|Collared Aracari - Pteroglossus torquatus|
Saturday, January 12, 2019
Friday, January 11, 2019
Original Title: Rainforest Birds - Beryl-Spangled Tanager
|Beryl-spangled Tanager (Tangara nigroviridis) from Ecuador (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The Beryl-spangled Tanager is a colorful, tropical bird that inhabits the tropical regions of the north to northeastern South America. Tanagers can often be found in mixed-species flocks. This genus of tanagers is considered canopy dwellers, and will most often be found in the tree canopy. T. nigroviridis has three subspecies.
Beryl-spangled Tanagers can grow to about 11 inches in length and weigh up to about 40 g. It is mainly black with bright green to bluish green speckles, sometimes appearing like scales, which cover much of its body including the breast and wings.
Tanagers' diet typically consists of fruit. They have also been known to pick insects from leaves and the underside of branches. They forage most often between 2 and 9 m above the ground.
This species of tanager inhabits the Andean moist montane cloud forests. They reside in elevations between 900 and 3000 m, although they are most numerous between 1500 and 2400 m. Their range stretches across Venezuela, Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, and Brazil.
The Beryl-spangled Tanager builds cup nests constructed of mosses, usually in a tree fork. Eggs will appear in March. The female averages a clutch size of two eggs. The eggs are creamy white and speckled with brown and lilac. The eggs are incubated for a period of 13 to15 days. Both the male and the female will feed the nestlings insects and fruit. The young chicks will fledge the nest 14 to 20 days after hatching.
Thursday, January 10, 2019
|(Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Since its outbreak, every poultry owner had become aware of the consequences that can happen if this deadly disease is not prevented. Bird flu or what is also known as avian (meaning bird) influenza (flu), is the number one killer of poultry chickens in Asia and some parts of the world.
Bird flu started in China and became a widespread disease for their chickens thus wiping out over millions of poultry businesses and dropping the chicken industry to a devastating point. The thing about avian flu is that, not only can it affect birds but also humans which makes the illness more dangerous to various lives. It can be passed from chicken to chicken, chicken to person, person to person, person to chicken, and so on. That is why authorities in the health sectors are taking this serious matter in their hands and are making strict surveillance.
Avian influenza is not just a disease underlying a typical cold. It is more than that. In fact, it can kill an entire poultry habitation within a week. If passed onto a person, it can be more lethal as a person can interact with hundreds of people in a day without even noticing that they have become the perfect carrier of the disease. Worse, this sickness is not a picky disease. It could affect everyone including children.
The incubation period, if passed to a human, is not exact but as record shows, it may take about three to five days from the exposure to the disease-causing virus. Till then, the person will experience signs and symptoms that are similar with the common cold like fever, cough, sore throat, and aching of the muscles. Sometimes, the only thing that could indicate if the person has bird flu is if they are having conjunctivitis.
If the person who was affected and has experienced the signs and symptoms stated above ignored the indications, it may lead to the severity of the disease. The person now will start to experience viral pneumonia and eventually, acute respiratory distress which is the most common cause of deaths among bird-related diseases.
But this pandemic crisis can be pretty much prevented if certain precautions are practiced if everyone who is involved will cooperate with the measures that were given out by the authorities.
Through thorough surveillance, WHO (World Health Organization) supports in eliminating the disease. Through this, they can trace the source of infection and track down those who were affected by the flu. They will confirm instances of the disease and how many deaths were known. Once WHO officials find out the extent of the disease’s proximity, they will contain the area under quarantine.
Those who are in the zone will not be allowed to go beyond it and those who wanted to enter will be prohibited. That is why the concerned officials must be responsible enough to bring in reliable data otherwise there would be miscalculations that can result in more chickens and people being affected instead of being saved.
With the word spread out all across the globe, the government is also having strict participation for the observance if there are any occurrences of the virus in their community. Residents are the one who has to be more watchful because they will be the one more affected.
Their communication and participation is the most important tool to evaluate the presence of this disease and make raising chickens safer for both chickens and owners.
Wednesday, January 9, 2019
|A mangrove finch, the rarest of Darwin's finches.|
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For many years it was thought that man was the only creature that used tools, through research, it was observed that other animals also use tools. Sticks and stones have been observed being used for various purposes. Other than humans, primates are known to make the widest use of tools and the Woodpecker Finch that collects up to 50% of their diet by using a tool to collect their food. These finches are second only to man, in their reliance of tools in order to obtain food. The Woodpecker Finch uses sticks, twigs and cactus spines to make up for its short tongue and gather insects from plants and trees.
The Woodpecker Finch is just one of 14 species known as Darwin Finch named after Charles Darwin. Darwin collected these finches during his visit to the Galapagos. Brownish Grey in color these noisy birds were unimpressive at first - Darwin thought them to be blackbirds or grosbeaks. Upon returning to England, Darwin presented the birds along with other animals he collected during his voyage to the Geological Society of London it was there that an ornithologist, discovered that Darwin had discovered an entirely new group of birds and 12 different species. It was this discovery, which directly led to his theory of evolution and the transmutation of species.
"Seeing this gradation and diversity of structure in one small, intimately related group of birds, one might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends"
Since the days of Darwin, this group of birds continues to intrigue scientists. The term "Darwin Finch" was coined in the 1900's and made popular by David Lack who spent 3 months in the Galapagos studying the birds and wrote a book about his studies. Yet the real experts on the Darwin Finch are Peter and Rosemary Grant who spent 30 years studying the birds and wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning book The Beak of the Finch. Winners of the prestigious Balzan prize for popular biology their citation reads...
