February 2, 2018 – White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi)
Found in much of the western United States, Mexico, parts of Central America, and parts of central and southern South America, these birds look very similar to Glossy Ibises. They can be distinguished mostly by their face and leg coloration, as well as their range. Often foraging in shallow water, they eat aquatic invertebrates, including insects, crustaceans, earthworms, and leeches, along with some vertebrates, such as frogs and small fish. Nesting in colonies, pairs build platform nests from plant stems in marsh vegetation, shrubs, or trees near water, sometimes stealing materials from other birds’ nests. Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the chicks, which begin learning to fly at around a month old.
January 29, 2018 – Southern Royal Albatross (Diomedea epomophora)
Breeding on several islands around New Zealand, these albatrosses spend the rest of their time in the Southern Ocean, particularly around New Zealand and South America. They eat mostly fish and squid, along with some crustaceans and carrion. Pairs perform complicated courtship displays and usually stay together for life. Reusing the same nest sites, they return every two years. Females arrive several days after the males and both parents incubate the single egg. The chicks return to the breeding colonies four to eight years after hatching, but do not breed until they are nine to eleven years old. They are classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN due to introduced mammalian predators and plant species on some of their breeding sites, heavy reliance on a single breeding island, and entanglement in fishing equipment.
January 25, 2018 – Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata)
Breeding only on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean, these petrels spend most of their lives flying over the open ocean. Often foraging in small flocks, they eat mostly squid and fish and may also scavenge on floating carrion or refuse. Though little is known about their breeding behavior, they nest in colonies on steep cliffs, digging nest burrows into the soil. Females lay a single egg, which may be incubated by both parents. Thought extinct until they were rediscovered in 1963, they are currently classified as Endangered by the IUCN due mostly to habitat loss and predation by introduced mammals.
January 21, 2018 – Red-necked Crake (Rallina tricolor)
These crakes are found on Papua New Guinea and the surrounding islands and in northern areas of Australia. Their diet is mostly made up of various invertebrates, including worms, mollusks, crustaceans, spiders, and insect larvae. They breed between November and February, building their nests close to or on the ground in dense vegetation.
January 17, 2018 – Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata)
These large kingfishers are widespread throughout parts of Mexico and much of Central and South America. Their diet is mainly fish, but also includes amphibians, reptiles, crabs, insects, small mammals and birds, and berries. They search for prey from perches or while hovering above the water. Usually solitary nesters, they sometimes form nesting colonies. Their nests are tunnels carved into banks, usually near water. Both parents construct the nests, incubate the eggs, and feed the chicks.
January 13, 2018 – Black-faced Cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscescens)
These cormorants are found along Australia’s southern coast. Their diet is primarily small fish, which they catch while diving. They often sit with outstretched wings, possibly to dry their feathers after fishing. Breeding at all times of year in offshore colonies, they build their nests on bare rock, generally from seaweed and grass. Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the chicks.
January 9, 2018 – Baer’s Pochard (Aythya baeri)
Breeding in southeastern Siberia, northeastern China, and possibly Mongolia and North Korea, these ducks winter in southern and eastern China and parts of South and Southeast Asia. Their diet is made up of aquatic insects, mollusks, shrimp, fish, and algae. Accomplished divers, they can spend about 40 seconds underwater and can reach depths of six and a half feet (2 meters) when searching for food. They often build their nests near those of their own and other species. The female incubates the eggs alone while the male guards her and brings food for her and the ducklings. Females sometimes lay their eggs in the nests of other ducks. They are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN, primarily due to habitat loss from rice farming and recently due to harvesting of their small population.