Flying Dust

I am in the process of preparing this site for a theme change. There are some preparations that are being done behind the scenes. There are over 2,000 post and pages that are being checked.

Missing photos and videos have already been discovered and some broken links are crying for help. So ignore the dust again.

If you want to check out what the new theme will look like, check out the Birds of the Bible for Kids. It will be similar. Click a blog and you will see how the columns change. If you would like to leave a comment or like to let me know if you like it or not, it would be appreciated.

Update: (8/29) All the videos with Vodpod are broken and Peterson’s Bird Series – The dust is getting thick!

Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor) Male by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Great Frigatebird ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 8/28/14

This week’s good news is that the ebook Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland is now available on the iTunes store (in 51 countries). So if you have an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Mac (running OS X Maverick) this is for you! Here is the link: https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/where-to-find-birds-in-northern/id912789825?mt=11&uo=4. To make a connection with this week’s bird, the Great Frigatebird, here is a screen shot from iBooks to show you what you can expect. All the text items highlighted in purple and links to either other places in the book – typically places, birds or lists – or external websites. The images are the same size as the ones that are included in the bird of the week, so if you double-click, or double-tap, on them, you can enlarge them to full size.

Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor) by Ian

If you think about birds in northern Queensland, perhaps iconic rainforest species like the Cassowary or Victoria’s Riflebird come to mind. Fair enough, but there is much more to this region than rainforest, important though that is.The area also has wonderful wetlands, tropical savannah forest, mountain ranges, dry country habitats and, last but not least, the coast with its Barrier Reef, beaches, mangroves, mudflats, continental islands and coral cays. So it should be no surprise that over 400 species of birds occur here and you need a reference devoted to the region to do it justice. I’ve chosen a dramatic seabird to make the point.

The term ‘frigate’ was first applied in the 17th century to warships built for speed and manoeuvrability and frigates were often used by pirates to attach merchant shipping. Frigatebirds, also called Man o’ War Birds, got their name for their piratical habitats of harrying other seabirds like boobies and tropicbirds to make them drop their prey. In fact, studies have shown that piracy accounts for perhaps only 20% of their food, and they are expert fishers as well. They fish by snatching prey, such as squid and young turtles, from the surface of the sea or in flight, in the case of their favourite prey, flying fish.

Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor) Female by Ian

Despite their naval name, frigatebirds are wonderfully adapted for flying and are poor swimmers to the extent that they are reluctant to land on water, as they can take off only in strong winds and their plumage is not waterproof. They have very light bones making up only 5% of the body, huge pectoral muscles, enormous wing area, long forked tails for rudders and streamlined bodies with small heads. Despite their size, they are very light, soar effortlessly in good winds and are very acrobatic. Female Great Frigatebirds, larger than males, are about 1m/40in long, have a wingspan to 2.3m/90in but weight only 1.2-1.6kg/2.6-3.5lb.

Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor palmerstoni) Female by Ian

The male Great Frigatebird, first photo, is the only all-black frigatebird occurring in Australia – the other all-black males are the Magnificent Frigatebird of Atlantic Ocean and the eastern Pacific and the Ascencion Frigatebird of the east Atlantic. Frigatebirds are unusual among seabirds in drinking freshwater if they can get it, and this male is drinking at the mouth of freshwater stream on Christmas island by snatching a beak-full of water in flight. Frigatebirds also bathe in flight by splashing into the surface of the water and flying off. You can also see its red gular pouch. This is inflated to enormous size to impress females during courtship. I haven’t got a photo of displaying Great Frigatebird, but you can see a Magnificent Frigatebird doing so here: Magnificent_Frigatebird.

Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor palmerstoni) Juvenile by Ian

Female Great Frigatebirds have white breasts and care needs to be taken in distinguishing them from other female and juvenile frigatebirds – Lesser Frigatebirds of both sexes have white ‘spurs’ in the axil of the underwing, and Christmas Island Frigatebirds of both sexes, have white bellies. Birds in Indian Ocean waters in Australia belong to the nominate race minor, distinguished by the females having pink eye-rings, second photo. Birds in the Pacific belong to palmerstoni and usually have blue eye-rings, third photo, though doubt exists as to the validity of the races and the reliability of the fieldmarks.

Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor palmerstoni) Juvenile by IanBecause of their need for consistent winds, frigatebirds are restricted to tropical waters where they can rely on the trade winds. Adults are sedentary and remain close to their roosting sites and breeding colonies, mostly on small isolated islands. Non-breeding birds and immature birds are pelagic and move over huge distances. Trade winds are unusual in that they form cumulus clouds and hence thermals over water both by day and night, and frigatebirds make great use of these to soar as high as the cloud base and will fly at night if conditions are right. Pelagic frigatebirds use the front of storms to move around and can cope with high winds very well. This is why they appear in coastal areas after cyclones and are supposed to be called ‘rain-brothers’ by Australian aborigines, though I haven’t been able to verify this.

Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor palmerstoni) Juvenile by IanThe range of the Great Frigatebird includes the tropical Pacific, southern tropical Indian and western Atlantic Oceans. In Australia it breeds colonially on islands along the outer Great Barrier Reef, in the Coral Sea and on Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean, usually in mangroves. The juvenile in photos five and six was photographed on East Diamond Islet, about 600km east of Cairns http://www.satelliteviews.net/cgi-bin/w.cgi?c=cr&UF=34304&UN=456541&DG=ISL. Breeding birds form pair bonds and both parents share in the incubation and feeding of the young. The young develop very slowly. This is thought to adapt them to periods of starvation when the adults have trouble finding food, and remain under parental care for many months.

Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor) Female attacking Red-tailed Tropicbird by IanThe last photo shows a hapless Red-tailed Tropicbird near Christmas Island being harried by a female Great Frigatebird who has grabbed it by the tail-streamers. Frigatebirds hang out near seabird colonies waiting for birds carrying prey or with full crops returning to feed their young. It’s hard enough work being a parent without having to put up with this!


Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au

Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor) Male Displaying ©WikiC

Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor) Male Displaying ©WikiC

Lee’s Addition:

but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 HCSB)

Thanks again, Ian, for introducing us to another interesting bird. We have seen the Magnificent Frigatebirds here in Florida, but these Great ones are also amazing. That fact about only 5% of their weight being the bone structure is another fantastic design from their Creator.

Frigatebirds belong to the Fregatidae – Frigatebirds Family which only has five species in it.

Ian’s Bird of the Week

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Lesser Frigatebird

Fregatidae – Frigatebirds Family

Great Frigatebird – Wikipedia




Comb-crested Jacana (Irediparra gallinacea)  ©WikiC

Comb-crested Jacana (Irediparra gallinacea) ©WikiC


“Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air.” (Job 28:20-21)

SmileyCentral.comScripture frequently makes reference to the fact that birds are not very smart compared to human beings. The tropical wetland bird called the jacana shows that you don’t have to be very smart to be deceptive. The jacana is noteworthy for several reasons. It is one of only 20 species of birds in the world where the female Comb-crested jacana, sometimes referred to as Jesus birdsleaves the care of the young to the males. One flock in southern India was made up of about 50 birds. The males staked out their territory on floating vegetation, often getting into violent fights with other males. Then the females, which are about 60 percent larger than the males, fought with each other for exclusive rights to up to four male territories. Once territories were established, the females would visit each of the males in her territory, mating with each.

Once the eggs are laid in each male’s nest, the female shows no more interest in her offspring. The male will care for the eggs and youngsters once they hatch, until the time they are ready to leave home. But the smaller males have their own strategy for dealing with their situation. They yell. Researchers say a yelling male is really blackmailing the larger female into giving him some attention. A yelling male attracts the attention of other nearby females who might want to take him into her own harem, so his mate comes running to pay attention to him. Sometimes males will even fake an emergency which brings his mate in a hurry. God is the source of all wisdom, and He gave each of His creatures enough wisdom to conduct their lives.

Father, I thank You for Your wisdom in Holy Scripture. Grant me understanding as I read Your Word. Amen.

S. Milius, Science News, March 6, 1999, v. 155, p. 149. Photo: Comb-crested jacana, sometimes referred to as Jesus birds. Courtesy of John Hill. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Used with permission: ©Creation Moments 2014

Comb-crested Jacana (Irediparra gallinacea) by Ian

Comb-crested Jacana (Irediparra gallinacea) by Ian

Lee’s Addition:

Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:25-27 NKJV)

What an interesting behavior from these Jacanas. Never cease to be amazed at how the Lord created His critters and their way of doing things. Did you notice how their feet were designed to support their weight? That habit of “walking on water” is why some call them the “Jesus” Bird.

The Comb-crested Jacanas are members of the Jacanidae – Jacanas Family.

