Actophilornis, Adelomyia, Achemophorus and Aegithalos, A-Z of bird genera. Birds of the World.

Actophilornis africana

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Introduction

In this series 'A-Z of Bird Genera', we review the species in specific genera. These species take us all over the world,and we shall learn about their habits and current conservation status. Within the four genera under review here, we have birds that occur in such places as Africa, South and North America, Eurasia and Asia. The bird species in these four genera vary greatly but each one of them is unique and fascinating. We commence with the genus Actophilornis.

The genus Actophilornis.

Actophilornis is a genus that contains but two species,placed in the family Jacanidae,within the order of birds known as the Charadriiformes

Actophilornis africanus, is the African Jacana, {see header image}, a wading bird with long toes and long claws that enable it to walk on floating vegetation in shallow lakes which it frequents.Jacanas are a group of birds that are found world wide in tropical zons,however, this species is found in the sub-Saharan Africa.

They are unmistakeable birds about one foot long with females being larger than the males. They have chestnut upper parts with black wing tips,rear of the neck and eye stripe. The under parts are white. The belly is chestnut. The blue bill extends up into ahead-shield. The legs are very long, the toes are grey. The eys are dark brown. Although the females are larger than the males they have the same plumage colouring.

The flight,generally taken over small distances, is undertaken on rounded wings. The legs hang or are held straight behind. They are weak flyers.

The second species in this genus is the Madagascan Jacona ,Actophilornis albinucha, which is endemic to Madagascar,and is classed as being Near threatened by the International Union of Conservation for Nature. IUCN.

They frequent lagoons,lakes, River backwaters and other water bodies,usually with fringing vegetation and generally with floating water lilies,Polygonum and other aquatic vegetation. The female lays her brown eggs in a floating nest.However, it is the male that carries out the incubation duties,which lasts for around twenty to twenty six days.

Studies have revealed that during the warmest parts of the day he will spend more time shading them from the heat of the sun than actual incubation. When the chicks hatch the shells are removed away from the nest site. The downy chicks have pale and dark brown stripes above and are white below. The male does not feed them but stays near them while they feed themselves,this period will last for a further forty to seventy days. The female will be off mating with other males and the cycle will start again

These birds diet on insects and their larvae,spiders,worms ,snails,molluscs and crustaceans. They will also take some vegetable matter especially seeds. It gleens prey from the surface but they are capable of catching flying insects.

Speckled Hummingbird

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The genus Adelomyia

The genus Adelomyia, contains just one single species of Hummingbird The Speckled Hummingbird Adelomyia melanogenys, of the family Trochilidae. It occurs in South America -Argentina,Bolivia,Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.

This bird has a dark ear mask and the breast and throat are speckled,they have buff tips to their tail. There are eight sub-species recognized, Adelomyia melanogenys cervina that occurs in the western and central Andes of Colombia. A.melanogenys melanogenys . A.m connectens. A m debellordiana. A m aenosticta, A m maculata. A m chlorosoila and A m inornata.

These birds are called Papita in their native range. They inhabit the forest edge and in the forests at an altitude of up to three thousand feet. Hummingbirds by nature are solitary creatures in all aspects of their lives,and apart from the actual mating the male takes no part in the nest building incubation or feeding of his family. Males and indeed females may well mate with several partners.

The female will construct the nest,composed of plant fibres woven together,placed in a shrub or bush and camouflaged with local materials such as moss. She will strengthen the nest with spiders webs which allows the nest to expand as the chicks grow.. She will lay two eggs,which she incubates while the male defends his territory. The chicks leave the nest in about twenty days after hatching.

The diet of the Speckled Hummingbird consists of nectar taken from a variety of scented flowers that occur on trees,herbs and shrubs and epiphytes, especially favouring flowers with a high sugar content,procuring it by means of their extendible long ,straw-like tongue. The birds are generally quiet.

Western Grebe

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The genus Achemophorus

The genus Achemophorus, consists of two species of grebe in the order of birds known as the Podicipedifromes. The Western Grebe {pictured above } and Clark's grebe,both which occur in North America.

