Friday, January 23, 2015

Bulletin 212 - flycatchers, woodpeckers and lichen

The Tyrant Flycatcher family (Tyrannidae) is confined to the New World, but is the largest family of birds at 420 species or about 1 in 25 of all the birds is a flycatcher. Wherever one goes in the Americas, one will find several of them.

The first is the Greater Antillean Elaenia (Elaenia fallax). This small (5.5") flycatcher has 2 wing bars and is best IDed by voice. It is found on Jamaica and Hispaniola each with their own subspecies. The IOU has already proposed to split these as 2 separate species.

Greater Antillean Elaenia
Hispaniola sunspecies
The Hispaniolan Pewee (Contopus hispaniolensis) is a small (6") brown flycatcher without any markings. It is endemic to Hispaniola. The base of the lower mandible is pale and this can actually be seen in the photo.

Hispaniolan Pewee
The Stolid Flycatcher (Myiarchus stolidus) is a little larger at 8" in length. It has the typical myiarchus coloration of brown back, wing bars, gray breast and yellow belly. It is found only in Jamaica and Hispaniola with a subspecies on each island. Stolid seems to be an unusual word. I didn't know what it means. The dictionary says passive or unemotional. Almost all flycatchers sit still and wait for a bug to fly by, so it could apply to many of them.

Stolid Flycatcher
Hispaniola subspecies
The Gray Kingbird (Tyrannus dominicensis) is similar to the Eastern Kingbird, but has a black mask through the eye. It has an extensive range from the southeastern USA through the Caribbean to northern South America. It perches out in the open and is easy to see.

Gray Kingbird

Here is another bird with a wasp in his mouth.

Gray Kingbird with wasp

The very next photo (1/6 second later), he throws the wasp in the air to swallow it. It reminded me of a child throwing popcorn into the air and catching it in his mouth.

Gray Kingbird with wasp #2

The last flycatcher is the Loggerhead Kingbird (Tyrannus caudifasciatus). It is a resident from the Bahamas to Puerto Rico with 7 subspecies on the different islands. The IOU has already proposed splitting the Puerto Rico and Hispaniola subspecies as different species. It has a solid black head and a larger bill than the Gray Kingbird. It also has a rufous wash on the wings.

Loggerhead Kingbird
Hispaniolan subspecies
There are 2 endemic woodpeckers on Hispaniola and I saw both of them. The first is the beautiful 9" Hispaniolan Woodpecker (Melanerpes striatus). It has the typical striped back similat ot our Red-bellied Woodpecker, but the stripes are yellow and black rather than white and black. The male has red over the top of the head. Notice also the bright yellow eye.

Hispaniolan Woodpecker - male
The female is similar but has red on the nape of the neck, and black over the crown. The black can be just seen in the photo.

Hispaniolan Woodpecker - female
The Antillean Piculet (Nesoctites micromegas) is a small (5.5") woodpecker as its name suggests. It is olive above and faint yellow below with brown streaks. There is a yellow crown patch.

Antillean Piculet
The last photo is of an unusual red lichen on many of the trees. They are almost perfectly round like targets. I was unable to find out the name on the Internet.

Red lichen
Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2015 David McDonald

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