June 4, 2018 – Azores Bullfinch (Pyrrhula murina)
These bullfinches are found only in the eastern part of the island of São Miguel in the Azores. Feeding on almost forty different plant species, their diet changes with the seasons and includes a variety of seeds, fruits, flower buds, and other plant foods. They breed from mid-June to late August, building twig nests lined with rootlets, grasses, and moss. Common within their range until the 1920s, when habitat loss and hunting caused a large population decline, they are now classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN. While their numbers are currently thought to be stable, they still face threats from forest clearance, introduced plant species, low genetic diversity in their small population, and possible predation from rats and other mammals.
June 3, 2018 – Fan-tailed Widowbird (Euplectes axillaris)
These widowbirds are found in tall grasslands in a disconnected range across central, eastern, and southern Africa. Though their diet is mainly made up of grass seeds, gathered from plants or the ground, they also occasionally feed on caterpillars and termites. Males build several oval-shaped nests with side entrances woven from grass strips. They defend territories that may include up to eight of these nests. Females line the nests with grass seed heads, incubating the eggs and caring for the chicks alone.
June 2, 2018 – Grey-breasted Crake (Laterallus exilis)
These crakes are found in wet grassy habitats in a spotty range from Central America through central South America. They eat earthworms, spiders, insects, and seeds, foraging mostly in shallow water. Because they are very secretive and hard to observe, their range may be larger and more continuous than currently thought.
June 1, 2018 – Yellow-thighed Finch (Pselliophorus tibialis)
These finches are found only in Costa Rica and Panama. They eat nectar, insects, spiders, berries, and Müllerian bodies (structures produced by Cecropia plants for symbiotic ant species), often foraging in pairs or family groups and joining mixed-species flocks. Females build cup-shaped nests from dry bamboo leaves and grasses hidden by vegetation in the understory.
May 31, 2018 – Pale-billed Parrotbill, Black-browed Parrotbill, or Lesser Rufous-headed Parrotbill (Chleuasicus atrosuperciliaris)
These parrotbills are found in parts of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, southern China, Thailand, Laos, and possibly Vietnam. Their diet is made up of small seeds, insects, such as beetles and grasshoppers, and spiders. They build deep cup-shaped nests from grass, bark, bamboo leaves, and other materials. Though they are classified by the IUCN as a species of Least Concern, their population is declining due to habitat destruction and fragmentation.
May 30, 2018 – White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)
These kites are found in grasslands in parts of California, Texas, Mexico, and Central and South America. They hunt mostly small mammals, along with some birds, lizards, and insects, hovering high above the ground facing the wind to search for prey before diving onto it. Males present food to females during courtship, passing it to them during aerial displays. Pairs choose nest sites, usually in the tops of trees and may build the bowl-shaped nests together, from twigs, grass, hay, and leaves. Females incubate the eggs and brood and feed the young chicks while males bring food to the nest.
May 29, 2018 – Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)
Breeding in northern Canada and Alaska, these plovers migrate through most of North America to the southern coasts of the United States and the coasts of Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. They feed on aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, running along the ground and stopping suddenly to peck at their prey. Nesting on the ground in shallow scrapes, usually on gravel or sand, both parents incubate the eggs and care for the chicks.