Ian’s Bird of the Week – Horned Parakeet

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Horned Parakeet ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 7/27/15

The Kagu was naturally top of our target list in New Caledonia being the most bizarre in appearance, behaviour, taxonomy and general curiosity value. Second on my list and I think third on Joy’s were the horned parakeets of Grande Terre (the main island) and Ouvéa, one of the Loyalty Island off the east coast of Grande Terre. These birds used to be treated as a single species, but have recently been split into the Horned and Ouvéa Parakeets respectively. I mentioned in a previous post that the Kagu nearly got upstaged as bird of the trip by an individual Horned Parakeet at Mont Khogis near Noumea, so here is the bird in question and the interaction that we had with it, a memorable birding experience by any measure.

On an earlier visit to the Inn (Auberge) at Mont Khogis we’d had brief views of three Horned Parakeets flying across the road and we had been told by Serge, the owner of the Inn, that the parakeets came in the late afternoon to feed on the Lavender trees in front of the building. On our visit to Rivière Blue we also tried with little success to photograph a back-lit one feeding in dense foliage right above us, a good situation for chiropractic business but not much else. All was quiet at the Inn on our second visit, so we started on the nearby rainforest walk until Roman, one of the staff, came charging after us with the welcome news that a parakeet had arrived.

We set ourselves up very cautiously at an unobtrusive distance from the tree and started taking remote photos of the parakeet and very gradually working our way towards it. I mean gradually: I and Joy had each taken about a hundred more distant shots before the first one in this series, above. As you can see the bird was very aware of our presence and looked as if it could take off at any time.

We moved slowly closer and the bird started to look more relaxed. In the second photo it is showing its skill at perching on one foot, holding a little bunch of Lavender fruit in the other, munching on them and watching us at the same time. We started to get the impression that it was actually enjoying the attention and showing off for our benefit, third photo.

Eventually,we worked our way up to the tree and around the other side so that we could photograph it in the sunlight a little over an hour before sunset with the mountains in the background. The bird munched on regardless and seemed completely unworried by our approach. It seemed to have an extraordinary appetite. We reckoned that it ate about 700 of the fruit in the time that we were there. It wouldn’t take too long for a small flock to complete strip the tree.

They’re referred to as ‘horned’ rather than ‘crested’ as the feathers of the horn are permanent erect. There should be two horns, but one of this bird’s may have been broken off. They are probably more than just decorative as they nest in hollows in trees and the horns seem to be used to sense the space, or lack of it, above the head. That at least is the suggestion made for the similarly equipped but very different Crested Auklet. It nest in holes in coastal boulders and being able to avoid cracking your skull against rocks would seem to be very desirable.

We can become blasé about even the most riveting spectacles. Three hundred photos each later, here is Joy relaxing under the tree and the parakeet, top centre, looking in the opposite direction. It was still there when we decided it was time to leave but it called after us as if sorry to see us go. By the time we walked around to the car park below the inn, it had left too and joined a couple of other parakeets in another Lavender tree. Joy and I agreed that this was one of the most beautiful parrots that we had encountered.

The horned parakeets belong to the sub-family of Australasian parrots called broad-tailed parrots. The best known members of this group (Playtcercini) are the Australian Rosellas, Ringnecks and Mulga Parrot and its relatives. The group also includes the Shining Parrots of Fiji and the Cyanorhamphus Parakeets of various islands of the southwest Pacific including Norfolk Island, New Caledonia, New Zealand and its sub-Antarctic islands and, formerly, Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island. Most parrots are fairly sedentary, but these island ones seem to be quite good at island hopping, maybe helped by the cyclones that move generally in an easterly or southeasterly direction in this part of the world.

The Horned Parakeet is listed as Vulnerable with an estimated population on Grande Terre of between 5000 and 10,000 individuals. The Ouvéa Parakeet has a limited distribution on the northern end of this small island (about 40km long) and is listed as Endangered. Recent estimates of the population are about 2000 individuals and it is thought to be increasing. We did, of course, go to Ouvéa later in our stay….

I had some interesting correspondence on giant tree ferns after the last Kagu bird of the week. The Guinness Book of Records has a Norfolk Island Cyathea brownii species as the tallest and I had photos of a very tall one in Vanuatu, and a carving made from another one.

