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Breeding behavior of the laughing falcon (Herpetotheres cachinnans) in southwestern Ecuador and northwestern Peru


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Though it has received more attention than many other tropical raptors, the Laughing Falcon (Herpetotheres cachinnans) remains a poorly known species. Here we provide data from two Laughing Falcon nests we studied in the Tumbesian region of northwest Peru and southwest Ecuador. We observed the nests for a total of 304 hr. The incubation period was approximately 40 d at one nest. The nestings were observed in one nest in March, in the other in August. During incubation, the female spent the majority (90.1%) of the day on the nest, leaving only to feed on prey delivered by the male. There were no pronounced incubation rhythms, but the female showed a tendency to take breaks between 08:00 and 09:00. The nestling was fed an average of 1.3 times per day, again on food brought entirely by the male. We observed 10 duets between members of pairs that lasted between 3.47 and 10.37 min. Site fidelity and nesting season appeared consistent among years in each nest, but differed between the two nests. The female spent 4.5% of her time while on the nest engaged in behaviors other than incubation, particularly nest maintenance.
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Though it has received more attention than many other tropical raptors, the Laughing Falcon
(Herpetotheres cachinnans) remains a poorly known species. Here we provide data from two
Laughing Falcon nests we studied in the Tumbesian region of northwest Peru and southwest
Ecuador. We observed the nests for a total of 304 hr. The incubation period was approximately
40 d at one nest. The nestings were observed in one nest in March, in the other in August.
During incubation, the female spent the majority (90.1%) of the day on the nest, leaving only to
feed on prey delivered by the male. There were no pronounced incubation rhythms, but the
female showed a tendency to take breaks between 08:00 and 09:00. The nestling was fed an
average of 1.3 times per day, again on food brought entirely by the male. We observed 10 duets
between members of pairs that lasted between 3.47 and 10.37 min. Site fidelity and nesting
season appeared consistent among years in each nest, but differed between the two nests. The
female spent 4.5% of her time while on the nest engaged in behaviors other than incubation,
particularly nest maintenance.
Keywords: Ecuador, Herpetotheres cachinnans, Laughing Falcon, nesting, Peru.
El Halcón Reidor (Herpetotheres cachinnans) ha recibido mas atención que la mayoría de los
otros rapaces tropicales, pero sigue siendo una especie poco conocida. Aquí presentamos datos
sobre dos nidos de H. cachinnans que estudiamos en la región de Tumbes en el noroeste de Perú
y el suroeste de Ecuador. Observamos los nidos durante un total de 304 hr. La incubación en un
nido duró aproximadamente 40 d; un nido tenía pichones en marzo, el otro en agosto. Durante la
incubación, la hembra pasó la mayoría (90.1%) del día en el nido, y salió solamente para
alimentarse de la presa traída por el macho. No observamos ritmos marcados en los períodos de
incubación, pero había una tendencia a salir entre 08:00 y 09:00. El pichón fue alimentado un
promedio de 1.3 veces por día, siempre de presas traídas por el macho. Observamos 10 dúos
que duraron entre 3.47 y 10.37 min. Fidelidad al sitio y a la época de anidación parecía
consistente entre años en cada nido, pero diferente entre los dos nidos. La hembra pasó 4.5% de
su tiempo en el nido haciendo otros comportamientos aparte de la incubación, principalmente
relacionados al mantenimiento del nido.
Palabras clave: anidación, Ecuador, Halcón Reidor, Herpetotheres cachinnans, Perú.
Comportamiento de anidación del Halcón Reidor (Herpetotheres cachinnans)
en el suroccidente de Ecuador y el noroccidente de Perú
Eliot T. Miller
Harris World Ecology Center, Department of Biology, University of Missouri, St Louis, Missouri and
Yanayacu Biological Station, Cosanga, Napo, Ecuado.
Harold F. Greeney
Yanayacu Biological Station, Cosanga, Napo, Ecuador.
Ursula Valdez
Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
Ornitología Colombiana No. 10 (2010): 43-50 43
The Laughing Falcon (Herpetotheres cachinnans)
is a widespread but only locally common diurnal
raptor in the Neotropics (Ferguson-Lees & Christie
2001, Fig. 1.). As it occurs at higher densities in
edge and disturbed habitats than in closed forests
(Parker 1991, Enamorado & Orrego 1992), and
across a large geographic area, it might be
presumed to have a secure future. Accordingly, it is
considered a species of Least Concern (BirdLife
International 2010). In some badly fragmented
areas, however, such as western Ecuador (Dodson
& Gentry 1991), the species is considered
uncommon to rare, and perhaps declining
(Ferguson-Lees & Christies 2001, Alava et al.
