Aethia,{ Auklets} Aethopyga, Afroparva and Agamia. A-Z of Bird genera.

Parakeet auklets

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Uploaded to Commons via Dolovis | Source

Introduction

The series A-Z of bird genera, looks at the species within specific genera. These species occur throughout the world and are diverse and interesting. Here in this article we review the Genera Aethia, Aethoopyga , Afroparva, and Agamia. We commence with the genus Aethia the Auklets.

Aethia is a genus of four species of small auklets which are endemic to the North pacific ocean, Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk { a marginal sea off the western Pacific Ocean}, the sea is named after Okhotsk, the first Russian settlement in the far east.

Least Auklet

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Least auklet

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Aethia pusilla-

Aethia pusilla is the Least Auklet a sea bird ,and as its common name suggests the smallest species of Auk. They belong to the family Alicidae,within the order known as the Charadiiformes. They are thought to be one of the most abundant of all bird species and certainly the most abundant in North America.

This tiny bird is about six inches long not much bigger than the American Sparrow. The plumage colour consists of a dark brown to black feathers on the back and wings. The breast and under sides are spotted with white. During the breeding season it has a white plume behind the eyes.The bill is bright red, the eyes are yellow and the tail very short. The webbed feet are of a black colour. The sexes are indistinguishable in the field.

They feed on zoo-plankton, which is procured by means of diving,when the bird uses its wings to propel and 'fly' underwater. These Pelargic birds only come to land to breed. They leave the open sea in June to return to their breeding grounds,where they gather in large colonies on rocky beaches and at scattered locations on cliffs on the Islands of Alaska and Siberia.

The female deposits one egg in a crevice. The incubation period lasts for about one month. The food for the chick is procured at sea and is brought back to the chick inside a specialized throat pouch,for it. It is a further month before the chick is ready to fledge. These small birds and their chicks often fall victim to predators especially introduced species such as the Arctic Fox.to many of the Aleutian Islands. They are also prone to be caught up in Oil spills. However, there are no current conservation concerns about the population as a whole.

Crested Auklet

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Group of Crested Auklets

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Whiskered Auklet

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Crested Auklet,and Whiskered Auklet

The Crested Auklet, Aethia cristatella, is distributed throughout the northern Pacific and the Bering Sea {a marginal sea off the coast of Alaska.} The primarily forage in deep waters feeding on Krill,diving from the surface to procure their food, being propelled by their wings in a manner that is described as under water 'flight'.

This sea bird comes to land to breed and like other Auklets lays a single egg,the resulting chick will fledge in a further thirty three days or so. This species measures up to ten poiunt five inches long. They have a reddish-orange bill tipped with yellow.They are adorned with auricular plumes from their eyes to their ears. The general body plumage is a dark sooty grey,the legs and feet are grey. They are known for their forehead crests,composed of black,forward curving feathers,however, they tend to be rather variable in length. These birds produce a sociable odour during the breeding season which has been likened to the smell of Tangerines.

The Whiskered Auklet , Aethia pygmaea, has a much more restricted range than the other members of this genus. It is also the second smallest species,breeding around the Aleutian Islands off Siberia.

This species is about six and a quarter inches long ,only the least Auklet is smaller.It is adorned with black and white plumes of feathers on the head. They have a very short,orange-pink bill. The eye is yellow. The plumage is generally brownish.

It is another bird of open ocean outside the breeding season,when it comes to land to lay a single egg in a rocky crevice and is incubated by both parents, who feed the young in the manner of the previous species. They feed on a diet of seafood,which includes crustaceans and krill. They tend to feed within five miles off land.It appears this is a poorly studied species. It was originally described as two different species but is now accepted as a single species with clinal variation along its range.

Parakeet auklets

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The Parakeet Auklet

Aethia psittacula. is the parakeet Auklet,and was formerly placed in the genus Cyclorrhynchus until quite recently before being placed in the genus under review. It is approximately nine inches in length. The general plumage colour is dark above and white below. There is a single white plume below each eye which run down the head towards the shoulders. It is a distinctive marking. The eyes are also white. The short bill is orange and slightly upturned.