Greetings
Ian

**************************************************
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/
Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland: iTunes; Google Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; (Luke 1:69 KJV)

What an amazing “horn”! As Ian said, it was supposed to have a second one. Sounds like the usefulness of their “horn” spares their head. I’ve raised up under things before and hit my head. Maybe I need one of those. :)

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Sunday Inspiration – Deep Love of Jesus

White-tailed Blue Flycatcher (Elminia albicauda) ©WikiC

White-tailed Blue Flycatcher (Elminia albicauda) ©WikiC

He will bless them that fear the LORD, both small and great. (Psalms 115:13 KJV)

Today we have nine families being presented. Why? Because they all have very few species in each group. To have enough photos for the slideshow, these were combined.
Bombycillidae – Waxwings – 3
Ptiliogonatidae – Silky-flycatchers – 4
Hypocoliidae – Hypocolius – 1
Dulidae – Palmchat – 1
Mohoidae – Oos – 5 Recently Extinct
Hylocitreidae – Hypocolius – 1
Stenostiridae – Fairy Flycatchers – 9
Nicatoridae – Nicators – 3
Panuridae – Bearded Reedling – 1

Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) © Paul Higgins

Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) © Paul Higgins

Waxwings are characterised by soft silky plumage. (Bombycilla, the genus name, is Vieillot’s attempt at Latin for “silktail”, translating the German name Seidenschwänze.) They have unique red tips to some of the wing feathers where the shafts extend beyond the barbs; in the Bohemian and cedar waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its common name

Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher (Ptilogonys caudatus) by Michael Woodruff

Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher (Ptilogonys caudatus) by Michael Woodruff

The silky-flycatchers are a small family, They were formerly lumped with waxwings and hypocolius in the family Bombycillidae, The family is named for their silky plumage and their aerial flycatching techniques, although they are unrelated to the Old World flycatchers (Muscicapidae) and the tyrant flycatchers (Tyrannidae).
They occur mainly in Central America from Panama to Mexico. They are related to waxwings, and like that group have soft silky plumage, usually gray or pale yellow in color. All species, with the exception of the black-and-yellow phainoptila, have small crests.

Grey Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus) by Nikhil Devasar

Grey Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus) by Nikhil Devasar

The Grey Hypocolius or simply Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus) is a small passerine bird species. It is the sole member of the genus Hypocolius and it is placed in a family of its own, the Hypocoliidae. This slender and long tailed bird is found in the dry semi-desert region of northern Africa, Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and western India. They fly in flocks and forage mainly on fruits, migrating south in winter.

Palmchat (Dulus dominicus) ©WikiC

Palmchat (Dulus dominicus) ©WikiC

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. The Palmchat is the national bird of the Dominican Republic.

Kauai Oo (Moho braccatus) WikiC

Kauai Oo (Moho braccatus) WikiC

Mohoidae is a family of Hawaiian species of recently extinct, nectarivorous songbirds in the genera Moho (ʻŌʻōs) and Chaetoptila (Kioea). These now extinct birds form their own family, representing the only complete extinction of an entire avian family in modern times, when the disputed family Turnagridae is disregarded for being invalid.

Hylocitrea (Hylocitrea bonensis) ©Drawing WikiC

Hylocitrea (Hylocitrea bonensis) ©Drawing WikiC

The Hylocitrea (Hylocitrea bonensis), also known as the yellow-flanked whistler or olive-flanked whistler, is a species of bird that is endemic to montane forests on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Has traditionally been considered a member of the family Pachycephalidae, but recent genetic evidence suggests it should be placed in a monotypic subfamily of the family Bombycillidae, or even its own family, Hylocitreidae.

Fairy Flycatcher (Stenostira scita) ©WikiC

Fairy Flycatcher (Stenostira scita) ©WikiC

Stenostiridae, or the fairy flycatchers, are a family of small passerine birds proposed as a result of recent discoveries in molecular systematics. They are commonly referred to as stenostirid warblers. This new clade is named after the fairy flycatcher, a distinct species placed formerly in the Old World flycatchers. This is united with the “sylvioid flycatchers”: the genus Elminia (formerly placed in the Monarchinae) and the closely allied former Old World flycatcher genus Culicicapa, as well as one species formerly believed to be an aberrant fantail.

Eastern Nicator (Nicator gularis) ©WikiC Rainbirder

Eastern Nicator (Nicator gularis) ©WikiC Rainbirder

Nicator is a genus of songbird endemic to Africa. The genus contains three medium sized passerine birds. The name of the genus is derived from nikator, Greek for conqueror. Within the genus, the western and eastern nicators are considered to form a superspecies and are sometimes treated as the same species. The nicators occupy a wide range of forest and woodland habitats.

Bearded Reedling (Panurus biarmicus biarmicus) by Peter Ericsson male

Bearded Reedling (Panurus biarmicus biarmicus) by Peter Ericsson male

The bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus) is a small, reed-bed passerine bird. It is frequently known as the bearded tit, due to some similarities to the long-tailed tit, or the bearded parrotbill. The bearded reedling was placed with the parrotbills in the family Paradoxornithidae, after they were removed from the true tits in the family Paridae. However, according to more recent research, it is actually a unique songbird – no other living species seems to be particularly closely related to it. Thus, it seems that the monotypic family Panuridae must again be recognized. The bearded reedling is a species of temperate Europe and Asia.

(All data from Wikipedia)

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Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39 KJV)

Listen to Megan Fee (Violin) and Jill Foster (Piano) as they play and watch the Lord’s beautiful avian creations.

“Oh The Deep, Deep, Love of Jesus” ~ Megan and Jill during communion.

