Ian’s Bird of the Moment – Island Thrush

When preparing editions of the Irregular Bird, I enjoy researching the natural history of the species in question. However, as anyone who goes on such a quest on the internet would know, this often proves to be a bit of a rabbit hole leading in unpredictable directions and taking up lots of time.

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Such was the case this time round as I had decided, given our current travel-free situation, to take us on a trip to Christmas Island with photos of about ten of the most interesting species. This led me down endless rabbit holes and the weeks ticked by. One of these that I found particularly interesting, biogeographically and taxonomically, was the Island Thrush and, unlike most of the others, it hasn’t featured previously as an Irregular Bird, or Bird of the Week as it was in 2006.
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This rather smart thrush is one of the typical thrushes comprising the genus Turdus, the members of which are widespread throughout Eurasia, Africa and the Americas and includes such well-known species as the Common Blackbird, the Song and Mistle Thrushes of Eurasia and the American Robin. The Island Thrush is about the same size as the Common Blackbird, to which it is closely related and is also a fine songster with a similar flutey song (listen to it here https://www.xeno-canto.org/204160).
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This particular subspecies erythropleurus (meaning red-sided, or literally red-ribbed) is endemic to Christmas Island and was originally described as a full species Turdus erythropleurus by Sharpe in 1887. Subsequently it was found to be a race of the Island Thrush which is widespread but local through Southeast Asia from Sumatra and the Philippines and tropical Australasia and Oceania as far east as Samoa. Christmas Island is indicated by the brown arrow on the map below.
Island_thrush_distribution.jpg
The first race of the species was described by Latham in 1801. He called it the Grey-headed Blackbird, Turdus poliocephalus (polios is Greek for grey). It occurred only on Norfolk Island (horizontal black arrow on the map) and is now extinct, while another ‘species’ the Vinous-tinted Blackbird Turdus vinitinctus, also now extinct, was described on Lord Howe Island (vertical black arrow). The Christmas Island race is the sole surviving one on Australia territory.
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You may be struck by the different plumages of the various races, so it isn’t surprising that they were originally treated as different species. The colour plate above was created by the Danish artist Henrik Gronvold, and published in this book, below, an appendix to the Birds of Australia, by Gregory Mathews in 1928. 
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In fact, all the various populations of the Island Thrush differ greatly from each other in appearance. Below, stolen from Guy Dutson’s Birds of Melanesia, are two other races, one completely black (efatensis on Efate, an island of Vanuatu) and the other with a white head (albifrons on Erromango, another island of Vanuatu). In some race, the sexes are similar, in others they are different and the plumages of the juveniles are quite variable too. In fact the Island Thrush’s main claim to fame is that it is globally the most variable species of bird with nearly 50 subspecies. DNA studies show that the subspecies  appear to be all closely related with one exception: the northernmost one on Taiwan, niveiceps, is considered a candidate for elevation to species rank.
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The variability and wide range of the Island Thrush is paradoxical from the point of view of biogeography. On the one hand, varability and divergent subspecies indicates isolation with a lack of genetic flow among populations, i.e. the birds don’t move between islands. On the other hand, the wide range suggests that the Island Thrush is or was very good at getting from one place to another. This apparent contradiction is another mystery waiting to be solved.
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John Gould also illustrated the Vinous-tinted Blackbird on Lord Howe. Like the Grey-headed nominate race of Norfolk Island, the sexes were similar so the browner bird in the plate presumably represents a juvenile. In the background are the two high mountains on Lord Howe, Mount LIdgbird (left) and the flat-topped Mount Gower. This species was quite common until a shipwreck introduced rats to the island in 1918 with fatal consequences for this ground-nesting bird.
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Here are the two mountains on Lord Howe in 2013, photographed from the other side of the island from the John Gould illustration. So, we did sort of do a trip even if we ended up on Lord Howe instead of Christmas Island. I will prepare the rest of the photos for a trip to Christmas Island and try not to get too diverted by avian rabbit holes.
 
Spending a lot of time in isolation has given me the opportunity to work on the website not only adding birds and mammals from the trip to Brazil and Chile last year (about 120 species at last count), but also digging up neglected photos of other wildlife from earlier trips. If you are interested in checking these out, you can do so via the thumbnails on the Recently Added Photos page: http://www.birdway.com.au/recent_additions.php.
 
Greetings and stay safe,
Ian

Ian Montgomery,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au

Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au

 

Lee’s Addition:

I am always grateful when I get the surprise Birds of the “Moment” from Ian. When he used to do the Bird of the Week, they were very regular. Now, I love being surprised by Ian. [He is becoming almost as “off-schedule” as I am.] At any rate, what a beautiful and neat looking Thrush. Thanks, Ian for sharing another avian wonder with us.

“Even the stork in the sky Knows her seasons; And the turtledove and the swift and the thrush Observe the time of their migration; But My people do not know The ordinance of the LORD.” (Jeremiah 8:7 NASB)

Birds of the Bible – Thrushes

Ian’s Birds of the Week/Moment

Laughing Is Good For The Soul

Kookaburra Lowry Park Zoo 12-31-15 by Lee

Laughing Kookaburra Lowry Park Zoo 12-31-15 by Lee

A friend sent me a message with a Kookaburra video. and was wondering if this is a Kookaburra. In response, I reminded her of these previous articles here. We all need to laugh and let off some of our pent up boredom, fustration, idleness, loneliness, or just Need A Good Laugh for our soul’s Well-being.