2002), and its specialized diet may limit its success
in areas with large human populations (Wetmore
The nest of the Laughing Falcon has been described
from a variety of localities (Wolfe 1954, Mader
1981, Robbins & Wiedenfeld 1982, Parker 1990,
Specht et al. 2008). Nests are generally placed in
somewhat exposed situations, either in an isolated
tree or above the height of the surrounding
vegetation, and are often located in a naturally
occurring cavity or depression, with little to no
material added by the adults (Parker 1990). The
incubation period is reported as 40-42 d in Di
Giacomo (2005), but no details are provided, and
all detailed studies have focused on the nestling
period, which is 50-57 d (Skutch 1960, Robbins &
Wiedenfeld 1982, Parker 1990, Parker 1991,
Enamorado & Orrego 1992, Specht et al. 2008).
The Laughing Falcon feeds primarily on snakes
throughout its range (Skutch 1960, Haverschmidt
1962, Parker 1990, Robinson 1994). This includes
venomous species, such as coral snakes (Micrurus
spp. Howell 1957, Skutch 1960, Wetmore 1965,
Parker 1990, Enamorado & Orrego 1992, DuVal et
al. 2006), at least four genera of pit vipers
(Crotalus, Porthidium, Bothrops, Agkistrodon spp.
(Parker 1990, Enamorado & Orrego 1992, Specht
et al. 2008), and many non-venomous species.
While working in the Tumbesian region of
southwest Ecuador and northwest Peru, we found
two Laughing Falcon nests. The first, which we
studied in Peru in 1992 and 1993, was observed
only during the nestling period. The second, which
we studied in Ecuador in 2006, was found early in
the incubation period. Here we present data from
these two nests to add to our understanding of the
breeding biology of the Laughing Falcon.
The first Laughing Falcon nest was located in the
65,000 ha El Angolo Game Reserve, in Piura, Peru
(Fig. 1). The dry forest and thorn scrub in this area
is dominated by species of Malvaceae (Eriotheca
ruizzi, E. discolor) and Fabaceae (Acacia macra-
cantha, Prosopis pallida; Ríos 1989). Annual mean
temperature at the site is 17°C, and rainfall ranges
from 200 to 500 mm (CDC-UNALM 1995). On 19
August 1992 we located a Laughing Falcon nest (=
“El Angolo” nest) that contained a single feathered
Breeding of the Laughing Falcon Miller, Greeney & Valdez
Figure 1. A distribution map of Herpetotheres cachinnans,
with El Angolo, Peru and Jorupe, Ecuador, the two study sites,
noted. The distribution data were taken from Ridgely et al.
(2007) and modified slightly in ArcGIS 9.3 by extending the
southern boundary of presence to include the El Angolo nest.
nestling. We observed this nest for 84 hr between
this date and 25 August 1992. We returned on 16
August 1993 to find the nest again contained a
single nestling, which we observed for 89 hr
between this date and 26 August 1993. We
conducted these observations with a spotting scope
between 0:500 and 19:30 from two sites located 6
and 25 m from the nest tree. We were able to see
partly into the nest cavity, and base our description
of the nestling period on these observations.
The second Laughing Falcon nest was located in
the Jorupe Reserve, Ecuador (Fig. 1). Vegetation
and rainfall at Jorupe are similar to El Angolo
(Miller et al. 2007). Two park guards located this
nest (= “Jorupe” nest, Fig. 2) and noted the
approximate date on which the egg was laid (1
April 2006). On 8 April we placed a camera ~30 m
away from the nest tree. From 9-22 April,
whenever possible, we filmed the nest from 06:00
to 18:00 (131 hr total). Tapes were transcribed,
digitized, and archived at the Cornell Lab of
Ornithology. These observations were augmented
by ~15 hr of opportunistic study of the pair in the
vicinity of the nest, e.g. watching prey transfers
away from the nest. All of our conclusions about
the incubation period come from the Jorupe nest.
At both nests we documented sex-specific activity
patterns and size, type, and rate of delivery of prey
items. At the Jorupe nest we also noted nest
maintenance behaviors, incubation rhythms, and
quantified the average length of duets and the time
until and length of syncopation. We defined the
beginning of a duet as when the vocalizations
between the female and male moved from quiet,
occasional calls to regular, insistent calls back and
forth between the pair. Syncopation was defined as
a regular call and response, where one individual
called and the other immediately responded,
Ornitología Colombiana No. 10 (2010)
Figure 2. The female Laughing Falcon from the Jorupe nest. The nest can be seen behind and above the epiphytic plants; the
egg is visible in the background. Photo: Murray Cooper.
generating a rhythmic wa-co wa-co.
