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Palmchat

Palmchat
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Passeri
Family: Dulidae
P.L. Sclater, 1862
Genus: Dulus
Vieillot, 1816
Species: D. dominicus
Binomial name
Dulus dominicus
(Linnaeus, 1766)

The palmchat (Dulus dominicus) is a small, long-tailed passerine bird, the only species in the genus Dulus and the family Dulidae. It is thought to be related to the waxwings, family Bombycillidae, and is sometimes classified with that group. The name reflects its strong association with palms for feeding, roosting and nesting.

The palmchat is the national bird of the Dominican Republic.[2]

Contents

  • Description 1
  • Distribution and habitat 2
  • Behaviour 3
    • Breeding 3.1
    • Food 3.2
    • Voice 3.3
  • Conservation 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Description

Palmchats are about 20 cm (8 in) in length. They are olive-brown above, and cream-buff, heavily streaked with brown, below. Their rumps and the edges of their primary feathers are dark yellow-green. They have strong yellow bills and russet eyes. They lack the soft silky plumage of the waxwings or silky-flycatchers. Adults are alike in appearance; immature birds have dark throats.[3]

Distribution and habitat

The species is endemic to the island of Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), including the adjacent Saona and Gonâve Islands, where it is common and widespread. It inhabits areas from sea-level to 1500 m asl where palm savannas can be found, or other open areas with scattered trees. Where its food trees are present, it has adapted well to city parks and gardens.[3]

Behaviour

Palmchats are very sociable birds, often seen in small flocks containing several pairs which will roost closely together with their bodies in contact.

Breeding

The breeding season is mainly from March to June. The birds build large, messy, communal nests of twigs in the crowns of palms (mainly royal palms Roystonea sp.). Occasionally, in the absence of palms, other trees or even telephone poles, may be used. The whole nesting structure may be up to 2 m across, containing up to 30 adjoining nests with their own separate chambers and entrances. The females lay clutches of 2-4 thickly spotted, grey-purple eggs.[3]

Food

Palmchats feed on fruits and berries, including those of palms and of the Gumbo-limbo tree, as well as on flowers, especially those of epiphytic orchids.[3]

Voice

They are voluble and noisy birds, with a large repertoire of gurgling and cheeping sounds constantly used in their social behaviour.[3]

Conservation

The palmchat is a common species within its range of about 75,000 km2 (28,958 sq mi). As it is not approaching the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations), it has been evaluated as being of Least Concern.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b  
  2. ^ CIA World Factbook: National Symbols
  3. ^ a b c d e Animal Life Resource: Palmchat

External links

  • Don Roberson's Bird Families of the World
  • The Endemic Birds of Hispaniola
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