Ian’s Bird of the Week – (Pale-vented) Bush-hen

Pale-vented Bush-hen (Amaurornis moluccana) by Ian

Pale-vented Bush-hen (Amaurornis moluccana) by Ian

Ian’s Newsletter 02-24-2009

Pale-vented Bush-hen (Amaurornis moluccana) by Ian

Pale-vented Bush-hen (Amaurornis moluccana) by Ian

Last week, when discussing Kittiwakes and red legs, I referred obliquely to a common phenomenon in birding when having finally seen what I wanted (red legs) I saw lots of them. Serious birders call these bogey birds, where serious means passionate (oneself) or obsessed (someone else) and bogey means an evil spirit, or species, that leads you on a lengthy wild goose chase. The chase ends when a careless bird breaks the taboo by letting you see it and then, miraculously, the veil is lifted from your eyes and they appear everywhere.

Probably the two most challenging bogey birds in North Queensland, worse than Cassowaries, are unsurprisingly crakes: the (Pale-vented – a la Christidis & Boles, 2008) Bush-hen and the Red-necked Crake. I’d spent 6 years up here before I briefly spotted a startled Bush-hen from a speeding car (I wasn’t driving) and, after 7 years, I still haven’t had a proper view of a Red-necked Crake.

Pale-vented Bush-hen (Amaurornis moluccana) by Ian

Pale-vented Bush-hen (Amaurornis moluccana) by Ian

Typically, two weeks after seeing the Bush-hen (this time last year) a family of them appeared in my back yard, visible from the back verandah. Last Thursday, I was working on the website in the study, and went to make a cup of coffee when I spotted a Bush-hen in full view on the edge of the swimming pool. Unfortunately, the bird saw me move inside the house to get the camera and all I could manage was a shot of a nervous bird sneaking away through the vegetation. I left the camera and tripod set up in the house, just in case, and the bird reappeared a couple of hours later. It had a drink on the left hand side of the pool (photo no. 1) flew across the pool to a shallow spot for a swim (no. 2) and then spent about 10 minutes preening on a rock (no. 3). The bird came back again for another session on Saturday.
Both the days in question were sunny and very hot (33ºC/91ºF) and it was the middle of the day. The field guide says ” . . . secretive . . .emerges on overcast mornings, evenings . . .”, I like to imagine that they’re nesting again and the pool becomes irresistible during a tiresome day incubating eggs.

Back at the website, revised galleries include:
Falcons (http://www.birdway.com.au/falconidae/index.htm)
New World Vultures (http://www.birdway.com.au/cathartidae/index.htm)
Rails and Allies (http://www.birdway.com.au/rallidae/index.htm)
New World Flycatchers (http://www.birdway.com.au/tyrannidae/index.htm)
Cotingas (http://www.birdway.com.au/cotingidae/index.htm).

Best wishes,

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au

Lee’s Addition:


For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes. (Jeremiah 31:25 NASB)

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