Monday, 1 February 2010
FOTMAR goes South (2)
Some more birds from the southern Brazilian states of the Mata Atlantica.
Rufous coloured thrush (Turdus rufiventris)
One of the commonest birds in the southern Mata Atlantica, and the state bird of Sao Paulo. Actually a fine choice for the city of business as it adopts plain working clothes and industriously harvests anything it can, worms, insects, or fruits. Again like it's patron, it is bigger than any of it's rivals in the garden, and it can even dispute food with marmosets if pushed.
Violaceous euphonia, (Euphonia violacea)
This rather gorgeous little bird is found from the Caribbean to Argentina. Actually the male is the elegant one, the female is kind of drab on the not unreasonable grounds that she incubates the eggs. Unlike a lot of garden birds, the Ve is also found in forests away from man, although their fruit preference means that they are often found in cocoa and citrus plantations too.
The males bight yellow plumage would appear to be a health risk, and indeed it is, as they are favourites for capture and use as caged birds. However, humans view them from the side, hawks look down from above, and from this angle they are cloaked in dark blue. Furthermore, they fly in small flocks which gives more eyes to see any approaching danger.
Bird of the Day
Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola)
It is one of nature's ironies that that this sensible and adaptable little bird is lumbered with the world's silliest name.
The bananaquit is found throughout Latin America, at least humid areas, but believed to have originated in Caribbean, where it is the most common song bird. This is the reverse the usual situation as normally species migrate in the opposite direction, and so is an achievement in itself. Nowadays, the bananaquit is well adapted to humans. It is a popular garden bird, where it feeds on fruit, and like humming birds, energy rich nectar. However, rather than beating their wings at 1000 beats per minute, and hovering, they simply hop along the leaf and pierce the flower with their sharp, curved, little bills. This sensible approach to life is also found in child rearing, where the adults build not only the standard nest for their progeny, but a separate one for themselves, thus ensuring a quiet night.
The bananaquit is in a class of it's own. Well, at least a family of it's own, the Coerebidae. It disdains to flaunt it's uniqueness with gaudy colours however, and adopts the yellow/grey, white stripe colour scheme of so many birds in Brazil. Quite why this should be so is unclear, but it has been suggested that this is a form of mimicry, the many gaining advantage from the obnoxiousness of the few, either in terms of taste of aggressive behaviour. Yet another example of the little bananaquit's pragmatic approach to life.