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.
bare_faced_curassow_202135_pp.jpg
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.
green_iguana_205307-pp.jpg


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.

greater_rhea_203433_pp.jpg
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.
greater_rhea_203432_pp.jpg
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.
greater_rhea_202081_pp.jpg
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.
emu_158127_pp.jpg
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.
southern_cassowary_155630_pp.jpg
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.
common_ostrich_165277_pp.jpg
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.
paleognath_cladogram.png
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.
spangled_drongo_60617_pp.jpg
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.
spangled_drongo_07079_pp.jpg
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.
spangled_drongo_106315_pp.jpg
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.
spangled_drongo_01542_pp.jpg
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.
spangled_drongo_200050_pp.jpg
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.
roof_of_house.jpg
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.
jaguar_204021-pp.jpg
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.
black_faced_spoonbill.jpg
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