Puerto Rican Spindalis

Puerto Rican Spindalis

name = Puerto Rican Spindalis
status = LC | status_system = IUCN3.1
status_ref = IUCN2006|assessors=BirdLife International|year=2004|id=54231|title=Spindalis portoricensis|downloaded=12 May 2006 Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern ]

image_width = 200px
image_caption = Male Puerto Rican Spindalis
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
subphylum = Vertebrata
classis = Aves
ordo = Passeriformes
familia = Thraupidae
genus = "Spindalis"
species = "S. portoricensis"
binomial = "Spindalis portoricensis"
binomial_authority = Bryant, 1866
synonyms = "Spindalis zena portoricensis"

The Puerto Rican Spindalis, "Spindalis portoricensis", is a tanager endemic to the island of Puerto Rico. It is widely distributed throughout the island and is an important part of the Puerto Rican ecosystem because of its help in seed dispersal and plant reproduction. The Puerto Rican Spindalis is also the national bird [National bird is the accepted/standard expression to refer to the representative bird denominated by a government. This expression does not reflect Puerto Rico's political status. To read about Puerto Rico's political status please refer here.] of the United States Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. [ [http://www.busregister.com/prbusinfo/prinbrief.asp Puerto Rico in Brief] ]


The Puerto Rican Spindalis was originally classified as "Spindalis zena portoricensis", making it a subspecies of the Western Spindalis ("Spindalis zena"). In 1997, an article was published which presented an extensive analysis of the genus "Spindalis". The report concluded, based on differences in weight, color, pattern, distribution, and voice, that a split of "S. zena" was necessary. Four distinct species were identified—"Spindalis dominicensis", "Spindalis nigricephala", "Spindalis portoricensis" and "Spindalis zena". "S. zena" was also subdivided into five subspecies: "S. z. pretrei", "S. z. salvini", "S. z. benedicti", "S. z. townsendi" and "S. z. zena". Specifically, the difference in vocalization, and the morphological differences associated with it, distinguishes "S. portoricensis" from "S. dominicensis".

This bird is known as "Reina Mora" in Spanish.


The Puerto Rican Spindalis exhibits sexual dimorphism with males being brightly colored and females being dully colored. Males are green colored above with an orange neck and chest. They have a black head with two white stripes running across it, with one above and one below the eyes. The tail and wings are gray to black with small white stripes at the tips. In contrast, the female is a dull olive-green color with slightly noticeable white stripes. [ [http://www.puertoricobirds.com/286eng.htm Puerto Rican Spindalis] ] Sexual dimorphism is also noticeable in weight and size. Females are slightly heavier but smaller in length than males. The male's weight ranges from 22.5 to 37.0 grams with an average of 30.8 grams while the female's ranges from 28.0 to 41.1 grams with an average of 33.5 grams. The length of the male's wings ranges from 82 to 88.5 mm with an average of 85.2 mm while the female's range from 80 to 85.5 mm with an average of 82.6 mm. The length of the male's tail ranges from 59 to 68 mm with an average of 63.3 mm while the female's range from 56 to 65.5 mm with an average of 60.6 mm. [http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Wilson/v109n04/p0561-p0594.pdf Taxonomy of the Stripe-Headed Tanager, Genus Spindalis (Aves:Thraupidae) of the West Indies] ]

Distibution and habitat

The Puerto Rican Spindalis is currently found more commonly in plantations than in their natural habitat, the forests of Maricao and the El Yunque National Forest. [ [http://www.uprm.edu/publications/cjs/VOL24/P001-010.PDF Comparacion de la riqueza de aves entre plantaciones de pino hondureno (Pinus caribaea) y areas de bosque nativo en el Bosque Estatal de Carite, Cayey, Puerto Rico] es icon] It may also be found in gardens, scavenging for flower nectar, and other areas where fruits are grown. It can be attracted to houses by sugar solution. It is distributed throughout the entire main island of Puerto Rico and rarely found above 1000 meters in elevation.

Ecology and Behavior

The Puerto Rican Spindalis are usually found in pairs but may travel in small flocks. These birds also engage in a behavior called mobbing. This is when a flock of birds, from one or more species, attack a known predator, usually to defend their eggs or hatchlings. Such behavior has been observed being directed against the Puerto Rican Boa by immature Puerto Rican Spindalis. [ [http://www.uprm.edu/publications/cjs/Vol38a/38_125-126.pdf Avian Mobbing of the Puerto Rican Boa] ]

The vocalization of the Puerto Rican Spindalis is not as complex as that of other "Spindalis" species; only the songs of "S. dominicensis" are less elaborate. As with all "Spindalis", the males emit high pitched sounds at 8 KHz or higher, usually from treetops high above the ground. Females, on the other hand, sing "whisper songs" usually from dense areas close to the ground. The most common vocalization is described as a "continuing series of high-pitched, thin, sibilant notes, given in a rhythmic pattern."fact|date=October 2007 Other vocalizations include a fast "tweet" and a short "chi chi chi".


The Puerto Rican Spindalis is a frugivore. Common fruits eaten by this bird come from "Schefflera morototoni", "Cecropia schreberiana" , "Cordia sulcata", "Ficus" spp., "Phoradendron" spp. and "Inga vera" trees, with fruit from "S. morototoni" being the most important. [ [http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1744-7429.2005.04040.x Crop Size and Fruit Neighborhood Effects on Bird Visitation] ] Because of the difficulty of digestion and the small amount of energy that fruits and leaves provide, these birds also include insects and small lizards as part of their diet.


The Puerto Rican Spindalis builds cup-shaped nests from various plant matter. Two to four eggs are laid at a time. Eggs are usually light blue in color with brown patches around the large end, but regional variations are known to exist. They measure, on average, 23.7 by 17.3 mm.

ee also

*List of endemic fauna of Puerto Rico
*List of national birds
*List of Puerto Rican birds

References and footnotes

*cite book|last=Oberle|first=Mark|year=2003|title=Las aves de Puerto Rico en fotografías|publisher=Editorial Humanitas|pages=26|id = ISBN 0-9650104-2-2 es icon

External links

* [http://www.sitographics.com/enciclog/banderas/america/source/29.html Enciclog]
* [http://www.puertoricoinfo.com/geography.htm Geography]

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