Ian’s Bird of the Week – Barred Honeyeater

Mont Koghi, New Caledonia by Ian

I’m currently working my way through the Honeyeater galleries on the website and on Saturday I’m giving a talk on the birds of New Caledonia to BirdLife Townsville, so here is New Caledonian endemic the Barred Honeyeater. it is confined the main island of Grande Terre, where it is reasonably common in woodland areas, particular in hilly country, e.g. Mont Koghi just outside Noumea.

It seemed to like perching high up in trees, like this one at Riviere Bleue, and at the time we had bigger distractions at hand (such as the Kagu) so we left it to its own devices.

Barred Honeyeater (Glycifohia undulata) by Ian

On our second visit to Mont Koghi (in search of the Horned Parakeet) we came across this one perched more obligingly at eye level in some flowering ginger. While we were photographing it, a member of the staff at the nearby inn, came galloping along to tell us that a Horned Parakeet had arrived, and the poor honeyeater was abandoned unceremoniously.

Barred Honeyeater (Glycifohia undulata) by Ian

From its shape and general appearance it’s clearly a Honeyeater, but the wavy barred plumage is unlike any Australian Honeyeater and gives it its specific name undulata. Not surprisingly, it has no close relatives in Australia, though it was plonked in the same genus as the New Holland and White-cheeked Honeyeaters (Phylidonyris) until someone decided to look at its genes a bit more closely and removed it and its only close relative the Vanuatu Honeyeater (G. notabilis) to their own genus.

Barred Honeyeater (Glycifohia undulata) by Ian

New Caledonia has some strikingly unusual birds – which is why we were there in the first place – but this familiar but different theme was much more often the case with a broad spectrum from very similar (same species but usually a different race) through somewhat different (common genus, different species) and very different (separate genera) to the Kagu which is in a family of its own and an in order with no other Australasian representatives. I found this very interesting and this is why the theme of my talk at 2:00pm on Saturday afternoon is “New Caledonian Birds: from strangely familiar to very strange”. You can find out about the activities of Birdlife Townsville here http://www.birdlifetownsville.org.au/2016_Calendar.html and details of the location here http://www.birdlifetownsville.org.au/Activities.html.

Work on converting the website to make it ‘mobile friendly’ continues and I’m in the middle of the Honeyeaters With photos of 76 species – and therefore 76 galleries – this is easily the largest family in the website – the ducks and their relatives come second with 64 species. So, I regard it as something of a watershed and look forward to having the Honeyeaters behind me and tell myself that it will all be downhill from then on!

If you’re a local or in the Townsville area, I hope to see you on Saturday.
Ian

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


Lee’s Addition:

The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:16 NKJV)

Beautiful rainbow photo and the of course the Barred Honeyeater is pretty. I noticed that in each photo the bird has his eye on Ian. Thanks, Ian, for sharing another of your adventures into the world of avian wonders.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week articles

Ian’s Birdway

Honeyeaters – Meliphagidae

Wordless Birds

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Ouvéa Parakeet

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Ouvéa Parakeet ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 9/2/15

I was half-way through preparing this bird of the week this afternoon when my 2008 iMac died, or at least got terribly ill, so I’ve delivered it to the Mac Doctors and am now working on my laptop. Thank goodness for automatic backups, as I lost only the email itself and the map below that I was in the middle of preparing. I want to get the email out today so that i can delivery 4 birds of the week this month – my level of enthusiasm for doing the bird of the week has risen considerably since I started preparing the first volume of the Diary of a Bird Photographer.

Anyway, back to the Loyalty Islands off the west coast of the main island of New Caledonia. After spending the morning in Lifou, we flew to the neighbouring island, Ouvéa, home to the endemic Ouvéa Parakeet. Ouvéa is a long thin island, thinnest in the middle in a way that reminded me of both Bribie Island in Tasmania and Lord Howe Island. Like Lord Howe, it has a coral lagoon on one side and an ocean beach on the other but the resemblance largely ends there, as Ouvéa is a coral atoll and very flat, while Lord Howe is volcanic in origin and spectacularly mountainous.

