumage, which becomes more blue-green on the head and more bronze on the lower breast. The throat is velvety black with a metallic green and blue triangular patch in the center. Females have a pale eyebrow, and the buff underparts are faintly barred with brown. The call is a loud “years”. As well as insects, they eat fruits from the trees, some which they peel by holding the fruit with one foot and removing the skin with their bill. The Victoria’s Riflebird was discovered by John Macgillivray for John Gould in 1848 and is named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. A common species in its limited range, the Victoria’s Riflebird is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.[1] It is listed on Appendix II of CITES. When the male begins to display, he erects the feathers of his throat and sides to accentuate the bright colours of his plumage in the shafts of sunlight that pierce the dimness of the rainforest. He curves his rounded wings above his body and tilts his head back to expose his chin and throat to the light, and then moves from side to side in a fashion that looks almost mechanical. The female is attracted to the male’s display post by his raspy ‘yaars’ call, which becomes softer and more tuneful during the display. The pair then face each other closely, and each bird raises and extends its wings forward alternately in an increasingly rapid rhythm. Finally the male embraces the female with both wings, and copulation ensues.

Taiwan Blue Magpie (Urocissa caerulea)

[AdSense-A]   The Taiwan Blue Magpie (Urocissa caerulea), also called the Taiwan Magpie or Formosan Blue Magpie (Chinese: 臺灣藍鵲; pinyin: Táiwān lán què) or the “long-tailed mountain lady” (Chinese: 長尾山娘; pinyin: Chángwěi shānniáng;Taiwanese: Tn̂g-boé soaⁿ-niû), is a member of the Crow family. It is an endemic species living in the mountains of Taiwan at elevations of 300 to 1200m. In the 2007 National Bird Voting Campaign held by the Taiwan International Birding Association,[3] there were over…

Magpie Tanager (Cissopis leveriana)

The Magpie Tanager (Cissopis leveriana) is a South American species of tanager. It is the only member of the monotypic genus Cissopis. As suggested by its common name, this blue-black and white species is superficially reminiscent of a European Magpie. With a total length of 25–30 cm (10–12 in), a large percentage of which is tail, it is the longest species of tanager. It weighs 69-76 g. It is widespread in humid tropical and subtropical woodland, plantations, second growth, and parks in South America east of the Andes. It is absent from drier regions (e.g. the Caatinga) and most of north-eastern Brazil. In densely forested regions, it mainly occurs in relatively open sections (e.g. near major rivers). In such regions it is spreading with deforestation, which opens up the habitat. It is largely restricted to lowlands, but occurs up to an altitude of 2000 m (6500 ft) on the east Andean slopes. It is common throughout most of its range, but rarer in the Guianas. Typically occurs in conspicuous, noisy pairs or groups of up to 10 individuals. Commonly takes part in mixed-species flocks. Often moves long tail up and down. Eats seed, fruits and insects. The cup-shaped nest is lined with grass, leaves or other plant materials and is located low in trees near the ground or in shrubs in dense vegetation. The 2 eggs are reddish-brown with brown spots. The incubation time is 12–13 days in captivity. The binomial name commemorates the English collector Sir Ashton Lever.

Yellow-bellied Sunbird-Asity (Neodrepanis hypoxantha)

The Yellow-bellied Sunbird-Asity (Neodrepanis hypoxantha) is a small species of bird from the asity family. The species is endemic to montane forest above 1600 m on the island of Madagascar. The species is sometimes known simply as the Yellow-bellied Asity. The plumage of male Yellow-bellied Sunbird-asities is very bright, with clean yellow undersides and dark black upper sides with an iridescent blue sheen; the females are duller. The eye is surrounded by a bright blue wattle which derives its colour, like the rest of the asities, from bundles of collagen. The bill is long and decurved, as it is adapted for nectar feeding. Yellow-bellied Sunbird-Asities are active nectar feeders. They will aggressively defend a nectar source from rivals of the same species as well as from sunbirds. The Yellow-bellied Sunbird-Asity is listed as vulnerable by BirdLife International and the IUCN. It was once considered to be an endangered species, and even possibly extinct; however, this was due to a lack of ornithological surveys in its high-altitude range. Subsequent research has found it to be more abundant than previously suspected, although it is still considered threatened due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas)

The Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas) is a bird species of the New World jays, which exhibits distinct regional variations within its large but discontinuous range. The Green Jays of the Northern population are smaller, at 25–29 cm (10–11.5 in), than the South American birds, at 29.5–34.3 cm (11.7–13.6 in). Weight ranges from 66 to 110 grams (2.3–3.9 oz).[2] They have feathers of yellowish-white with blue tips on the top of the head, cheeks and nape, though some taxa have more blue than others. In South American populations, the crown can appear almost entirely white, with less extensive blue. A black bib forms a thick band up to the sides of the head as well as a stripe through the eye line and one above it. The breast and underparts typically are bright to dull yellow, or strongly green-tinged in the far northernmost part of its range. The upper parts are rich green. It has large nasal bristles that form a distinct tuft in some subspecies, but are less developed in others. The color of the iris ranges from dark brownish to bright yellow depending on the subspecies.

American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)

The American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis), also known as the Eastern Goldfinch, is a small North American bird in the finch family. It is migratory, ranging from mid-Alberta to North Carolina during the breeding season, and from just south of the Canadian border to Mexico during the winter. The only finch in its subfamily that undergoes a complete molt, the American Goldfinch displays sexual dimorphism in its coloration; the male is a vibrant yellow in the summer and an olive color during the winter months, while the female is a dull yellow-brown shade which brightens only slightly during the summer. The male displays brightly colored plumage during the breeding season to attract a mate.

The American Goldfinch is a granivore and adapted for the consumption of seedheads, with a conical beak to remove the seeds and agile feet to grip the stems of seedheads while feeding. It is a social bird, and will gather in large flocks while feeding and migrating. It may behave territorially during nest construction, but this aggression is short-lived. Its breeding season is tied to the peak of food supply, beginning in late July, which is relatively late in the year for a finch. This species is generallymonogamous, and produces one brood each year. Human activity has generally benefited the American Goldfinch. It is often found in residential areas, attracted to bird feeders which increase its survival rate in these areas. Deforestation also creates open meadow areas which are its preferred habitat.