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More Sunday Inspirations

Bombycillidae – Waxwings Family
Ptiliogonatidae – Silky-flycatchers Family
Hypocoliidae – Hypocolius Family
Dulidae – Palmchat Family
Mohoidae – Oos Family
Hylocitreidae – Hypocolius Family
Stenostiridae – Fairy Flycatchers Family
Nicatoridae – Nicators Family
Panuridae – Bearded Reedling Family

Gideon

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Sunday Inspiration – From Mud to Beauty

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV)

After taking a break from the Song Birds, passerines, last week, we will continue presenting these lovely and interesting birds. So far, we have seen 54 families of the 125. Lord willing over the following weeks, the rest of them will be shown.

The families shown this week are some more of the Lord’s most interesting and colorful creations. Their beauty and variations are amazing.

The Australian Mudnesters are an ambitious family. As the family name implies, they construct their nest with mud, yet, they have different names. There are only two, the White-winged Chough and the Apostlebird.

White-winged Chough (Corcorax melanoramphos) in mud nest by Ian

White-winged Chough (Corcorax melanoramphos) in mud nest by Ian

Next are the two birds from the Melamampittas. The Lesser and Greater Melampitta.

Blue-capped Ifrita (Ifrita kowaldi) cc jerryoldenettle

Blue-capped Ifrita (Ifrita kowaldi) ©©jerryoldenettle

The Blue-capped Ifrita is the only member of the Ifritidae – Ifrita family. is a small insectivorous bird endemic to the rainforests of New Guinea. It measures up to 6.5 in/16.5 cm long and has yellowish brown plumage with a blue and black crown. The male has a white streak behind its eye, while the female’s is a dull yellow. It creeps on trunks and branches in search of insects.

Raggiana Bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea raggiana) at Lowry Park Zoo by Dan

Raggiana Bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea raggiana) by Dan

The Birds-of-paradise family has quite a reputation. The males put on quite a show while showing off for the female’s attention. The Paradisaeidae Family has 41 species. “The majority of species are found in New Guinea and its satellites, with a few in the Maluku Islands and eastern Australia. The members of this family are perhaps best known for the plumage of the males.” (Wikipedia) Not all the members are called Birds-of-paradise. There are Sicklebills, Parotias, Astrapia, Manucodes and a Paradise-crow also.

Because of their plumage/feathers several of their members are becoming endangered. We have seen them in zoos because of their protection and breeding programs.

And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: (Colossians 3:10 KJV)

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“I Heard The Voice of Jesus” ~ By Sean Fielder from Faith (His pet African Grey was in the room.)

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Check out this Video of the Paradisaeidae family.

Gideon

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Kagu

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Kagu ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 7/5/15

Well mission accomplie thanks to your moral and spiritual support, so here is the iconic Kagu of New Caledonia after a great trip there. We went to Rivière Bleue national park about 90min drive west of the capital Noumea, meeting our excellent guide Jean-Marc Meriot at the park entrance at 7:00am. He took us straight to a Kagu territory where we had a wonderful time with these strange and fascinating birds. They were bigger than I’d expected being 50-55cm/20-22in long.

Kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus) by Ian
The first one we saw was a very shy juvenile running away through the forest so Joy and I were a bit afraid that we might have difficulty getting decent photos. We needn’t have worried as we soon encountered a family party only too willing to join in the fun, though poor light in the rainforest was a bit of a problem. It had been very wet on the previous couple of days so it was very wet underfoot, or around beak and face perhaps if you’re a Kagu and probe in the earth for your food.

Adult Kagus have very long crests that droop down their back or over their wings. There’s some disagreement about differences between the sexes in the literature, but Guy Dutson in his Birds of Melanesia says that the females have fine barring on the upper wing. If that’s the case, the bird in the first photo would be a male and the one in the female in the second. Juveniles have barring too, but much more, which confuses the situation slightly.

Kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus) by IanKagus are flightless but still have fairly long wings used for balance when rushing around and in threat displays when they show the striking black, grey and white barring on the flight feathers. The best we could get out of them was a throaty hiss when we startled them and brief views of the wings when flapped in motion, but can you see the barring just showing in the bird in the second and third photos (same individual). The one in the third photo has just grabbed an earth worm. These form an important part of the diet when the soil is damp, but they also eat lots of other invertebrates and small vertebrates such as lizards and mice. Apparently they can consume the millipedes without ill effects that other birds avoid because of the noxious substances they exude.

Kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus) by Ian

Kagus form strong pair bonds that can last for years and vigorously defend territories of about 20 hectares or 50 acres in extent. They lay a single large egg in a rough nest on the ground and the young birds can stay in the parental territory for a year or two. Both adults share incubation and feeding of the young bird.

Kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus) by Ian

This family was so tame that eventually we gave up using our expensive Canon gear – the birds were often too close to focus with a telephoto lens – and resorted to our phones. Joy took the fourth photo of me taking the fifth photo with my iPhone and I was startled to discover that the quality was nearly as good as with the Canon and the iPhone performed better in poor light. Smart phones have come a long way. I even took some videos and I’ll share one with you in due course.

Kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus) by Ian

Kagus are rated as endangered, though recent conservation efforts have improved the situation. They suffer from predation by dogs, pigs and rats and Captain Cook started the rot in 1774 when he introduced dogs. They’ve also suffered from logging of rainforest and fragmentation of their habitat by clearing. The population reached a low of perhaps 600-700 birds in 1991 but has increased since and is thought to be about 1500 now as a result of predator control and captive breeding and reintroduction.

Kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus) by Ian

Conservation is helped by its iconic status and it is widely used as symbol of New Caledonia. Here it is on the 1000 French Pacific Franc note (about 12 AUD), which of course we called the Kagu. This image shows the threat display that we failed to see properly or photograph.

The bird to its left on the note is one of the Horned Parakeets and I’ll have more to say about them in the near future. In fact one of these nearly upstaged the Kagu as photographic bird of the trip and it was only a very delightful encounter with a Kagu family in a different national park on our last full day that restored the Kagu to #1 status. So I’m going to break with tradition and have the same species as bird of the week twice running so that I can give that final chance meeting due space. The Kagu was, after all, the main reason for our visit and I haven’t had time yet to touch on its very interesting taxonomy.

Greetings
Ian

**************************************************
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/
Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland: iTunesGoogle Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings, (Psalms 17:8 KJV)

Great photos as usual, Ian. We’re glad our prayers are helping you see more of the Lord’s great birds.

I had hoped to see a Kagu at either the Houston or San Diego Zoo on this last trip. Both places had their Kagus “off exhibit.” One of them was ill, but not sure why the other one was not being shown. At least Ian was able to find them, in the wild, which is actually better.

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A Pet Flamingo Named Mandy

A Pet Flamingo Named Mandy

by Emma Foster

Once there was a girl who owned a pet flamingo named Mandy. The girl’s name was Sarah and she lived in a big house with the rest of her family. One day her parents took her to a pet store across town where she saw a flamingo sitting in a bird-cage. Sarah was allowed to pick out one pet and she decided to pick out this flamingo. She named it Mandy. Mandy had one feather on her wing that was black and Sarah thought that was one of the reasons why Mandy was so special.

Today Mandy was sitting on Sarah’s father’s favorite recliner in the middle of the big family room. Mandy always loved sitting there because she had a good view out of one of the big windows. Sarah didn’t have any idea why she was sitting in the chair, but it was funny to see the cleaning lady come in with her duster and faint when she saw Mandy.

On this day the biggest window in the family room was wide open because it was a nice day outside and a small wind was blowing.

Chilean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis) ©Wiki

Mandy was sitting in Sarah’s father’s favorite recliner watching the sky when she saw birds fly by. Mandy decided to follow them and before Sarah could stop her, Mandy flew out of the window and out of sight. Sarah had never been sadder.

Sarah and her parents put up fliers around town looking for Mandy.

It was a week before Sarah passed by the zoo putting out fliers when she saw the flamingo exhibit. Inside the exhibit was Mandy! Sarah could tell because she had one black feather.

American Flamingos Many With Foot Up by Lee at Gatorland

Sarah was happy to see Mandy again, but she noticed that Mandy looked really happy with all the other flamingos. Sarah decided that Mandy should stay at the zoo with her new friends.

So, from then on, Sarah was sure to see Mandy the flamingo every day at the zoo.

The End


Lee’s Addition:

Thanks, Emma, for another bird tale. Mandy sounds like a nice pet, but sure she is enjoying being back with her friends. I could see why the cleaning lady would be shocked. Not many people have Flamingo as pets. But the Bible says:

For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:7-10 NKJV)

Check out Emma Foster’s other tales:

Kids, You Are Special
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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Great Crested Grebe

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

Newsletter ~ 6/20/15

I’m going to weave a tangled web of French connections around this bird of the week, but the first and most important is that in honour of Loïc, my great nephew and first child of my niece Jeannine and her husband Carlos who live in Strasbourg in Alsace. He was due today, but arrived safe and well four days early.

Clearly, a bird photographed in France was required but the choice was very limited: Carrion Crow, Common Coot or Great Crested Grebe. The latter was bird of the week in July 2007, so I toyed with the idea of Coot but, given that in the British Isles people say ‘you silly coot’ in the same tone that Australian say ‘you silly galah’ I decided that coot was better saved for a non-dedicated bird of the week.

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) by Ian

So here is an elegant grebe in non-breeding plumage in a park near where my niece lives in Strasbourg last October. She took my sister Gillian and I there to look for some White Storks that had been nesting there, but they had already left for the winter so the grebes and coots attracted my attention instead. If my sums are correct in working back from today’s date, little Loïc would have been with us too, though probably not much older than the egg in the nest in the second photo. This egg was probably freshly laid, as Great Crested Grebes usually lay 3 or 4 eggs. Maybe it arrived early too, as the parent is busy adding nesting material to the structure.