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. (Proverbs 15:13 KJV)

Meet Merlin, from the Orlando Sea World:

Here are some of the articles from the past with these good-natured birds:

Kookaburra – Chattery Birds With A Merry Heart – 2010

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Laughing Kookaburra -2011

Kookaburra Encounter – 2014

Tickle Me Tuesday Revived – Laughing Kookaburras – 2019

Kingfishers And Kookaburras – From Creation Moments – 2020

Kookaburra at Brevard Zoo by Dan

Laughing Kookabura Brevard Zoo

Laughing Kookabura Brevard Zoo

Lee and Kookaburra at Brevard Zoo by Dan

Have a great day, and may you keep a smile on your face and in your heart.

 

Ian’s Bird of the Whatever – Bare-faced Curassow

The Irregular Bird, formerly Bird of the Moment, formerly Bird of the Week, #600: Bare-faced Curassow
[This is how Ian titled his email. He is celebrating his 600 article. That is quite a milestone. Congratulations, Ian, Keep them coming. They are always so interesting.]
Bird number 600 after 18 years is a bit of a landmark, so here is something suitably celebratory: the best dressed award for the South American trip: the Bare-faced Curassow. They also win the worst named award as I have to think every time I write it so I don’t say ‘assed’ but that’s probably a reflection on me, not the species.
The most beautiful bird award went to the Hyacinth Macaw#592; the most interesting went to the Sunbittern#591; the most spectacular went to the Andean Condor#593; the most beautiful mammal award went predictably to the Jaguar which also featured briefly in #592; the most unusual mammal to the Armadillo;  the least elegant went to the Collared Peccary; the most amusing and ugliest went to the Capybara, and the most delightful to the Giant Otter; the most beautiful lizard went to the Green Iguana; and the most beautiful snake went to the Yellow Anaconda.
If you can think of any categories I’ve left out let me know and I’ll see what I can do in the next Irregular Bird. A former colleague of mine, the world expert on the different pelagic behaviour of right- and left-footed thongs/jandals/flipflops recently called it Bird of the Undefined Time, which I like very much and set me thinking, but I’m going to settle on The Irregular Bird.
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The Curassows also won the best hairstyle award so I’ll deal with that first. The male’s is all black, quite original in a dapper and restrained sort of way, very suitable for evening dress/tuxedo. The female couldn’t resist a two-tone look, also restrained and very dignified. I think the black curly tip on a white base is gorgeous and the little black fringe/bang is the perfect finishing touch. Both have the suitably haughty look of famous models and you might be surprised to find that this male is married to this female: it could be an interesting household with two prima donnas, even before any kids come along.
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Here’s the male in his dinner jacket/tuxedo on the way to the Rio Claro masked ball. He’s wearing a special yellow face mask which doesn’t cover his eyes. It’s partially for epidemiological reasons but fame is important to him and he wants everyone to recognised him and know that he too was invited to this special event. Very suave and practising his red carpet walk, but he doesn’t really need to as he naturally has the sort of elegant, pouty walk that is widely admired by on the cat-walk.
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The female is wearing a tan-coloured silk ball gown with a brownish black cape and train. Both of these are hand embroidered with stripes consisting of thousands of large pearls and diamonds. Consequently they’re rather heavy and she hopes she doesn’t trip or fall on the way and is secretly looking forward to discarding them with a flourish in front of the cameras of the paparazzi. She’s walking past the resort swimming pool on the way to the ballroom. Those of you familiar with Australian flora will recognised the trunk of the tree and the leaves on the ground as belonging to a rare species of Eucaplyptus specially imported at great expense from a boutique nursery in Humpty Doo, 40km from Darwin in the Northern Territory, a small town better known by ordinary folk for its barramundi (an over-rated freshwater fish with a wonderful name). The climate there is similar to that in the Pantanal, hot and dry for much of the year with a very wet wet season.
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Masked balls can lead to unexpected results and this mother Curassow is paying the price. She sadly remembers the party times well, don’t we all, but is quite fond of her two chicks. She’s pleased to have both a daughter (centre foreground) and a son, trying to hide under mother’s skirts in the background on the left. He is already sporting a yellow face mask like his dad, is developing a precocious crest and wearing a black waistcoat, unbuttoned to show off his tan. Curassows are vegans naturally, and these ones are looking for the seeds of some super-food they’ve been told about. They also visit salt-licks as they believe that it’s makes their plumage very lustrous. It also leads to high blood pressure but they are young and don’t worry about such matters.
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Bare-faced Curassows range through central Brazil, eastern Bolivia, most of Paraguay and northern Argentina. Like the rest of us they are regarded as Vulnerable, suffering from hunting by left-wing elements, and are extinct in Rio de Janeiro as they found the Carnival much too vulgar and moved to the provinces particularly the Pantanal in Mato Grosso, a well-known retreat for the rich and famous.
Like all news now whether official or on social media, subject this article to the scrutiny of your b*llsh*t meter.
Stay safe, practise acceptance (very difficult I know) and keep cheerful,
Ian
PS Here is the only prize winner that hasn’t yet made it to the website. I must rectify that today. They’re king of the Iguanas, very large to 2 metres long, perfect for social distancing, with a noble heritage having been described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758 during the reign of Louis XV and when the United States were still British colonies. Like Louis XIV and Bare-faced Curassows, they’re into extravagant balls. This one is lounging on a freshwater beach on a sunny day near the fashionable resort of Porto Jofre in the Southern Pantanal, improving its green tan.
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Ian Montgomery,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au

Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au

Lee’s Addition:

See my comments above, plus we have posted quite a few of those 600 articles here. Ian gave me permission years ago to use these newsletters. Thank, Ian. And for the great photos of birds you have shared with us.
“Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” (Genesis 8:17 NKJV)
“I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine.” (Psalms 50:11 NKJV)

Ian’s Bird of the Week, Moment, Whenever

Strange Kiwis from Creation Moments

North Island Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) ©Smithsonian Natl Zoo

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” Colossians 1:16

As a youngster, I remember once hearing that the England cricket team was getting ready to play a series of matches (a test series) against the Kiwis. Now, I had seen a kiwi in a zoo, so I was puzzled as to how this small, chicken-sized bird could play a ball game against grown men. Of course, in that context, the word kiwi was being used as a demonym for New Zealand people. This is because the five extant species of kiwi all live in New Zealand.

What a remarkable creature the kiwi is! At first sight, it appears to have no wings. Its tiny wings are so short, that they do not appear through the plumage. The kiwi has a long beak – except that it doesn’t, by official beak measurements! Birds’ beaks are usually measured from the nostrils to the tip, and the kiwi’s nostrils are, unusually, near the tip instead of being near the head, as with most birds. Although the kiwi is the size of a chicken, its eggs are six times as big as a chicken’s! In fact, the kiwi’s egg is the largest, in proportion to body size, of any bird in the world.

Why does the kiwi have so many odd behaviors? We cannot know for sure – maybe it had something to do with living in a place that had no mammals. But it looks like it was designed to behave exactly the way that it does by the God who made everything so well.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the wide variety of Your creation. Thank You that the world around us truly displays Your creative power. Amen. 

Author: Paul F. Taylor

Ref:  Flightless Birds, accessed 2/28/2019. Image: Public Domain.

© 2020 Creation Moments All rights reserved.


The article mentioned that there are five Kiwi species. Here are photos of them:

Southern Brown Kiwi (Apteryx australis) ©WikiC

Southern Brown Kiwi (Apteryx australis)

North Island Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) ©Smithsonian Natl Zoo

North Island Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli)

Okarito Kiwi (Apteryx rowi) Chick ©West_Coast_Wildlife_Centre

Okarito Kiwi (Apteryx rowi)

Little Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx owenii) ©Flickr Jim the Photo

Little Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx owenii)

Great Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx haastii) by Jeff©©

Great Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx haastii)

To find out more, see:

Apterygidae – Kiwis

Sunday Inspiration – Ostrich, Rhea, Cassowary, Emu & Kiwi

Birds That Can’t Fly – Creation Moments

Birds Are Wonderful: J, K, and L !

 

Ian’s Bird of the Moment – Greater Rhea

Back to South America this time for a flightless Ratite, the Greater Rhea (Birdway: Greater Rhea), a species I was very keen to photograph. Later we’ll consider the other southern continents in the context of the eclectic collection of species that make up the other (mostly) flightless Ratites such as the Ostrich and the Emu.

