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Loxigilla portoricensis

Puerto Rican Bullfinch

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Emberizidae
  • Polytypic 2 Subspecies

Authors: Faaborg, John, and Amber Wiewel

Distribution

The Americas

The nominate subspecies is endemic to Puerto Rico (Bond 1956). Puerto Rican Bullfinches are found throughout Puerto Rico except the extreme eastern tip of the island (Raffaele 1989), and may be less abundant on the eastern end of the island in general.

A disjunct subspecies, grandis, formerly occurred on St. Christopher, but probably is extinct. See Historical Changes.

A Puerto Rican Bullfinch reported from the Virgin Islands (St. Johns) is based on an escaped individual (American Ornithologists’ Union 1998).

Outside the Americas

Records only from Puerto Rico and St. Christopher.

Habitat

Widespread on Puerto Rico, although less abundant in the eastern third of the island and absent from some coastal habitats in that region. Suggested to particularly prefer dense mountain forests, but also common in dry coastal thickets and infrequently in mangroves (Raffaele et al. 1998). A mist-net study in eastern Puerto Rico found that Puerto Rican Bullfinches preferred forest gaps, but occurred throughout the forest (Wunderle et al. 1987).

Historical changes

Subspecies grandis, of St. Christopher, was described in 1881 on the basis of a series of nine specimens collected in 1880. In 1920 it was reported as nearly extinct on St. Christopher (Burdon 1920), and the last confirmed specimen was collected there in 1929 (Olson 1984, Steadman et al. 1997). The cause of extinction is believed to be a combination of habitat loss, habitat destruction from hurricanes, and predation by non-native mammals (Steadman et al. 1997). There is an unconfirmed sighting from the forest at Stone-fort Ghaut, St. Christopher in 1994 (Raffaele et al. 1998).

Fossil history

Fragments of several Puerto Rican Bullfinch skeletons, including two premaxillae and seven lower mandibles, were found in Cueva Catedral, a cave in north-central Puerto Rico (Wetmore 1922). These probably came from owl pellets or casts. The age of these bones could not be estimated, as they came from deposits determined to range in age from present time to two thousand years old. Additionally, a rostrum of the L. portoricensis grandis subspecies was discovered in a prehistoric bone deposit in Barbuda (Pregill et al. 1994).
 

Recommended Citation

Faaborg, John, and Amber Wiewel. 2011. Puerto Rican Bullfinch (Loxigilla portoricensis), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=633036

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.