Map of where Ouvéa Parakeet Found, by Ian

Map of where Ouvéa Parakeet Found, by Ian

The parakeet occurs mainly on the northern end of the island so its geographical range is tiny – see the scale on the map above, courtesy of Google Earth. The airport is on the southern end and we decided not to emulate some energetic birders who wrote a trip report and travelled from the airport to the north end of the island by bicycle. Instead, we had booked a rental car at the airport and booked accommodation in a tribal village called Gossanah in parakeet territory near where our bird guide Benoit lived. I’ll say a bit more about both our guide and accommodation later, but first the parakeet.

Ouvéa Parakeet (Eunymphicus uvaeensis) by Ian

It was dark by the time we reached Gossanah, so parakeet hunting had to wait until the morning. I was woken up by early-riser Joy with the exciting news that there were parakeets in the grounds of where we were staying. I stumbled out bleary-eyed (remember we had got up at 4:30am the morning before to get our flight to Lihou) camera in hand and sure enough there they were, or there it was, first photo. Later we joined Benoit and he took us around his garden and though an area of adjacent rainforest. There we found some more parakeets, including the one in the second photo.

Ouvéa Parakeet (Eunymphicus uvaeensis) by Ian

They aren’t as brightly coloured as the Horned Parakeet of the main island, Grand Terre, and the crest is different, containing more than two feathers and lacking red tips. The Ouvéa Parakeet used to be treated as a race of the Horned, but has now been given full species status.

Ouvéa Parakeet (Eunymphicus uvaeensis) Nesting Hollow by Ian

Benoit showed us an active nesting hollow, third photo. We saw a parakeet flying into it and waited for it to reappear, but it had either settled down for the morning or had more patience than we had. The parakeets are very partial to the seeds of Papaya. They don’t wait for the fruit to ripen before they chew their way into the centre to get at the seeds.

Papaya

Papaya

The parakeets are protected and the population has increased in recent years. We got the impression that the islanders are rather ambivalent about the birds. They are proud to have such an unusual endemic bird – its iconic status is actively promoted by the authorities – but are concerned about its effect on their largely subsistent way of life.

Ouvéa Parakeet (Eunymphicus uvaeensis) by Ian

Ouvéa Parakeet (Eunymphicus uvaeensis) by Ian

We stayed at a tribal home stay called Beauvoisin – ‘good neighbour’ run by Marc and his wife (see http://www.iles-loyaute.com/en/Prestataire/Fiche/1374/beauvoisin). They provided dinner in the evening, accommodation in a circular hut and breakfast – Joy took the photo above of me emerging from the hut in the morning. We enjoyed it very much and Marc and his family were delightful and looked after us very well. They spoke some English and have a Facebook page. Benoit Tangopi our guide was great too and we saw a variety of other interesting birds on the walk through the rainforest. We contacted him by phone +687 800549, but you might need to brush up your French as he doesn’t speak much English.

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
Check the latest website updates:
http://www.birdway.com.au/#updates


Lee’s Addition:


If a bird’s nest should chance to be before you in the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the mother bird is sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother bird with the young. You shall surely let the mother bird go, and take only the young, that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days. (Deuteronomy 22:6-7 AMP)

Thanks, Ian, for taking us along on another birdwatching adventure. I don’t speak French, so we are glad you did the talking and photographing. Another neat creation you have found for us to enjoy.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week Newsletters

Ian’s Ouvéa Parakeet Photos

Psittaculidae – Old World Parrots

Wordless Birds

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Small Lifou White-eye

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Small Lifou White-eye (and random Sacred Kingfisher) ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 8/27/15

I’m a night-owl, as you may know already, so here is a photo of a noteworthy event: boarding a flight to the Loyalty Islands in complete darkness at 6:00am at Magenta, the domestic airport in Noumea. The goal was to check out several endemic species of birds that occur on two of the Loyalty Islands, Lifou and Ouvéa. The Lifou endemics were supposed to be easy to find near the airport, so we spent a morning there looking for them on foot before flying on to Ouvéa where we had booked a rental car and accommodation for the night (more about Ouvéa next time).

Magenta, the domestic airport in Noumea by Ian

Magenta, the domestic airport in Noumea by Ian

The Loyalty Islands, part of the French Territory of New Caledonia, are supposedly named after an obscure whaling ship called Loyalty or Loyalist built in Nova Scotia in 1788 that is thought to have come across them in 1790. The first recorded Western contact was three years later when another whaler, the Britannia, found them on a voyage from Norfolk Island to Batavia. Melanesians settled the islands about 3000 years ago and the French annexed them in the mid-nineteenth century.