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The Greater Rhea, the largest and most widespread of the three Rhea species in South America, wasn’t numerous in the Pantanal and seemed to be confined mainly to the drier parts of the northern part. However, they weren’t hard to see and we usually saw them in pairs. They were much bigger than I’d expected, like smallish Emus. I’d seen a photo long ago of Rheas running through the pampas of Argentine at speed and appearing, I though then, closer to the size of bustards. Greater Rheas are 127-140cm/50-58in in length and weight 20-25kg/44-55lb, compared with Emus at 150-190cm and 30-55kg, and Australian Bustards at 90-120cm and 3-8kg.
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Considering they’re not closely related, I was surprised at how like Emus they looked, though with more delicate features and larger fluffier feathers, more like feather boas than the shaggy, old sheep fleece look of Emus (see the fourth photo). The Greater Rhea is quite widespread through central South America east of the Andes with a range comprising Brazil south of the Amazon Basin, eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and a big chunk of northern and eastern Argentina.
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There are two or three species of Rhea. In southern Argentina and neighbouring areas of eastern Chile, the Greater Rhea is replaced by the Lesser Rhea (Rhea pennata) 90-100cm and 15-25kg. Maybe the photo that I had seen long ago was, on second thoughts, of members of this species. The third candidate, the Puna Rhea (Rhea pennata tarapacensis or Rhea tarapacensis), is similar to the Lesser Rhea, also 90-100cm and 15-25kg, perhaps conspecific. It replaces the Lesser and Greater Rheas in northwestern Argentina, northeastern Chile, southwestern Bolivia and a small area of southeastern Peru. Both the Lesser and Puna Rheas have brown feathers on the back with white edges which give them an attractive scalloped appearance.
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Back in Australia, the Emu (Birdway: Emu) has a widespread distribution through mainly on the mainland. Only the mainland race survives, other forms, usually now considered races rather than full species, having been hunted to extinction since European settlement in Tasmania, King and Kangaroos Island. The mainland race has been successfully introduced to both Kangaroo Island and Maria Island off the east coast of Tasmania.
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Australia and New Guinea have three species of the rather different but related and also flightless Cassowary, with the Southern Cassowary (Birdway: Southern Cassowary) being the only one occurring in Australia.The Cassowary photo shows a watchful father taking his confident child for a walk along the beach as a change from the usual habitat of tropical rainforest in northern and northeastern Queensland. Interestingly in most species of Ratite, the males alone incubate the eggs and take care of the young, with the only exceptions being the Ostriches and some species of Kiwi, where the sexes share parental duties.
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The largest surviving Ratites are the Ostriches, Common and Somali, widespread throughout Africa and formerly also in Arabia, Syria and Iraq. The larger males can reach 2.75m/9ft in length and a hefty 156kg/344lb in weight. Common Ostriches are bred widely for their meat and plumage, and feral populations exist in South Australia and beyond their original range in southern Africa.
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Early theories of the evolution of these fairly similar species is that they evolved from a small flying ancestor on Gondwanaland that survived the Cretacious-Paleogene mass extinction about 66 million years ago and took advantage of the space left by the extinction of herbivorous dinosaurs by becoming large and flightless before the evolution of large mammalian predators. Parrots, incidentally, share a similar mainly southern distribution and appear to have originated in Gondwanaland, though their subsequent radiation through continental drift was naturally aided by being able to fly.
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Needless to say, the story is more complicated than that. Extinct giant members of the group included the Elephant bird of Madagascar and the Moas of New Zealand and there are early ratite-like fossils from the Northern Hemisphere. Existing members include the fowl-like Tinamous of Central and South America which can fly, if reluctantly. The name Ratite comes from the Latin ratis, meaning raft, referring to the flat, keel-less sternum of the flightless species but Tinamous have a keeled sternum. They were formerly excluded from the Ratites but recent genetic studies have confirmed their membership. A better skeletal feature is the unusual, perhaps primitive, palate shared by all of them, which gives the name Palaeognathae, or paleognaths meaning ‘old jaw’ in Greek to distinguish them from the other clade the Neognathae, ‘new jaw’, comprising all other extant species of birds.
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This “cladogram” shows the current understanding of the evolution of the Palaeognathae. The apparent close relationship between the Tinamous of South America and the Moas of New Zealand and the Kiwis of New Zealand and the Elephant birds of Madagascar is truly a biogeographers worst nightmare, worse than the unresolved mystery of the related flightless Kagu of New Caledonia (Birdway: Kagu) and the Sunbittern of South America (Birdway: Sunbittern), which we’ve considered before (Bird of the Moment #591). Other complications are the two- rather than three-toed feet of Ostriches and the dagger-like inside toe of Cassowaries.
One solution is to propose that flightlessness evolved in parallel perhaps five times in different parts of the world as this is easier to contemplate that the independent re-development of flight in Tinamous from a flightless ancestor. Loss of flight has occurred fairly readily in other groups such as the Dodo and flightless rails, particularly on islands without mammalian predators. Fossils of early flying paleognaths in North America and flightless ratites in Europe and the lack of early fossils in the southern hemisphere support a Laurian rather than Gondwanaland origin of the group. This would be similar to the Marsupials which reached Gondwanaland and thence Australia via South America leaving the American Marsupials such as the Opossums in their wake.
So, I’ll leave it with you. If you wish to pursue it, I suggest you study these excellent Wikipedia articles: Palaeognathae and Ratites, from which I got much of information here including the cladogram. I like the idea of unsolved mysteries offered by the natural world to put the all-seeing and all-knowing Homo sapiens in its place, maybe a subtle Gaia’s revenge.
Greetings
Ian


Ian Montgomery,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au

Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au

Lee’s Addition:

I enclosed all of Ian’s newsletter, BUT!! As my readers know, this blog is written from a Christian Perspective, and we include articles about birds from various authors. I am a Creationist and do not believe in evolution.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1 NKJV)
“Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.” (Genesis 1:20-23 NKJV)
So, these Ratites most likely developed along the lines that Ian described, which is why I am posting this. Yet, I disagree with the timeline. Most likely the flood greatly affected those first members of the families.
“Then God spoke to Noah, saying, “Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark.” (Genesis 8:15-19 NKJV)
Let the Word speak for itself, and realize that these birds did branch out as described, but minus the lengthy timeline. Ian did a great job of explaining all of the very interesting ratites.

World Bird Names Changes Version 10.1

Erckel’s Francolin (Pternistis erckelii) Now – Erckel’s Spurfowl ©WikiC

The I.O.C. updated their World Bird List to the 10.1 version and here are some of those changes. First are the Name changes:

One of the big English name updates seems to be the Francolins changing to Spurfowls.
PREVIOUS IOC LISTS SCIENTIFIC NAME – New IOC LIST V10.1
Mount Cameroon Francolin Pternistis camerunensis Now – Mount Cameroon Spurfowl
Handsome Francolin Pternistis nobilis Now – Handsome Spurfowl
Swierstra’s Francolin Pternistis swierstrai Now – Swierstra’s Spurfowl
Erckel’s Francolin Pternistis erckelii Now – Erckel’s Spurfowl
Djibouti Francolin Pternistis ochropectus Now – Djibouti Spurfowl
Chestnut-naped Francolin Pternistis castaneicollis Now – Chestnut-naped Spurfowl
Black-fronted Francolin Pternistis atrifrons Now – Black-fronted Spurfowl
Jackson’s Francolin Pternistis jacksoni Now – Jackson’s Spurfowl
Scaly Francolin Pternistis squamatus Now – Scaly Spurfowl
Ahanta Francolin Pternistis ahantensis Now – Ahanta Spurfowl
Grey-striped Francolin Pternistis griseostriatus Now – Grey-striped Spurfowl
Hildebrandt’s Francolin Pternistis hildebrandti Now – Hildebrandt’s Spurfowl
Heuglin’s Francolin Pternistis icterorhynchus Now – Heuglin’s Spurfowl
Double-spurred Francolin Pternistis bicalcaratus Now – Double-spurred Spurfowl
Harwood’s Francolin Pternistis harwoodi Now – Harwood’s Spurfowl
Clapperton’s Francolin Pternistis clappertoni Now – Clapperton’s Spurfowl

