P.L. Sclater, 1862
Tanagra dominica Linnaeus, 1766
The palmchat (Dulus dominicus) is a small, long-tailed passerine bird, the only species in the genus Dulus and the family Dulidae. It is thought to be related to the waxwings, family Bombycillidae, and is sometimes classified with that group. The name reflects its strong association with palms for feeding, roosting and nesting.
In 1760 the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson included a description of the palmchat in his Ornithologie based on a specimen collected from the French colony of Saint-Domingue, modern Haiti. He used the French name Le tangara de S. Dominigue and the Latin Tangara Dominicensis. Although Brisson coined Latin names, these do not conform to the binomial system and are not recognised by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. When in 1766 the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus updated his Systema Naturae for the twelfth edition, he added 240 species that had been previously described by Brisson. One of these was the palmchat. Linnaeus included a brief description, coined the binomial name Tanagra dominica and cited Brisson's work.
Palmchats are about 20 cm (8 in) in length. They are olive-brown above, and cream-buff, heavily streaked with brown, below. Their rumps and the edges of their primary feathers are dark yellow-green. They have strong yellow bills and russet eyes. They lack the soft silky plumage of the waxwings or silky-flycatchers. Adults are alike in appearance; immature birds have dark throats.
Distribution and habitat
The species is endemic to the island of Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), including the adjacent Saona and Gonâve Islands, where it is common and widespread. It inhabits areas from sea-level to 1500 m asl where palm savannas can be found, or other open areas with scattered trees. Where its food trees are present, it has adapted well to city parks and gardens.
Palmchats are very sociable birds, often seen in small flocks containing several pairs which will roost closely together with their bodies in contact.
The breeding season is mainly from March to June. The birds build large, messy, communal nests of twigs in the crowns of palms (mainly royal palms Roystonea sp.). Occasionally, in the absence of palms, other trees or even telephone poles, may be used. The whole nesting structure may be up to 2 m across, containing up to 30 adjoining nests with their own separate chambers and entrances. The females lay clutches of 2-4 thickly spotted, grey-purple eggs.
They are voluble and noisy birds, with a large repertoire of gurgling and cheeping sounds constantly used in their social behaviour.
The palmchat is a common species within its range of about 75,000 km2 (28,958 sq mi). As it is not approaching the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations), it has been evaluated as being of Least Concern.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Dulus dominicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- CIA World Factbook: National Symbols
- Brisson, Mathurin Jacques (1760). Ornithologie, ou, Méthode contenant la division des oiseaux en ordres, sections, genres, especes & leurs variétés (in French and Latin). Volume 3. Paris: Jean-Baptiste Bauche. pp. 37–38, Plate 2 fig 4. The two stars (**) at the start of the section indicates that Brisson based his description on the examination of a specimen.
- Allen, J.A. (1910). "Collation of Brisson's genera of birds with those of Linnaeus". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 28: 317–335.
- Linnaeus, Carl (1766). Systema naturae : per regna tria natura, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (in Latin). Volume 1, Part 1 (12th ed.). Holmiae (Stockholm): Laurentii Salvii. p. 316.
- Vieillot, Louis Jean Pierre (1816). Analyse d'une Nouvelle Ornithologie Elementaire (in French). Paris: Deterville/self. p. 42.
- Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2018). "Waxwings and allies, tits, penduline tits". World Bird List Version 8.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
- Animal Life Resource: Palmchat