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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Meet the Thrashers

Jeannette Victor
Khervelle Pamphile

Pearly-eyed, Scaly-breasted and White-Breasted; huh?! Do you know what category of animals they belong to?  Maybe not but I am here to share some information with you, so worry not. They are part of the thrasher family which is birds.

The Pearly-Eyed Thrasher is the largest of the thrasher family as well as the most aggressive.  Margarops fuscatus klinikowski is how this bird is referred to by scientists but your grandparents may know it as Gros-Grieve.

How can you distinguish this thrasher from the others?
The Pearly-eyed Thrasher grows up to 28-30cm (11-12 in) and has many harsh calls including “Chook Chook”.  The upper-parts are light brown while the under-parts are white with brown streaks.  The white eye, white patches to the tail and the yellowish bill all contribute to this thrasher’s distinguished appearance.

What are this thrasher’s behavioral pattern, habitat and diet?
Often seen in confrontation with the St.Lucia Parrot since they are both cavity nesters making their homes in the forest.  They are omnivores surviving on fruits, berries and lizards.

What are their Reproductive practices?
Their nests are bulky and made up of twigs, dry grasses and roots that are placed in a cavity but rarely in bush or on trees.  In there they lay 2 or 3 glossy blue-green eggs mainly during March and July which would hatch within two weeks.

What are the Threats / Status and Protection Polices regarding this Thrasher?
This bird is fortunately not threatened with extinction but is a known predator to many birds of the forests because it sometimes feed on the eggs and nestlings of other birds including that of the St. Lucia Parrot. The Pearly-eyed Thrasher is an endemic sub-species to St.Lucia therefore it’s a protected species.

St. Lucia Wren (Troglodytes aedon mesoleucus)

By Janice Mathurin-Poleon

The St. Lucia Wren is considered an endemic subspecies of the House Wren (Troglodytes aedon). It is the rarest of the remaining Lesser Antillean House Wrens and can be found as a common resident in Dominica, locally in lowlands of Grenada and uncommonly in St. Vincent.

The St. Lucia Wren locally known as rossignol is a small, active brown bird with black bars on its wings and tail, an indistinct pale stripe above the eye with a relatively large head. St. Lucia’s subspecies is slightly paler below than that of St. Vincent and Dominica. Rossignol has a moderately long tail which it sometimes cocks upwards in the manner typical of wrens. It is 11.5-13cm (4.5-5 in) in length and this species has a rich, loud bubbling song like other wrens. There is a distinct variation in the dialect between the St. Lucia race and that of the other islands.

This bird can be found in the northeast coast of St. Lucia and Gros Piton. It feeds mainly on insects but will eat small lizards. The female lays two to six whitish eggs, heavily speckled brownish-red during the breeding season May to August.

The wren is an endangered species which faces many threats especially that of habitat loss. Its population decline is also related to predation by rats and mongooses as well as brood parasitism by the shiny cowbird.
The need for conservation and protection of our endangered species can never be overemphasized.