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus Now – Eurasian Whimbrel

Another change is with Melidectes becoming Honeyeaters.
Sooty Melidectes Melidectes fuscus Now – Sooty Honeyeater
Long-bearded Melidectes Melidectes princeps Now – Long-bearded Honeyeater
Short-bearded Melidectes Melidectes nouhuysi Now – Short-bearded Honeyeater
Gilliard’s Melidectes Melidectes whitemanensis Now – Gilliard’s Honeyeater

The rest of these changes:
Striated Prinia Prinia crinigera Now – Himalayan Prinia
Brown Prinia Prinia polychroa Now – Deignan’s Prinia
Red-winged Warbler Prinia erythroptera Now – Red-winged Prinia
Red-fronted Warbler Prinia rufifrons Now – Red-fronted Prinia
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica Now – Western Black-eared Wheatear


The group here are the  New Species that were added. The birds that have ADD AFTER were subspecies that were raised to species levels. The ADD NEW were new splits from the bird listed. There is one DELETE

ENGLISH NAME  SCIENTIFIC NAME CHANGE  CODE  LIST AFTER SPECIES

Hudsonian Whimbrel Numenius hudsonicus ADD AFTER (Eurasian) Whimbrel
West African Crested Tern Thalasseus albididorsalis – Split from Royal Tern, T. maximus. – ADD AFTER Lesser Crested Tern
Sunda Owlet Glaucidium sylvaticum – Split from Collared Owlet – ADD AFTER Collared Owlet
Maghreb Owl Strix mauritanica  – Split from and ADD AFTER Tawny Owl
Butterfly Coquette Lophornis verreauxii ADD AFTER Festive Coquette
Alor Myzomela Myzomela prawiradilagae ADD NEW  After Crimson-hooded Myzomela
Cryptic Honeyeater Microptilotis imitatrix ADD AFTER Graceful Honeyeater
Spectacled Flowerpecker Dicaeum dayakorum ADD NEW Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker
Swinhoe’s Prinia Prinia striata ADD AFTER Himalayan [Striated] Prinia
Burmese Prinia Prinia cooki ADD AFTER Deignan’s [Brown] Prinia
Annam Prinia Prinia rocki ADD AFTER Burmese Prinia
Numfor Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus maforensis ADD AFTER Island Leaf Warbler
Biak Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus misoriensis ADD AFTER Numfor Leaf Warbler
Deignan’s Babbler Stachyridopsis rodolphei  DELETE
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe melanoleuca ADD AFTER [Western] Black-eared Wheatear

Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica) ©WikiC


There is one more set of changes which I’ll cover in a later post. These are enough for you to have to change your picture names, if you do that. I’ve tried to do that over the years, but have missed a few here and there. :)

There are now:

  • 10,770 extant species and 158 extinct species of birds of the world (Version 10.1), with subspecies (20,005) and annotations.
  • Classification of 40 Orders, 250 Families, 2322 Genera

Thankfully, the Lord never changes:

“But He is unique, and who can make Him change? And whatever His soul desires, that He does. For He performs what is appointed for me, And many such things are with Him.
(Job 23:13-14 NKJV)

These were from the last IOC Update – Version 9.2

Who Paints The Leaves?