The El Angolo nest was located ~700 m above sea
level (ASL) in a cavity in a 10 m tall, 56.2 cm
diameter at breast height Eriotheca ruizzi tree
situated on a slight slope and surrounded by other
bombacaceous trees (8-12 m high), thorny shrubs
(2-4 m high), and low herbs and cacti. The nest
opening faced 220° SW and was 5 m above the
ground. The cavity was 36 cm deep, 37 cm wide,
79 cm high, and filled to about 14 cm deep with
organic debris, dry feces and prey remains.
The Jorupe nest (Fig. 2) was located in the lower
hills of the reserve, at 650 m ASL, and placed ~15
m up in a large, isolated Ceiba trichistandra
(Malvaceae, ~30 m tall) that emerged from a thorny
understory into an open canopy of other C.
trichistandra (Fig. 3). The nest was situated in a
depression in the side of the trunk. Epiphytic plants
grew out of the bottom of this depression, creating
a platform on top of which the pair nested. A single
egg was visible and was bronze-colored with large,
chocolate blotches.
We were able to infer the approximate length of the
incubation period. On 9 May 2006 the Jorupe
female was observed incubating. On 12 May a
young nestling was observed in the nest. We
assumed incubation began on 2 April, the day after
the egg was laid. The implied incubation period,
assuming a hatch date of 11 May, was
approximately 40 d.
Nesting of the two pairs that we observed appears
to be fairly temporally consistent among years,
though not between sites. The El Angolo nest
contained a nestling in August in both study years -
1992 and 1993 - as did a nearby nest in 1989
(observed by the authors but not discussed here).
These observations suggest hatching may occur in
El Angolo in July or early August. This is well after
that of the Jorupe nest (11 May). The park guards
again observed the Jorupe female incubating on 1
March 2007.
Sexes of the Laughing Falcon cannot be
distinguished by plumage, and are only slightly
dimorphic in size (Ferguson-Lees & Christie 2001).
None of our study birds were banded, but at both
nests we visually identified a larger individual that
we assumed to be the female. This larger individual
did all the incubation (Jorupe) and nestling care (El
For both nests the male was responsible for all
observed hunting, providing food for both the
female and the nestling. During incubation, the
female spent the majority of her time in the nest
(90.1% of 131 hr filmed). Her incubation rhythms
during this time were irregular (Fig. 4), and the
only obvious patterns that emerged were her
propensity for off bouts between 08:00 and 09:00,
and the long on bouts she endured; in one case she
remained on the nest for 6 hr 57 min. During the
Breeding of the Laughing Falcon Miller, Greeney & Valdez
Figure 3. Nest location of Herpetotheres cachinnans in a
natural hollow in a Ceiba trichistandra tree in dry forest of
The Jorupe; the female is incubating (circle). Photo: Murray
nestling period the female spent much of the
observation time (96%) perched in 3-4 trees around
the nest, though she occasionally entered the cavity
if the nestling called repeatedly; the male spent
most of the time out of the nest area and we were
only able to observe him from our vantage point for
22 of 173 hr of observation (12.7%).
Though we never observed either nest long after
dark, we did regularly start filming incubation
before dawn and continue filming until after dusk.
From this we infer that the female always spent the
night on the nest during incubation. Similarly, from
our direct observations in the vicinity of the nest
tree in the late afternoon and evening, it appeared
that the male roosted in the nest tree as well. He left
in the early morning and generally returned mid-
morning and again in the afternoon to deliver prey
to the female. For both study pairs, prey was passed
to females off the nest, in the canopy of the nest
tree or of one adjacent to it.
When delivering prey to the incubating female, as
the male neared the nest tree he called loudly,
which alerted the female to his approach. She
would then rise from her position on the egg,
stretch, walk towards the rim of the platform, and
fly into the crown of the nest tree. She also
generally began to call during this time,
occasionally while still perched on the nest rim. A
series of calls followed, which occasionally
developed into a full duet. After the prey was
transferred, the female took it to a different perch to
eat or, during the nestling period, flew to a tree in
front of the nest and waited for 10-15 sec before
entering the cavity to feed the nestling. When we
first began to watch the El Angolo nest, the female
placed small pieces of food in the beak of the 1-2
week-old nestling. After ~5 d of observation
however, she let the young falcon feed by itself
while she remained in the area. After feeding, the
female at the Jorupe nest remained in the area for 5-
35 min before resuming incubation. During these
encounters she consumed the prey and generally
preened and vocalized with the male. The male
often remained in the tree for much longer, on one
occasion at least two hours after the initial prey
We directly observed five snakes brought to the
Jorupe nest. These ranged in size from
approximately 50 to 120 cm. Small snakes were
grasped behind the head and carried in the bill.
Larger snakes were also held in this way but, in
addition, the lower portion of the snake was
clutched in the talons. On 2 May 2006, one of the
park guards observed the male deliver a frog.
