Zapata wren

Ferminia cerverai

TAXONOMY

Ferminia cerverai Barbour, 1926, Santo Tomás, Ciénaga de Zapata, Cuba.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Cuban marsh wren, Cervera's wren; French: Troglodyte de Zapata; German: Kubazaunkonig; Spanish: Fermina.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

6.2-6.5 in (15.5-16 cm). Weight: no data. Quite unlike any other wren, with very short wings, long tail, and sturdy legs. Crown is blackish brown; back is brownish with numerous fine bars on back and tertial feathers. Tail is long and fluffy with numerous fine dark bars; underparts are whitish buff, darker o

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Ferminia cerverai H Resident below, the flanks with dark barring. Eyes are clear brown; bill is dark brown with paler base; legs are brownish. Sexes are identical. Juveniles are similar to adults, but with fine speckles on throat and more diffuse barring on flanks.

DISTRIBUTION

Confined entirely to the Ciénaga de Zapata, southwest Cuba. Originally entirely in the vicinity of Santo Tomás; recently small additional populations discovered 9-12 mi (15-20 km) from Santo Tomás.

HABITAT

Restricted to savanna swampland, with saw grass, rushes, and scattered bushes. Seems to prefer drier areas where it can forage on the ground.

BEHAVIOR

A very poor flyer. Is quarrelsome and prone to drive off much larger species. Is rather secretive, though it frequently sings from low bushes. Song is a series of gurgling whistles mixed with harsher churring notes. Some dispute as to whether females sing; the female song is stated to be shorter and higher-pitched than that of the male.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Food is varied for a wren; invertebrates such as crickets, caterpillars, flies and spiders, snail eggs, and slugs are eaten. Also takes Anolis lizards, some up to 4 in (10 cm) in length, and some vegetable matter. Forages low in vegetation, but also takes much from the ground.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

A nest was not discovered until 1986, and by 2001 only four had been described. The nest is a ball of saw grass leaves situated in saw grass, with a side entrance hole. It occurs 20-28 in (50-70 cm) above the ground. Eggs number two and are white. Incubation is by the female alone; incubation and fledging periods are unknown. Breeding season extends from January to July; the species may be double-brooded. It is not known whether polygamy occurs.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Endangered. The bird is extremely restricted in range. Original range was only 5 sq mi (13 km2), but recently other populations were discovered up to 12 mi (20 km) away. Even within this range, the birds are rather sparse. In the late 1970s no birds could be located and it was feared extinct; present best estimates (April 2000) are of 80-100 pairs. Threats to survival include grass fires and predation by introduced mongooses.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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