Ian’s Bird of the Moment – Spangled Drongo

For the New Year we had the hopeful Wise Owls. Well 2020 is less than three weeks old and it’s been a bumpy ride already in various parts of the world such as Australia and Iran. So the current bird of the moment is the Australian (Spangled) Drongo. Anyone familiar with Australian slang will know that Drongo is used in Australian English as a mild form of insult meaning “idiot” or “stupid fellow” (“stupid eejit” in Irish English). Very unfair to the birds you might think – Drongos are far from stupid – but in fact it is derived from an eponymous racehorse in the 1920s that never won a single race out of the 37 in which it ran. I’ll finish this post by nominating my human New Year Drongo.
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We’ll start with the birds. The Drongo family (Dicruridae Birdway) consist of single genus with 26 species in Africa south of the Sahara, tropical and sub-tropical Asia and Australasia. The Spangled Drongo is the only one occurring in Australia and its range includes New Guinea and the Moluccas of eastern Indonesia. In Australia it occurs mainly in coastal tropical and sub-tropical regions from the Kimberley in Western Australia, through the Top End of the Northern Territory to Queensland and eastern NSW. It is summer visitor in the southeastern Australia as far as Victoria and eastern South Australia, but breeds mainly north of 31ºS (Port Macquarie, NSW).
It is a fairly typical Drongo species, 30cm/12in long, with black plumage, an evil-looking red eye, a predatory beak, and a forked tail. Exceptions to the black plumage rule are the Ashy (Birdway) and White-bellied Drongo. The forked tail is mainly used for acrobatic flight – like Kites – in pursuit of aerial prey. Sex, of course, intervenes, and some species have evolved decorative tails for display such as the Racquet- and Ribbon-tailed ones.
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The “Spangled” refers to highly reflective pale spots on the breast but, rather like sparkling hummingbirds, are visible only when the light is at the right angle (e.g first photo) so birds often appear just black (second photo) with a greenish or bluish iridescence. Juvenile birds (third photo) have white patches on the breast and on the vent. This one is quite young and has a short tail and a “what am I supposed to do now?” expression.
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They’re loud and assertive birds, perching on prominent sites on the lookout for large insects which they pursue with great agility. From a birdwatcher’s point of view, they have a dark side appropriate to their appearance, and will feed on nestlings, like the unfortunate one in the fourth photo. There are a couple in my garden that regularly visit the birdbath and, although I admire their survival skills, I have mixed feelings about them.
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Their assertiveness extends to breeding and they’ll readily place their nests in obvious places such as this one on the separation bar of powerlines in a suburban street.  This one is grandly called Park Lane between Bayswater Road and Oxford Street in West End, a Townsville suburb named, I assume, using the London version of the Monopoly board. (I was brought up on the Dublin version and the equivalent of Park Lane was, I think, Shrewsbury Road at the dark blue most expensive end. The nest-building skills of Drongos are impressive.
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Anyway, enough about mere birds. My Drongo nomination reflects my frustration with the Australian Government’s refusal to do anything of substance about climate change not just in Madrid, but especially in the light – or heat – of the catastrophic bushfires in Australia. For once it seems that the media have not over-dramatised the situation, if anything they have failed to communicate adequately the true horror of what is happening. My award goes to Government back-bencher Craig Kelly for this extraordinary interview on Good Morning Britain on British TV. If you haven’t already watched it, please do; if it weren’t so serious it would be funny.
To end on a more positive note, after the Australian election last May, I made a moral rather than economic decision to install solar panels, on the basis that if the Government wasn’t going to do anything then it was up to individuals. The bushfires spurred me into action and I have just signed a contract for installation of a 6.6Kw system. It seemed pity to have a suitable, naked roof going to waste in one of the hottest and sunniest parts of Australia. This is what it’s supposed to look like, good Spangled Drongo habitat.
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The projections are that the system will generate 11MWh of electricity annually, replacing the equivalent of 3.4 tonnes of coal (allowing for the averages percentages of electricity generated by coal and natural gas in Australia, 73% and 13% respectively) which in turn is equivalent to saving the emission of between 9 and 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide. That’s nearly half the average per capital Australian annual emissions, an embarrassing 22-25 tonnes, so I should have done it ages ago.
Meanwhile, under that roof I’ve been steadily add photos of new species from the South American trip, more than 120 to date and you find links to most of them here: Birdway Additions. I’ve finished adding new bird species and am adding photos to ones that I’ve photographed elsewhere and other wildlife such as mammals: Birdway Wildlife. Needless to say the Jaguar is the star of the Mammalian show and I like this one of a female having a drink.
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I had a lovely New Year greeting from a recipient in Taiwan, and he, Li-Yi Chen, readily agree to my request to share it with you so here is a reduced version of it.
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You did of course recognise it immediately as a Black-faced Spoonbill, a rare species that winters in Taiwan. It’s the only one of the six species of Spoonbill (Birdway) that I haven’t photographed and he’s offered to show me them there so I’ve put Taiwan on my bucket list.
Enjoy the Drongo Photos and feel free to nominate your own New Year Drongo.
Ian

Lee’s Addition:

Ian seems quite concerned about several things, especially those fires down there in Australia. They brought many Koalas to Zoo Miami here in Florida.
We know that these fires and other disasters are terrible, but we also know that the Lord is in control and our world will continue.
“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22 KJV)
See more of Ian’s Articles
Also visit his site at Birdway

Kingfishers And Kookaburras – From Creation Moments

Genesis 1:20

“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.”

I remember watching a kingfisher, sitting on the branch of a tree, overlooking the pool beneath one of the waterfalls in Neath Valley in the heart of Wales. Its eyes were transfixed on the movements in the pool below. It was watching and waiting, and it had incredible patience. Then, it flew, diving down into the water, and emerging with a fish in its beak, back to the branch where it had previously been perched. It proceeded to beat the fish against the branch. Then it flew off to I know not where, along with its meal!

White-collared Kingfisher by Dan's Pix

White-collared Kingfisher by Dan’s Pix

This common kingfisher was distinctive – blue upperparts and orange underparts, along with its characteristic long bill. And it was doing what we expect kingfishers to do – catch fish! But not all kingfishers live on fish. One of the largest kingfishers – the kookaburra – lives in Australia and doesn’t tend to eat fish, preferring to eat mice and small reptiles, and even the young of other birds. The most well-known feature of the kookaburra is its characteristic laughing call.

Laughing Kookabura Brevard Zoo

Laughing Kookaburra and Dan at Brevard Zoo by Lee

There are over a hundred species of kingfisher, many of which have bright plumage and are among the most beautiful birds that you will see. So how many kingfishers would God have brought to Noah to take on the Ark, considering there are so many species? The answer is just two. One pair of kingfishers, into which God had placed genetic information for a wide variety of adaptations.

Prayer: Thank You again, Lord, for the beauty of Your creation, and the wisdom and variety that You put into it. Amen.

Author: Paul F. Taylor

Ref: Encylopaedia Britannica, < https://www.britannica.com/animal/kingfisher-bird >, accessed 1/29/2019. Image: CC BY-SA 4.0 International.

Kingfishers and Kookaburras Creation Moments Article

I Love those Kingfishers and Kookaburras. (Lee)

More Creation Moments articles:

Interesting Things

What is the Gospel?

