Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The hood mocking bird is remarkably fearless of humans, and it is not uncommon for one to land on the head of a visitor to the island (3) (4). It will eagerly explore any unknown object for food or drink (4), and the result of this behaviour is an incredibly varied diet. It will feed on typical items such as insects, fruits, berries, marine arthropods and small vertebrates, but will also eat carrion from carcasses of seabirds, lizards and sea lions. Damaged seabird eggs are promptly consumed, and it will also use its powerful bill to eat intact eggs, and pluck ticks from the backs of marine and land iguanas. A unique feature of this species is its blood-drinking habit; it customarily drinks blood, especially in the dry season, from wounds in living sea lions, from sea lion placentas, and even from wounds on the legs of humans (2). The hood mockingbird is territorial, with seven to ten adults per territorial group, but often only one breeding pair (2). The hood mockingbird is a co-operative breeder, meaning that non-breeders act as helpers at nests in their group's territory, and some breeders help raise nestlings in nests other than their own (3). The cup-shaped nest, made of twigs and lined with finer plant material, is often placed in a cactus. Breeding occurs from March to April when clutches of one to four eggs are laid, with the resulting chicks being fed by several adults (2). In the non-breeding season, hood mockingbirds gather in groups of up to 40 individuals, which forage together (5)
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Description

The inquisitive, blood-drinking hood mockingbird is the largest of all the mockingbirds in the Galápagos Islands (3). It has a very long bill that curves downwards, and yellowish-brown eyes surrounded by a dark patch. The feathers of the upperparts have blackish-brown centres and grey to brownish-grey margins, giving the plumage a streaked or scalloped appearance (2). The whitish underparts have indistinct brown markings on the breast, and streaks on the flanks. The long, graduated tail is dark brown on top, and whitish underneath. The sexes are similar in their plumage, but the female is slightly smaller than the male. The hood mockingbird has a lengthy and strident song (2).
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Distribution

Range Description

Mimus macdonaldi is endemic to Española Island and the small adjacent islet of Gardner-by-Española, in the south-east Galápagos Islands, Ecuador (Castro and Phillips 1996). It is considered common (Harris 1982, Stotz et al. 1996), but nothing is known of population trends, and there are no recent population estimates.

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Range

Española I. and adjacent se Galapagos Islands.
  • Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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Range

The hood mockingbird is endemic to the Galápagos Islands, where it occurs only on the islands of Española and Gardner-by-Española (2).
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Physical Description

Type Information

Type for Nesomimus trifasciatus macdonaldi
Catalog Number: USNM 116066
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Birds
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin: Whole
Collector(s): Collector Unknown
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: = Hood Island, Espanola Island, Galapagos Islands, South Pacific Ocean
  • Type: Ridgway. February 5, 1890. Proc. U.S. Nat. Mus. 12: 103, fig. 1.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It inhabits arid lowland scrub and deciduous forest (Stotz et al. 1996). It is omnivorous, feeding mainly on carrion and seabird eggs (Harris 1982). It is a co-operative breeder, with a variable mating system, and territorial groups averaging nine adults (Curry and Grant 1991). Nesting is very synchronised, taking place in March and April, with a single egg usually laid (Harris 1982). In the non-breeding season, it gathers in groups of up to 40 individuals, which forage together (Stotz et al. 1996).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Inhabits arid lowland scrub, low thorny mesquite scrub, and deciduous woodland (2).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
D1+2

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Cruz, F., Vargas, H. & Wiedenfeld, D.

Justification
This little-known species is classified as Vulnerable because it is restricted to two small islands and is thus inherently susceptible to stochastic events and human activities. In particular, it may be threatened by extreme climatic events, which regularly occur in this region, as well as the possibility of introduction of pest species. Any evidence of increases in climate variability, or the arrival of invasive pests to occupied islands, should lead to re-appraisal of its status.

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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).
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Population

Population
There is no recent information on population size. Gardner-by-Española is a tiny island, a few hectares in size, and is less than 1 km from Española, so the population there may not represent a discrete subpopulation. The total population is thought to number 1,000-2,499 individuals, equating to 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
This species is inherently susceptible owing to its extremely limited range. It may be affected by the regular and extreme weather events that have been shown to cause significant fluctuations in the population of Floreana Mockingbird N. trifasciatus (Wiedenfeld and Jiménez 2008). It is also at constant risk of the introduction of pest species (e.g. rats Rattus spp.), parasites (Wiedenfeld et al. 2007) and diseases to occupied islands, although none of these pests are now present (D. Wiedenfeld in litt. 2012).

