Photo: Tenerife Cabildo
The return of one very regular visitor from northern Europe has been heralded by the Tenerife Cabildo for its work with the tree familiarly called the Cedro Canario (Canarian Cedar) but which is actually the Juniperus cedrus, or Canarian Juniper. This tree is endemic to the medianías of the Canaries and Madeira, and is currently categorized as in danger of extinction by the National Catalogue of Species under Threat, not least because its wood has a heavenly scent and is used extensively by carpenters. Anyone who helps its survival, therefore, is an extremely valued arrival!
But this is no human visitor come to assist, but a bird, the Mirlo Capiblanco, whose work involves propagation! The species is one of the thrush family, the Ring Ouzel, the mountain-dwelling counterpart of one of our most famous and loved birds, the blackbird! The Mirlo is, indeed, sometimes called the white-capped blackbird, and it feeds on the Cedro’s fruits and disseminates its seeds, contributing to the trees’ survival and thought even to be responsible for the original population of the tree in the area around Las Cañadas. The birds stay in Tenerife between November and March, usually staying around the caldera and the upper forest areas. The picture of the one above is either an adult female or a juvenile of either sex because it’s less definitively black and lacks the distinctive white collar of the adult male in the photo on the left.
The Cabildo says that ornithologists have identified a dozen or so birds, ringing them while they’re here in a programme attempting to discover if they’re first time or repeat visitors. Park biologist José Luis Martín Esquivel says that “on many occasions we have been able to observe that some individuals return to the island year after year”, adding that drinking troughs have even been installed for the birds due to winter droughts over recent years.