Sunday Inspiration – Monarchs

Black-faced Monarch (Monarcha melanopsis) by Ian

Black-faced Monarch (Monarcha melanopsis) by Ian

This Sunday we introduce you to the Monarchidae – Monarchs Family. This family of Passerines (songbirds) has 99 members that inhabit forest or woodland across sub-Saharan Africa, south-east Asia, Australasia and a number of Pacific islands. Only a few species migrate. Many species decorate their cup-shaped nests with lichen. Monarchids are small insectivorous songbirds with long tails.

The family is about equally divided between Monarchs and Flycatchers with a few other birds sprinkled in. Those other birds are Elepaio, Shrikebill, Magpie-lark and Torrent-lark. There are not many photos available to use, but if you click the different links on the Monarchidae – Monarchs Family page, you will taken to other sites to view those birds.

Pale-blue Monarch (Hypothymis puella) Female on nest ©WikiC

Pale-blue Monarch (Hypothymis puella) Female on nest ©WikiC

The monarch flycatchers are generally monogamous, with the pair bonds ranging from just a single season (as in the African paradise flycatcher) to life (the Elepaio). Only three species are known to engage in cooperative breeding; but many species are as yet unstudied. They are generally territorial, defending territories that are around 2 ha in size, but a few species may cluster their nesting sites closely together. The nests are in turn often aggressively defended by monarch flycatchers. In all species the nest is an open cup on a branch, fork or twig. In some species the nests can be highly conspicuous.

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Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 KJV)


“He’s Looking on You” ~ by Dr. Richard Gregory

Jesus more than qualifies to be The Monarch and is Rightfully sitting on the Throne of God. There He is “looking on us.”

A monarch is the sovereign head of state in a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the most and highest authority in the state or others may wield that power on behalf of the monarch. Typically a monarch either personally inherits the lawful right to exercise the state’s sovereign rights (often referred to as the throne or the crown) or is selected by an established process from a family or cohort eligible to provide the nation’s monarch. (Wikipedia)

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Frill-necked Monarch

Frill-necked Monarch (Arses lorealis) by Ian

Frill-necked Monarch (Arses lorealis) by Ian

Newsletter – 12/16/2009

Frill-necked Monarch (Arses lorealis) by Ian

Frill-necked Monarch (Arses lorealis) by Ian

On our recent trip to Cape York Peninsula, we came across several Frill(-neck)ed Monarchs in the Lockhart River – Iron Range district. This is quite similar to the Pied Monarch of the wet tropics of northeastern Queensland, but lacks the black breast band and has a more extensive frill and broader blue eye-rings. I’ve qualified the name as the original Frilled Monarch of northern Cape York Peninsula, Torres Strait and Papua New Guinea (Arses telescopthalmus) has recently been split into the Frilled Monarch of Torres Strait and PNG and the new Frill-necked Monarch (Arses lorealis) of northern Cape York Peninsula.

The bird in the first photo is a male, distinguishable by having black lores and a black bib, or maybe goatee would be more appropriate. It’s doing something with either the white honeydew on the flower stalk or the insects (aphids or scale insects) responsible for the honeydew. More about the ‘something’ in a moment.

Earlier the same day, another Frill-necked Monarch carrying nesting material revealed the location of her nest, hanging, hammock- or swing-like, from a long vine over a creek, a typical location thought to discourage predation by animals such as arboreal snakes. This bird stayed in the nest for a few minutes, left and then, I thought, returned. It was only later, when examining the photos that it I realised that the second bird was her mate. If you look carefully, you can see the white chin (and maybe the pale lores) of the female in the second photo and the black goatee and lores of the male in the third photo.

Frill-necked Monarch

Frill-necked Monarch

The fourth photo was intended to show how precariously the nest was built at the end of at least 3 metres of vine, and, again, it was only later that I noticed that one branch of the vine was broken (in the centre of the photo). It’s still attached above the nest to the other strand of the vine and I wondered whether this attachment was serendipitous or had been done as a repair by the birds. Monarchs are supposed to use cobwebs to glue their nests together. I then wondered whether the bird in the first photograph was feeding on the aphids/scale insects, feeding on the honeydew (as some birds do such as the New Zealand Honeyeater the Tui) or collecting the honeydew as glue – it’s very sticky – for nest construction.