We observed 18 prey items delivered to the El
Angolo nest. From this we estimate that across the
nestling period, the nestling was fed an average of
1.3 prey items per day (18 items/173 total
observation hr * 12.5 observation hr/d = 1.3 items/
d, range 1-4). Most of the prey items carried to the
nest were medium-sized colubrid and elapid snakes
approximately 50 to 60 cm long, green iguanas
approximately 15 to 30 cm long and, occasionally,
small lizards of the family Teidae. Dietary
composition was not tabulated separately for
nestlings and adults, but that of the nestlings was
similar to that measured during 463 hr of direct
adult observations at the same study site, where
69% of prey items were snakes, 23% were iguanas,
4% were small lizards, and 4% were unidentified (n
Ornitología Colombiana No. 10 (2010)
Figure 4. The incubation rhythms of the
female Laughing Falcon at the Jorupe
nest in southern Ecuador in 2006. Day
of incubation is shown along the left
margin, time of day along the bottom,
and total percentage of that day’s
observation spent incubating along the
right. Gray represents time not filmed,
white represents an off bout, and black
represents an on bout. The figure begins
with day 7 of incubation and continues
through day 21, as this encompasses our
study period. The short incubation bout
at 08:30 on day 21 was due to human
disturbance in the area.
= 71, Valdez 1996).
Ten duets were recorded at the Jorupe nest. All
occurred between 06:23 and 09:10 with one
exception, at 16:46. We rarely observed the birds
after 18:00 and could not determine if duets
occurred in the evening as described (e.g.
Enamorado & Orrego 1992). Duets ranged in
duration from 3.47 to 10.37 min (mean 6.42 ± SD
of 2.49). In eight out of ten duets the pair reached
full syncopation. The time until syncopation ranged
from 0.08 to 3.27 min (mean 1.70 ± SD of 1.52).
The time the pair called in syncopation ranged from
1.93 to 6.65 min (mean 4.28 ± SD of 1.53).
The female was observed to give what may have
been a whisper call. In these cases, though we
could not hear her, we were able to observe that the
female’s bill opened in response to the male calling
from nearby. Also, the pair occasionally continued
vocalizing long after a duet had ended, in some
cases up to 1.5 hr after the female had returned to
the nest. The calls given by the female from the
nest during these times were not always quiet; in
fact, some were quite forceful, accompanied by
head-bobbing, and given in direct response to
queries from the male above. These louder calls
were best classified as “chuckles,” “koahs,” and
“wahs,” sensu Parker (1997).
Though the Jorupe female spent the vast majority of
the incubation period in the nest, on average, 4.5%
of this time (SD = 1.8) was spent engaged in other
activities such as standing (generally immediately
after arriving, before departing, and in response to
perceived threats), preening, picking at the nest and
the surrounding vegetation, repositioning both
herself and the egg, and calling quietly and head-
bobbing. Both sharp and rapid probes (sensu
Greeney 2004) were observed at the Jorupe nest.
Rapid probing was rare, and we more regularly saw
sharp probes, subdued picking, and kneading the
nest with her talons, especially upon arrival.
The Laughing Falcon and the genus Micrastur are
members of the Herpetotherinae, a subfamily that
diverged early in the history of the Falconidae
(Griffiths 2004). Our observed incubation period of
~40 d is similar to that of Parker (1997), who
estimated it to be 45 d, and to the 40-42 day period
reported by Di Giacomo (2005). Our value is also
consistent with those of Micrastur: 46 d in M.
semitorquatus (Thorstrom et al. 2000a), 33-35 d in
M. ruficollis (Thorstrom et al. 2000b), and 38-39 d
in M. buckleyi (UV pers. comm.), larger, smaller,
and approximately equal-sized Neotropical forest
raptors, respectively, as compared with the
Laughing Falcon.
Like many other birds in southwest Ecuador
(Marchant 1959, Best et al. 1996), the breeding of
the Laughing Falcon may be tied to the rainy
season. Generally, the Tumbesian region receives
its greatest rainfall in March (Best & Kessler 1995),
and from our limited data it seems that Laughing
Falcons in the Jorupe area nest soon after this
period of heavy rainfall. This pattern is likely
linked with the emergence of large amounts of
suitable prey to provision growing nestlings.
Our observations of snakes up to 120 cm increases
the length of prey known to be taken by this falcon
(Duval et al. 2006). That said, Parker (1990) did
note that Laughing Falcons will attack Boa
constrictor 72 cm in length, and the longest snakes
we observed were thin Leptodeira-like colubrids.
We note that few duets failed to develop into a
syncopated state, and hypothesize that this
component of the duet may be especially important
to these pairs. Further support for this idea comes
from the regularity of hours at which these duets
were given, and the likely importance of duetting to
territorial defense in these specialist predators
(Parker 1997, Hall 2004).
