Month: July 2014

Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus)

Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus) Pair

The Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus) is a parrot native to the Solomon Islands, Sumba, New Guinea and nearby islands, northeastern Australia and the Maluku Islands (Moluccas). It is unusual in the parrot family for its extreme sexual dimorphism of the colours of the plumage; the male having a mostly bright emerald green plumage and the female a mostly bright red and purple/blue plumage. Joseph Forshaw, in his book Parrots of the World, noted that the first European ornithologists to see Eclectus Parrots thought they were of two distinct species. Large populations of this parrot remain, and they are sometimes considered pests for eating fruit off trees. Some populations restricted to relatively small islands are comparably rare. Their bright feathers are also used by native tribes people in New Guinea as decorations.

The Eclectus Parrot is unusual in the parrot family for its marked sexual dimorphism in the colours of the plumage. A stocky short-tailed parrot, it measures around 35 cm (14 in) in length. The male is mostly bright green with a yellow-tinge on the head. It has blue primaries, and red flanks and underwing coverts. Its tail is edged with a narrow band of creamy yellow, and is dark grey edged with creamy yellow underneath, and the tail feathers are green centrally and more blue as they get towards the edges. The Grand eclectus female is mostly bright red with a darker hue on the back and wings. The mantle and underwing coverts darken to a more purple in colour, and the wing is edged with a mauve-blue. The tail is edged with yellowish-orange above, and is more orange tipped with yellow underneath. The upper mandible of the adult male is orange at the base fading to a yellow towards the tip, and the lower mandible is black. The beak of the adult female is all black. Adults have yellow to orange irises and juveniles have dark brown to black irises. The upper mandible of both male and female juveniles are brown at the base fading to yellow towards the biting edges and the tip.

The above description is for the nominate race. The abdomen and nape of the females are blue in most subspecies, purple abdomen and nape in the subspecies (roratus) and lavender abdomen and nape in the (vosmaeri) subspecies from the north and central Maluku Islands, and red abdomen and nape in the subspecies from Sumba and Tanimbar Islands (cornelia and riedeli). Females of two subspecies have a wide band of yellow on the tail tip, riedeli and vosmaeri which also have yellow undertail coverts. The female vosmaeri displays the brightest red of all the subspecies, both on the head and body.

The diet of the eclectus in the wild consists of mainly fruits, wild figs, unripe nuts, flower and leaf buds, and some seeds. Two favorite fruits are the pomegranate and the papaya (pawpaw) with seeds. In captivity, they will eat most fruits including mangos, figs, guavas, bananas, any melons, stone fruits (peaches etc.), grapes, citrus fruits, pears and apples. The eclectus has an unusually long digestive tract and this is why it requires such a high fiber diet. In captivity the eclectus parrot does benefit from a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, leafy greens such as endive and dandelion, as well as a variety of seeds, including spray millet, and a few nuts such as shelled almonds and shelled walnuts.

n its natural habitat, the Eclectus nests within hollows in large, emergent rainforest trees. Suitable hollows are at a premium and the hen will vigorously defend her chosen nesting site from other females (perhaps even fighting to the death), remaining resident at ‘her tree’ for up to 11 months of the year, rarely straying from the entrance to her hollow and relying on multiple males to feed her via regurgitation. Males may travel up to 20 km to forage and up to five males will regularly provide food for each female, each competing with the others for her affections and the right to father her young. Unlike other parrot species, Eclectus parrots are polygynandrous—females may mate with multiple male suitors and males may travel from nesting site to nesting site to mate with multiple females. This unique breeding strategy may explain the pronounced sexual dimorphism of the Eclectus, as it is the female which must remain conspicuous at the entry to the nest hole, (in order to advertise her presence at her hollow to males and rival females), but well hidden when in the depths of the nest, because the red color hides her well in the darkness. The male is primarily a brilliant green color, which offers camouflage amongst the trees whilst foraging. However, the plumage of both sexes appears spectacular when viewed in the ultraviolet spectrum, an ability which predators such as hawks and owls lack.

Blue-eyed Cockatoo (Cacatua ophthalmica)

Blue-eyed Cockatoo (Cacatua ophthalmica)

The Blue-eyed Cockatoo (Cacatua ophthalmica) is a large, approximately 50 centimetres (20 in) long, mainly white cockatoo with a mobile crest, a black beak, and a light blue rim of featherless skin around each eye, that gives this species its name.