This sea bird comes ashore during the breeding season to Alaska and Kamchatka {far east of Russia}.It breeds on cliffs,slopes and areas of boulders on off shore islands. breeding tends to commence in April and May. The colonies are often shared with other species of Auks. The female will deposit a single egg and both parents share the task of incubation which lasts for a month. The resulting chick is also tended to by both parents. When the chick is ready to fledge in a further thirty five days or so it will leave the nesting site and fly out to the open sea alone. The diet during the breeding season consists of planktonic crustaceans. They are captured beneath the surface of the water, up to the depth of thirty metres. There are no current conservation concerns.

Fork-tailed sunbird

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The genus Aethopyga

Aethopyga is a genus of birds placed in the family Nectariniidae within the large order of birds known as the Passeriformes {perching birds}. The genus contains over twenty species that occur in in South Asia, Southeast Asia and parts of China. Some of the species are endemic to the Philippines. Others are also of current conservation concern due to habitat loss and other factors.

They generally have de-curved bills. We commence with the species Aethopyga fragrans. the Flaming sunbird, a species endemic to the northern Philippines in Luzon and Cataduanes. The male is three and three quarter inches long, and those of the nominal race has the forehead and fore crown a metallic blue-green. The hind crown,back ,and upper wing coverts are of a bright olive-yellow, washed orange or a bronzy golden colour. It is characterized by the fiery orange splashes on its yellow belly, hence the common name.

Their habitat is the forest, forest edge, and secondary growth, from sea level up to 1350 metres. Little is known about the breeding and nesting habits of this species. Although it is regarded as being uncommon their are no current conservation concerns about the population as a whole.

Other species.

Most species are from remote forest and forest edge and little is known about their lifestyle and breeding habits. As a picture speaks a thousand words { so it is said }. there follows a gallery of images of some species.

Illustration of the Metallic Winged Sunbird.

This species is endemic to the Philippines.
This species is endemic to the Philippines. | Source

Mrs Gould's sunbird Aethopyga gouldiae

This species  id found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Hong Kong,  India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam.
This species id found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Hong Kong, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. | Source

Handsome sunbird Aethopyga bella

This species is also endemic to the Philippines.
This species is also endemic to the Philippines. | Source

Green tailed sunbird {male} Aethopyga nipalensis

This species is found in the northern regions of the Indian  sub-continent stretching into parts of southeast Asia.
This species is found in the northern regions of the Indian sub-continent stretching into parts of southeast Asia. | Source

Green tailed sun bird {female}

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Apo sunbird.

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Aethopyga species under threat

Species under threat include the Apo sunbird, Aethopyga boitoni, is endemic to the island of Mindanio in the Philippines, it Is classed as being Near threatened, due to its small range. {Image right.}.

The Grey Hooded sun bird, Aethopyga primigenia, is endemic to the Philippines and is classed as being Near threatened ,because of loss of habitat and other factors.

Lina's Sun bird Aethopyga linaraborge, Near Threatened due to Habitat loss.

Elegant Sunbird, Aethopyga dugvenbodei is endemic to Indonesia and is classed as Endangered due to habitat loss and small populations. {illustration below}


Elegant Sunbird Aethopyga dugvenbodei

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female Congo Peafowl

Taken at Milwaukee County Zoological gardens, Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA
Taken at Milwaukee County Zoological gardens, Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA | Source

Male

Taken at Cincinnati Zoo USA.
Taken at Cincinnati Zoo USA. | Source

Upper body of male

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The genus Afroparva

The genus Afroparvo consists of just a single species. Afroparvo congensis, is commonly referred to as the Congo peafowl. they belong to the family Phasianidae {Pheasant family} within the order of birds known as the Galliformes.,and it is the only Pheasant native to Africa. Because it shows the characteristics of both the Peafowl and Guinea fowl, this species, only discovered in 1936, is generally thought of as being the link between the two species, are black.

