February 15, 2018 – Cream-colored Courser (Cursorius cursor)
These coursers are found in parts of North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, as well as on the Canary and Cape Verde Islands. Feeding on invertebrates and seeds, they mostly hunt while walking or running along the ground, stopping suddenly to pick up food. They also sometimes use their beaks to dig, or capture insects in the air. Nesting in shallow scrapes on the ground, both parents incubate the eggs. Adults sometimes perform distraction displays, acting as if they are sitting on an egg or chick to attract attention away from the actual nest.
December 17, 2017 – African Collared-dove, Barbary Dove, or Ringed Turtle-dove (Streptopelia roseogrisea)
Found across central Africa into parts of the Middle East, these doves have established small feral populations in several southern United States cities from birds that have escaped from captivity. Foraging on the ground, they eat mostly seeds from grasses and other plants, along with berries, other plant foods, and insects. They build flimsy platform nests from twigs in trees or bushes where both parents incubate the eggs and care for the chicks.
December 13, 2017 – Rufous-crowned Sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps)
Found in a spotty range across the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico, these sparrows spend most of their time on or near the ground. During the summer they mostly eat insects, switching mainly to stems, shoots, and seeds during the winter. Females build nests on the ground from dried grasses, rootlets, twigs, bark, and hair. Both parents feed the chicks. They may perform broken wing displays to draw predators away from the nest.
May 27, 2017 – Turkestan Ground-jay or Pander’s Ground-jay (Podoces panderi)
These corvids are found in parts of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. Their omnivorous diet is probably made up of invertebrates, along with seeds, grains, and other plant foods. Both parents help build the nests from thin branches and twigs. These are cup-shaped when built in Atraphaxis spinosa (a plant in the knotweed family) bushes, which offer good cover for the nests, and dome-shaped in other shrubs. Females incubate the eggs. Though they are classified as a species of Least Concern, their population is likely declining due to destruction of their desert habitat.
May 3, 2017 – Socotra Grosbeak or Socotra Golden-winged Grosbeak (Rhynchostruthus socotranus)
These finches are found only on Socotra Island in Yemen. They eat seeds, buds, and fruits. Breeding between December and February, males perform slow display flights while singing. Though they have a limited range and their population is estimated at around 6,500 birds, they do not face any major threats and their numbers appear to be stable.
March 4, 2017 – Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata)
Requested by: thursdayj
These quail are found in desert grasslands of the southwestern United States and northeast Mexico. They eat seeds and grains, along with some insects in the spring and green leaves in the winter. Males and females construct their nests from grasses in depressions in the ground hidden by dense vegetation. Very social birds, they live in groups called coveys, splitting into pairs during the breeding season. They roost on the ground, forming a circle with their heads facing out and roosting in tighter circles when it’s colder.
February 12, 2017 – Somali Starling, Somali Chestnut-winged Starling, or Somali Red-winged Starling (Onychognathus blythii)
These starlings are found in arid mountainous areas and around rocky cliffs in Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, and on Socotra Island. They eat fruits, including those from fig, juniper, olive, and dragon blood trees, along with insects. Males have uniform iridescent black plumage, while females have light grey heads.