Greater Antillean bullfinch (Loxigilla violacea)

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Male greater Antillean bullfinch
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Greater Antillean bullfinch fact file

Greater Antillean bullfinch description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyEmberizidae
GenusLoxigilla (1)

The Greater Antillean bullfinch (Loxigilla violacea) is a stout finch with a very thick, short, black bill that is adapted to take the husks off seeds. The male Greater Antillean bullfinch has a diagnostic orange-red stripe above the eye, as well as an orange-red throat and dusky brown legs. The upperparts are glossy black and the underparts are dull black, except for an orange-red throat (2) (3)

The Greater Antillean bullfinch displays marked sexual dimorphism, the female being duller black. The juvenile has pale underparts and olive-brown upperparts, with rusty markings on the head. The juvenile may become spotted as it develops adult plumage (2) (3)

The Greater Antillean bullfinch may be further identified by its call, which is a harsh ‘wichi-wichi-wichi’, followed by a cicada-like ‘scree(3).

Size
Length: 16 cm (2)
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Greater Antillean bullfinch biology

Breeding between March and June (2), the Greater Antillean bullfinch usually builds a globular nest in a shrub or low tree, with the entrance at the side of the nest. It sometimes constructs this nest amongst grass on the ground or in a cavity in a tree. Three spotted eggs are usually laid (3)

The Greater Antillean bullfinch feeds mainly on seeds, skilfully removing the husks with its large bill. It may also feed on the buds and petals of flowers, and also on fruit, such as plantain, coffee and peppers (2).

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Greater Antillean bullfinch range

The Greater Antillean bullfinch is found in the Caribbean on the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) (4).

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Greater Antillean bullfinch habitat

The Greater Antillean bullfinch is found amongst shrubbery and forest undergrowth in mountain rainforest and semi-arid scrub. It is found at all elevations, but is most numerous in mountains (2) (3).

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Greater Antillean bullfinch status

The Greater Antillean bullfinch is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

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Greater Antillean bullfinch threats

The population size of the Greater Antillean bullfinch is currently unknown. However, this species is thought to be fairly common across its range, and no major threats to its survival have been identified (4)

However, forest loss has been prevalent across much of its range, including on Hispaniola. Due to a history of unsustainable activities, such as logging and encroaching urbanisation, only 10 percent of the Dominican Republic remains forested while, tragically, only 1.5 percent of Haiti’s landscape is still forested. These saddening figures make Hispaniola one of the most environmentally degraded areas in the world (5) (6).

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Greater Antillean bullfinch conservation

In the absence of any major threats, the Greater Antillean bullfinch has not been the target of any specific conservation measures. However, it is likely to occur in a number of reserves, including in the Dominican Republic, where around 16 percent of the total land cover is designated as reserves. Unfortunately, the level of legal enforcement offered these reserves varies, and very few are afforded strict protection (6).

ARKive is supported by OTEP, a joint programme of funding from the UK FCO and DFID which provides support to address priority environmental issues in the Overseas Territories, and Defra
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Find out more

Find out more about the Greater Antillean bullfinch and other birds:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Sexual dimorphism
When males and females of the same species differ in appearance.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Haynes-Sutton, A., Downer, A. and Sutton, R. (2009) A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Jamaica. Christopher Helm, London.
  3. Bond, J. (1993) A Field Guide to Birds of the West Indies. Peterson Field Guides, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.
  4. BirdLife International (March, 2011)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=9579
  5. The Vermont Centre for Ecostudies (February, 2010)
    http://www.vtecostudies.org/hispbird/
  6. BirdLife International EBA Factsheet (February, 2010)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/ebas/index.html?action=EbaHTMDetails.asp&sid=24&m=0
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Image credit

Male greater Antillean bullfinch  
Male greater Antillean bullfinch

© Bruno Pambour / Biosphoto

Biosphoto
16 rue Velouterie
Avignon
84000
France
Tel: +33 (490) 162 042
Fax: +33 (663) 208 434
http://www.biosphoto.com/

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