White-rumped munia

Lonchura striata

Common name:
Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Estrildidae
Range:
This species is found in the tropical areas of continental Asia, from India and Sri Lanka, through Nepal and Bangladesh and into Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and southern China. They have been naturalized in some parts of Japan.

Size:
White-rumped munias are 10-11 cm long and weigh 11-13 g.

Habitat:
They are found in coastal dunes with plenty of scrubs and grasses, also in degraded or cleared magrove land, forest clearings and secondary growth, and along rivers, roads and logging tracks through forests. They are also found in plantations, orchards and urban gardens. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 2.000 m.
Diet:
The white-rumped munia mostly eats seeds from grasses and other plants. In areas with rice paddies, the rice seeds are their main food source. They are also know to take bamboo seeds and the seeds from Casuarina cones. In coastal areas they eat filamentous green algae (Spirogyra spp.).
Breeding:
This species breeds all year round. Both sexes participate in nest building. The nest is a rough looking ball with end-entrance part concealed by a wispy fringe of grass floweringheads, built of bamboo and other leaves and coarse grass-stems and heads , with an outer layer of twigs and larger leaves bound in by thin epiphyte stems and fibre from the base of palm-fronds. The nest is generally placed on a bamboo clump, or among leafy twigs of a shrub or small tree. The female lays 4-5 matt white eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 13 days. The chicks are fed and brooded by both parents and fledge 21-25 days after hatching, but only become independent 2-3 weeks later. The entire family will continue to roost in the nest at night.
Conservation:
IUCN status – LC (Least concern)

The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as common or locally common over its very large breeding range. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Piping plover

Charadrius melodus

Common name:
Taxonomy:
Order Charadriiformes
Family Charadriidae
Range:
The piping plover breeds in the central prairies of the United States and Canada and along the north-east coast of the United States. They winter in the south and south-east coast of the United States and in both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of northern Mexico.
Size:
This stout plover is 17-18 cm long and has a wingspan of 46-48 cm. They weigh 43-48 g.
Habitat:

It nests on sandy beaches, sandflats, barrier islands, alkali lakes, riverine sand/gravel bars, reservoirs, and sand/gravel pits. Ephemeral pools, bay tidal flats and areas of open vegetation are all important brood-rearing habitats. They winter in sandy bays, lagoons, and both algal and muddy tidalflats.

Diet:
Piping plovers eat a variety of aquatic marine worms, insects, mollusks and crustaceans. They forage by day and by night, always using their acute sight to hunt their prey.

Breeding:

They start nesting in April. The male begins digging out several scrapes on the ground by kicking the sand. The female will choose a good scrape and will decorate the nest with shells and debris to camouflage it. There the female lays 4 eggs which are incubated by both parents for 27 days. After hatching, the chicks are able to feed within hours. The parents will both protect the chicks from the elements by brooding them, they will also alert them to any danger. It takes about 30 days before a chick achieves flight capability.

Conservation:

IUCN status – NT (Near threatened)
The piping plover global population is currently estimated at just 6.400 individuals. The population declined by more than 70% in the last 4 decades, but it is now increasing a result of intensive conservation management. The main threats affecting this species are droughts, inappropriate water and beach management, gas/oil industry dredging operations, development, shoreline stabilization and beach disturbance (including cat and dog predation).

Buff-throated saltator

Saltator maximus

Common name:
buff-throated saltator (en); trinca-ferro (pt); saltator des grands-bois (fr); saltator gorjileonado (es); buntkehlsaltator (de)
Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Cardinalidae
Range:

This species occurs from southern Mexico south to northwestern Colombia. then found east of the Andes from Colombia, east through Venezuela and the Guyanas and south to eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, and south central Brazil. There also is an isolated population in the Atlantic forest region of south-eastern Brazil.

Size:
Buff-throated saltators are 20 cm long and weigh 46-50 g.

Habitat:
They favor the edges of humid lowland forest, and can be found foraging in mid-level foliage or less often in the canopy inside the forest. This species enters forests only a short distance in order to forage and rarely enters to nest. They also visit shady plantations, dense vegetation, brushy pastures and gardens near the edge of forests. They are found from sea level up to an altitude of 1.600 m.

