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Tapaculos: Rhinocryptidae - Behavior And Reproduction

species birds nests tunnels

Tapaculos have not been well studied, and not much is known about their behavior. They tend to be shy birds that spend much of their time on the forest floor. They are so hard to observe, in fact, that scientists know several species only by their song. It appears that these birds identify each other and choose their mates by sound rather than sight. This may be one reason why their feathers are dull and why some species look the same, but sound different.

In the tapaculos that have been studied, it appears that birds who mate form permanent pairs, but if one member of the pair dies, another mate is chosen almost immediately. The nests of fewer than half the species of all tapaculos have been observed. Of those that are known, most species build their nests in the ground at the end of tunnels. The birds either dig the tunnels themselves or take over empty animal burrows. Some species use hollow logs instead of digging tunnels. A few build cup nests in low branches.

Normally tapaculos lay two or three eggs. In some species both males and females sit on, incubate, the eggs for about two weeks before they hatch. The young birds are naked when they hatch and are cared for by both parents until they are ready to leave the nest several weeks later.


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over 10 years ago

All five species of birds in the Family Rhinocryptidae inhabiting the temperate forests of austral South America are endemic to these temperate forests (Johnson 1967, Meyer de Schauensee 1982, Arctander & Fjeldså 1994).Three of them, the Chucao Tapaculo Scelorchilus rubecula), the Huet-huet (Pteroptochos tarnii) and the Andean Tapaculo (Scytalopus magellanicus ) are sympatric inhabitants of thetemperate rain forest of Chiloé Island Short1969, Correa & Figueroa in press).

We suggest that the decrease in habitat availability due to increasing temperate rainforest fragmentation in southern Chile will result in a reduction in the distance among nests, which in turn could result in an increase in the degree of aggressive behavior due to a reduced habitat availability for territories and reduce availability of resources. Finally, the results suggest that the Huet-huet has the adequate traits (aggressiveness and size) that enable it to displace the Chucao Tapaculo and the Andean Tapaculo in forest fragments similar in size to the one studied. However, a significant reduction in the size of the fragment could force the migration of the Huet-huet because it needs a larger forested area [ see more in (Correa A & JA Figueroa (2003): Observations of aggressiveness and territoriality among species of Rhinocryptidae in a rainforest fragment in southern Chile. Ornitología Neotropical. 14: 121-125.]

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