Back at the website, I’ve added photos of:
the Cape York race of the Masked Finch
the northern race of the Black-throated Finch
Wandering Whistling-Duck
White-bellied Sea-Eagle being fed on garfish by the Ferryman at Karumba
Golden-shouldered Parrot
White-faced Robin
Yellow-legged Flycatcher/Flyrobin
So it’s no wonder I’m late with my Christmas cards yet again!

I wish you all a safe and happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year,
Ian

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


Lee’s Addition:

And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth. (Genesis 1:22 NKJV)

The Frill-necked Monarch (Arses lorealis) is a species of songbird in the Monarchidae family. It is endemic to the rainforests of the northern Cape York Peninsula. It was considered a subspecies of the related Frilled Monarch (Arses telescophthalmus) for many years before being reclassified as a separate species in 1999.

The Frill-necked Monarch is a member of a group of birds termed monarch flycatchers. This group is considered either as a subfamily Monarchinae, together with the fantails as part of the drongo family Dicruridae, or as a family Monarchidae in its own right. Molecular research in the late 1980s and early 1990s revealed the monarchs belong to a large group of mainly Australasian birds known as the Corvida parvorder comprising many tropical and Australian passerines. More recently, the grouping has been refined somewhat as the monarchs have been classified in a ‘Core corvine’ group with the crows and ravens, shrikes, birds of paradise, fantails, drongos and mudnest builders.

Alternative common names include Australian Frilled Monarch, and White-lored Flycatcher.

The Frill-necked Monarch measures around 14 cm (5.5 in) in length, and the neck feathers can become erect into a small frill; the male is predominantly black and white, and can be distinguished from the similar and more common Pied Monarch by its all-white breast-the latter species having a broad black breast band. The throat, nape, shoulders, and rump are white while the wings and head are black. It has a eye-ring of bare skin, and a bright blue wattle. The bill is pale blue-grey and the eyes are dark. The female is similar but lacks the eye-ring and has white lores and a brownish tinged chest.

Breeding season is November to February with one brood raised. The nest is a shallow cup made of vines and sticks, woven together with spider webs and shredded plant material, and decorated with lichen. It is generally sited on a hanging loop of vine well away from the trunk or foliage of a sizeable tree about 2–10 metres (6.6–33 ft) above the ground. Two pink-tinged oval white eggs splotched with lavender and reddish-brown are laid measuring 19 mm x 14 mm.

Video of a Frilled Monarch (Arses telescopthalmus) by Keith.

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Black-winged Monarch

Black-winged Monarch (Monarcha frater) by Ian

Black-winged Monarch (Monarcha frater) by Ian

From: Ian Montgomery
Newsletter 12/7/2009

Subject: Bird of the Week: Black-winged Monarch

Black-winged Monarch (Monarcha frater) by Ian

Black-winged Monarch (Monarcha frater) by Ian

If you live on the east coast of Australia, you may be familiar with the very similar Black-faced Monarch. The Black-winged Monarch, distinguishable by paler grey upper parts and contrasting black wings, is, however, a Cape York specialty migrating from PNG in the southern summer to breed along the northeast coast of the Peninsula south to about the McIlwraith Ranges north of Coen.

It’s not a well-known species, and until fairly recently hadn’t been photographed. That, I’m sure, has all changed now with a steady stream of digitally armed birders making the pilgrimage to Lockhart River, where these photos were taken, and the nearby Iron Range National Park. Anyway, I was glad of the opportunity last week to improve on the two mediocre shots on the Birdway website taken on my first visit there almost 6 years ago.

Links:
Black-winged Monarch (the original photos)
Black-faced Monarch

Best wishes,
Ian

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


Lee’s Addition:

When I think of the Monarch, my first thoughts are of a Monarch Butterfly, but the Monarch birds are very interesting. There are 47 Monarchs in Monarchidae Family of the Passeriformes Order. Also included in the family are Paradise and Crested Flycatchers, an Elepaio, Shrikebills, a Silktail, Magpielark, Torrentlark, and the Myiagra genus of Flycatchers. (Total of 93)
Here are some more of Ian’s Photos from the Monarchidae Family:
Broad-billed Flycatcher
Leaden Flycatcher
Shining Flycatcher
Restless Flycatcher
White-eared Monarch
Spectacled Monarch
Magpielark
Frilled Monarch
Pied Monarch

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches. (Matthew 13:31-32 NKJV)

Black-faced Monarch by Nick Talbot

Also see:

Monarch Flycatchers – Wikipedia