Ian’s Bird of the Week – Christmas Island White-eye

Christmas Island White-eye (Zosterops natalis) by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the World – Christmas Island White-eye ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 12/23/14

Here is a Christmas Island endemic to celebrate the festive season appropriately. It’s not the most spectacular bird but all the other birds with ‘Christmas’ in the name that I’ve photographed have already featured as bird of the week.
Happily, it’s quite partial to posing beside spectacular flowers, first and third photos and its endemic status gives it special significance. The first two photos were taken at the Christmas Island Resort on the eastern side of the island, – that’s Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, not Christmas Island (Kirimati part of Kiribati) in the Pacific. The resort used to be a casino for Indonesian high-rollers, opened by an enterprising entrepreneur in 1993 following the closure in 1981 of the three licensed Indonesian casinos in Jakarta, a mere one hour away by private jet. It closed in 1998, a victim of the Asian financial crisis and was empty when we visited it in 2006. It has recently reopened as an ordinary resort, promoting more socially acceptable activities such as honeymoons and bird watching.

The White-eye is quite abundant on the island. The third photo was taken in the grounds of Government House, where the Governor used to live. It was also empty in 2006, the Administrator choosing to live in more democratic surroundings. Government House is just across the bay from Flying Fish Cove and it is good for bird watching. If I were Administrator, I would prefer to live there. There is supposed to be a small population persisting in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, introduced between 1885 and 1900, but there is disagreement between Handbook of Birds of the World and BirdLife International as to where it survives (Horsburgh Island or around the settlement on West Island, respectively).

Anyway, below is my best wishes for Christmas and New Year. I’m avoiding ‘Merry’ as it suggests drunkeness and ‘Prosperous’  as it seems a bit greedy, so interpret the message how it accords best with you.

I think the bird on the left is a Grey Heron as it has a crest and the one on the right a White Stork  a well-loved bird in Strasbourg. We did go looking for them in a park in early October where they occur, but they had already left for the winter and we had to wait until we got to the Pyrenees before we caught up with any:

Greetings
Ian
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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:

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV)

This was a pleasant surprise article from Ian. Wasn’t expecting one so soon. How appropriate though. I especially love that first picture.

White-eyes are members of the Zosteropidae – White-eyes Family. There are 128 species that make up the family, of which 96 are White-eyes.

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Some Christmas Birds (Re-posted)

Christmas White-eye (Zosterops natalis) by Ian

Christmas White-eye (Zosterops natalis) by Ian

Luke 2:15-20 KJV

(15) And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

(16) And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

(17) And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

(18) And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

(19) But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

(20) And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Flag of Christmas Island

Flag of Christmas Island©WikiC

While searching to find birds to write about with a Christmas theme, I came across the Territory of Christmas Island which belongs to Australia. It is in the Indian Ocean and only has a population of 1,403 residents who live in a number of “settlement areas” on the northern tip of the island.

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Abbott's Booby (Papasula abbotti) by Ian

Abbott’s Booby (Papasula abbotti) by Ian

The island’s geographic isolation and history of minimal human disturbance has led to a high level of endemism (or state of being unique to a defined geographic location, such as an island, nation or other defined zone, or habitat type, and found only there) among its flora and fauna, which is of significant interest to scientists and naturalists. 63% of its 135 square kilometres (52 sq mi) is an Australian national park. There exist large areas of primary monsoonal forest.

Christmas Frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi) by Ian

Christmas Frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi) by Ian

Christmas Island is a focal point for sea birds of various species. Eight species or subspecies of sea birds nest on the island. The most numerous is the Red-footed Booby that nests in colonies, in trees, on many parts of the shore terrace. The widespread Brown Booby nests on the ground near the edge of the seacliff and inland cliffs. Abbott’s Booby nests on tall emergent trees of the western, northern and southern plateau rainforest. The Christmas Island forest is the only nesting habitat of the Abbott’s Booby left in the world. The endemic Christmas Island Frigatebird (listed as endangered) has nesting areas on the north-eastern shore terraces and the more widespread Great Frigatebirds nest in semi-deciduous trees on the shore terrace with the greatest concentrations being in the North West and South Point areas. The Common Noddy and two species of bosuns or tropicbirds, with their brilliant gold or silver plumage and distinctive streamer tail feathers, also nest on the island.

Christmas Imperial Pigeon (Ducula whartoni) by Ian Montgomery

Christmas Imperial Pigeon (Ducula whartoni) by Ian Montgomery

Of the ten native land birds and shorebirds, seven are endemic species or subspecies. This includes the Christmas Island Thrush, and the Christmas Island Imperial Pigeon. Some 86 migrant bird species have been recorded as visitors to the Island.

Christmas Boobook (Ninox natalis) by Ian

Christmas Boobook (Ninox natalis) by Ian

The list of birds from the I.O.C., which I use, lists five birds starting with Christmas. The Christmas Boobook (or Christmas Island Hawk-Owl), Christmas Frigatebird, Christmas Imperial Pigeon, Christmas Shearwater, and the Christmas White-eye.

Christmas Shearwater (Puffinus nativitatis) ©WikiC

Christmas Shearwater (Puffinus nativitatis) ©WikiC

Red-footed Booby (Sula sula) by Bob-Nan

Red-footed Booby (Sula sula) by Bob-Nan

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Some information from Wikipedia and other internet sources.

See Also:

Christmas Island – Wikipedia

(This was originally posted Christmas time 2010.)

(Starting the 17th, there is a series of Christmas Birds coming.)

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