Capped heron in Breeding plummage, Pantanal, Brazil

An attractive heron, if slightly odd in appearance, the Capped Heron is a resident of South American forested swamps, river courses and small pools. Although it seems adaptable to any habitat with water and has a wide distribution, it usually occurs only at low densities. Often seen flying along rivers or feeding in pools, the Capped Heron can be conspicuous, and easily is identified by its silvery white body plumage, black cap and striking blue face. In flight, it is best distinguished from other white herons by its small size and rapid, choppy flight style. The sole member of the genus Pilherodius, the Capped Heron is superficially simlar to the night-herons, but does not share their nocturnal feeding habits nor their distinctive juvenile plumage. This species is very distinct from other herons, being the only one with a blue beak and face, and a black crown. The belly, chest, and neck are covered with yellowish-white or light-cream feathers. The wings and back are covered with white feathers. Three to four white long feathers extend from the black crown. No sexual dimorphism in color or brightness has been noted. Capped Herons hunt mainly for fish, but also for aquatic insects, tadpoles, […]

Savana Hawk, Pantanal, Brazil

The Savanna Hawk is widespread raptor of open country habitats throughout the lowlands of tropical and subtropical South America. Like other members of the genus Buteogallus, the Savanna Hawk has a broad diet, and consumes a wide range of prey including small mammals, birds, crabs, frogs, toads, lizards, snakes and large insects. Its foraging strategy is equally diverse, and it will capture prey on the wing, from perches, or even by stalking on foot. Savanna Hawks can often be found walking through burning fields, a few feet behind the flames, searching for toasted prey. It is also the most distinctive member of Buteogallus: the plumage of other species predominately is black, but the plumage of the Savanna Hawk is a crisp cinnamon overall, with considerable gray patterning overlaying a rufous body. The savanna hawk is 46–61 cm (18–24 in) in length and weighs 845 g (29.8 oz). The adult has a rufous body with grey mottling above and fine black barring below. The flight feathers of the long broad wings are black, and the tail is banded black and white. The legs are yellow. Immature birds are similar to the adults but have darker, duller upperparts, paler underparts with coarser […]

Male Crimson-Crested woodpecker, Pantanal, Brazil

Crimson-crested Woodpecker is the most widespread species of Campephilus. It occurs regularly from Panama south to northern Argentina, including across the Guianan Shield and throughout Amazonia. It is a very large, robust woodpecker with a large red crest. The male is distinguished from other co-occurring large woodpeckers by the combination of barred underparts and an entirely red head that lacks facial stripes, and has only a suggestion of a black-and-white “slash” below the eye. Females have a black front to the crest, and a very broad white malar stripe that continues into the white strip down the neck. It is all black above, has a red crest and has white lines running down the sides of the black throat and shoulders, which meet in a V on the back. The underparts are white, heavily barred with black. They show white on the wings in flight. Adult males have a red line from the bill to the throat and red on the front of the crown. In adult females, these plumage features are black. Crimson-crested Woodpecker is found in a variety of habitats, from forest to forest edge and light woodland. Crimson-crested Woodpecker occurs in a wide range of habitats. Favoring […]

Snail kite Female, Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil

The snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) is a bird of prey within the family Accipitridae, which also includes the eagles, hawks, and Old World vultures. The snail kite breeds in tropical South America, the Caribbean, and central and southern Florida in the United States. It is resident all-year in most of its range, but the southernmost population migrates north in winter and the Caribbean birds disperse widely outside the breeding season. This is a gregarious bird of freshwater wetlands, forming large winter roosts. Its diet consists almost exclusively of apple snails. Snail kites have been observed eating other prey items in Florida, including crayfish in the genus Procambarus and black crappie. It is believed that snail kites turn to these alternatives only when apple snails become scarce, such as during drought. The highly specialized Snail Kite flies on broad wings over tropical wetlands as it hunts large freshwater snails. These handsome gray-and-black raptors have a delicate, strongly curved bill that fits inside the snail shells to pull out the juicy prey inside. Unlike most other raptors, Snail Kites nest in colonies and roost communally, sometimes among other waterbirds such as herons and Anhingas. Snail Kite was unknown to science until 1817, […]

Perched Ringed kingfisher, Pantanal, Brazil

  The ringed kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata) is a Neotropical kingfisher that lives in habitats ranging between the US and Mexico. In 1888, the species was first discovered in the US, while the first ringed kingfisher nest was found in 1970. They are commonly seen along the Rio Grande and in water bodies in southern Texas. Their distribution is increasing and expanding upwards. Ringed kingfishers have a dark-brown iris that is constant amongst all age groups. They possess a straight bill that is longer than its head, along with a curved culmen and tomial serrations. The lower mandible appears to have some yellowish colorations. They possess syndactil feet with olive-green or yellowish toes and black claws. A large crest appears to be between the base of the bill and neck. Several individuals have a white collar located around the neck. Ringed kingfishers are seen in freshwater habitats, tropical and temperate marine shorelines as well as several islands, such as Coiba Island. Breeding occurs in aquatic regions with support of aquatic animals, including fish populated areas for nesting burrows. Nests can be found farther away from the waters. Habitats are near waterbodies that include streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, estuaries and marine habitats. […]