The Western Grebe ,Achemphorus occidentalis , is the largest grebe in North America at between twenty two and thirty inches long.It is basically black and white with a long slender neck and red eyes. It may easily be confused with Clark's grebe,and to confuse the issue hybrids occur between the two. The Western Grebe has black around the eyes and a straight greenish-yellow bill,whereas the Clark's grebe has white around the eyes and an upturned bright yellow bill.

Western grebes tend to nest in colonies which may consists of hundreds of birds on the large inland lakes. Loons,which are a somewhat similar species are larger with longer bodies and larger darker bills.

Grebes are well known for their courtship displays,especially when the birds rush across the water side by side, with their bodies out of the water and their necks gracefully curved forwards. Egg laying generally occurs between May and June in the USA and between May and October in Mexico. Both sexes build a floating structure,a fairly solid mound of vegetation, but anchored by some means to surrounding vegetation,either above or below the surface.

In the nest the female will deposit three to four eggs of a pale blue colour. Both parents undertake the task of incubation which lasts for between twenty one and twenty eight days. The resulting chicks leave the nest shortly after hatching. They are adorned with a smoky-grey down,whitish on the head and under parts. They become independent in a further sixty eight to seventy two days. They have one brood per season. Where more eggs are laid in a nest,sometimes double or even treble the usual number, it is the work of another female or females.

The western Grebe is migratory and winters down the pacific coasts, making their start during September towards their destinations,which will comprise of salt water.They tend to migrate at night over land and partially by day along the coast where they may be observed swimming. The flight is fast and it covers long distances during migration with rapid wing beats. There are no current conservation concerns, however, oil spills can cause them serious problems.

There are two sub-species. Achemophorus occidentlais occidentalis, that occurs in western Canada, and A.o ephemeralis, that occurs in western Mexico.

Clark's Grebe with chicks riding on the back of one of the parents.

Santa Margurita Lake California ,USA.
Santa Margurita Lake California ,USA. | Source

Clark's grebe on nest

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Clark's grebe. Achemophorus clarkii

It was not until the 1980's that this bird was recognized as a separate species,until then it was considered to be a pale morph of the Western Grebe,which it resembles in size and general behaviour. The two species overlap in parts of their range and hybrids resulting in intermediates occur. It was named in honour of John Henry Clark a nineteenth century American naturalist and collector.

Among its distinguishing features is the bright yellow bill which is slightly upturned. The Western grebe has the bill straight and of a greenish yellow colour. It also shows white around the eye, whereas the Western grebe has black around the eyes. Also the young in down are white and not grey like those of the Western grebe.As with the Western grebe there are two sub-species recognized. A,c,clarkii of north and central Mexico,and A c transitionalis of western Canada and western USA.

Illustration of Aegithhalos fuliginosus

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Long tailed tit

This specie has been reviewed in detail in my series 'Birds of Europe'. here at Hub pages.
This specie has been reviewed in detail in my series 'Birds of Europe'. here at Hub pages. | Source

The genus Aegithalos The Bushtits.

Aegithalos is a genus of small Passerine birds which include the Bushtits,and are placed in the family of Aegithalidae. The Long tailed tit,Aegithalos caudatus has been reviewed in detail in my series 'Birds of Europe' ,here on Hub pages, thus is omitted here.

The Sooty Bushtit, Aegithalos fuliginosus, is endemic to China,where it inhabits the temperate forests, it is also known by the common names of White necklaced tit and Silver faced tit. The shape of the bird is typical of the Long tailed tit. They about four and a half inches long. The upper parts are brownish with a distinctive dark breast band, with a white band from the neck over the upper breast.The forehead ,centre of crown and the nape are dark brown,paler and greyer on the sides. The lores,supercilium and cheeks are a hoary pale grey. They also have a grey brown moustache stripe. The throat is pale grey.

These birds occur in the mountains of China in south Gansu, parts of Sichian and east to Shaanxi and Hubei. here they frequent the mixed forests with firs and well developed shrub featuring Willow and Birch,often with bamboo stands up to 2,600 metres above sea level. They feed on insects and berries. These birds are often encountered in large flocks of up to forty birds outside the breeding season. There is little known about their breeding habits. They are not a species of current conservation concern.