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) by IanThis nest was on Lake Alexandrina on the South Island of New Zealand, so it’s apparent that this species has a huge range extending from Ireland in the West and all the way through Eurasia to Australasia and in northern and southern Africa. It is however absent from the tropical regions of Africa and various tropical areas of Asia such as Indonesia.

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) by IanThe third photo shows one of the New Zealand birds in full breeding plumage with the elongated crest and head plumes that give it scientific (cristatus), English and French name Grèbe Huppé. I’ll come back to huppé later. The 2007 bird of the week photos were of some breeding birds in Portugal and here is another one from that series: proud parent with two gorgeous striped youngsters. As this posting is celebrating a new family, I’d like to think that the photo is prophetic and that Loïc can look forward to a lovely sibling in due course.

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) by IanGreat Crested Grebes mostly feed on fish, quite large ones at that, but this one Portugese one, fifth photo, has seized this hapless frog, whose expression seems a rather sad combination of pleading for help and accepting its fate.

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) by IanAnother French connection is that I’m on a flight to New Caledonia and had thought that I would be on French territory when Loïc arrived, but he decided not to wait but I will try and skype the happy trio from Noumea.

I mentioned a few weeks ago, that our primary target is the very special Kagu, a rare, crested pigeon-sized terrestrial species endemic to New Caledonia. It’s taxonomically special too, being the only member of its family (Rhynchochetidae) and belong to an order that has only one distant relative, the Sunbittern of South America (according to Birdlife International).

The Kagu is crested too, so it’s French name is – you’ve guessed it, go to the top of the class – Kagou huppé. Huppé is slang in French for upper crust, smart, posh which seems highly appropriate. So, as usual I’m relying on your spiritual and moral support to produce au autre oiseau huppé for the next bird of the week. Joy and I have booked a guide at Rivière Bleue National Park next Tuesday, its main breeding locality and pride and joy of the park.

Forty one minutes to go before we reach Noumea.
Greetings
Ian

**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Check the latest website updates:
http://www.birdway.com.au/#updates


Lee’s Addition:

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:26 NKJV)

That frog is in total shock. Yiiikess! He is thinking! What a great capture of all them, Ian. Thanks again for sharing these weekly birds of the week.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Galah

Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla) by Ian at Birdway
Ian’s Bird of the Week – Galah ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 6/6/15

I’m back home after cutting short the camping trip in Western Queensland owing to a foot problem which made both camping and walking difficult. The foot is responding well to treatment at home in preparation for the New Caledonian trip in two weeks time. So I didn’t return with lots photos of dry country species for you but I did get treated to a fine display by an extrovert male Galah who came along to distract me while I was putting up my tent in Hughenden.

He wasn’t the only distractor; the camp site know-all gave me a lecture on the order in which to assemble my tent. The Galah was more welcome and I encouraged him, unlike the human, verbally. You can imagine the conversation going a bit like this.
‘I’ve heard that you bring birds fame and fortune with your Bird of the Week email. Can I be your bird of the week?’

‘Sorry Galah was BotW in 2006 (below). I like to have a different species each time.’

‘Ah, pleeeease!!!’ (below)

Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla) by Ian at Birdway

‘Well, okay, we’ll see. But you’ll have to do something spectacular to make it worth my while.’

‘How about this? I’ll look cute and demented at the same time.’

Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla) by Ian at Birdway

‘Mmmmh. Not bad but the juvenile Galah did that in 2006 and simultaneously begged for food.’

‘I can hang upside-down and look at you at the same time without losing my grip.’

Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla) by Ian at Birdway

‘That’s better! Anything else?’

‘I can hang upside-down with just one claw, no safety net, raise my crest and nibble my other foot simultaneously without falling off.’

Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla) by Ian at Birdway

‘Now that’s impressive: you win. You can be the next bird of the week.’
‘Whoopee, thank you!!! Happy camping!’

Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla) by Ian at Birdway

At that point the camp-site know-all came along.

The Galah said: ‘Oh no! I’m out of here!’ and flew away. Despite their name, Galahs aren’t stupid.

Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla) by Ian at Birdway

Just in case you are wondering why I said the bird was a male, it’s all in the eyes. Males have dark brown irises, females have red ones as in the photo above taken on a different occasion at Pentland not that far from Hugenden. This is also the case in Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo.

Greetings

Ian
**************************************************
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/

Where to Find Birds in Northern QueenslandiTunesGoogle Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. (Psalms 111:2 KJV)

What a delightful newsletter. Sorry about your foot though, Ian. We will be praying that you heal quickly so you can make that next trip. Who knows what adventure you will come back to tell us about?

As many of my readers know, the Galah has become on of my favorite birds. Every since our encounter with the Galah at Brevard Zoo, when this photo was taken.

Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla) and Dan

Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla) and Dan

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Sunday Inspiration – Worthy

Tasmanian Thornbill (Acanthiza ewingii) by Ian 1

Tasmanian Thornbill (Acanthiza ewingii) by Ian

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” (Revelation 4:9-11 NKJV)

There really aren’t any birds named Easter or Cross, so I decided to continue on through the Passerine Order. Actually, some of the birds in one of these families are the “Thornbills” and that is appropriate. Enjoy the Lord Creator’s avian Creations as you listen to the words and realize just how Worthy He is of our praise and honor. Happy Easter!

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. (Revelation 5:9-12 KJV)

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“Worthy” ~ Faith Baptist Choir and Orchestra

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Dasyornithidae – Bristlebirds
Pardalotidae – Pardalote
Acanthizidae – Australasian Warblers
Pomatostomidae – Australasian Babblers
Sunday Inspirations

Previous Easter Blogs:

Happy Easter
He is Risen! Happy Easter
The Creator and His Love

What A Wonderful Savior
Sunday Inspiration – Palm Birds
Happy Easter – He Is Risen

Gospel Message

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Ian’s Bird of the Week ~ Pilotbird

Ian’s Bird of the Week ~ Pilotbird ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 3/31/15

The primary targets in East Gippsland were the Sooty and Masked Owls, but there were several daytime birds on the wanted list too. One of these was the Pilotbird, a smallish – 17cm/7in long – brown, ground-dwelling bird of the mountain ranges and dense coastal scrub of southeastern Australia from just south of Sydney almost to Melbourne. I’d seen one only once before, near Mittagong in New South Wales 16 years ago, but that encounter was only a glimpse and no photography was involved.

Pilotbird (Pycnoptilus floccosus) by Ian

It’s an unobtrusive bird and easy to overlook, unless you know its flutey, far-carrying call, sometimes rendered as ‘guinea-a-week’. My Victorian friends knew a good spot for it in coastal scrub and we found one there with relative ease, returning the following day (first photo) to get better photos. It rummages around in thick undergrowth looking for invertebrates. The second photo has a red dot showing the exactly location, beyond the sinuous brown branch, so you can appreciate that we are lucky to be able to see anything much of it in the photo. It has unusual buff dark-edged feathers on the breast, giving it a scaly appearance. The plumage is apparently dense and silky as reflected in its scientific name: Pycnoptilus means thick-feathered, and floccosus is derived from the Latin floccus and means ‘full of flocks of wool’, which, I must admit, left me not much the wiser.

Pilotbird (Pycnoptilus floccosus) by Ian

Pilotbird (Pycnoptilus floccosus) location by Ian

It’s common name Pilotbird arises from the bird frequently associating with Superb Lyrebirds, taking advantage of the digging habits of the latter (third photo) to snatch up revealed invertebrates. Some sources say the name Pilotbird comes from the similar habit of Pilotfish which associates with large marine predators such as sharks; other say that the Pilotbird by its call led early settlers looking for food to lyrebirds. I prefer the first explanation. Lyrebirds are very vocal in their own right and don’t need another species to advertise their presence. Lyrebirds are perhaps the world best mimics and are known to mimic Pilotbirds, and it would be easy to imagine that this attracted Pilotbirds in the first place and they then learned that this was an easy way to get dinner. We did in fact see several Superb Lyrebirds dashing across the roads of the forests where the owls lived, though the coastal scrub didn’t strike me as good lyrebird habitat.

Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae by Ian

This photo of the lyrebird digging vigorously reminded me both of Scrub-turkeys and Chowchillas (fourth photo) and I wondered whether the Pilotbird had a behavioural counterpart in the forests of Northeastern Queensland. The Pilotbird is usually placed in the Acanthizidae, the family of thornbills and their allies (though it shows some affinities with the bristlebirds Dasyornithidae), so I checked up on the Fernwren (fifth photo) another brown, rummaging Acanthizid endemic to the Wet Tropics.

Chowchilla (Orthonyx spaldingii  by Ian

Sure enough, HBW (Handbook of Birds of the World) reports that the Fernwren “sometimes associates with Orange-footed Scrubfowl (Megapodius reinwardt) and Chowchilla (Orthonyx spaldingii), following in close proximity and catching prey disturbed by their feeding actions”. The Orange-footed Scrubfowl is, of course, a cousin of the Brush-turkey.

Fernwren 9Oreoscopus gutturalis)  by Ian

So maybe this week’s bird of the week should be entitled ‘small brown rummaging birds of the forest floors of eastern Australia’.

Greetings
Ian

**************************************************
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/
Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland: iTunes; Google Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; (Psalms 31:3 ESV)

Teach me to do Your will; for You are my God; Your Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. (Psalms 143:10 MKJV)

What great protection colorations these birds have received from their Creator. I am sure when the birds of prey are in the area, rummaging types of birds are very thankful for their less colorful outfits.

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Sunday Inspiration – Honeyeaters

Bridled Honeyeater (Lichenostomus frenatus) by Ian

Bridled Honeyeater (Lichenostomus frenatus) by Ian

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalms 119:103 KJV)

The Meliphagidae – Honeyeaters are another of our beautifully created birds in the Passerine Order to highlight. Thought about changing the sequence because of Palm Sunday, but did Palm Birds previously with Lisa Brock singing from an Easter Musical. The Words of Christ that tell of this week, and they are sweeter than honey to those of us who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior.

