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Wood soilprober (Georimarornis motacilloides)

By AlexSone
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Order: Passerine birds (Passeriformes)
Family: Wagtails (Motacillidae)
Habitat: New Azora Island, tropical woods.
The animal population of New Azora volcanic island generated from one of tops of Mid-Atlantic Ridge is presented mainly by European species of birds. It is connected by that islands of Macaronesia (the area including also Madiera and Canary Islands) still in historical epoch had been the wintering place of plenty of European birds species. Till the ice age some birds had formed in Macaronesia settled populations, and after formation of New Azora Island they had successfully occupied it.
The nature of New Azora is very diverse: due to altitude zones various types of vegetation are presented here: from tropical wood up to Alpine desert. The fauna of island is presented by numerous species of birds and some species of mammal – descendants of species introduced to islands by humans. Bird population of island is especially rich.
In woods of New Azora the majority of birds live in tree crones. The gloomy underbrush overgrown with ferns seems less suitable for their life, but it is the deceptive impression. Many species of birds, varying in shape and feeding habits, inhabit the underbrush of New Azora woods.
One of interesting New Azora birds is the wood soilprober. It had descended from one of species of wagtails (Motacilla), spent winter at Azores in Holocene, and formed the settled island form. Till millions years the descendant of small wagtails had considerably changed: now it is rather large, starling-sized bird. But the wood soilprober seems even larger because of long tail. It has kept a characteristic for wagtail habit to shake tail up and down. Soilprober has long and slightly bent beak: bird eats insects drawing them from wood litter. In searches of forage this bird practically constantly stirs fallen leaves and rakes ground. For such characteristic feature of behavior it has received the name.
The body of this bird combines bright spots and cryptic colouring: at the wood soilprober there are grey chest, brown wings with black spots and coal-black tail. Tips of tail feathers have deliberately appreciable colouring: they are snow-white with strong metal shine. “Mirrors” on the tail reflect the poor sunlight getting in underbrush, and are used by birds of this species to submit signals to congeners. Soilprober is the solitary bird strictly preserving the fodder site from congeners. This bird moves in wood, running similarly to wagtails, and shakes tail in same characteristic way. But, though it spends the most part of time on the ground, this bird can fly well, and escapes from predators in flight.
One more adaptation which permits to these birds to distinguish each other is bright black-and-white head. Forehead, crown and nape at this bird are colored black, from beak through the eye to a shoulder the white strip stretches, and throat is black. At males white strip is appreciably wider, than at females. During conflicts on border of territory birds rise opposite to each other, and fluff feathering on head, making it similar to pompon. Thus they visually exaggerate themselves, trying to impress the opponent.
Each individual of wood soilprober keeps in certain territory which borders are well-known to it. Birds of this species eat small invertebrates, and frequently feed near to other inhabitants of underbrush – Azorean partridges, local gallinaceous birds. Due to quickness wood soilprober takes insects when partridges rake ground by legs. Partridges try to drive off the importunate competitor, but all the same the soilprober has time to eat more insects or seeds, than they get. But nevertheless there is a benefit to birds from the presence of soilprober near to them. It is very sensitive bird: at first attributes of danger it warns other wood inhabitants by shrill resonant chirp. 
Some times till one year soilprobers form pairs and rear posterity in common. In courtship season the male executes original “dance”, perching on fallen branches of trees or stubs sticking above leaves of ferns. It turns round, shakes tail, stretches wings and utters modulating warble, involving females. Usually male beforehand chooses the nesting place, and shows itself nearby to it. This bird nests in hollow trunks of fallen trees, or in abandoned holes of various ground animals. Similarly to all warblers, it is nidicolous species. In clutch there are 3 – 5 eggs from which blind nestlings covered with thin grey down hatch. They grow quickly, and at monthly age leave nest, keeping near to parents. Young birds differ from adults in colouring: at them head is brown. It will get black-and-white colouring to the first nesting season – at five-monthly age.
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anonymous's avatar
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Amplion's avatar
Просто здорово! Фишка с хвостом особенно интересна!
AlexSone's avatar
Да, хорошо, что в той проге есть такой фильтр!