Tag Archive | Conservation

Successful tagging of Three-wattled Bellbirds in Honduras

Michael Loukides

Male Three-wattled Bellbird (photo by Michael Loukides) released under a CC-NC-SA licence.

I just received in an email a press release for the Zoo Conservation Outreach Group describing recent successes in fieldwork on Three-wattled Bellbirds (Procnias tricarunculatus) in Honduras. This project aims to use satellite tags to study the migratory movements of these endangered frugivores in the Sierra de Agalta cloud forests of Honduras. I have no doubt that Isidro Zuniga, our Honduran colleague during our last field season in Honduras was greatly involved in this research.

The big mystery surrounding these odd  birds (Family Cotingidae) is their complex migratory movements between cloud forests in the region. Each of these cloud forests is like an individual island of habitat in a great sea of lower level pine forests and agriculturally-dominated valleys. The birds are very evident from July to September in the Sierra de Agalta cloud forest, but then disappear for the balance of the year. The team on the ground in Honduras, led by Dr. Robin Bjork, has managed to outfit four of these birds with satellite tags which are transmitting data already.

The data generated by these tagged birds should be very interesting to say the least, and will help identify key habitat for conservation efforts.

Three-wattled Bellbird.ZCOG.2014.02

A bird in the hand is worth quite a bit! Male Three-wattled Bellbird outfitted with 5 g satellite tag.

Three-wattled Bellbird.ZCOG.2014.01

Recent sighting of Red-throated Caracaras in Nicaragua!


This photo of of a Red-throated Caracara was taken by Manfred Bienert on April 18 near the village of Bijagua, which is just adjacent to of the Reserva Biológica Indio Maíz and close to the Costa Rican border. It shows one individual of a group of six perched high in a tree with a piece of wasp nest (Polybia spp.).

This photo is important documentation of the continued presence of Ibycter americanus in Nicaragua, where they are considered extremely rare, having declined across most of Central America over the past several decades.

Despite the status of the Red-throated Caracara across much of this region, there are no formal conservation plans for these birds as they are not in danger of going globally extinct. In this way, the statistics used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) can be misleading on a regional scale, as when a species is labelled “Least Concern” it misses out the fact that the bird may be disappearing in many countries.

Another caracara in the same group. Photo by Manfred-Bienert

In Mexico, Red-throated Caracaras have  been considered extirpated for some time, although it was previously present in Oaxaca, Chiapas [1], and Veracruz [2]. They are listed as critically endangered in the Republic of Costa Rica [3], and “probably extirpated” in Guatemala [4,5]. In Honduras, the species has only recently been rediscovered after being largely extirpated since 1955 [6]. In Panama, they are  considered vulnerable.

Factors responsible for these declines have not been identified, although habitat destruction is probably involved. Illegal shooting of birds could also be a factor, as they are likely to have a very slow rate of reproduction and a highly developed cooperative breeding system (we documented a group of 6-7 adults caring for a single chick) [7].

I am glad to see that these impressive wasp-loving birds have not completely disappeared from Nicaragua, and am grateful for people like Manfred Bienert for documenting the wonderful birds of the region.


1.           Iñigo-Elías E (2000) Caracara comecacao (Daptrius americanus). In: Ceballos G, Márquez-Valdelamar L, editors. Las aves de México en peligro de extinción. Instituto de Ecología, UNAM–CONABIO–Fondo de Cultura Económica. pp. 126–127.

2.           Lowery GH, Dalquest WW (1951) Birds from the State of Veracruz, Mexico. University of Kansas Publications, Museum of Natural History. Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Publications. p. 556.

3.           AOCR (Comité Científico de la Asociación Ornitológico de Costa Rica) (2005) Lista de Especies de Aves con Poblaciones Reducidas y en Peligro de Extincion para Costa Rica: 1–2.

4.           CNAP (Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas de Guatemala) (2009) Lista de Especies Amenezadas de Guatemala: 83. Available: http://www.conap.gob.gt/Members/admin/documentos/documentos-centro-de-documentacion/lo-nuevo/Lista de especies amenazadas de Gutemala -LEA.pdf/at_download/file.

5.           Dickerman RW (2007) Birds of the Southern Pacific Lowlands of Guatemala With a Review of Icterus gularis.

6.           Narish AJ., Jenner T (2004) Notes on the Red-throated Caracara, Ibycter americanus in Honduras. Cotinga 22: 100.

7.           McCann S, Moeri O, Jones T, Donnell SO, Gries G, et al. (2010) Nesting and Nest-Provisioning of the Red-throated Caracara (Ibycter americanus) in Central French Guiana. Journal of Raptor Research 44: 236–240. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.3356/JRR-09-75.1.