The Lord did not have to stay on the cross, but because of His Love for us, he stayed there and paid the penalty for our sins. He offers us the gift of Salvation, but we have to admit and acknowledge our sinful condition, and accept that gift. Honey is a gift from the Lord for the Honeyeaters, and they could stand and look at it all day, but they need to partake of it to do them any good. Taste comes when they accept it.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:14-19 KJV)

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“Blood of Jesus Medley” ~ Faith Baptist Church Choir

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Meliphagidae – Honeyeaters
Sunday Inspiration
Beautiful Australian Birds 4 – Honeyeaters
Gospel Message

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Greater Sooty Owl

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Greater Sooty Owl ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 3/19/15

Here is the belated and sought-after bird of the week after a great trip to Victoria. I’ve been unwell since my return a week ago, but things are fine now and the wheels of my life are turning again.

Your spiritual support and goodwill have done it again, so it’s another mission accomplished, though in English this time (having been Catalan and Spanish in the past). Actually, most credit should go to my sharp-eared, sharp-eyed, knowledgeable and passionate birding friends. With their hard work, the track record for target species in East Gippsland during our stay was fantastic. We went searching for owls on each of the three nights. The first night, we heard both Greater Sooty and Masked Owls – and the sharpest-eyed of the group saw a Masked Owl in flight. On the second night, at a different site we heard another Sooty Owl and eventually caught sight of it flying among the tall trees of the forest. It then flew over us and perched on a dead limb in the open high above us.

STI-Tyto Greater Sooty Owl (Tyto tenebricosa) by Ian

I got only this photo, discarding a second out of focus one. For the technically minded, I used manual focussing – it was too distant and the light and contrast too faint for auto focus – and guessed an exposure of 1/80sec at f5.6 and 1600 ISO using the 100-400mm zoom. As the passionate/obsessive birder would understand, it was worth travelling to Victoria for this one photo and, having taken it, misión completa (I have liked it in Spanish since finding the Resplendent Quetzel in Costa Rica in 2010) I was free to relax and enjoy whatever other gems came our way. In fact, one such, this Yellow-bellied Glider. sailed over our heads and landed in a nearby tree while we were trying to locate the calling Sooty Owl.

Yellow-bellied Glider (Petaurus australis) by Ian

These are fantastic, long-tailed, wrist-winged relatives of possums (the Striped Possum of Northeastern Queensland is in the same family, the Petauridae) and the Yellow-bellied can glide up to 150m/400ft. It is rabbit-sized with a huge bushy tail that it presumably uses as a rudder in flight. They’re called wrist-winged, to distinguish them from elbow-winged like the Great Glider, and if you look carefully in the photo you can see the black edge of the membrane attaching to the little finger of the left hand. This proved to be diagnostic as we were unsure of both its identify and of whether the large possum-like animal on the tree was the same creature as the pale form that glided over us.

They are reasonably common in suitable old growth forest in eastern Australia, though the northern race regina has a very restricted range in northeastern Queensland and is threatened by logging. Quite coincidentally, I received a request yesterday to support a petition to prevent the transferring of Tumoulin Forest Reserve near Ravenshoe to State Forest so that logging can resume. The petition is aimed directly at protecting the Yellow-bellied Glider, and if you think, like I do, that downgrading the status of nature reserves is disgraceful, then we should support it: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/851/727/614/protect-rare-possum-habitat-from-senseless-logging/.

Later that evening, we returned to the Masked Owl site. We could hear one or two Masked Owls but they were wary, keeping their distance in the forest and moving away when spotlights were shone in their direction. We did, however, see one in flight and, having already photographed the Sooty Owl, I was satisfied with that, even though we did try again for photographs without success on the third night. We did, however, find this Sugar Glider, a small relative of the Yellow-bellied. It seemed to be keeping a low profile, very sensible given the presence of calling owls. Later still, we came across a juvenile Southern Boobook which flew up in front of us into a small tree beside the road. It didn’t dally for a photo, but that made it a three-owl evening which we all thought was special.

Sugar Glider (Petaurus briviceps) by Ian

I’ve barely mentioned Sooty Owls, as so much else happened that evening. There are two Australian forms: the Lesser Sooty in the wet tropics of northeastern Queensland and the Greater Sooty in eastern Australia from Eungella National Park near Mackay in Queensland to the Dandenong and Strzelecki Ranges in Victoria, both reasonably common in suitable habitat of wet, gully, forest but rarely seen. Another race, supposedly of the Greater Sooty, occurs throughout New Guinea. Currently the Lesser and Greater are treated as separate species by most authorities, though Christidis and Boles lumped them in 2008. Having one species with a disjoint range in New Guinea and eastern Australia and a closely-related separate one in between should make any student of biogeography laugh out loud, but that’s the way it is. Sooty Owls feed mainly on arboreal mammals, though they will take other prey such as birds.

