Saturday, August 11, 2012

Eurasain Collared Dove

The species has been expanding its range almost exponentially over the past decade, but this year in particular they have exploded on southern Vancouver Island. For the past few years I used to see one or two every few weeks; now I am seeing them daily and in locations where I had not previously seen them. In Brentwood Bay I saw five together - possibly a family group given the time of year. It will be interesting to see how this invasive species will contribute to the balance of things.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Orange-breasted Falcon

Luck must have been on my side. I was perusing e-bird and checking occurrence records of some species I had seen while I was in Ecuador. While there seemed to be a fairly good number of records representing many of the species I did see, quite surprisingly there were only two records of Orange-breasted Falcon. Therefore, I just added the third record, from Wild Sumaco Lodge on 19 October 2011.

Having done some homework prior to visiting Ecuador, I knew this bird was going to be tough. There was some indication that the species could be seen on the main road between Narupa and the turnoff to Wild Sumaco, but we didn't see one. However, given the proximity of this known location to the lodge, and the paucity of records on e-bird, luck was clearly on my side that day.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Neotropical Birds of Prey

In the mailbox today, Neotropical Birds of Prey: Biology and Ecology of a Forest Raptor Community.

I've barely had time to flip through the pages, but this book looks like a much-needed piece of work on the ecology of this top-of-the-food-chain bird group. The book, with contributions from 26 authors, is divided into 23 chapters. All chapters are from the Maya Project (Chapter 1) and are focused on a single raptor community occurring in the Maya Forest (Chapter 2) of northern Guatemala. The following 20 chapters are species-centric, and include Gray-headed Kite, Hook-billed Kite, Swallow-tailed Kite, Double-toothed Kite, Plumbeous Kite, Bicolored Hawk, Crane Hawk, White Hawk, Great Black Hawk, Roadside Hawk, Crested Eagle, Black Hawk-Eagle, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Barred Forest-Falcon, Collared Forest-Falcon, Laughing Falcon, Bat Falcon, Orange-breasted Falcon, Mexican Wood Owl, and Black-and-white Owl. The final chapter provides a discussion on the ecology and conservation of Tikal`s raptor fauna.

The great thing about this book is that it's readable. Much of it is natural history, supported quantitatively with easy to understand information such as average distance between nest sites, number of identified prey items, body mass, food niche breadth, and other useful metrics.

While I can't yet say how good the book is, I would say that for a restricted region, it is of the calibre of Palmer's Handbook of North American Raptors or Johnsgards Hawks, Eagles and Falcons of North America. Very much looking forward to wading into this book!