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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Three More Hispaniolan Endemics: Black-crowned Palm-Tanager, Hispaniolan Pewee and Hispaniolan Emerald

[Hispaniola. Feb 2014]

Three spectacular endemics found on Hispaniola will feature in this post. The first is a Tanager -- a family which is responsible for fully 1 in 8 neotropical species; the second endemic presented here is a flycatcher -- the Hispaniolan Pewee; and lastly, an endemic hummer: the Hispaniolan Emerald.

The tanagers are a large family that includes not only medium sized, fantastically colored species (like the Paradise Tanager) but also smaller-sized species such as the Yellow-faced Grassquit which looks more like a sparrow (and was once classified as such). The full list of species profiled here is:

Hispaniolan endemics:
  • Black-crowned Palm Tanager
  • Hispaniolan Pewee
  • Hispaniolan Emerald

Caribbean Specialties:
  • Yellow-faced Grassquit

Wintering warblers:
  • Yellow-throated Warbler
  • American Redstart
  • Black-throated Blue Warbler
  • Black-and-White Warbler
We will lead with the tanager:

Black-crowned Palm-tanager seen at Ebano Verde

Black-crowned Palm-tanager is a striking species with olive upperparts, grey body with white throat and breast, black crown and face with distinctive white markings.

There are two Palm-tanagers on Hispaniola. The Black-crowned is found commonly on the DR (Dominican Republic) side while the Near-threatened Grey-crowned Palm-tanager is found on the Haiti side. The two are visually similar in many respects (excepting the color of the crown); but genetic analysis shows that they diverged 2 million years ago.

Black-crowned Palm-tanager seen at Jardin Botanico

Black-crowned Palm-tanager seen at Jardin Botanico

This is a widespread tanager and like other tanagers, it is omnivorous but prefers fruit and berries.

The Hispaniolan Pewee is a tyrant flycatcher that was earlier lumped with the Jamaican and Cuban Pewees as the Greater Antillean Pewee.

 Hispaniolan Pewee seen at Ebano Verde

As is typical with many flycatchers, the Hispaniolan Pewee will perch patiently and then swoop to swiftly catch insects on the fly.

Hispaniolan Pewee seen at Ebano Verde

Hispaniolan Pewee seen at Ebano Verde

The third endemic is not only a hovering jewel but named after one: the Hispaniolan Emerald.

Hispaniolan Emerald seen at Ebano Verde

The Emerald is a striking green hummer; the male is iridescent green with a bluish throat; the red lower mandible is distinctive.

Known locally as Zumbador Mediano, it is one of three hummers resident on Hispaniola -- Antillean Mango, Hispaniolan Emerald, and Vervain Hummingbird.

Next, the Yellow-faced Grassquit:

Yellow-faced Grassquit seen at Ebano Verde

There are 7 grassquits in tropical America of which 2 are found on Hispaniola.

Yellow-faced Grassquit (male) seen at Ebano Verde

Looking very much like a sparrow whose face has been dipped in yellow paint, this Grassquit is now classified with the tanagers.

Yellow-faced Grassquit (female) seen at Ebano Verde

Finally, the warblers -- a group to which the American birder requires no introduction:

American Redstart seen at Jardin Botanico

Black-throated Blue Warbler seen at Ebano Verde

Black-and-White Warbler seen at Jardin Botanico

Yellow-throated Warbler seen at Jardin Botanico

Yellow-throated Warbler seen at Jardin Botanico

There are no species that are tied more to their habitat than the endemics. And, to see them, the birder has to go the extra mile to find them in their natural environment.

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