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The restricted range of the hood mockingbird is an intrinsic threat to the species. Events such as extreme weather, or an introduced predator, could rapidly affect the entire species, with devastating consequences (2) (5).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
The Galápagos National Park was gazetted in 1959, and includes almost all the land area of the islands. In 1979, the islands were declared a World Heritage Site (Jackson 1985).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Estimate population size as a baseline to determine trends. Minimise chance introductions of predators (e.g. rats Rattus spp.) and disease (H. Vargas and F. Cruz in litt. 2000). Research breeding ecology and adult survival in relation to climatic variation, with particular reference to drought events.

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Conservation

At present, there are no introduced predators on either island inhabited by the hood mockingbird, and efforts should be made to reduce the chance of this ever occurring, as well as minimising the risk of any disease being introduced to the population (2) (5). Whilst the hood mockingbird is not known to be receiving any specific conservation attention, the Galápagos Islands are designated a National Park and a World Heritage Site (6). This, along with the Ecuadorian Government and the international conservation community recognizing the importance of protecting the islands' biodiversity, should offer this fascinating bird the protection it requires from any potential threats.
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Wikipedia

Hood mockingbird

The hood mockingbird (Mimus macdonaldi) also known as the Española mockingbird is a species of bird in the Mimidae family. It is endemic to Española Island in the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador, and it is one of four closely related mockingbird species endemic to the Galápagos archipelago. It is found in dry forests and is omnivorous, though it primarily is a carnivore or scavenger. The species has a highly territorial social structure and has no fear of humans. It is the only species of Galápagos mockingbird that Charles Darwin did not see or collect on the voyage of the Beagle.[2]

Description[edit]

Hood-mockingbird-rocks.jpg

Similar to the other species of Galápagos mockingbirds, this species has a mottled gray and brown plumage with a white underbelly. A long tail and legs give the bird its distinctive appearance. The species has a long, thin beak, useful for tapping into the eggs of seabirds. The species has the largest bill of any of the Galápagos mockingbirds.[3] The species, along with the other Galápagos mockingbirds, is most closely related to the Bahama mockingbird (Mimus gundlachii),[4] despite the closer geographical proximity of Ecuador's long-tailed mockingbird (Mimus longicaudatus).[5]

Habitat[edit]

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical dry shrubland. Found only on Española Island, the bird can be found throughout the dry scrub of the island.[6]

Diet[edit]

The species has an omnivorous diet, but is mainly a predator or scavenger.[3] The species will eat the eggs of seabirds nesting on the island,[7] as well as eat from dead animals and kills made by other predators, such as the Galápagos hawk.[6] Sometimes just like a vampire finch, they will feed on blood of wounded seabirds.

Behavior[edit]

An Española mockingbird attempting to drink from a tourist's water bottle.

The bird is extremely aggressive and curious, and has no fear of humans whatsoever. The bird will chase after tourists in search of food, drink, or any unusual object.[5] In some cases, the species will attempt to obtain water from tourists by pecking at their water bottles.[8]

The birds have a strong social structure organized into family groups. Highly territorial, these groups will cooperatively hunt within their area as well as defend it against other groups. Lower-ranking members of the group will assist in caring for the young.[3]

Status[edit]

The bird is considered to be vulnerable in the wild by BirdLife International due mainly to its limited area. The fragile ecosystem and high risk of adverse weather conditions put the species at particular risk of population loss.[1] It is estimated that there are fewer than 2,500 left in the wild.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Mimus macdonaldi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Grant, K. Thalia and Estes, Gregory B. (2009). "Darwin in Galapagos: Footsteps to a New World" Princeton University Press, Princeton (online)
  3. ^ a b c Horwell, David; Pete Oxford (August 2005). Galápagos Wildlife (2 ed.). Bradt Travel Guides. pp. 45, 48. ISBN 1-84162-100-5. 
  4. ^ Arbogast, B., Drovetski, S., Curry, R., Boag, P., Seutin, G., Grant, P., Grant, B. and Anderson, D. (2006). "The Origin and Diversification of Galapagos Mockingbirds". Evolution 60 (2): 370–82. doi:10.1554/03-749.1. PMID 16610327. 
  5. ^ a b Rothman, Dr. Robert. "Mockingbirds". Rochester Institute of Technology. Retrieved 2008-01-02. 
  6. ^ a b c "Hood Mockingbird (Mimus macdonaldi)". BirdLife International. 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-02. 
  7. ^ Harris, M. P. (1968). "Egg-eating by Galápagos mockingbirds". Condor 70 (3): 269–70. doi:10.2307/1366702. 
  8. ^ Allen, Christina (1999-03-04). "The Hood Mockingbird". CNN. Retrieved 2008-01-02. 
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