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Rapid Decomposition in Some Species of the Genus Saltator

Austin Smith
Publication Information
Journal: 
Condor
Volume: 
29
Issue: 
1 (January-February)
Section: 
From Field and Study
Year: 
1927
Pages: 
80

Rapid Decomposition in some Species of the Genus Saltator

Saltutor is a genus of finches occurring in tropical America. It is made up of quite an array of medium-sized to very large forms. Within Costa Rica the genus is represented by at last five distinct species. It is brought to notice here because all these species seem prone to unusually quick decay after being killed, seemingly more rapid than in the case of any other land bird of approximately the same size with which I am acquainted. Temperature does not appear to be the controlling factor in this, for I have observed that Saltator grandis of the central tableland, and well within the temperate zone, can “ripen up” wonderfully within three or four hours after death; when species such as Solitary Sandpiper, Wilson Snipe, Texas Kinefisher and Parauque, killed within the same hour, will be wholly inoffensive. And it is well not to omit the fact that all these species of Saltator feed largely on fruit, at times on nothing else, occasionally gorging to the extent of the bill and portions of the head becoming discolored by the fruit juice.

Austin Smith

San Jose, Costa Rica, September 6, 1926

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