Map of Lifou - New Caledonia

Map of Lifou – New Caledonia

Lifou has two endemic White-eyes, cousins of the Silvereye which also occurs there. The endemic ones are called, accurately but unimaginatively, the Small and Large Lifou White-eyes. The small one we found without difficulty and it is indeed small with a length of 10-11cm/4-4-4.3in and weighting 7.5-9g/0.26-0.31g. Its diagnostic feature is the white flanks, most obvious in the third of its photos.

Small Lifou White-eye (Zosterops minutus) by Ian

We search quite hard but unsuccessfully for the Large Lifou White-eye. It’s very large for a White-eye (15cm/6in) making it even larger than the Giant White-eye (Megazosterops palauensis) of Palau. Interestingly both of these large species lack the white eye-rings that gives them, and the Silvereye, their common names. The Small Lifou White-eye feeds mainly on insects while the large one shows a preference for fruit. This specialisation in diet and divergence in size is to expected in similar species occupying the same habitat, but these two seem to have taken it to extremes.

Small Lifou White-eye (Zosterops minutus) by Ian

The Small Lifou White-eye is close related to the slightly larger Green-backed White-eye (fourth White-eye photo). It occurs on the main island of Grande Terre, the Isle of Pines (south of Grande Terre) and on Maré southwest of Lifou. Meanwhile there are three local races of the Silvereye, one on Grande Terre and the Isle of Pines, another on Maré and Ouvéa and the third on Lifou.

Small Lifou White-eye (Zosterops minutus) by Ian

This complex pattern of colonisation and speciation is typical of members of the family, the Zosteropidae. This is a very successful Old World family with almost 100 species in Africa, Asia and Australasia. They seem to be experts at colonizing out of the way islands, occurring on many islands in the Indian and eastern Pacific Oceans, where they settle down and develop new races and species. White-eyes are very sociable, so it is easy to imagine flocks being blown around by storms or cyclones and making landfall in sufficient numbers to colonise new places.

Green-backed White-eye (Zosterops xanthochroa) by Ian

For the random bird of the week, here’s another species that is good at island hopping, the Sacred Kingfisher. Well known throughout all but the driest parts of mainland Australia it also occurs on some southwest Pacific islands including those of New Zealand and New Caledonia. It has one race on Grande Terre and the Isle of Pines and, you guessed it, another one on the Loyalty Islands, below. This race has very buff underparts and a shorter, slightly flattened bill.

Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) by Ian

Finishing on a quite unrelated matter, you may have come across recent news, if you live in Australia, about the ultimate in elusive birds , the Night Parrot and the work that Steve Murphy has been doing since its rediscovery by John Young. Bush Heritage Australia is raising money to create a sanctuary to protect this population in southwest Queensland. I’ve already made my (modest) donation and I’d ask you to do so too using this link to make a very practical contribution (yours doesn’t need to be modest) to conserving a very special bird.

Greetings
Ian
**************************************************
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/
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


Lee’s Addition:

Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! (John 4:35 NKJV)

I love those EYES! Every since learning about the White-eyes, they have become one of my favorite species. Thanks, Ian for sharing these adorable birds with us. Kingfishers are also a favorite.

My problem is that when I use my “eyes” to view the Lord’s fantastic birds, how can I not have a problem figuring out which ones are my “most” favorites. I love all of the Lord’s Avian Wonders. I trust you do also.

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Ian’s Bird of the Week

Ian’s Birdway Zosteropidae Family

Zosteropidae – White-eyes

Wordless Birds

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Goliath Imperial Pigeon

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Goliath Imperial Pigeon ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 8/17/15

A characteristic sound of montane forests in New Caledonia is the far-carrying call of this splendid pigeon, the Goliath or New Caledonian Imperial Pigeon. The tone is similar to someone blowing in a (large) bottle but the rhythm accelerates like the sound of a table-tennis ball being dropped on a table. Needless to say, we started calling it the ping-pong pigeon. We first heard them in the dense forests of Rivière Bleue, but had trouble actually seeing any apart from one that flew off from feeding on Pandanus fruit. We eventually tracked this one through the forest and found it putting on a display.