As shown in the incubation rhythms (Fig. 4),
though the female’s off bouts were generally not as
predictable as the few other species for which
comparable data exists (e.g. Greeney et al. 2008),
she did exhibit a propensity for off bouts between
08:00-09:00. It was during these breaks when the
pair often duetted, especially if they had not done
so during an earlier prey transfer in the day. We
suggest that the predictable incubation rhythms in
small insectivores may be related to their need to
regularly feed; the observed lack of predictability in
this study may thus be related to the large food
Breeding of the Laughing Falcon Miller, Greeney & Valdez
items consumed by Laughing Falcons (Nagy 1987).
As noted by Greeney (2004), nest probing may help
to remove ectoparasites from the nest. In support of
this idea, the Jorupe female was often seen to
consume small invertebrates after such probing
bouts. Additionally, by depressing the nest material
below the egg, when the female probed the nest the
egg occasionally rolled, and this may have been an
indirect method of accomplishing this.
Parker (1997) noted that successful nests generally
contained nidicolous ant colonies. As we never
climbed to the nests, we are unable to determine
whether our study nests also held ant colonies.
However, at both the Jorupe and El Angolo nests,
regular streams of ants were observed walking
along the trunk and traveling in and out of the
cavity. Wolfe (1954) commented on the stinging
ants present in his presumed nest tree. Such avian-
hymenoptera associations are widespread (Quinn &
Ueta 2008), and future studies of Laughing Falcons
should examine this relationship.
We thank Rudy Gelis, Leonidas E. Cabrera F. and
Giovanni Cabrera for help in the field. We also
thank Francisco Sornoza and the Jocotoco
Foundation for access to Jorupe, The Peregrine
Fund Research Library, José Hidalgo for assistance
with the map, Murray Cooper for the photo, and the
Loiselle and Blake lab groups, Lloyd Kiff, Russell
Thorstrom, Joan Morrison, and three anonymous
reviewers for help with previous drafts of this
manuscript. Partial funding was provided by the
Population Biology Foundation, John V. and the
late Ruth Ann Moore, Matt Kaplan, the Forestry
Department of the Universidad Nacional Agraria la
Molina and the Lende Simmons Fund. UV wishes
to thank Antonio Tovar, Pedro G. Vásquez,
Mercedes S. Foster, Martha J. Groom and Fiona
Wilkinson. This is publication no. 192 of the
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cachinnnans) y Guaraguau (Polyborus plancus)
en el Coto de Caza El Angolo y alrededores.
Undergraduate Thesis, Universidad Nacional
Agraria La Molina, Lima, Peru.
WETMORE, A. 1965. The birds of the Republic of
Panama. Smithsonian Institution, Washington
D.C., U.S.A.
WOLFE, L.R. 1954. Nesting of the Laughing
Falcon. Condor 56:161-162.
Recibido: 12 abril 2010
Aceptado: 28 diciembre 2010
Breeding of the Laughing Falcon Miller, Greeney & Valdez
... The latter observation, however, was the basis of a great variety of myths (del Techo 1896, Gregório 1980). Few natural history studies document the diet of H. cachinnans (Parker 1990, 1991, Specht et al. 2008, Miller et al. 2010, Parker et al. 2012. How-ever, there is a good deal of anecdotal information published in old monographs (e.g. ...
... Most primary records constitute opportunistic observations or collections of a single falcon. The exceptions are the studies by Parker (1990Parker ( , 1991, Enamorado Guzmán & Arévalo Orrego (1992), Specht et al. (2008) and Miller et al. (2010), all observations from nest monitoring (including prey items being taken to nestlings or found at nests). ...
... Despite Laughing Falcons being recorded to eat a variety of prey types, from centipedes to fish, snakes comprised by far the majority of their diet in terms of taxonomic richness and frequency (Skutch 1999, Miller et al. 2010, Parker et al. 2012. In addition to being present in the majority of stomach contents analyzed in the literature, snakes can comprise up to 100% of the prey (Enamorado Guzmán & Arévalo Orrego 1992). ...
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Herpetotheres cachinnans is a Neotropical falcon species found in a variety of forested to semi-open habitats from Mexico to Argentina. Despite H. cachinnans being known to consume a variety of prey types, snakes comprise the majority of its diet in terms of taxonomic richness and frequency. Here, we present a detailed review about prey records of H. cachinnans. A total of 122 prey records were compiled from 73 literature references and authors' records. Snakes were the most common prey, with 94 records (77%). Analysis of 24 stomach contents (from literature and author's records) show that 71% contained remains of at least one snake, and 62.5% had snakes exclusively. A snake-based diet seems to be uncommon in raptors, and H. cachinnans is the only one presenting such degree of diet specialization in the Neotropics.
