Month: September 2014

shining honeycreeper (Cyanerpes lucidus)

shining honeycreeper (Cyanerpes lucidus)

The shining honeycreeper (Cyanerpes lucidus) is a small bird in the tanager family. It is found in the tropical New World in Central America from southern Mexico to Panama and northwest Colombia. It is sometimes considered to be conspecific with the purple honeycreeper (C. caeruleus), but the two species breed sympatrically in eastern Panama and northwest Colombia.

This is a forest canopy species, but also occurs in forest edges and secondary growth. The female builds a shallow cup nest in a tree, and incubates the clutch of two eggs.

The shining honeycreeper is 10 cm long, weighs 11 g and has a long black decurved bill. The male is purple-blue with black wings, tail and throat, and bright yellow legs. The female has green upperparts, a greenish-blue head, buff throat and buff-streaked bluish underparts. The immature is similar to the female, but is greener on the head and breast.

The call of this honeycreeper is a thin high-pitched seee, and the male’s song is a pit pit pit pit pit-pit repeated for minutes at a time.

This species is very similar to the purple honeycreeper, but the male of the latter species is overall slightly darker and its black throat patch is smaller. Unlike the female shining honeycreeper, the female purple honeycreeper has buff (not dusky) lores and, except for its malar, no clear blue tinge to the head.

The shining honeycreeper is easily distinguished from the larger red-legged honeycreeper with which its shares its range by the latter species’ red legs and, in the male, black mantle.

The shining honeycreeper is usually found in pairs or family groups. It feeds on nectar, berries and insects, mainly in the canopy. It responds readily to the call of the ferruginous pygmy owl.

Main food taken: Shining Honeycreepers feed on a variety of fruit and insects and on nectar. Of 16 observations in Panama, 44% were fruit-eating, 37% insect-searching, and 19% at flowers (Greenberg 1981). Fruits consumed by Shining Honeycreepers include the arils of Dipterodendron elegans (Skutch 1972); the seeds of Clusia (Skutch 1972); and the fruit of Spondias edulis (Isler and Isler 1999). They visit feeding tables for bananas, especially during rainy periods (Skutch 1972).

Food capture and consumption: Perches behind and above flowers, and then leans forward to insert the bill for nectar and/or small insects. Gleans arthropods from vines and twigs while perched, or by hanging. Also sallies for flying insects, and probes small curled dead leaves (Skutch 1972, Isler and Isler 1999). They also hover first and then cling before searching for scars and knotholes (Slud 1964).

yellow-eared parrot (Ognorhynchus icterotis)

yellow-eared parrot (Ognorhynchus icterotis)

The yellow-eared parrot (Ognorhynchus icterotis), is an endangered parrot of tropical America. It is found in the western Andes in Colombia and (perhaps only formerly) Ecuador and is closely associated to the wax palm Ceroxylonsp. which is itself endangered.

The yellow-eared parrot nests and lives among wax palms in a few areas of Western and Central Cordillera of Colombia, where it inhabits cloud forests about 1800–3000 meters above sea level. It nests in the hollow trunks of the palms, usually 25–30 meters over the floor level. It also occurred very locally in northern Ecuador where wax palm grows. Their numbers had been greatly reduced, and only 81 individuals were recorded in the Colombian census of 1999. Their populations have been impacted by hunting and habitat destruction, particularly the harvesting of wax palm, which was traditionally cut down and used each year on Palm Sunday. There has been no confirmed records of this parrot from Ecuador since the mid-90s.

It is a relatively large, long-tailed parrot with an average length of 42 cm (17 in) and a weight of about 285 g (10.1 oz). It is overall green, with the underparts being paler, more lime green than the upperparts. The heavy beak and a ring of bare skin around the eyes are black. The origin of the common epithet “yellow-eared” is caused for the yellow patch of feathers that extends from the forehead down to its cheeks and ear-coverts. The yellow-eared parrot mates for life. Its main source of food are the fruits of the wax palm.

From 1998, Fundación ProAves with the support of Fundacion Loro Parque, American Bird Conservancy and CORANTIOQUIA have undertaken an intensive conservation project across Colombia that has led to one of Latin America’s most successful recoveries of an endangered bird. With protection and community support, the yellow-eared parrot population has climbed to over 1500 individuals by 2012.

violet-capped woodnymph (Thalurania glaucopis)

violet-capped woodnymph (Thalurania glaucopis)

The violet-capped woodnymph (Thalurania glaucopis) is a species of hummingbird in the Trochilidae family. It is found in forest (primarily humid), dense woodland, gardens and parks in south-eastern Brazil, eastern Paraguay, Uruguay, and far north-eastern Argentina (primarily Misiones Province). It is widespread and generally common, and therefore considered to be of Least Concern by BirdLife International (and consequently the IUCN). The male is distinctive, being overall green with a blue cap and deeply forked dark blue tail. It is occasionally confused with the swallow-tailed hummingbird. The female lacks the blue crown, has entirely greyish-white underparts, and a shorter, white-tipped tail.

Violet-capped Woodnymphs inhabit a wide range of habitats from untouched forests, to scrub, to suburban and city gardens. They gather nectar from both native and non-native flowers and also hunt for insects. During certain parts of the year, Violet-capped Woodnymphs migrate short distances. Males have a bluish violet cap and sparkle with dark green above and gold-green below. Females are dark greenish above and off-white below. During the breeding season, these woodnymphs adorn the outside of their nests with ferns and lichen.