Like all cockatoos and many parrots, the Blue-eyed Cockatoo can use one of its zygodactyl feet to hold objects and to bring food to its beak whilst standing on the other foot; nevertheless, amongst bird species as a whole this is relatively unusual.

The Blue-eyed Cockatoo is a large, approximately 50 centimetres (20 in) long, mainly white cockatoo with an erectile yellow and white crest, a black beak, dark grey legs, and a light blue rim of featherless skin around each eye, that gives this species its name.

The sexes are very similar in appearance. Some males have a dark brown iris and some females have a reddish brown iris, but this small difference is not always reliable as a gender indicator. The Blue-eyed Cockatoo is easily mistaken for the Yellow-crested and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, but has a more rounded crest with more white to the frontal part, and a brighter blue eye-ring.

The Blue-eyed Cockatoo is endemic to lowland and hill forests of New Britain in Papua New Guinea, and it is the only cockatoo in the Bismarck Archipelago.

Initially classified as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN in 2004, it is suspected to have become much rarer in recent times than was assumed previously. Consequently it was uplisted toVulnerable in 2008.

capped heron (Pilherodius pileatus)

capped heron (Pilherodius pileatus)

The capped heron (Pilherodius pileatus) is a species of heron in the Ardeidae family. It is in the monotypic genus Pilherodius. It is found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. Its natural habitats are rivers, swamps, and freshwater lakes.

The Capped Heron is the only “all white” heron with a black cap and blue facial skin and bill. Additionally, the feathers of the neck usually are yellowish white or a light cream. The body shape has been described as “rather chunky” (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989), but this is a striking heron that is in no danger of being confused with any other species.The Capped Heron perhaps is most similar to the Whistling Heron (Syrigma sibilatrix)but has much paler upperparts, and a longer bill that is blue, not pink with a dark tip (Sick 1993). In flight, suggests a white Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989).

Usually quiet. Calls are described as muffled hoots (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2007). There are very few recordings of the vocalizations of the Capped Heron. Some muffled hoots can be heard in this recording by Paul Donahue; but the calls of the heron are soft, and almost are drowned out by the rollicking choruses of Black-fronted Nunbird (Monasa nigrifrons), and the longer hoots of Gray-fronted Dove (Leptotila rufaxilla), among other sounds. A woop-woop-woop is given as the bird lowers its head and opens its nuchal crest in front of its mate (Sick 1993). Also may make guttural croaks (Kushlan and Hancock 2005).

Adult: Sexes similar. Crown black, except for a white forecrown. Several (four or five) white plumes extend from the rear of the crown, ca 200-230 in length. Back and wings light gray. Breast, hindneck, and under surface of the wing are light cream-buff. Belly white. Neck is thick for a heron (Kushlan and Hancock 2005).

The creamy or yellowish color of the neck, breast and underwing have been described as an alternate (“breeding”) plumage (Wetmore 1965, Ridgley and Gwynne 1989, Blake1977, Hancock and Elliott 1978). Most ardeids do not have an alternate plumage (Pyleand Howell 2004), however, so it is unlikely that the creamy color is acquired through a molt. The cream colored neck may simply represent the definitive plumage (Odgen andThomas 1985), or perhaps is a result of preening from the patches of powder-down feathers, as it is in the Whistling Heron (Syrigma sibilatrix) (Hancock and Elliott 1978).

Juvenile: Similar to adult, but paler gray above, and with shorter nuchal plumes. Also the crown may be streaked with gray (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989).

Relationships to other herons uncertain. Described by Boddaert in 1783 as Ardea pileata, with a type locality of Cayenne. The monotypic genus Pilherodias was described in 1855 by Bonaparte. Bock (1956) placed the Capped Heron within the subfamily Ardeinea, tribe Nycticoracini, and genus Nycticorax, based on similarities in the adult plumage. However, at the time there were no immature specimens of pileatusfor comparison with the other immature night-herons, which are brown with elongated spots (Bock 1956). This lack of a well defined immature plumage (Wetmore 1965), along with its feeding behavior (Haverschmidt 1958), separates the Capped Heron from the night-herons. Payne and Risley (1976) suggested that morphologically the Capped Heron is more similar to Ardea than to Nycticorax. Unfortunately, recent molecular work on heron relationships has not included the Capped Heron (e.g., Sheldon 1987, Sheldon et al. 1995, Sheldon and Slikas 1997, Sheldon et al. 2000).

red-crested cardinal (Paroaria coronata)

red-crested cardinal (Paroaria coronata)

The red-crested cardinal (Paroaria coronata) is a bird species in the tanager family (Thraupidae). It was formerly placed in the Emberizidae, and notwithstanding its common name, it is not very closely related to the true cardinals (family Cardinalidae).

