Puerto Rican Spindalis
Photo: Mark Oberle
Reina Mora de Puerto Rico
IDENTIFICATION: The male is green above with a yellow neck and an orange breast (photo above). The head is black with white stripes above and below the eye. The tail and wings are black with a diffuse white wing bar. In contrast to the males colorful patchwork, the females plumage is dull olive green, with fuzzy streaking below, and a vague suggestion of the males white stripe- pattern on the head (Photo below). Length: 17 cm.; weight: 26-31 gm.
VOICE: This species typically sings a squeaky series of notes from high in the forest or sometimes while circling over a favorite perch. Some of the notes are so high-pitched, that many people have trouble hearing them. The call is a weak "tseet". To hear an audio clip of this species' song, click on the link below:
Puerto Rican Spindalis song Audio by Mark Oberle
HABITAT: Forests, suburban gardens, and plantations with fruiting plants, at all altitudes.
HABITS: This tanager travels in pairs or small flocks at all levels in forests and plantations. It primarily eats berries and fruits such as figs, blackberries and Cecropia fruits, but will consume some aphids and other insects. Its nest is quite variable, ranging from a small cup, to bulky, deeper nests. It lays 2-4 light blue eggs with brown speckling at the large end.
STATUS AND CONSERVATION: This bird is a common species in humid forests, although it may be difficult to see well when it is foraging high in the forest canopy. Since it travels over a wide area seeking ripe fruit, it is an important disseminator of seeds of forest plants.
RANGE: Endemic to Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican Spindalis can be found in forested areas such as El Yunque or near Maricao.
TAXONOMY: PASSERIFORMES; THRAUPIDAE. Formerly called the Stripe-headed Tanager (Spindalis zena portoricensis), but taxonomists recently split the Stripe-headed Tanager into four separate species, based on differences in calls and in the plumages of both males and females. The four species are now the Puerto Rican Spindalis (Spindalis portoricensis), the Jamaican Spindalis (Spindalis nigricephala), the Hispaniolan Spindalis (Spindalis dominicensis), and the Western Spindalis (Spindalis zena) of the Bahamas, Cuba and the Caribbean islands of Mexico. Click here to see references
Female - Photo: M. Oberle