PHOTO SIZES IN CM - PHOTO SIZES
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Photo Sizes In Cm
The Hoopoe is a medium sized bird, 25–32 cm (9.8-12.6 in) long, with a 44–48 cm (17.3-19 in) wingspan weighing 46-89 g (1.6-3.1 oz). The species is highly distinctive, with a long, thin tapering bill that is black with a fawn base. The strengthened musculature of the head allows the bill to be opened when probing inside the soil. The hoopoe has broad and rounded wings capable of strong flight; these are larger in the northern migratory subspecies. The Hoopoe has a characteristic undulating flight, which is like that of a giant butterfly, caused by the wings half closing at the end of each beat or short sequence of beats.
The song is a trisyllabic "oop-oop-oop", which gives rise to its English and scientific names.
In what was long thought to be a defensive posture, Hoopoes sunbathe by spreading out their wings and tail low against the ground and tilting their head up; they often fold their wings and preen halfway through. The Hoopoe also enjoys taking dust and sand baths.
 Diet and feeding
The diet of the Hoopoe is mostly composed of insects, although small reptiles as well as some plant matter such as seeds and berries are sometimes taken as well. It is a solitary forager which typically feeds on the ground. More rarely they will feed in the air, in pursuit of numerous swarming insects, where their strong and rounded wings make them fast and manoeuvrable. More commonly their foraging style is to stride on relatively open ground and periodically pause to probe the ground with the full length of their bill. Insect larvae, pupae and mole crickets are detected by the bill and either extracted or dug out with the strong feet. In addition to feeding in soil Hoopoes will feed on insects on the surface, as well as probing into piles of leaves and even using the bill to lever large stones and flake off bark. Common diet items include crickets, locusts, beetles, earwigs, cicadas, ant lions, bugs and ants. These can range from 10 to 150 mm in length, with the preferred size of prey being around 20-30 mm. Larger prey items are beaten against the ground or a preferred stone in order to kill them and remove indigestible body parts such as wings and legs.
The Hoopoe is monogamous, although the pair bond apparently only lasts for a single season. They are also territorial, with the male calling frequently to advertise his ownership of the territory. Chases and fights between rival males (and sometimes females) are common and can be brutal. Birds will try to stab rivals with their bills, and individuals are occasionally blinded in fights. The nest is in a hole in a tree or wall, with a narrow entrance; it may be unlined or various scraps may be collected. The female alone is responsible for incubating the eggs. Clutch size varies with location, with northern hemisphere birds laying more eggs than those in the southern hemisphere and birds in higher latitudes having larger clutches than those closer to the equator. In central and northern Europe and Asia the clutch size is around 12, whereas it is between four in the tropics and seven in the subtropics. The eggs are round and milky blue on laying but quickly discolour in the increasingly dirty nest. They weigh 4.5 grams. A replacement clutch is possible.
The Hoopes have well developed anti-predators defences in the nest. The uropygial gland of the incubating and brooding female is quickly modified to produce a foul-smelling liquid, and the glands of nestlings do so was well. These secretions are rubbed into the plumage. The secretion, which smells like rotting meat, is thought to help deter predators, as well as deter parasites and possibly act as an antibacterial agent. The secretions stop soon before the young leave the nest. In addition to this secretion nestlings are able to direct streams of faeces at nest intruders from the age of six days, and will also hiss at intruders in a snake like fashion. The young also strike with their bill or with one wing.
The incubation period for the species is between 15 and 18 days. During incubation the female is fed by the male. The incubation period begins as soon as the first egg is laid, so the chicks are born asynchronously. The chicks hatch with a covering of downy feathers, by around day days feather quills emerge which become adult feathers. The chicks are brooded by the female for between 9 to 14 days. The female later joins the male in the task of bringing food. The young leave the nest after approximately three and a half weeks; the parent still leads them for a week.
First Photos of Rare Mouse-Deer - Is it a New Species from Sri Lanka ?
First Photos of Rare Mouse-Deer - Is it a New Species from Sri Lanka?
One of Sri Lanka's least known mammals, the mouse-deer found in the highlands of Sri Lanka has been photographed. It is believed that this is the first time it has been photographed in the wild.
Three Species of Mouse Deer
For many years it was believed that Sri Lanka had one species of Mouse-deer, which was shared with Southern India. British taxonomist Colin Groves published a paper in June 2005 in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology that distinguished three species of Mouse-deer from Sri Lanka and India. The Indian Mouse-deer (Moschiola indica) was split as a new species and is now considered endemic to the Eastern Ghats of India. The mouse-deer found in Sri Lanka was split into two new species. The White-spotted Mouse-deer found (Moshiola meeminna) in the dry zone of Sri Lanka and the Yellow-striped Mouse-deer (Moschiola kathygre) found in the wet zone of Sri Lanka. Both species are endemic to Sri Lanka. This raises the number of endemic mammals found in Sri Lanka to eighteen species.
Possible Fourth Species
Colin Groves also stated that 'a single skull from Sri Lanka's Hill Zone may prove to represent a fourth species'. The 'Mountain Mouse-deer' is evidently a very scarce animal. Many of the field staff of Horton Plains National Park had not seen one although they regularly encounter other nocturnal mammals including leopard.
A Mountain Mouse-deer was seen under quite dramatic circumstances in February 2008 by wildlife photographer and specialist Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne, and naturalist Nadeera Weerasinghe. While providing a training session on butterflies and dragonflies for the staff of the Horton Plains National Park, an animal came running and jumped into the pond and swam towards them. It was identified as a Mountain Mouse-deer, being pursued by a Brown Mongoose, about a third of its size.
The mouse-deer swam back to the far shore and faced off with the Mongoose. The Mongoose did not enter the water but at times approached within five to six feet of the mouse-deer which responded by flaring its throat and showing the white on its throat.
After fifteen minutes the mongoose seemed to tire of the chase and left. The Mouse-deer left but returned soon with the mongoose in pursuit and once again dived into the pond. Forty five minutes later the duo left and Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne and Nadeera Weerasinghe informed the park warden. Around 5 pm the mouse-deer was seen again by the park warden and his staff. Later around 6pm it was taken in for safe custody, and offered no resistance. It had a small gash near the ear and was in an exhausted state.
Given the significance of the live specimen, Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne informed several scientists of the mouse-deer being temporarily held captive. Two scientists took a blood sample for analysis. Dr Tharaka Prasad the Deputy Director (Veterinary) of the Department of Wildlife Conservation and Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando who has worked on conservation genetics of elephants and other mammals (www.ccrsl.org), examined the mouse-deer, which was released back into the wild later that day.
The mouse-deer was found to be a pregnant female and measured 56 cm in length. This places it at the upper end of all specimens of mouse-deer which have been measured.
The newly split wet zone species is bigger than the species in the dry zone. It is too early to establish whether the Mountain Mouse-deer is a separate species or a sub-species of the wet zone Yellow-striped Mouse-deer. It may even transpire that it has no distinct differences from the form found in the wet lowlands. More work may need to be done to resolve the taxonomic questions by examining DNA from other specimens from the wet and dry zones. Ideally more measurements should also be taken in the field through a small mammal trapping survey in the field.
Courtesy of Jetwing Eco Holidays/Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne.
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