The males although not as impressive as the Asiatic Peafowl is nevertheless adorned with an elaborate array of plumage colours. The upper parts being a dark metallic bronze, while the under parts are black. The breast and tail feathers are a violet-blue. It has a distinctive naked neck, the skin being a red colour. They are also adorned with a crest of dense white bristle-like feathers on the crown with a few darker feathers behind.

They are relatively large birds up to twenty eight inches long. The tail is dark with fourteen feathers which may be raised in a impressive display fan. On the inside of each leg is a large spur. The slightly smaller females are in general brown but have also a metallic emerald green upper parts and a shorter chestnut brown crest.

This shy and secretive bird is a scarce species and due to their inaccessible habitat it is a species that has been subject to study. They are thought to live in pairs or small groups in the dense rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo {Formerly Zaire}.. Their nesting activity have only been studied with birds kept in captivity. A clutch of one to four eggs is laid in a scrape or hollow in the ground. The female alone seems to undertake the task of incubation which lasts for a period of about twenty eight days. However the male remains close to her concentrating on his guard duties.

The resulting chicks are cared for by both parents. The general diet seems to be of variable vegetation,fruits and seeds from the common trees within its range,supplemented by invertebrates, aquatic insects and termites.

Habitat loss, hunting, demands of war and the movement of refugees ,have all thought to have contributed to the birds conservation status which is Vulnerable. Conservation measures are focused on birds kept in captivity world wide. Because of the unstable political situation in their native range the future of this bird is very uncertain.

Agamia agami

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Nestlings

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The genus Agamia

The genus Agamia is another genus that contains just a single species. Agamia agami a medium sized heron and a resident breeding bird of Central America,south to Peru and Brazil. it is yet another species that is regarded as being vulnerable. It is a shy bird,secretive which seldom exposes itself to open situations, keeping to the water's edge beneath over-hanging vegetation.

They belong to the Ardeidae {heron family], within the order of birds known as the Ciconiiformes.The habitat of this species are forest swamps and similar wooded or well vegetated wetlands. this uncommon bird is about thirty two inches long with a very long,dagger-like beak,but with unusually short legs for a member of the heron family. The neck and under-parts are a chestnut brown colour. There is a white line down the centre of the fore neck. The wings are green. On the head,sides of the fore neck and lower back, this beautiful bird is adorned with pale blue plumes. The legs are a dull yellowish -green as is the facial skin. Both sexes are similar.

They nest in colonies in trees over the water. There may be up to one hundred nests in a colony. the nest itself is constructed of sticks that make up a platform. The female will lay two blue-coloured eggs.

Like other heron species they tend to stalk their fish prey in shallow,shaded water, but they rarely wade in open water. They are also known to take frogs,small reptiles and snails.

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6 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 9 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

aviannovice,

Hi Deb, I agree with all your sentiments entirely. Thank you for your visit it is always appreciated. Best wishes to you.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 9 months ago from Stillwater, OK

More wonderful beauties that must be carefully protected. Humanity will be the death of many of these lovely creatures, and we must carefully propagate what we can for the future...

Beautifully done.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 9 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

DDE,

Hello Devika, thank you too, for your appreciated and kind comments, and for your tweet. And I hope you have a happy and prosperous New Year. Best wishes to you.


DDE profile image

DDE 9 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

I enjoyed reading and learning so much more about these unique birds. The photos stand out. You idea in sharing informative hubs is most fascinating. Tweeted! A Happy New Year to you!


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 9 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hi,Sally,

Glad you liked it, and I hope you had a nice Christmas and a prosperous new year to come . Best wishes to you.


sallybea profile image

sallybea 9 months ago from Norfolk

D.A.L.

Hello Dave,

Another beautiful hub with a few birds which I know quite well but there are some which I have never encountered before.

The Guinea Fowl makes me smile, such ridiculous noisy birds which have become very tame in many areas of Africa. I occasionally come across them here in Norfolk, but my favorite birds are the sunbirds, just magical little birds with such brilliant colors.

I hope your Christmas was an enjoyable one and here is hoping the New Year will be a good one for you Dave.

All the best

Sally.

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