Birds by Name – S
Scimitarbills, belonging to the genus Rhinopomastus, get their name from the shape of their bills, which are long and curved. They are a bit smaller than most wood hoopoes.
They eat insects and invertebrates, using their long bills to probe for food.
Eggs are laid in cavities in trees.
The European Serin, or just Serin, Serinus serinus, is the smallest European species of the finch family, Fringillidae, and is closely related to the Canary and it breeds throughout southern and central Europe and North Africa.
It is a small short-tailed bird, 11 to 12 centimetres in length. The upper parts are dark-streaked greyish green and it has a yellow rump, streaked yellow breast and white belly. It has darker patches under the eyes and on top of the head. The male has a brighter yellow face and breast and yellow wing bars.
It eats seeds, buds and small invertebrates.
Species: S. serinus
The Australian Shelduck, Tadorna tadornoides, is a large duck, very goose-like, belonging to the bird family Anatidae.
The male is predominantly dark, has a chestnut brown breast, white neck collar and dark green head. The female is very similar, but has white around the eyes.
The Australian Shelduck breeds in southern Australia and Tasmania and moves further north during the winter. It is usually found in quite open areas and makes its nest in tree holes, holes in banks and other similar places.
Species: T. tadornoides
The Common Shelduck, Tadorna tadorna, is a colourful waterfowl in the genus Tadorna and is widespread and common throughout Eurasia.
It is a big, colourful duck, its size being in between that of most other ducks and the larger geese. Both sexes have a dark green head and neck, a chestnut belly stripe and a red bill.
The Shelduck has a loud goosey-like ‘honk’ rather than a duck-like ‘quack’.
It eats invertebrates, small shellfish and aquatic snails.
Species: T. tadorna
The Ruddy Shelduck is becoming quite rare in Spain so it was nice to find this one on the lake in Parque de la Paloma in Benalmádena. This one, I believe, is a female.
The Ruddy Shelduck, Tadorna ferruginea, is a member of the duck, goose and swan family Anatidae and is migratory, wintering in India and other parts of Asia.
Species: T. ferruginea
South African Shelduck
The South African Shelduck or Cape Shelduck, Tadorna cana, is quite a large duck, growing to about 64 centimetres in length. The male has a grey head. the female has a white face and black crown, nape and sides of the neck, making them quite easy to tell apart.
The South African Shelduck breeds in southern Africa and during the southern winter it generally migrates to the north-east.
Species: T. cana
Snowy-crowned Robin Chat
This is the Snowy-crowned Robin-Chat, Cossypha niveicapilla, found in tropical and sub-tropical areas. In the wild is confined to the continent of Africa. This one was on a path in the Abuko National Park, the first official nature reserve in The Gambia.
The Snowy.crowned Robin-Chat has a reddish-brown belly (often described as rufous), black forehead and cheeks and a white strip on its crown, hence the ‘snowy’ bit of the name.
Species: C. niveicapilla
The Song Thrush, Turdus philomelos, is throughout much of Eurasia although numbers appear to be declining in the UK.
It has brown upperparts and black-spotted cream or buff underparts with very little difference between the sexes. It is, in many ways, quite similar to another member of the thrush family, the Redwing.
The Song Thrush can be found wherever there are trees and bushes ahnd they are quite frequent visitors to gardens.
They eat snails, worms and fruit. They open up the snails by whacking them on the ground with a simple flick of the head.
Species: T. philomelos
The Star Finch, Neochmia ruficauda, is a very colourful small bird in the finch family and is native to the dry savanna and grasslands of Australia.
These particular specimens were flying around with the Gouldian Finches in the Butterfly Park in Benalmádena.
Species: N. ruficauda
Long-tailed Glossy Starling
This rather splendiferous bird with a metallic sheen is the Long-tailed Glossy Starling, Lamprotornis caudatus, which grows up to a total length of around 54 centimetres, 34 centimetres of which is taken up by the magnificent tail.
The Long-tailed Glossy Starling is omnivorous, eating everything from fruit to insects.
Quite a distinctive yellow eye, particularly on a black face.
The Long-tailed Glossy Starling lays between two and four eggs.
Species: L. caudatus
Purple Glossy Starling
The Purple Glossy Starling, Lamprotornis purpureus, is about 23 centimetres in length and has a metallic purple head and body, glossy green wings, a short tail and a yellow eye.
The Purple Glossy Starling is omnivorous, eating both fruits and insects.
Species: L. purpureus
The Spotless Starling, Sturnus unicolor, is basically the Iberian answer to the common Starling found elsewhere in Europe and, as the name might suggest, it has, for the majority of the year, no spots.
The Spotless Starling is basically restricted to the Iberian Peninsula, northwest Africa, southernmost France, the islands of Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica and is largely non-migratory.
The Spotless Staring is slightly larger than its common counterpart and has a more oily appearance (or shiny as I prefer to call it). In winter, the male has a bluish base to the beak and the female has a pinkish base. The only time this bird has the vaguest semblance of spots is during part of the winter and this effect is caused by the tips of the wing feathers.
Like the common Starling, the Spotless Starling walks rather than hops along. Also like most starlings it is a hole-nesting species, breeding in tree holes, buildings and in cliff crevices. It typically lays three to five eggs.
Species: S. unicolor
The Starling, Sturnus vulgaris, is a small to medium-sized passerine bird in the family Sturnidae, just a bit smaller than a Blackbird.
It has a short tail, pointed head, triangular wings and a glossy, almost metallic sheen of purples and greens.
Starlings eat insects and fruit.
The Stonechat, Saxicola rubicola, is a small, robin-sized, passerine bird that was also formerly classed as a member of the thrush family, Turdidae, but is now considered part of the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae.
Males have striking black heads with white around the side of their neck, orange-red breasts and a mottled brown back. Females lack the male’s black head, but have brown backs and an orange tinge to their chests.
Species: S. rubicola
The Wire-tailed Swallow, Hirundo smithii, is a relatively small passerine bird in the Hirundinidae family.
The Wire-tailed Swallow breeds south of the Sahara desert in Africa and in the tropical areas of southern Asia from India to southeast Asia.
Different lighting – bright sunshine and shade – makes the Wire-tailed Swallow look strikingly different.
It is about 14 centimetres in length, has bright blue upperparts, a reddish-brown crown and white belly. It also has long, thin tail feathers, hence its name.
The Wire-tailed Swallow generally lays 3 to 4 eggs in a neat half-bowl nest are lined with mud. As with other Swallows and Martins, nests are built on vertical surfaces near water, under cliff ledges or on man-made structures such as buildings and bridges.
Species: H. smithii