Tickle Me Tuesday – Peekaboo and Einstein

Indian Ring Neck Parakeet

Indian Ring Neck Parakeet

Indian Ringneck Parrot

Occurred on March 12, 2019 / Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand “Oscar the two-year-old Indian Ringneck parrot playing peekaboo with the cat from across the street.”

“And He kept repeating, Do you not yet understand?” (Mark 8:21 AMP)

African Grey

Meet the Knoxville Zoo ‘s avian SUPERSTAR, Einstein. Come visit Einstein the African gray parrot at the Knoxville Zoo’s Bird Show, Knoxville, TN USA. [This was in 2008]

(African) Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus lenne) at Parrot Mountain by Lee

“He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” (Proverbs 17:9 KJV)

“Also when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward in full already. But when you pray, go into your [most] private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open. And when you pray, do not heap up phrases (multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over) as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking. [I Kings 18:25-29.] Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:5-8 AMP)

See other Tickle Me Tuesdays

Tickle Me Tuesday Revived – Laughing Kookaburras

2015’s Tickle Me Tuesday’s

Sharing The Gospel

Ian’s Bird of the Moment – Hyacinth Macaw

The Pantanal has two iconic species that all wildlife tourists want to see: the Hyacinth Macaw and the Jaguar. Both are spectacular in quite different ways and the Pantanal is the best place to see them. The Pantanal has many wonderful species of birds, but the Macaw is noteworthy as being perhaps the rarest and being now largely restricted in range to this area. Current population estimates are about 6,500 individual wild birds of which perhaps 5,000 are in the Pantanal.
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Like the Sunbittern, the Macaw was a must-see bird for us. In fact, it is no shrinking violet, if you’ll excuse the pun, being both the largest flying parrot and incredibly noisy. We saw our first ones on the first day, perched on the fence beside the road (the Transpantaneira) and they were present, with breeding sites, at all three lodges where we stayed. They’re up to a metre/39 inches in length and weight up to 1,700gms/60oz. Only the enigmatic Kakapo of New Zealand is heavier (up to 3,000g) but is, not surprisingly, flightless.
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Handbook of Birds of the World describes their voice as “Very loud croaking and screeching sounds including ‘kraaa’ and screeching ‘trara’ warning cry”: something of an understatement. The first four photos here were of a pair near Rio Claro lodge which first attracted my attention by the noise they were making, which reminded me of a very loud, traditional wooden football rattle. They clearly weren’t pleased to see me near what I assumed was their nesting tree, but the shape of their bills gives them a happy, welcoming appearance even if the calls and body language suggest otherwise.
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The Hyacinth Macaw lived up to its reputation. It’s a beautiful and fascinating bird. The plumage is a striking cobalt blue blending to more indigo on the upper surface of the wings, with the undersides of the flight feathers being dark grey.  The plumage contrasts wonderfully with the complementary chrome yellow bare skin on the head, an artistic touch suggestive of intelligent design. Unfortunately, its beauty makes it a popular cage bird which almost led to its demise, more about that shortly.
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They’re monogamous, normally maintaining the pair bond until the death of one partner, so they are often seen in pairs (second and fourth photos). They do not breed until they are about seven years old and have a life-span of perhaps thirty years. In the Pantanal they nest in hollows in trees, usually the Panama Tree (Sterculia apetala).  This is a soft-timbered member of the Mallow family (Malvaceae) prone to the formation of hollows from termites, fungi and woodpeckers. The Macaws don’t initiate but enlarge existing hollows as nesting sites, and often use the same site in consecutive years. They will also use the stumps of palm trees and in northeastern Brazil they also nest on cliffs.
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Typically they lay two eggs, but usually at most one young survives to fledging. The eggs and young are particularly vulnerable to predation by reptiles, birds and mammals because of the large size of the hollow and its entrance. Hyacinth Macaws are difficult to breed and rear in captivity for a variety of reasons including the specialised dietary requirements of both young and adult birds.
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In the Pantanal, the birds feed mainly on the nuts of two species of palm tree, the Acuri Palm (Scheelea phalerata) above and the Bocaiúva (Acrocomia aculeata). The Acuri fruits all year long and is the main source of food, while the Bocaiúva nuts ripen between September and December, coinciding with the peak period of hatching of the chicks.
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The nutcracker bill of Macaws are similar to those of Cockatoos, with a strong slender upper mandible aligning with a groove in the lower mandible and both can crack hard nuts with ease. The two groups are not closely related so the structures have evolved [were created] independently. Cockatoos are a purely Australasian family (Cacatuidae) while the Macaws belong to several, genera of South American Parrots (family Psittacidae, sensu stricto, or sub-family Arinae, depending on the taxonomic authority).
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The popularity of Hyacinth Macaws as cage birds almost led to their extinction in the wild in the 1980s. In this decade, perhaps 10,000 birds were trapped leaving only about 3,000 in total. The population also suffered from habitat destruction and removal of the trees on which they depend. Happily in 1990, the Hyacinth Macaw Project was started by the biologist Neives Guedes and has resulted in a tripling of the population to 5,000 in the Pantanal. You can read about it here World Wildlife Fund Brazil or download this pdf Hyacinth Macaw Project. There are, however, other populations in Brazil which have declined from a total of 1,500 birds to 1,000 in the same period, so the species is still listed as Vulnerable (2014), an improvement on its Endangered status in 2000.
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Ecotourism in the Pantanal has played its part too because of its economic importance and the other major icon, the Jaguar, has benefitted also. Boat trips from Porto Jofre in search of Jaguars is big business these days and some of the local jaguars have become quite habituated to throngs of boats and allow approach to within ten metres or so. We saw our first Jaguar crossing the road at Pixaim on our way to the Jaguar Lodge and subsequently spent two full days on boat trips when we saw another four, some of which we watched for long periods at close quarters. The one in the photo is a female which has  just emerged from hunting in the river and her fur is still wet. She is lactating, so we can suppose that she has some cubs hidden in the forest.
I’ve been steadily adding Brazilian and Chilean bird photos to the website at the rate of about one per day. If your interested in viewing them, start at the Recent Additions page which has thumbnail links to each of the species.
Greetings
Ian

