SCIENTIFIC NAME:Fregata minor POPULATION: About 10,000 in Hawai’i; global population unknown TREND: Unknown HABITAT: Breeds on small, remote tropical islands
The Great Frigatebird has a distinctive flight silhouette, with long, pointed wings and a deeply forked tail. Like theSwallow-tailed Kite, its wings allow for graceful aerial acrobatics and effortless soaring. Frigatebirds often use their aerial agility to harass other birds into dropping their prey, earning this pirate of tropical skies the nickname of “Man-o’-War Bird.”
LikeCalifornia Condorand other raptors, Great Frigatebirds use thermals to soar and glide for hours. Frigatebirds may even sleep on the wing!
SCIENTIFIC NAME:Ammodramus savannarum POPULATION: 31 million TREND: Decreasing HABITAT: Breeds and winters in grasslands, including prairies, pastures, meadows, and old fields.
More often heard than seen, the secretive Grasshopper Sparrow gets its name for the buzzing, insect-like quality of its songs. When seen among the dense grasses where it breeds, this small, short-tailed bird appears big-headed and large-billed compared to other sparrows.
Habitat lossand degradation remain the greatest threats to Grasshopper Sparrow and other grassland-dependent species such asBaird’s Sparrow,Long-billed Curlew, andBobolink. Increased use ofpesticides, brood parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds, and loss of wintering habitat have also contributed to population declines.
SCIENTIFIC NAME:Spiza americana POPULATION: 27 million TREND: Stable HABITAT: Open grasslands, including prairies or pastures, and overgrown weedy fields. Uses wetlands and marshes during migration
The male Dickcissel resembles a big sparrow or miniature meadowlark, with a black, V-shaped throat patch contrasting with its bright yellow breast. This bird is named for its loud, persistent song: “dick-dick-ciss-ciss-ciss.” Dickcissels are long-distance Neotropical migrants, spending their winters in the llanos (central plains) of Venezuela.
SCIENTIFIC NAME:Chlorornis riefferii POPULATION: Unknown, but considered fairly common TREND: Decreasing HABITAT: Humid mountain forests and edges, Colombia south to Bolivia
The aptly named Grass-green Tanager is the only member of its genus, Chloronis, a Greek word derived from khloros (green) and ornis (bird). In Spanish its common name is Tangara Lorito, “little parrot tanager.” Whatever the language, this bird of the Andes is an unmistakable sight: an intense green with chestnut mask and undertail accented by bright red legs, feet, and bill.
Although not endemic or endangered like theCherry-throated Tanager, the Grass-green Tanager is still vulnerable tohabitat losscaused by land clearing for farming, grazing, logging, and human settlement.