Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Winter Wren (Bird)

The wrens are mainly small and inconspicuous except for their loud songs. These birds have short wings and a thin down-turned bill. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous. There are 80 species worldwide and 1 species named Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) occurs in Pakistan.

The Winter Wren (Troglodytes hiemalis) is a very small bird and a member of the mainly New World wren family Troglodytidae. It was once lumped with Troglodytes pacificus of western North America and Troglodytes troglodytes of Eurasia under the name Winter Wren.

Physical characteristics: The winter wren averages 3.6 to 4 inches (9 to 10 centimeters) in length, with an average weight of 0.3 to 0.4 ounces (8 to 11 grams). It is a very small, short-tailed wren marked heavily by bars. Its upperparts are a warm dark brown, with pronounced markings of narrow dark bars on the wing and tail feathers. Its chin and throat are a grayish brown with a descending color that becomes more reddish. Its flanks are also a deep reddish brown with darker bars. The eyes, bill, and legs are brown. Both sexes are similar. The juvenile bird has faint spotting on its chest, and flank bars that are even less distinct.

Winter Wren has Tiny wren with barred, dark brown upperparts and pale eyebrows. Brown underparts heavily barred on flanks, belly, and undertail. Tail is short. Bill is dark brown. Legs and feet are brown.
Rufous brown above, grayer below, barred with darker brown and gray, even on wings and tail. The bill is dark brown, the legs pale brown. Young birds are less distinctly barred. Most are identifiable by the pale "eyebrows" over their eyes.

Although it is an insectivore, it can remain in moderately cold and even snowy climates by foraging for insects on substrates such as bark and fallen logs.For the most part insects and spiders are its food, but in winter large pupae are taken and some seeds.

Its movements as it creeps or climbs are incessant rather than rapid; its short flights swift and direct but not sustained, its tiny round wings whirring as it flies from bush to bush.

It disappears into cavities or crevices whilst hunting arthropods or to roost. At night, usually in winter, it often roosts, in dark retreats, snug holes and even old nests. In hard weather it may do so in parties, either consisting of the family or of many individuals gathered together for warmth.

The winter wren is primarily an insectivore, or insect-eater, but it is occasionally known to eat spiders and rarely known to eat juniper berries. These birds feed on the forest floor and sometimes along stream banks, scurrying through leaves and brush in a mouse-like manner.

Winter wrens are protective of their territories during the breeding season, but will sometimes roost communally during the winter with several dozen birds. These birds spend most of their time down in vegetation, hopping through the dense tangles. Flights are always short and low, from cover to cover. Their song is loud and abrasive, with a long series of trills and clear notes.

The Winter Wren nests mostly in coniferous forests, especially those of spruce and fir, where it is often identified by its long and exuberant song. The male builds a small number of nests. These are called "cock nests" but are never lined until the female chooses one to use. The normal round nest of grass, moss, lichens or leaves is tucked into a hole in a wall, tree trunk, crack in a rock or corner of a building, but it is often built in bushes, overhanging boughs or the litter which accumulates in branches washed by floods.

It breeds in coniferous forests. Five to eight white or slightly speckled eggs are laid in April, and second broods are reared. Subelliptical, smooth and glossy. Colour is white, with or without minute black or reddish-brown spots at the large end 18 x 13 mm

The song of the winter wren is one of the magical melodies  in the spring. It sings this amazing intricate melodious song constantly usually on the edge of a clear cut or wooded area. This bird will generate more song pound for pound

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thick-billed Flowerpecker Bird

 The Thick-billed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum agile) is a tiny bird in the flowerpecker group. They are very small, stout, often brightly coloured birds, with short tails, short thick curved bills and tubular tongues. 

Thick-billed Flowerpecker ( Dicaeum agile) is about 10 cm long and has a dark stout beak and short tail. dull greyish with diffuse streaking on the light buffy underparts and darker grey brown above. The rump is slightly more olive in the nominate race. The bill is dark, somewhat stout and heavy and the iris is reddish. The sexes are not distinguishable in the field ,  The juvenile has a paler base to the mandible and less streaks on the underside. There are whitish spots at the tip of the tail feathers. 

They feed predominantly on fruits and are active birds that are mainly seen in the tops of trees in forests. They are feed mainly on berries, nectar. Sometimes they take insects.

The nest has been described as appearing camouflaged like a dry leaf. It is a pendant purse like structure made of cobwebs or fine plant fibres and is located from 3 to 15 metres high suspended from a thin horizontal branch.

The breeding season  is December to March. Both male and female participate in nest building. The usual clutch is about 3 eggs but can vary from 2 to 4.The incubation period is around 13 days and the chick takes around 18 days to fledge

Crab Plover (Dromas ardeola)

Crab plover belong to family Dromadidae and order Charadriiformes. The Crab Plover is related to the waders. It resembles a plover but with very long grey legs and a strong heavy black bill similar to a tern.

Crab-plover or Crab Plover (Dromas ardeola) is a bird related to the waders, but sufficiently distinctive to merit its own family Dromadidae. It is the only member of the genus Dromas and is unique among waders in making use of ground warmth to aid incubation of the eggs.

