This morning Ernesto and I went to work at a new study site in Ujarrás to define the transect protocols for some of the routes we are going to use to do surveys of the Cabanis’s Ground-Sparrow. We arrived at 6 and several of them were calling from the coffee plantations located on both sides of the road and quickly saw a brownish, chunky bird hopping on the side of the gravel road: it was a fledgling Cabanis’s Ground-Sparrow!
The photo is not great because it was distant and we did not want to disrupt its behavior, but it’s possible to see the main features Stiles & Skutch (1989: 459) describe in young individuals: above brighter brown, the facial pattern and the rufous in the head is dull and we can add the yellow bill.
Perico is one of the study sites where coffee plantations are predominant, but chayote is also present. The topography is flat lake bottom bordered by ancient lava flows from Irazú Volcano, which is where we believe this species’ original habitat existed: shrubby, rocky hillsides. Some of these lands are for sale, which means less habitat for the sparrows in the future.
The most remarkable event of this morning was spotting a Cabanis’s Ground-Sparrow carrying nest material! It was a new event for the project. This individual was picking up dry vegetation from the ground and actively moving along with its possible mate. We took a short video and left soon as to not disturb them. Now we have a nesting precedent in this study site.
Watch in HD for a better view.
Around 7:30 the sun was just warming up and an adult individual was spotted preening in the shade of the coffee trees:
Stay tuned for more updates as breeding season intensifies!