"Peter and Rosemary Grant are distinguished for their remarkable long-term studies demonstrating evolution in action in Galapagos finches. They have demonstrated how very rapid changes in body and beak size in response to changes in the food supply are driven by natural selection. They have also elucidated the mechanisms by which new species arise and how genetic diversity is maintained in natural populations. The work of the Grants has had a seminal influence in the fields of population biology, evolution and ecology."
Through these studies, we have come to learn there are 14 species of Darwin Finch 13 in the Galapagos Islands plus one living at Cocos Island. These birds are members of the tanager family rather than a true finch. Each species is approximately the same size 10 - 20 cm making them difficult to tell apart. The primary difference between the finches is their beak size and shape which mutated to adapt to their diet ranging from seeds, insects, flowers, leaves and the blood of sea birds. For example, finches which eat insects will have a thin extended beak to poke into holes in the ground and extract the grubs. Finches that eat flowers and seeds have a claw like beaks can grind down their food and thus give them a selective advantage in circumstances in parts of the islands where seeds are the only real food available.
Typically the Darwin Finch are divided into (4) groups representing each genus: ground finches (Geospiza) are made up of 4 species seeding eating ground finches each with a crushing bill plus one cactus dwelling finch with a probing bill. There is the insect eating warbler finch (Certhidea) with its probing bill and the Cocos Finch (Pinaroloxias). As well as the more diversified group of tree finches (amarhynchus) consisting of the fruit eating vegetarian tree finch with its parrot like a bill, the small and large tree finch both dine on insects and have a grasping bill. The Woodpecker finch we discussed earlier with its probing bill. Found only on the Island of Cocos along the coast of Costa Rica, the Cocos finch which eats both fruits and insects and is the most plentiful bird on the island this is in direct contrast to the Mangrove Finch which can be found in two mangrove areas on the western coast of Isabela and is critically endangered.
Though these remarkable birds have adapted to life in the Galapagos Islands for thousands of years, it is the introduction of new species by a man that has devastated the Mangrove Finch. The mangrove finch closely resembles the Woodpecker Finch only these birds do not use tools. Historically the Mangrove Finch could be found in the mangrove areas on the east of Ferndandina and on the west, south and north of Isabela. However, recent surveys have determined the bird is now extinct on Fernandina and there is thought to be approximately 70 remaining on Isabela.
The plight of the Mangrove Finch is due to a blood sucking parasite known as the Philornis downsi. Accidently introduced to the Galapagos thought by imported fruits, the larvae of the fly emerge at night to feed both internally and externally on the blood and flesh of developing nestlings. The presence of this parasite is causing significant (16 - 95%) mortality rate in Darwin Finch and devastating both the Medium Tree Finch and Mangrove Finch both of which are now considered critically endangered.
The national park has made great strides in the conservation and preservation of endemic species from their tortoise rearing and breeding program for giant tortoises, the restoration of land iguanas to the eradication of goats and other introduced species on many of the islands.
However, P. downsi creates a whole new issue. When eradicating goats on Isabela, Pinta and Santiago the national park used radio collars to track the goats leading them to other goats in the heard. Yet using a radio collars to track flies is an impossibility. Whereas goats produce on average 2 - 3 kids after a 150 day gestational period. The P. downsi produces hundreds of off springs in a matter of days - the ramifications of which are staggering.
Since its introduction, the parasite has spread to 12 of the 13 islands and can be found in 64-100% of the nests. The Darwin Station is searching for a solution to this problem that affects all of the Darwin Finch as well as the other land birds in Galapagos.
In order to protect the Mangrove Finch from extinction, the national park has been working on a captive breeding program both for the finch as well as for the P. downsi. Their hopes are to breed the finch in a safe environment. While in studying the P. downsi it is in hopes to create a sterile version of the parasite which can be introduced into the population to eradicate it. Additionally, the park is working to eradicate of rats (another predator) in the habitat of the Mangrove Finch. They have established a monitoring program and through these resources and education, the park and scientists are hopeful they can save the Mangrove Finch from extinction and continue to preserve the endemic species of the Galapagos Islands.
Tuesday, January 8, 2019
(Original Title: Rainforest Birds - Turquoise Tanager)
|Turquoise Tanager - Jurong Bird Park, Singapore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Species: T. Mexicana
The Turquoise Tanager is a medium-sized passerine bird that occurs in northern and northeastern South America. It is a resident of the Amazon Basin as well as adjacent rivers. It is a social bird and is often found in small flocks.
The adult birds are around 5.5 inches long and weigh approximately 20 grams. They have long tails and dark stout bills. When fully grown, these tanagers are dark blue in color with yellow underparts. The Trinidadian form, T. m. vieiloti has a darker blue hue and brighter yellow belly than their mainland counterparts. The east Brazilian subspecies, T. m. brasiliensis is pale, silvery-blue with dark spots on its throat and chest and white on its belly.
The Turquoise Tanager feeds primarily on fruit but will also eat insects, flowers, leaves, and seeds.
Its range stretches within the Amazon Basin to Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas, Brazil, Bolivia. It is also common on the island of Trinidad, where it is a resident breeder. It inhabits forests, semi-open areas, and cultivated lands. This bird typically builds a bulky cup nest in a tree or shrub. In eastern Brazil, there is a disjunct population living from Bahia to Rio de Janeiro.
The female Turquoise Tanager lays 2 to 3 brown-blotched, gray-green eggs per clutch. The female incubates the eggs for about 12 - 14 days. Pairs break off from the flock to reproduce. After hatching, pairs rejoin the flock but return to feed the young.