Bay wren

Thryothorus nigricapillus

TAXONOMY

Thryothorus nigricapillus Sclater, 1860, Nanegal, Pichincha, Ecuador.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Troglodyte á tête noir; German: Kastanienzaunkonig; Spanish: Cucarachero Cabecinegro, (Panama) El Guerrero.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

5.8 in (14.5 cm). 0.78 oz (21.9 g). Strikingly marked, with black head, white facial markings, chestnut back, and heavily

barred wings and tail. Central American populations have a white throat and unbarred chestnut belly; the South American races are heavily barred with black from the upper chest to the lower flanks. Eyes are brown; bill is blackish with pale orange-yellow base; legs are blackish. Sexes are similar. Juveniles have less clear-cut facial markings, and colors are generally somewhat less rich.

DISTRIBUTION

Caribbean slope of Central America from central Nicaragua and Costa Rica to Panama; both drainages from central Panama to Colombia, western Colombia along Pacific slope to southern Ecuador.

HABITAT

Edges of humid forest, generally absent from forest interior; Heliconia thickets. Occurs from sea level to 3,600 ft (1,100 m).

BEHAVIOR

Found in pairs, low in thick vegetation; rather secretive. It is territorial throughout year; both sexes sing and defend territory. Song is a series of varied, loud, ringing whistles. Males may sing on their own, but antiphonal song with female is frequent. The female always initiates a song duet.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Food is entirely invertebrate, including spiders, beetles, roaches, earwigs, etc.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Nest, built by both sexes, is an elbow-shaped construction made of grass and vine tendrils, placed in vines or crotches of shrubs at heights of 3-16 ft (1-5 m). Eggs number three and are white with cinnamon speckles. Incubation and fledging periods are not recorded. Breeding season protracted. In Panama it occurs from February to November, in Colombia from January to August.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened; substantial areas of habitat have been lost, however.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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