Comb-crested Jacana (Irediparra gallinacea) by Ian's Birdway

Comb-crested Jacana (Irediparra gallinacea) by Ian’s Birdway

More Interesting Things

Creation Moments

Jacanidae – Jacanas Family

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Comb-crested Jacana




Pale-headed Rosella (Platycercus adscitus) by Ian

Pale-headed Rosella (Platycercus adscitus) by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Pale-headed Rosella ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 8/24/14

The bird of the week is the Pale-headed Rosella, which I’ll get to in a second, but this is a Special Edition as Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland is at last being published. That is to say, it has been published on Google Play but not yet on the Apple iBook store. That will take a little longer as there are bureaucratic obstacles to be over come. These involve registering Birdway Pty Ltd with the US Inland Revenue and then Apple confirming the registration with the IRS. The first part was easy but the second seems harder as it takes a while for the registration to soak through and finally emerge in the IRS online databases. Anyway, I’ll let you know, loudly, when that happens. In the meantime, you can find it on Google at https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=CblRBAAAQBAJ.

Where To Find Birds in Northern Queensland by Ian

Where To Find Birds in Northern Queensland

End of commercial!

The Pale-headed Rosella, is the widespread and familiar Rosella of Queensland, though it range does extend as far as northern New South Wales. There, and in southeastern Queensland, its range overlaps with the closely related Eastern Rosella and they sometimes interbreed.

The ones in the first two photos were taken outside my house. The first bird is feeding on the seeds of weeds, plenty of those here, and the second is feeding on the fruit of wild passionfruit, another weed, also called stinking passionfruit (Passiflora foetida) as the foliage emits a strong odour when crushed. They’re lovely birds, rather unobtrusive though their soft twittering calls reveal their presence, and I’ll always get pleasure from seeing them. They’re usually in pairs of family parties. The plumage is variable: the bird in the first photo has a much intense blue breast than the second one, but the field guides are tight-lipped about whether the plumage of the sexes differs.

Pale-headed Rosella (Platycercus adscitus) by Ian

Pale-headed Rosella (Platycercus adscitus) by Ian

They’re more forthcoming about the plumage of juveniles, as these often show traces of red or darker feathers on the head, like the one coming down for a drink in the third photo.

Pale-headed Rosella (Platycercus adscitus) by Ian

Pale-headed Rosella (Platycercus adscitus) by Ian

There are two races of the Pale-headed Rosella, a northern paler one on Cape York and south to about Cairns, and a southern darker one south of Townsville with a 300km/200mile band of intergrading between Cairns and Townsville. Originally these were described as two different species, the northern one being the Blue-cheeked Rosella, Platycercus adscitus, the southern one the Pale-headed Rosella, P. palliceps. When they were lumped together, the earlier name adscitus took priority, so the northern race is the nominate one and the southern darker one is race palliceps – unfortunately, given that it is the more intensely coloured. Adscitus means ‘approved’ or ‘accepted’, though exactly what was approved or accepted, I don’t know.

Pale-headed Rosella (Platycercus adscitus) by Ian

Pale-headed Rosella (Platycercus adscitus) by Ian

The Townsville birds in the first three photos belong to palliceps. The two, photographed together at Lake Eacham southwest of Cairns, are much closer the nominate race. The yellow is much paler overall, particularly on the back and the upper breast is mainly pale yellow, rather than blue, but there is a blue patch on the lower cheek. The bird in the fifth photo has clear traces of red on the forehead and is a juvenile; the one in the fourth photo has pinkish traces and may be a young bird too.

Pale-headed Rosella (Platycercus adscitus) by Ian

Pale-headed Rosella (Platycercus adscitus) by Ian

The taxonomy of Rosellas in general has been controversial and is still unsettled. Some authorities maintain that the Pale-headed, the Eastern Rosella and the Northern Rosella all belong to a single species even though they look quite different. Whatever, they’re lovely birds, and the good news is that the Pale-headed Rosella has benefitted from European settlement and the clearing of dense forests – they prefer more open areas.

Pale-headed Rosella 
Eastern Rosella 
Northern Rosella 


Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au

Lee’s Addition:

Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! (Job 19:23 KJV)

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (2 Timothy 4:7 KJV)

Glad they finally have their book published. I know that Ian has been working on this for some time. It is always a great feeling when a project is completed.

Also, the Pale-headed Rosella is a beautiful bird. Another great creation from their Creator. I especially like that first photo.

Rosellas are members of the Psittacidae – Parrots Family. You can see Ian’s photos of this family by clicking here.




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 879 other followers

%d bloggers like this: