November 26, 2018 – Tractrac Chat (Emarginata tractrac)
These Old World flycatchers are found in parts of Namibia, Angola, and South Africa on shrubby desert and semi-desert plains. They feed on insects, including beetles, making short trips to the ground from low perches to capture prey. Breeding mostly between August and April, depending on the area of their range, they build their nests on the ground from various plant materials, usually under bushes. The name “tractrac” is an approximation of their call.
November 6, 2018 – Black-chinned Sparrow (Spizella atrogularis)
Found from the southwestern United States into much of central Mexico, these sparrows nest on rocky hillsides and winter in scrubby desert habitats. Foraging in vegetation or on the ground, they eat insects during the breeding season, switching mostly to grass and other seeds in the winter. They build their cup-shaped nests in dense, low shrubs from grasses, stems, plant fibers and some hair or feathers. Females probably do most of the incubation but both parents feed the chicks.
September 15, 2018 – Moustached Turca (Pteroptochos megapodius)
Found in arid, rocky and shrubby habitats in Chile, these birds are in the tapaculo family. Foraging on the ground, they feed on insects, berries, and seeds, using their large claws to scrape soil and stones aside. Pairs build their cup-shaped nests from soft grasses at the end of burrows excavated in hillsides and banks. These burrows can be up to six and a half feet (two meters) long. Both parents care for the chicks.
September 11, 2018 – Streaked Scrub Warbler or Scrub Warbler (Scotocerca inquieta)
These birds live in open desert and dry scrublands of the Middle East, northern Africa, and western Asia. They eat insects and arthropods, as well as seeds, which may dominate their diet during winter. Pairs build domed nests from twigs, grass, and animal hair in thorny bushes.
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.