Birds in the garden (BIG) 3: Chonchorogai

11 chonchorogai 3 350X
The Rufous-collared sparrow. Picture by Michelle Pors-da Costa Gomez

When visiting Curaçao or as a citizen of this island, ever hear a strange melodious birdsong protruding the night, and wonder what it might be. Well, if it is not the screech or call of a Barn owl, or the tittering sounds of a nightjar, you are listening to the song of this charming fellow; the Chonchorogai.

ENGLISH: Rufous-collared Sparrow
DUTCH: Andesmus/Roodkraaggors
PAPIAMENTO: Chonchorogai
SCIENTIFIC: 𝘡𝘰𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘢 𝘤𝘢𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘴

The Chonchorogai or Rufous-collared Sparrow is a frequently seen guest in the garden and also on beaches, open restaurants and terraces. Hipping around, while putting up its crest, looking for crumbs, seeds or insects, to feed on. The most striking feature of the animal is the crest, seen in both males and females, but this crest isn’t always up. In addition, the animals have a rusty brown collar with black patches at the neck, which are reminiscent of a bow tie. The animals live in different habitats and enjoy having shrubs or trees nearby, from which they sing a melodious tune. The birds also sing at night, making them the only bird species on the islands singing during the evening hours (besides the screaming of the barn owls and nightjars). The Chonchorogai is a small bird that does not exceed 15 centimetres. In the wild the animal shows a striking behaviour. Using their feet, the animals turn the leaves on the ground upside down in search of small insects, which hide below.
The Chonchorogai is a breeding bird for Curaçao, does not occur on Bonaire and is probably extinct on Aruba.


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