Goliath Imperial Pigeon (Ducula goliath) by IanThe display is similar to that of the domestic pigeon, alternating between puffing out the crop to show the silvery-tipped bifurcated feathers to best advantage (first photo) and bowing (second photo). The head, upperparts and breast are a steely grey while the breast is a rich rufous colour and the vent pale. The iris is a vivid orange red. With a length of up to 51cm/20in and weighing up to 720g/1.6lb, this is a huge pigeon, which unfortunately makes it good to eat. For comparison the Torresian (Pied) Imperial Pigeon of northern and northeastern Australia measures up to 44cm in length and 550g in weight.

Goliath Imperial Pigeon (Ducula goliath) by Ian

It is endemic to the main island of New Caledonia (Grande Terre) and the Isle of Pines. The population has suffered from habitat loss and hunting, so it remains common only in protected areas and is currently listed as Near Threatened. After our hard work finding it in Rivière Bleue we were amused to find one on perched in the open on a power line beside the road to Mount Koghi two days later, third photo. We also heard several and photographed one at Les Grandes Fougères.

Goliath Imperial Pigeon (Ducula goliath) by Ian

The subject of each bird of the week is usually a species that hasn’t featured previously. This tends to mean that I don’t get to share with you new photos of previous subjects. So I’ve decided to include random photos from time to time, such as this one of a Noisy Pitta. I was contacted by a neighbour recently with a wonderful, well-watered garden in which this Pitta has recently taken up residence. Pittas are such beautiful birds and I like this photo because of the way the bird is framed by the leaves behind it.

Noisy Pitta (Pitta versicolor) by Ian

Greetings,
Ian

P.S. (Be warned: this is a commercial break!) Did you know that some ebook sellers provide facilities of giving book as gifts. Maybe you know someone who would enjoy Where to Find Birds in Northeastern Queensland ($13.20 to $22). Kobo books has ebook readers from most devices and computer so check out their page on gifts. With Kobo you go to this page first and then browse for the item you want to give. With Apple iPads and iPhones, you find the item first e.g. Where to Find Birds on Northeastern Queensland in the iTunes Store and then select the Share icon at top right and select Gift:

COL-Colu Goliath Imperial Pigeon (Ducula goliath) by Ian AD

I haven’t found a similar facility in the iTunes store accessed from an Apple computer (the share icon is peculiar to iOS). You can however give gift cards with suggestions from iTunes, Google Play and Kobo.

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


Victoria Crowned Pigeon by Dan at National Aviary

Victoria Crowned Pigeon by Dan at National Aviary

Lee’s Addition:

And a champion went out of the camp of the Philistines named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span [almost ten feet]. (1 Samuel 17:4 AMP)

We have seen the Victoria Crowned Pigeons at Zoos and they are typically 73 to 75 cm (29 to 30 in) long. Ian’s 51cm/20in Goliath Imperial Pigeon is not too far behind. The well-known rock dove is 29 to 37 cm (11 to 15 in) long, for comparison.  However you look at it, they are quite big. One source mentioned that the Goliaths are very strong flyers.

That is also a great photo of the Noisy Pitta. Thanks, Ian for sharing your photos with us each week (or whenever).

Ian’s Bird of the Week newsletters

Columbidae – Pigeons, Doves Family

Wordless Birds

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Crow Honeyeater

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Crow Honeyeater ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 7/31/15

I mentioned last week that the Horned Parakeet was second on my wanted list for New Caledonia but probably third on Joy’s. I knew that number two for Joy, after the Kagu, was this week’s species, the Crow Honeyeater, chosen by her for its scarcity as it is the rarest of the surviving New Caledonian endemics. I’m excluding the four critically endangered/probably extinct endemics: NC (New Caledonian) Rail (last definite record 1890), NC Lorikeet (1860), NC Nightjar (1939) and NC Owlet-Nightjar (possible sight record 1998).

Current estimates of the population of Crow Honeyeater are as low as 250 individuals, based on the density of 18 known pairs in a recent study in Rivière Bleue. Some think this is an overestimate and the population is thought to be continuing to decline. The reasons for this are uncertain with loss of habitat and introduced rats being proposed. It’s preferred habitat is primary rainforest but it is now absent from areas of apparently suitable habitat and its smaller Fijian relative, the Giant Honeyeater Gymnomyza viridis being apparently unaffected by rats. So there may be other factors involved that are not understood.