It is found in northern Argentina, Bolivia, southern Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry shrubland and heavily degraded former forest. Among other regions, it is found in southern part of thePantanal.

It has also been introduced to Hawaii and Puerto Rico. In Brazil, it has been introduced to various places outside its historical range, as in the Tietê Ecological Park in São Paulo, alongs with its very similar-looking close relative, the Red-cowled Cardinal (P. dominicana).

The Yellow-billed Cardinal (P. capitata) could be easily confused with the Red-crested Cardinal; both the Red-cowled and Yellow-billed have a very short crest that is not visible except in excited birds, and in the case of the latter, a black throat, darker upper parts and a bright yellow bill.

Blue-throated Macaw (Ara glaucogularis; previously Ara caninde)

Blue-throated Macaw (Ara glaucogularis; previously Ara caninde)

The Blue-throated Macaw (Ara glaucogularis; previously Ara caninde), also known as Caninde Macaw or Wagler’s Macaw, is a macaw endemic to a small area of north-central Bolivia, known as Los Llanos de Moxos, this species is cultiral heritage of Bolivia , Recent population and range estimates suggests that about 350-400 individuals remain in the wild. The main causes of their demise is capture for the pet trade . It is currently considered critically endangeredand the parrot is protected by trading prohibitions.

The Blue-Throated Macaw is about 85 cm (33 in) long including the length of its tail feathers and has a wingspan of approximately three feet or 0.9 m. It weighs about 900 g (32 oz) to 1,100 g (39 oz). There is little easily observable sexual dimorphism; however, males tend to be a little bigger than females with approximate masses of 750 g and 950 g respectively.

Blue-throated macaws are most frequently found in monogamous pairs, but small groups of 7-9 do occur and one large roosting group of 70 is known.[5] It is not known if these macaws will pair with another mate if their original mate dies. Their main mode of locomotion is flying, but they are also able to climb trees, maneuver along branches and walk on the ground. These birds are active during the day and usually stay in one general area. Blue-throated macaws communicate mostly by sound. When they suspect danger, they emit a very loud alarming call and promptly fly off. Blue-throated macaws are known to communicate with each other with quiet caws as well.

Blue-throated macaws do not eat seeds and nuts to the same extent as many other macaw species do. Instead, they eat primarily fruit from large palms. The palm species Attalea phalerata is the most predominant source, but they will also eat from Acrocomia aculeata and Mauritia fleuxosa. The macaws eat the mesocarp from ripe and nearly ripe fruit and have also been observed drinking the liquid from very immature fruit.

Blue-throated macaws usually breed once a year but if the eggs or nestlings are lost, they may produce a second clutch in the same breeding season. A clutch consists of one to three eggs and incubates for 26 days. Nestlings have a mass of approximately 18 g at hatching and fledge at 13 to 14 weeks. The young macaws are still fully dependent upon their parents for food after they fledge until they are capable of foraging by themselves. Even after this occurs, it has been observed that young blue-throated macaws will stay with their parents up to a year. During this time, the parents will skip an entire breeding season. Blue-throated macaws reach sexual maturity at about 5 years of age.

Blue-throated macaws usually nests in cavities of palm trees, most often Attalea phalerata, although it will nest in other palm species as well. Dead palms are the preferred nest as they are hollowed out by large grubs after the tree has died. Nesting pairs of Blue-throated macaws don’t consistently stay at one nest for consecutive breeding seasons and will usually search for different nesting sites every year. In the wild the Blue-throated Macaw often competes for nesting-holes in trees with the Blue-and-yellow Macaw,the Green-winged Macaw, the Scarlet Macaw, large woodpeckers, toco toucans, barn owls, bats, and bees. The number of suitable nest trees has been reduced by land clearing in its range.

The Blue-throated Macaw lives in the savanna of the Beni Department of Bolivia, nesting in “Islas” (islands) of palm trees that dot the level plains. It is not a forest dwelling bird. This species is one of the rarest in the world, There are two areas inhabited by two sub-populations of Ara glaucogularis: one is to the northwest of Trinidad (the capital city of Beni), and the other is to the south of Trinidad. This complex landscape consists of grasslands, marshes, forest islands, and corridors of forests along waterways. They occur most often between the elevations of 200 and 300 m.