Green Parakeet (Aratinga holochlora)

February 9, 2009 by  
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Native to Mexico, Central America and northern Nicaragua, the Green Parakeet (Aratinga holochlora) has also managed to establish itself somewhat in southeast Texas. As the Green Parakeet is generally considered to be non-migratory, it is unclear whether the self-sustaining population found in Texas is the result of breeding between feral released birds or whether they are the result of wild birds which have moved here from Mexico to take advantage of potential food supplies. Since feral populations of Green Parakeet have been found in other parts of the world, both explanations are quite plausible.

Generally speaking, the Green Parakeet is about 32 cm in length and bright green in color. Though the bird’s entire body is generally described as being ‘green’, one may find that the green on the upper parts is darker while the undersides have a yellowish-green coloring. It also has a long, pointed tail and has a fairly rapid wing-beat. The bird has a compact yellow beak which it uses to feed on seeds, nuts, berries and fruit. Unfortunately the Green Parakeet may sometimes choose to feed on corn and is therefore sometimes considered to be a crop pest. Wild parakeets are most often found in wooded habitats such as scrub, swampy forests, woodlands and forest clearings but they tend to stay away from tropical rainforests. In the cities they generally make use of palm groves and they may be found in flocks of up to 100 birds out of breeding season.

During breeding season the Green Parakeet will usually pair off and find a hole in a tree, crevice, termite mound or cliff face where it can nest. In urban areas they may also make use of holes in buildings. Here it may lay 3-4 eggs between January and April. After breeding season has ended, the birds will generally flock together again and will abandon their nests in favour of a large, communal roost. Unfortunately, populations of the Green Parakeet in the US and Mexico have dwindled somewhat due to the capture of wild birds for trade and the loss of habitat for agriculture. However, several protected areas have been established to ensure the continuance of the species, though more work must be done to prevent the bird from becoming a threatened species.

Ashy Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma homochroa)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Ashy Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma homochroa) is a relatively rare little bird that can be found in colonies on small islands off the coast of California and Mexico. The bird is part of the storm-petrel family Hydrobatidae and it is currently an endangered species. The Ashy Storm-Petrel is also one of 6 species of storm-petrel which feed off the California Current system. Both sexes are similar in appearance and they are fairly easily confused with other storm-petrel species.

The most notable difference between Ashy Storm-Petrels and other storm-petrels is that the Ashy Storm-Petrel does not have a white rump. They are also smaller in size with shallower wingbeats than Black Storm-Petrels, while the Least Storm-Petrel has even shallower wingbeats than the Ashy, and a wedge-shaped tail. The Ashy Storm-Petrel is medium-sized with a length of 7 inches and a wingspan of 16 inches. Its body coloring is a sooty brown – hence the name – and it has a dark rump and forked tail. The underwings are somewhat paler than the rest of the bird and the bill is dark in color with a tube on top. The Ashy Storm-Petrel has a somewhat ‘fluttering’ style of flight and its upstroke is not as high as certain other members of the storm-petrel family. It feeds on a variety of sea creatures such as cephalopods, fish, krill and other organisms which might be found near the sea’s surface.

Ashy Storm-Petrels are nocturnal and they have a long breeding cycle. They make their nests in rock burrows on offshore islands and it takes about five months from the time the egg is laid to fledging. Both male and female tend to show fidelity, mating with the same mate for many years. They usually only change their mate if they change their nesting site. Records show that the Ashy Storm-Petrel is a relatively long-lived bird with current records allowing for a lifespan of approximately 30 years. Currently most Ashy Storm-Petrel breeding colonies fall within protected areas and wildlife refuges whose legislative protection has helped to ensure the survival of this beautiful little endangered bird.