Crow Honeyeater (Gymnomyza aubryana) by Ian

In any case, I hadn’t really expected to see it so it didn’t make my seriously wanted list – I try to avoid unreasonable expectations to prevent disappointment. But our guide Jean Marc Meriot wasn’t going to be discouraged by such pessimism and, after we had had our fill of Kagus, worked very hard indeed to find one.

Crow Honeyeater (Gymnomyza aubryana) by Ian

Eventually, after lunch this very obliging bird appeared suddenly and perched in full view on an uncluttered perch near the road through the dense forest and posed for photographs. Unlike the Horned Parakeet, it was a brief encounter, but the bird displayed a number of poses in that time including a wing stretch, second photo, and an apparent wave, third photo.

Crow Honeyeater (Gymnomyza aubryana) by Ian

This is a huge honeyeater, and as far as I can ascertain vies with the Yellow Wattlebird of Tasmania as the world’s largest. Length varies from at 35-42.5cm/14-17in with males being larger and recorded at 211-284g/7.4-10oz and two females at 152g/5.4oz and 159g/5.6oz. This compares with the longer-tailed Yellow Wattlebird with males ranging from 44-50cm/17-20in and 135-260g/4.8-9.2oz and females 37-43cm/15-17in and 105-190g/3.7-6.7. So, I’d declare the Crow Honeyeater the winner as the heaviest, and the Yellow Wattlebird as the winner in the length stakes.

Incidentally, the ‘Giant’ Honeyeater of Fiji is a mere 25-31cm/10-12in and similar in size to the only other close relative of the Crow Honeyeater, the Mao of Samoa (Gymnomyza samoensis). Neither the Giant Honeyeater nor the Moa is black and neither has facial wattles, so the Crow Honeyeater is quite special. The bird we saw had red wattles, but they can be yellowish, while the feet are pinkish-yellow and juveniles lack wattles.

It makes me sad to write this as its future looks rather bleak. So, I hope the bird in the third photo is just pausing in mid-itch – it had been been itching its ear a moment earlier – and not waving goodbye on behalf of its kind. To end on a brighter note, there are about nearly 20 other New Caledonian endemics that are doing rather better, and several others that are endemic to New Caledonian and Vanuatu, so New Caledonia’s record is fairly good compared with many other islands in the Pacific. We got photos of nearly all of these, so I’ll have more to say about them in the future. I’ve been busy putting them up on the website and you can find them via the Recent Additions thumbnails on the website: http://www.birdway.com.au/index.htm#updates.

Greetings
Ian

**************************************************
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 Queensland: iTunes; Google Play Kobo Books
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au


PAS-Meli Giant Honeyeater (Gymnomyza viridis) by Tom Tarrant

PAS-Meli Giant Honeyeater (Gymnomyza viridis) by Tom Tarrant

Lee’s Addition:

More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. (Psalms 19:10 KJV)

Added a photo of a Giant Honeyeater. When I first looked at the photos, I thought it was a Mynah, but as Ian explains, this is a different species. It was the eyes.

Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) by Ian

Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) by Ian

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Ian’s Bird of the Week
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Update to Ian’s Bird of the Week

Horned Parakeet (Eunymphicus cornutus) ©WikiC

Horned Parakeet (Eunymphicus cornutus) ©WikiC

O LORD, correct me, but with justice; Not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing. (Jeremiah 10:24 NKJV)

** Update to Ian’s Bird of the Week **

Just thought you might like to see a Hooded Parakeet with the two “horns”. Also, I assumed this was in Australia, but it was taken in New Caledonia.

Here is a drawing of the Horned parakeet, (Nymphicus cornutus) (above) and Ouvea Parakeet, (Nymphicus uvaensis) that Ian mentioned.

Horned Parakeet, (Nymphicus cornutus) (above) and Ouvea Parakeet, Nymphicus uvaensis) ©WikiC

Horned Parakeet, (Nymphicus cornutus) (above) and Ouvea Parakeet, Nymphicus uvaensis) ©WikiC

The Ouvea Parakeet is really similar:

Ouvea Parakeet (Eunymphicus uvaeensis) ©WikiC

Ouvea Parakeet (Eunymphicus uvaeensis) ©WikiC

This is a great link to compare the two birds.

Animal Photos

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