It is 38 cm (15 in) in size. Males and females are not easily distinguished but males have a heavier and longer bill. Juveniles have the black on the mantle, greyish and remain in this plumage for a year. Flocks fly in lines or "V" formations

It has very long grey legs and a strong heavy black bill. It has black and white plumage, a long neck, partially webbed feet and a bill designed for eating crabs. Its black-and-white plumage and long-necked upright posture with heavy bill makes it distinctive and unmistakable. It has partially webbed toes. The plumage is white except for black on its back and in the primary feathers of the wings. 

Crab plover flies strongly and runs swiftly. Its black and white markings are striking and distinct in flight; the legs are long and the toes are partially webbed

Crab plovers are noisy, gregarious birds and they nest in colonies. They call frequently on their breeding sites and in their wintering grounds. The usual call is a ka similar to that of the Bar-tailed Godwit but repeated rapidly. Flocks may produce a whinnying sound that rises and at in the breeding season produce whistling kew-ki-ki notes

The species usually feeds singly or in loose groups, flocks occasionally foraging together on mudflats or in shallow water and gathering at communal high-tide roost sites Its diet consists predominantly of Fish, crabs, Squid and  other crustaceans, small molluscs and marine worms 

The female lays her single egg at the end of a burrow in a sandbank, often in a crab burrow. Although it is able to run around soon after hatching, the chick is cared for by both parents and fed in the burrow. It breeds from April to August in dense colonies 

Most of the species's activities occur in the early morning and late afternoon.The species inhabits sandy coastlines and islands, intertidal sandflats and mudflats, estuaries, lagoons and exposed coral reefs. Many individuals migrate  between August and November and return northwards between March and April

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Hornbills are a group of birds whose bill is shaped like a cow's horn, but without a twist, sometimes with a casque on the upper mandible. Frequently, the bill is brightly coloured.

There are 57 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Pakistan is Indian Gray Hornbill (Ocyceros birostris) Hornsbill belongs to family Bucerotidae and Order is Coraciiformes.

Indian Grey Hornbill has grey feathers all over the body with a light grey or dull white belly. The flight feathers of the wing are dark brown and whitish tipped.

The horn is black or dark grey with a casque extending up to the point of curvature in the horn.  The upperparts are greyish brown and there is a slight trace of a pale supercilium.

The ear coverts are darker.  The tail has a white tip and a dark sub terminal band. They have a red iris and the eyelids have eyelashes. The casque is short and pointed.

It is a medium-sized hornbill, measuring around 61 cm (24 in) in length.  The male has a larger casque on a dark bill while the culmen and lower mandible are yellowish.

The bare skin around the eye is dark in the male while it is sometimes pale reddish in females. The female has a more yellowish bill with black on the basal half and on the casque. The juveniles lack the casque and the bare skin around the eye is dull orange.

They are found in pairs or small groups.

They are almost completely arboreal and very rarely descend to the ground where they may pick up fallen fruits or dust bathe.

They descend to the ground also to pick up mud pellets for sealing the nest cavity during the nesting period. They indulge in various social activities which include bill-grappling and aerial jousting.

The flight is heavy and involves flapping interspersed with glides. The call is a squealing call.  

The nesting season is April to June and the clutch varies from one to five very symmetrical white eggs.  Males display by fluffing up their feathers and spiral in the air appearing like a green, black, yellow and white ball.

When it is time to lay the first egg, the female hornbill enters the chosen nest-cavity and does not step out into daylight again, for as much as 75 days later. The male carries food to the nest at an average once every hour from dawn to dusk When chicks arrive, the frequency of visits doubles and the volume of food.

Indian Grey Hornbills usually nest in tree hollows on tall trees. The  nest is hollow and spongy from inside and  compressed flat on the outer sides. The female enters the nest hollow and seals the nest hole and leaves only a small vertical slit that the male uses to feed her. 

The cavity is eight to 13 inches deep and about eight inches wide with an opening. The nest entrance is sealed by the female using its excreta and mud-pellets supplied by the male. While inside the nest, the female moults her flight feathers and incubates the eggs. The re-growth of the feathers in the female coincides with the maturity of the chicks at which point the nest is broken open.

Having entered, the female lays a clutch of three to five eggs over the next five to seven days. She uses this pre-incubation period to also wall up the entrance to the nest cavity. The materials she uses for the wall are her own ordure (excreta), mud supplied in small lumps by the male from the outside and chips of wood picked out by the female from the inside of the cavity. The chemistry of the ordure is such that when mixed with the other two ingredients, the paste adheres rapidly like a mass of baked clay. Picking the mixture bit by bit she piles it painstakingly and using the flat sides of her bill as a mason’s trowel, she smoothens the surface and perseveres till the opening is sealed, leaving just one vertical, narrow slit of some two cms width and five cm height. The presence of wood chips in the plaster lends the finished wall the same texture and colour as the bark of the host tree trunk.

As the chicks grow and the space in the cavity gets over-crowded, the female begins to enlarge the slit from top and bottom . The day it is ripe for her to exit, the middle portion is demolished at one go and at long last she emerges in the open, free once again. Now at this stage, the genetic instinct for survival takes over the chicks who with combined efforts, wall up the opening all over again..