... Possible predation of adults, chicks or eggs of P. mocinno was encoded for each species as 1 if it is known to occur and 0 if not. The data was obtained from personal observations, experts (Dallies com pers) and literature (Avila et al., 1996;BirdLife International, 2017;Bustamante, Barrios, & Juárez, 2010;Carroll, Kirwan, & Boesman, n.d.;Collar, 2017;Collar & Christie, 2017;Eisermann, Komar, & Herrera, 2006;Fagan & Komar, 2016;Foster, 2007;Haverschmidt, 1962;Howell & Webb, 1995;Miller, Greeney, & Valdez, 2010;Motta, 2007;Santana & Milligan, 1984;Snow, 2001;Specht, Mesquita, & Santos, 2008;Thorstrom, 2000;Wenny, 2014;Zimmer & Isler, 2003),. ...
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The Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno is a tropical bird considered in a high risk of danger. Degradation of its habitat caused by human activities is the principal menace. The Resplendent Quetzal is important as seed disperser and is the centre of the past and present Mayan culture. The available studies about the species have covered aspects of the natural history and biology. Nevertheless, the description of the acoustic behaviour and ecology, a prerequisite for the conservation of the species, was not available. The general aim of this PhD thesis was to investigate the acoustic behaviour and ecology of P. mocinno in the cloud forest of Guatemala. A detailed analysis of P. mocinno vocalizations, including propagation experiments of these vocalizations in its habitat, led to identify two vocalizations intended for long range, and two for short range communication. Quantification of acoustic parameters in territorial vocalizations of the two subspecies of the Resplendent Quetzal, P. m. mocinno (north part of Central America and Chiapas) and P. m. costaricensis (south part of Central America), revealed clear differences between the subspecies, that could support a species separation hypothesis. . The observation of the species in the dense canopy is difficult and manipulation of individuals is controversial due to its high cultural importance. Then, an automatic acoustic system was developed as a method to study the species in a non-invasive way. The system proved to be efficient and returned results that revealed acoustic patterns linked to environmental variables. Finally, the acoustic community of other bird species P. mocinno belongs to was analysed so that interspecific competition interactions could be assessed. The research here developed should help in future conservation decisions about the Resplendent Quetzal and its habitat, the cloud forest. This research also illustrates that ecoacoustics can be a valuable strategy to tackle ecology and conservation questions in tropical areas.
... Es a partir de la década de los 90 que el interés de investigación de esta área se renueva, lo que queda demostrado en un importante número de publicaciones de esa década, (Bloch et al. 1991;Best 1992;Parker y Carr 1992;Williams y Tobias 1994;Best y Kessler 1995;Parker et al. 1995;Pople et al. 1997;Isherwood y Willis 1998;Jiggins et al. 1999). Este interés se mantiene a lo largo del tiempo hasta la actualidad, entre algunas referencias de trabajos más recientes pueden mencionarse a Benítez y Sánchez (2001); Freile et al. (2003Freile et al. ( , 2004Bonaccorso et al. (2007); Becker y Agreda (2005); Aguilar et al. (2008);Miller (2010Miller ( , 2015; Tinoco (2009);Greeney et al. (2008); (Greeney 2010). ...
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Tumbesian region is considered one of the most important global areas for both threatened and endemic species. Species richness for birds has been well documented; however, detailed information is still lacking hindering effective conservation actions. This is the case of species local distribution, thus for many locations in the Tumbesian region an adequate systematization and information availability is still lacking. Accordingly researchers, decision makers or the general public can't access to this information. In this paper, we present a compilation on bird richness within canton Zapotillo, located southwest of the province of Loja in southern Ecuador. Zapotillo is part of the recently declared "Dry Forest" Biosphere Reserve. This compilation includes information generated by different studies since 2001, and also incorporates the results of an inventory using mist nets and a collection of audible and visual records performed in 2014-2015 across nine localities in the area. We registered 156 bird species, including 43 endemic to the Tumbesian region, 23 migratory species and five globally threatened species. In addition, we propose expanding geographic distribution for four Ecuadorian bird species. Taken together our results and previous literature, the total number of birds registered for Zapotillo reaches 184 species, of which 49 are endemic to the Tumbesian region, 25 are migratory species, and 11 are globally threatened. Despite the Zapotillo Canton barely represents 2% of dry forest cover in Ecuador it embraces 75% of avian biodiversity and 83% of the endemic birds of the Ecuadorian Tumbesian region.
... The dark purple coloration of some eggs observed is very similar to those of Collared Forest-Falcon (Micrastur semitorquatus) as reported in the literature and observed on other occasions at the study site (Barbosa et al. 2014). The clutch size varied from 1-2 eggs/nestlings, as already suggested in the literature (Wolfe 1954, Skutch 1999, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001, but in 72% of the nests (n 5 8) only one egg or nestling was observed, as in some known studies (Skutch 1999, Miller et al. 2010). Many factors have been already mentioned as influencing clutch size in different groups of birds, including latitude and prey availability, among others (Jetz et al. 2008). ...