Black browed Bushtit /Black browed tit.

Illustration by H C Richter, from The Birds of Asia volume 2 by John Gould
Illustration by H C Richter, from The Birds of Asia volume 2 by John Gould | Source

Black-browed Bushtit.

Aegithlaos iouschistos, is the Black browed Bushtit, also referred to by the common names of Rufous fronted tit or bushtit.,Blyth's long-tailed tit, the Himalayan tit and the Black headed tit. This tiny bird is about four and a quarter inches long. It is a fulvous tit,with a buff coloured cheek and silvery throat patch. It has a broad black mask. A broad buff-coloured stripe divides the black cap by running down the centre of the crown from the beak.

These birds occur in central Nepal,east, in a small band to the Himalayas, to Bhutan,and north-east to India. In China it occurs in Sichuan and adjacent regions. They are found locally in Burma along the northern boundary with China.

Like the previous species they are found in flocks {although in smaller numbers generally}, foraging through all heights of the forest,where they feed on insects,their larvae, and some vegetable matter.

They breed from April until July. The nest is a ball shaped structure,made of lichens and lined with feathers,very similar to those made by the Eurasian Long-tailed tit.

Confusingly there are four sub-species recognized which are some times split into three separate species.

Aegithalos iouschistos iouschistos, The Rufous fronted tit, A.i.bonvaloti and A.i obsuratus, the Black browed tit or black headed tit or Bonvalot's tit and A i. sharpei Burma or Myanmar tit

Black -throated tit

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Black throated bushtit.

The Black-throated bushtit/ or tit, Aegithalos concinnus, is another small bird of the genus, just over four inches long,and again there are several sub-species recognized. here we describe the nominate species. All the species have medium length tails. The most distinguishable features in -clude a black throat and black 'bandit' mask around the eye. The nominate race has a chestnut cap, breast band and flanks.The wings are dark grey as are the upper plumage feathers and the tail. The belly is white.

It is a bird that occurs in the foothills of the Himalayas, northern India, Nepal, northern Burma, Vietnam and Taiwan , where where it lives in open forests generally foraging in the middle storeys. The nest is a ball-shaped structure that hangs from the branches of trees. They feed on insects and their larvae,spiders and fruit,in particular raspberries.

White-cheeked Bushtit

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Other species at a glance

The White cheeked tit {Bushtit} is found in Afghanistan, Kashmir region and Pakistan.

The White throated Tit { Bushtit}, Aegithalos niveagulairis occurs in India, Nepal and Pakistan.

The Silver throated Tit [Bushtit}, A.glaucogularis, is endemic to China and was formerly considered to be a sub-species of the Long-tailed tit..

The American Bushtit, is placed in an entirely different genus Psaltriparus,and given the species name of minimus.

American Bushtit

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7 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 12 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hi Deb,

I have observed the Great Crested Grebes doing their penguin display, they are a joy to watch. Hope you see and capture on camera your grebes. Best wishes to you.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 12 months ago from Stillwater, OK

The grebes are wonderful birds, but I have yet to meet them all. One day, I hope too be in an area where I can observe them courting and nesting. Great material, as always


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 12 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hello Devika,

Thank you so much for your loyal follow and tweet very much appreciated. Best wishes to you.


DDE profile image

DDE 13 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Beautiful birds! I enjoy listening and watching birds around the countryside. Your hubs are informative and well-researched! Tweeted.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 13 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Rabadi,

Thank you for your kind comments, share and follow all of which are appreciated. Best wishes to you.

sallybea,

Sally, Thank you too, for your generous and encouraging comments. The Long-tailed tits are very amusing to watch,they always seem to be full of life. Best wishes to you.


sallybea profile image

sallybea 13 months ago from Norfolk

Hi Dave,

You have excelled again. You never cease to amaze me with your knowledge of our feathered friends. In particular, I love the long tail tit shown above which visits our bird table from time to time. They really are rather cute and I love their very social behaviour.

Best wishes,

Sally.


Rabadi profile image

Rabadi 13 months ago from New York

My father is an avid bird watcher. Great hub! I will share this with him. And now following you! :)

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