Ian’s Bird of the Week – Trumpet Manucode ~ by Ian Montgomery
Newsletter ~ 9/6/11
I’m back home now after the 2 week trip to Cape York and happy to be able to provide the hoped-for Bird of Paradise, the Trumpet Manucode, as bird of the week. Your collective moral/spiritual support clearly worked again, as it did with Snowy Owl in Alaska 3 years ago and Resplendent Quetzal in Costa Rica last year, so thank you very much. A bit of persistence probably helped too as Trumpet Manucodes are easy to hear but notoriously difficult to see, and this was my third visit to Iron Range/Lockhart River without getting more than distance glimpses in the thick foliage of the rainforest.
The first photo shows the crest and neck plumes that are erected in an apparently spectacular display. Although the males were calling, the breeding season doesn’t start until October so I didn’t see any display, though in the second photo the crest plumes are erect as the bird reaches for a fig.
Manucodes are 28-32cm/11-13in in length and the sexes are similar, though the females have duller plumage and orange rather than red eyes. This very tall tree, one of few that I found in fruit, was popular with other fruit-eaters such as Yellow Orioles, Barred Cuckoo-shrikes and Metallic Starlings. The Manucode seemed to have a rather proprietorial attitude to it and would sweep in majestically, making the other birds scatter.
Trumpet Manucodes have a long curved windpipe under the skin of the breast, which gives a wonderfully resonant quality to its trumpet call, rendered as ‘growng’ which carries a long way and can be attributed a mocking quality when you can’t find the bird! Their other main call is a gurgling ‘owwgk’ made when inhaling through the windpipe.
The Trumpet Manucode also occurs in New Guinea, where there are 4 other species of Manucode, most of which are illustrated here: http://australianmuseum.net.au/William-T-Coopers-Birds-of-Paradise?page=2&assetID= . The name Manucode is derived from the Malay ‘manuk dewata’ meaning “bird of the gods” so a parallel with the divine nature of the Resplendent Quetzal is easy to draw.
The rest of the trip went smoothly and I also got photos of the other species on my short list – Tropical Scrubwren, Green-backed and White-streaked Honeyeaters – and a few others besides, which I’ll be sharing with you in the coming weeks.
I am glad our thoughts and prayers worked and helped you stay persistent. Those of us that remember you also have selfish motives. We thoroughly enjoy getting to see your great finds. Sounds like a “win-win” situation.
The Manucode, as Ian mentioned is in the Bird-of-Paradise family. That Family, the Paradisaeidae, has 41 species in 16 genera. There are 5 Manucodes; the Trumpet (Ian’s), Glossy-mantled, Jobi, Crinkle-collard and the Curl-crested Manucode. Riflebirds are also part of the family and Ian has photos of the Magnificent, Victoria’s and Paradise Riflebirds on his site.