Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bulletin 187 - Puerto Rico #3 - other birds

There are 5 hummingbird species on Puerto Rico, 2 of which are endemics and we saw one of them, the Puerto Rican Emerald in Bulletin 185. However, we found all 3 of the other hummers. These were all life birds.

The most amazing is the tiny (3.5") Antillean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus). The male of this has a crest that flashes color as the gorget of other species does. His throat and underparts are gray. The crest feathers even appear to extend along the bill.

Antillean Crested Hummingbird - male
Here is another bird hovering. The feathers extending along the bill are clearly seen.

Antillean Crested Hummingbird - male

The Green-throated Carib (Eulampis holosericeus) is larger (5"). The back is dull green, the throat is bright green and the belly is blue. The bill in curved. The sexes are similar.

Green-throated Carib

The Smooth-billed Ani (Crotophaga ani) is a member of the cuckoo family. This species is a resident of south Florida as well, but now are almost gone. I saw them near the Ft Lauderdale airport in 2006, but could not get a photo. They are all black with a long tail and huge beak.

Smooth-billed Ani

There were several interesting introduced birds as well. The Nutmeg Mannikin (Lonchura punctata), a native of southeast Asia is a small (4.5") common cage bird and thus is found in a lot of populated areas due to escapes or releases. The scalloped chest markings are distinctive.

Nutmeg Mannikin
The Pin-tailed Whydah (Vidua macroura) is another small (4.5") cage bird that is native to Africa. The females and non-breeding males are sparrow-like brown with a black face and red bill. The breeding male is completely different assuming a black and white plumage and 8" tail feathers! Unfortunately, we just saw the former.

Pin-tailed Whydah - female

We saw several familiar North American birds that are winter visitors to Puerto Rico. These included Black-and-white, Prairie, and Northern Parula warblers as well as several shorebirds (Wilson's Plover, Spotted Sandpiper and Greater Yellowlegs).

This Hermit Crabs in the forest had climbed a 5 foot stick.

Hermit Crab in forest

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2013 David McDonald

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Bulletin 186 - Puerto Rico #2 - other passerines

We found and photgraphed several other birds in Puerto Rico. Some of these also occur in the USA, usually in South Florida where they may reside or just be an occasional vagrant.

The Gray Kingbird (Tyrannus dominicensis) was very common on the Island of Vieques. They loved to perch on the wires and were so common, that Lisa took to calling them 'Line Birds.' It is very similar to the Eastern Kingbird of North America, but is distinguished by a dark mask through the eye. It has a bit of a notched tail as well. I had photographed this bird in Miami previously where it is a resident.
Gray Kingbird
The other bird of this genus we saw was the Loggerhead Kingbird (Tyrannus caudifasciatus). This bird is quite similar, but the tail is square, and the whole head is dark. Like most kingbirds, it has a stripe on the crown which seldom is seen. In this species it is yellow, and I was surprised to see that I got it in this photo. This was a life bird for all of us. This bird is a resident from the Bahamas to Puerto Rico. It occasionally shows up in south Florida as a vagrant.

Interestingly, the guide told us that it may be split with the Puerto Rico population being split from the rest. I tried playing the tape (iBird Pro) on 2 different birds and neither time did they respond.

Loggerhead Kingbird

The Black-faced Grassquit (Tiaris bicolor) is a small (4.5") black member of the tanager family. It is common through much of the West Indies.

Black-faced Grassquit

The Greater Antillean Grackle (Quiscalus niger)  is a small (11") typical large-tailed grackle, all black and a pale eye.

Greater Antillean Grackle
Lastly, the Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) is a common Caribbean bird. It used to classified with the Tanagers, but now is in its own family. It is also a vagrant to south Florida. It has a black head with white stripe above the eye, red spot on the bill, and a yellow breast.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2013 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.