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Laughing Falcons (Herpetotheres cachinnans) are common, medium-sized falconids that occur throughout the Neotropical region and marginally in the Nearctic American continent. There is little data on their breeding biology with the only information available based on scattered records. Here, we report data on 11 nests of H. cachinnans from the Pantanal, Brazil, including four in nest-boxes, between 2007–2008. The breeding season occurred between July–December, which is in accordance with the few records for this region. Records of two eggs or nestlings were found in 28% (n = 3) of nests, while the remaining 72% (n = 8) had one egg or nestling. The eggs were rounded and buff with brown markings or dark brown or purplish brown with darker markings. The hatchlings, even when a few days old, are pale buff overall in plumage with the distinctive black mask, typical of the adults. An undescribed vocalization of the nestling was recorded, which is similar to an uncommon vocal type emitted by the adults when disturbed. The study reveals novel data on the use of nest-boxes and on the breeding biology of the species, and reinforces the importance of such studies on its conservation.
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The structure of ecological communities is thought to be mainly driven by competition processes between species. One special case of resource shaping community dynamics is the acoustic space. However, the acoustic communities have been rarely described for tropical birds. Here, we aimed at estimating acoustic competition between the iconic species Pharomachrus mocinno and the other bird species occupying the same habitat. An acoustic survey was conducted in a cloud forest in Guatemala for 17 days in six simultaneous recording sites. All species occurring in the same frequency bandwidth were identified, and the acoustic overlapping between P. mocinno and these species was estimated. Eighteen species were identified as acoustic competitors. Ecological traits and phylogenetic distance were defined for all species. The rate of acoustic competition between P. mocinno and other species was related to different ecological traits and competition for resources. The acoustic overlap was high with species competing for similar food resources and phylogenetically close species and low with predator species and phylogenetically distant species. These unique observations provide new behavioural and ecological information that might be useful for the knowledge of this species and the cloud forest.
Laughing Falcons (Herpetotheres cachinnans), are known to feed primarily on snakes, although there are reports in the literature of the falcons feeding on other prey. In the present study in the semi-arid scrublands of the Brazilian Caatinga, two predation events were recorded in which Laughing Falcons captured small-bodied mammals, a marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) and a rock cavy (Kerodon rupestris), both estimated to be approximately 200–300 g in weight. In both cases, the mammals were juveniles; the falcon swooped down to capture the prey in its talons, then it flew off to feed some distance away. While these events suggest a shift in the feeding niche of the falcon in response to local conditions, the number of observations is too small to permit definitive conclusions on this phenomenon.
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We describe the nest, eggs, nestlings, incubation rhythms, and adult nesting behavior of the Spectacled Whitestart (Myioborus melanocephalus) from three study sites in eastern Ecuador. Nests are domed structures built on or close to the ground, composed primarily of leaves and moss, and lined with softer materials such as seed down and tree-fern scales. Complete clutches consist of two eggs laid on consecu- tive days. Nest construction lasts 12-18 days, incubation lasts 15 days, and nestlings fledge after 12 days. Diurnal incubation behavior is consistent between nests, with a mean on-bout duration of 25 min and mean off-bout of 12 min. Regular incubation is delayed by up to 2 days, at which point mean coverage of the eggs during daylight hours is 67%. Nesting at all three study sites appears to coincide with drier peri- ods. Accepted 12 April 2008.
The Laughing Falcon Herpetotheres cachinnans is a Neotropical raptor that inhabits open areas, river margins, wood edges and open pastures. There is a lack of detailed information about the biology of this species in Brazil. The aim of this study was to characterize the breeding and feeding biology of the Laughing Falcon in the Cauáia farm, Matozinhos, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The farm has a reserve of 500 hectares of forests, whose phytogeography is characterized by half-deciduous bushes, in transition to Cerrado, and belongs to the environmental protection area of APA CARSTE of LAGOA SANTA. The study started in September 2005, when a female Laughing Falcon was seen flying from a crevice in a calcareous wall of approximately 30 m of height. We used climbing materials to access the site and confirmed the existence of a nest. In the first visit we found a 11.4 cm-long, recently hatched / young nestling whose body was covered with a cream-white plumage with a black mask in the periophtalmic region until the neck. The nestling was examined weekly and left the nest approximately 50 days after hatching. Remains of reptiles, and to a lesser extent, birds and mammals, were found in the nest. Biological data on Neotropical raptors are scarce and this study improves our basic understanding of the natural history of the Laughing Falcon.