Lee’s Addition:

Ian’s comment, “Current population estimates are about 6,500 individual wild birds of which perhaps 5,000 are in the Pantanal.” makes one want to hop on a plane and visit that area. Wow. Your “Bird List” would grow immensely.I am alway glad when Ian stops by to show some more of his birdwatching adventures. Those Hyacinth Macaws are so neat to see. We have only seen them in Zoos, but always thankful to see more of the Creator’s magnificent birds.

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31 KJV)
“For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:” (James 3:7 KJV)
Macaws are definitely “tameable.”

Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) Cincinnati Zoo 9-5-13 by Lee

Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) by Lee

Ian’s Bird of the Week

In Our Place

Wow!! Two Million And Counting!!

Snowy Egret Viera Wetlands – 12-31-2018 by Lee

“Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, O LORD, And I will sing praises to Your name.” (Psalms 18:49 NASB)

Thank You!!, Thank You!! again for all visits and views of this blog. Last night (Oct 31, 2019) sometime the counter flipped over the Two Million mark on the visitor counter on the left side of the blog.

2 Million Views

2 Million Views

Here’s a closer view:

Close-up of Two Million Views

Close-up of Two Million Views

On October 20th in 2013, we hit the One Million Mark. See:

Thank You – One Million And Counting!

Now, here we are just a tad over 6 years to the two million mark. Who ever thought that we would still be blogging after all these years. We have now been using WordPress for over 11 years, and the blog is almost 12 years old. It was begun in February 2008, but when it was moved to WordPress the counter was reset.

I am so thankful to the Lord for letting this blog be used to present His beautifully Created birds. Also, without you readers, it would not have been successful. Thank You for every visit, pages viewed, and the many comments. Those comments have come many times when I was thinking of quitting and giving up. But, just when I needed a little extra encouragement, along came a comment that was perfectly timed to keep me going.

Red-crested Turaco at Brevard Zoo by Lee

After these many years, we have met so many people from around the world, and many have become personal friends. [At least I consider you personal friends.]

Also, those that write for the blog have made great contributions: James J.S. Johnson. or Dr. Jim, as I call him; Emma Foster and her Emma’s Stories, have been two of the newest writers used during this six year span. Also, Golden Eagle drops by occasionally. Our Ian Montgomery has provide numerous post from his birding adventures.

“God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” (Genesis 1:21-22 NASB)

Thank you, Lord, for giving us so many birds to learn and write about. Thank you, readers, for every visit to this blog. I trust that the Lord will allow me the wisdom, strength, and curiosity about the Avian Wonders from His Hand to keep writing about them.

Stay Tuned!

Feeding White Ibises at Lake Morton, by Lee [Dr. J.J.S. Johnson, Baron, and Dan]

Birds of the Bible – Deuteronomy 14:16-18 III (WYC)

Framed Purple Gallinule by Dan

Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinica) by Dan

“16 a falcon, and a swan, and a ciconia,
17 and a dipper, a porphyrio, and a rearmouse, a cormorant,
18 and a calidris, all in their kind; also a lapwing and a bat.” Deuteronomy 14:16-18 Wycliffe Bible (WYC)

Now here is an interesting interpretation of these 3 verses. We are going to look at these verse in a few blogs. Normally, these verses would read something similar to this:

Deuteronomy 14:16-18 KJV
(16)  The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan,
(17)  And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant,
(18)  And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.

Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) ©WikiC

Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) ©WikiC

or like this:

Deuteronomy 14:16-18 NKJV
(16)  the little owl, the screech owl, the white owl,
(17)  the jackdaw, the carrion vulture, the fisher owl,
(18)  the stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe and the bat.

Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) by Bob-Nan

Or maybe the New American Standard’s Version:

Deuteronomy 14:16-18 NASB
(16) the little owl, the great owl, the white owl,
(17) the pelican, the carrion vulture, the cormorant,
(18) the stork, and the heron in their kinds, and the hoopoe and the bat.

Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) ©WikiC parent and chick

In the first post about the Wycliffe translation, the Dipper was mentioned. Part II was about the Circonia or Stork. Now, let’s look at the third bird – Part III in these verses from the Wycliffe’s

“The Porphyrio is the swamphen or swamp hen bird genus in the rail family. It includes some smaller species which are usually called “purple gallinules”, and which are sometimes separated as genus Porphyrula or united with the gallinules proper (or “moorhens”) in Gallinula. The Porphyrio gallinules are distributed in the warmer regions of the world.”

“The genus Porphyrio was introduced by the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760 with the western swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) as the type species. The genus name Porphyrio is the Latin name for “swamphen”, meaning “purple”.

Another point about this name Porphyrio that the name used for the Order and the Family use a similar name:

Check out a previous article in more depth about these birds: Name Study of the Swamphen or Waterhen

This version, Wycliffe, was taken from Bible Gateways site.

Birds of the Bible

Wordless Birds