Diet:
The buff-throated saltator eats fruits, buds, seeds, nectar and slow-moving insects including ants and wasps.

Breeding:
They breed in February-August. The nest is a bulky cup placed in a tree or bush from ground level up to 9 m high. The female lays 2-3 pale blue eggs which she incubates alone for 13-14 days. The chicks are fed by both parents, fledging 13-15 days after hatching. Each pair may produce 1-2 broods per season.

Conservation:
IUCN status – LC (Least concern)
With a very large breeding range and a population estimated at 5-50 million individuals, this species is not considered threatened at present.

Brown-headed cowbird

Molothrus ater

Common name:
Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Icteridae
Range:
This North American species is found in western and southern Canada, throughout the United States and in Mexico. The northern populations are migratory, moving south to Mexico in winter.
Size:
Males tend to be larger than females in this species. The males are 19-22 cm long, have a wingspan of 36 cm and weigh 42-50 g. The females are 16-20 cm long, have a wingspan of 28-32 cm and weigh 38-45 g.
Habitat:

Brown-headed Cowbirds occur in grasslands with low and scattered trees as well as woodland edges, brushy thickets, prairies, fields, pastures, orchards, and residential areas. They generally avoid forests.

Diet:

They feed mostly on seeds from grasses and weeds, with some crop grains. Grasshopper and beetles are also taken, often been caught as cows and horses stir them into movement. The females also eat snails and even the eggs of other birds in order to supply the extraordinary calcium demand of laying so many eggs.

Breeding:
Brown-headed cowbirds are brood-parasites, so the females lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. Over 140 host species of the brown-headed cowbird have been described, from birds as small as kinglets to as large as meadowlarks. Common hosts include the yellow warbler (Dendroica petechia), song and chipping sparrows (Melospiza melodia and Spizella passerina), Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus), Eastern and spotted towhees (Pipilo erythrophthalmus and P. maculatus), and red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus). A female can lay up to 36 eggs in a season, usually 1-7 per nest. The eggs hatch after 10-12 days of incubation by their hosts. Cowbird chicks tend to grow faster than their nestmates, allowing them to get more attention and food from their foster parents, and will fledge 8-13 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
Originally a bison-following bird of the Great Plains, the brown-headed cowbird spread eastward in the 1800s as forests were cleared. This species greatly benefited from the human caused changes to the landscapes of North America and its population is now 56 million strong and believed to be mostly stable or slightly increasing. Its habit of nest parasitism can threaten species with small populations, such as the endangered Kirtland’s warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii) and black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapillus).

Blue-rumped parrot

Psittinus cyanurus
Photo by John Wright (Lazy Lizard’s Tales)
Common name:
blue-rumped parrot (en); papagaio-de-urupígio-azul (pt); perruche à croupion bleu (fr); lorito dorsiazul (es); rotachselpapagei (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Psittaciformes
Family Psittacidae

Size:
This small parrot is 18 cm long and weighs 85 g.

Range:
This Asian species is confined to the Sundaic lowlands of Myanmar, peninsular Thailand, peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei.

Habitat:

The blue-rumped parrot is found in lowland forests, generally below 700 m, and also in open woodland, orchards and plantations, mangroves, dense scrub, and coconut groves.

Diet:

They eat seeds, fruit and blossoms.

Breeding:
Blue-rumped parrots breed in February-September. They nest in holes in trees or hill sides. The female lays 3-5 eggs which are incubated for 26 days. The chicks fledge after 6 weeks.
Conservation:
IUCN status – NT (Near Threatened)
Although the global population size is yet to be precisely quantified, it is believed to be in excess of 100,000 individuals. The population is declining due to the rapid rates of forest destruction in the Sundaic lowland, but also because of hunting and trapping. Forest destruction in the Sundaic lowlands of Indonesia and Malaysia has been extensive, in some areas as much as 30% of the forest has been lost in the last 25 years because of logging and land conversion. Still, ability of the blue-rumped parrot to survive in secondary forest as minimized some losses. Trapping for the cage-bird industry is the other main threat affecting this species.