Observations on 13 species of hawks and owls in savanna-forest habitat of Venezuela suggest that at least some species breed principally in either the dry season or the wet season but usually not both. Nesting sites varied from stick nests in palms and trees to tree cavities; most species laid one to two eggs per clutch. Young White-tailed Hawks and Great Black Hawks appear to receive prolonged post-fledging care.
Examined the 35 regularly occurring species of diurnal raptors in an 800-ha section of the lowland Manu National Park. Population densities ranged from a high of one or two territories per 100 ha (eg, Micrastur forest-falcons, double-toothed kite Harpagus bidentatus) to lows of much less than one territory in the entire study area (eg large eagles). A species replacement apparently occurs in the genus Leucopternis, with the slate-colored hawk L. schistacea occupying flood plain forest and the white-browed hawk L. kuhli occupying upland forest. All other congeners showed substantial overlap in habitat use. The author divided raptors into several preliminary guilds. Seven species hunt arthropods and small vertebrates from concealed perches (eg Micrastur forest-falcons, grey-headed kite Leptodon cayanensis); several species have specialized diets of wasps (red-throated caracara Daptrius americanus), snails (hook-billed kite Chondrohierax uncinatus), and snakes (laughing falcon Herpetotheres cachinnans). Species that hunt on the wing include four that feed mostly on flying insects and small vertebrates (two kites, short-tailed hawk Buteo brachyurus, and bat falcon Falcorufigularis), one that dives on perched vertebrates (zone-tailed hawk Buteo albonotatus), and two vultures that search for carrion. Raptors of open rivers, lakes, and marshes include a fish specialist (osprey Pandion haliaetus), two snail specialist kites, a carrion-eating vulture, a Buteo that dives on arthropods and small vertebrates, and three species with extremely diverse diets (eg black-collared hawk Busarellus nigricollis). -from Author
This paper documents the extent of deforestation in western Ecuador and what is known about its effect on biodiversity. Maps are provided comparing the extent of relatively undisturbed forested areas in aboriginal times, 1958, and 1988. Patterns of floristic diversity and endemism are discussed in light of the massive deforestation, and evidence of extinction of plant species from four florula sites is provided. The naturally fragmented nature of much of the western Ecuadorian forest is discussed, both in terms of evolutionary effects and implications for long-term conservation.
Although Nicaragua is, with the exception of Mexico, the largest of the Central American republics, its avifauna is probably the least known. The extensive Caribbean-slope rain forest of Nicaragua has been especially neglected in recent years, for apart from papers by Rendahl (1919; -based on collections made in 1881-82) and Huber (1932) no publications devoted primarily to the birds of this interesting region have appeared since the latter part of the nineteenth century. Few ornithologists have ever visited Nicaragua, and most of the specimens from there were obtained by the profes-sional collector W. B. Richardson. The American Museum of Natural History has a large series of Richardson' s specimens from the Caribbean slope of the country, but most of the records these represent are either unpublished or have appeared only among the lists of "specimens examined" in Zimmer' s Studies of Peruvian Birds (Amer. Mus, Novit. Nos. 500 et seq.). The present paper, based on a relatively small collection, is intended to supplement the available information on the taxonomy, distribution, and ecology of the birds of Caribbean Nicaragua.
Comparatively little is known about the food and feeding habits of the common hawks of Surinam, South America. I have given special attention to this subject in recent years and in addition to the identification of food remnants and of stomach contents of hawks collected, I have made careful notes on the feeding and hunting habits of these birds. Since I did not collect hawks exclusively to examine stomach contents, my data are not extensive. In order to give an idea of the size of the hawks mentioned in this paper, I have recorded the weights of all the specimens taken. I am grateful to Dr. D. C. Geyskes, Government Biologist of Surinam, for the iden-tification of food remnants and stomach contents, and to Dr. A.M. Husson of the Rijks Museum van Natuurlijke Historie at Leiden, Holland, for the identification of mammal remains in pellets. Ekwzus leucwus. White-tailed Kite. A bird of open country with scattered trees, this kite hunts here, as elsewhere in its range, by hovering above the ground with the wings held horizontally. When plunging, the wings are fully stretched upward, the tips almost touching each other. This kite feeds on small mammals. A juvenile on the wing had a specimen of Holochilus brasiliensis (Cricetidae) in its stomach. A number of pellets collected at a nest between February and April, 1961, contained six Holochilus brasiliensis and eight Zygodontomys microtinus. The pellets of this kite are quite small; most of them are about the size of a marble. Some of them measured only 16 x 14 mm. and consisted solely of mouse hair. The larger ones contained fragments of skulls and measured 22 x 18 mm. Weights of three males, 250 to 297 gm. (mean, 273 pm.) ; weight of one female, 307 gm.