Ian at work photographing Owl

Ian at work photographing Owl

On the following day we returned to the Sooty Owl site and here is a photograph of me photographing it, the red spot showing where the bird in the photo was perched. I was surprised at how far up it was and felt very fortunate to have got the one reasonable photo. This forest also produced for us Tawny Frogmouth, Australian Owlet-Nightjar, Brush-tailed Possums, a bandicoot, a wombat and Black or Swamp Wallabies leaving us in no doubt about the value of old growth forests (reminder http://www.thepetitionsite.com/851/727/614/protect-rare-possum-habitat-from-senseless-logging/).

A few people have requested location information about the owls, but I have been sworn to secrecy by my friends as they don’t want them being disturbed too much or subjected to tapes of owl calls. So please understand my reticence.

Greetings
Ian

**************************************************
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/
Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland: iTunesGoogle Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl; (Leviticus 11:17 NKJV)

What an adventure. Some birds just don’t want to be found. Thanks again, Ian, for sharing another trip with us. Glad you are feeling better.

Sooty Owls belong to the Tytonidae – Barn OIwls family which has 19 speciesIan’s Owls can be found at

http://birdway.com.au/tytonidae/index.htm and

http://birdway.com.au/strigidae/index.htm.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week

Ian’s Birdway 

Tytonidae – Barn Owl Family

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Budgerigar

PSI-Psit Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by Ian
Ian’s Bird of the Week – Budgerigar ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 3/3/15

Judging by the number of emails that I received about Pied Butcherbirds, iconic species are popular and there were many interesting stories about experiences with them. So here is another, perhaps globally the most familiar Australian bird. Although it’s quite common and sometimes very abundant after good rains in the drier parts of Australia, you have to go out of your way to find it. So it it’s much less well-known as a wild bird than say other iconic species like Australian Magpie and Laughing Kookaburras that turn up in backyards.

It wasn’t until after I moved to North Queensland in 2002 that I first saw them in the wild, and that was on a trip to Moorrinya National Park between Torrens Creek and Aramac, 370km southwest of Townsville. In places like that you usually see them in small flocks of maybe 10-20 in rapid undulating flight. These make sudden turns in the sunlight showing alternately green and yellow in a characteristic and delightful display of vivid, fluorescent colour.

PSI-Psit Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by Ian

The sexes can be distinguished either by differences in behaviour, sometimes subtle as in the first photo with an attentive male and a bored or playing hard to get female, or less subtly as in the second photo. Her the male is concentrating seriously, and the female is rather inscrutably either in a state of bliss or thinking of the motherland. An easier way though is by the colour of the cere – the tissue surrounding the nostrils – blue in adult males, and brown in females. Juveniles have duller plumages, barred foreheads and lack the black spots on the neck.

PSI-Psit Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by IanAfter good inland rains, the population can explode and Budgerigars may be seen in flocks of thousands. When dry conditions return and seeds become scare, flocks wander far and wide in search of food. They move into areas beyond their normal range and can turn up in coastal areas such as near Townsville. The birds in the third photo were near Woodstock just south of Townsville on the way to Charters Towers and I have seen them near Bluewater.

Sometimes escaped cage birds turn up in odd places in strange colours, such as this almost completely white one near the Strand in Townsville. I don’t know about you, but I prefer the natural colours. I was in Ireland once for a family funeral in February and was birding on Dun Laoghaire pier in Dublin Bay on a very cold, dull winter’s day, when I spotted a bright yellow budgie looking very out-of-place among some roosting waders. It was a moment of great empathy and I thought ‘you and I should be back in sunny Australia’.

PSI-Psit Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by IanI’m in Melbourne at the moment to visit East Gippsland next weekend with my Victorian birding pals who know of a good site for both Greater Sooty Owls and Masked Owls (both cousins of Barn Owls) near Orbost. I haven’t seen or photographed either of these, so may I request your customary friendly support and spiritual goodwill to help us find them? It would be lovely to be able to bring at least one of them to you as the next bird of the week.

Greetings
Ian

**************************************************
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 ian@birdway.com.au
Check the latest website updates:
http://www.birdway.com.au/#updates


Lee’s Addition:

Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. (Psalms 96:3 NKJV)

Ian is correct, at least for me. The Budgerigar or “Budgie” as I was taught, was one of the first bird names I ever knew. Almost everyone I have ever seen was in a cage or aviary. Few have been pets and one was sitting on someone glasses look down into their lens. But, to see them in the wild where they live would be a great experience.

Thanks, Ian, for again sharing your adventures with us. The most I have ever seen at one time has been at Lowry Park Zoo. I’ll also be praying that Ian finds those Greater Sooty Owls and Masked Owls so that he will share them with us on another Bird of the Week.

Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by Lee LPZ

Budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) by Lee LPZ

Ian’s Birds of the Week

Ian’s Budgerigar Photos

Ian’s Psittacidae Family

Psittacidae – Parrots Family

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