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Speckled Mourner

Laniocera rufescens

The Speckled Mourner, known scientifically as Laniocera rufescens, is a modestly sized bird, measuring approximately 20 cm in length. It boasts a rounded head adorned with a narrow yellow eye-ring. The plumage is a warm reddish-brown, with the upper parts displaying some barring on the wings. The underparts share a similar hue, often accentuated with darker scaling. Males possess a hidden tuft of yellow feathers on the breast, a feature typically kept concealed.

Identification Tips

To distinguish the Speckled Mourner from its avian counterparts, observe the rounded head and the narrow yellow ring encircling the eye. The reddish-brown plumage with barred wings and scaled underparts are characteristic. The concealed yellow tuft on the male's breast is a definitive trait, though not always visible.

Habitat

This species thrives in the subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, preferring the middle and lower strata of the forest canopy.

Distribution

The Speckled Mourner's range spans across Central America and northern South America, from Mexico to Panama, and includes countries such as Belize, Colombia, and Ecuador. It resides at altitudes reaching up to 1,000 meters.

Behaviour

The Speckled Mourner is a retiring and elusive bird, often foraging alone. However, it may occasionally join small mixed-species flocks. Its presence is more often announced by its distinctive song than by sightings.

Song & Calls

The bird's song is a clear, ringing sequence, reminiscent of "Tleeyr, tleeyeei, tleeyeei, tleeyeei…", delivered from a low perch, revealing its otherwise hidden presence.

Breeding

Details on the breeding habits of the Speckled Mourner remain scant, a reflection of the bird's secretive nature.

Similar Species

The Rufous Mourner (Rhytipterna holerythra) shares a similar coloration but can be differentiated by its distinct head shape, narrower beak adapted for insectivory, and absence of breast and wing markings. The Rufous Piha (Lipaugus unirufus) also bears resemblance but is distinguished by a broader beak suited to an omnivorous diet and more uniform coloration without the yellow pectoral tuft.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Speckled Mourner is primarily composed of insects, other arthropods, small reptiles, and fruit.

Conservation status

The Speckled Mourner is considered an uncommon species, with its population likely in decline due to habitat loss. Despite this, its wide distribution and sufficient numbers have led the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to classify it as a species of Least Concern.

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