Now That’s A Parrot – Squawkzilla

Meet ‘Squawkzilla,’ the massive prehistoric parrot scientists say terrorized other birds

A reconstruction of Heracles inexpectatus, the New Zealand parrot. The team initially thought the fossils belonged to a giant eagle. Photograph: Brian Choo/Flinders University

“Fossils of the largest parrot ever recorded have been found in New Zealand. Estimated to have weighed about 7kg (1.1st), it would have been more than twice as heavy as the kākāpo, previously the largest known parrot.” (The Guardian)

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©WikiC showing whiskers around beak

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©WikiC showing whiskers around beak

“Palaeontologists have named the new species Heracles inexpectatus to reflect its unusual size and strength and the unexpected nature of the discovery.

Prof Trevor Worthy of Flinders University in Australia, the lead author of the research published in the journal Biology Letters, said: “Once we decided it was something new and interesting, the challenge was to figure out what family it was from.

“Because no giant parrots have been found previously, parrots were not on our radar – thus it took some time to differentiate all other birds essentially from parrots to conclude that the unique suite of characters was definitive of a parrot.”

Paul Scofield, a senior curator of natural history at Canterbury Museum, said the fossil had been excavated in 2008, and initially the team had thought the bones were part of a giant eagle.”

From the Washington Post: “The large bones, believed to be the bones of an ancient eagle, flew under the radar for a decade. It was during a research project in the lab of Flinders University paleontologist Trevor Worthy that a graduate student rediscovered the bones. After that, a team of researchers began reanalyzing the findings earlier this year, according to the BBC.

“It was completely unexpected and quite novel,” Worthy, the study’s lead author, told National Geographic. “Once I had convinced myself it was a parrot, then I obviously had to convince the world.”

Kea (Nestor notabilis) by Ian #1

Kea (Nestor notabilis) by Ian

Researchers concluded that the bird probably couldn’t fly and consumed what was along the ground and easy to reach, according to National Geographic. But that might not have been enough to satiate the giant parrot.

It’s possible the bird had more carnivorous ways, like another New Zealand parrot, the kea, which has been known to attack and subsequently munch upon living sheep, the magazine reported.


Keas, the world’s only alpine parrots, are native to New Zealand’s South Island. (Erin E. Williams for The Washington Post)

Michael Archer, a co-author of the research and paleontologist at the University of New South Wales, told National Geographic that heracles might have even been eating other parrots, giving way to a nickname: “Squawkzilla.”

Archer told Agence France-Presse the bird had “a massive parrot beak that could crack wide open anything it fancied.”

Heracles probably won’t be the final unforeseen fossil from the St. Bathans area, Worthy told AFP. The researchers have turned up many surprising birds and animals over the years.

“No doubt there are many more unexpected species yet to be discovered in this most interesting deposit,” Worthy said.”

Washington Post Article about Heracles inexpectatus.

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©Dept of Conservation-To See Relative Size

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©Dept of Conservation-To See Relative Size

Of course, those of us on this blog do not believe in millions of years, but that the Lord created everything, including this humongous Parrot. National Geographic says “The flightless ‘squawkzilla’ stood three feet tall and was twice the weight of the kakapo, the heaviest parrot alive today.”

“Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.” (Genesis 2:19 NKJV)

Other’s with the same basic information:

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©Dept of Conservation

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila) ©Dept of Conservation

Save The Parrots

Ian’s Bird of the Week – New Zealand Pipit

Ian’s Bird of the Week – New Zealand Pipit 
~ by Ian Montgomery
Newsletter – 1/12/16
There are two ways to acquire photos of additional species to add to the website: one is to go out and photograph something new; the other is to sit at your computer and wait for the taxonomists to provide them via splits. I mentioned, in passing, the Eurasian and Pacific Wrens last week. This week we have the Australian and New Zealand Pipits, a split I discovered a week ago when revising the Pipit and Wagtail family page and switching the sequence from BirdLife International to the IOC. That split stirred vague memories of pipits on Enderby Island in the Auckland Islands group south of New Zealand and I dug out some neglected photos of New Zealand Pipits from my archives and published them on the website.
New Zealand Pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae) by Ian

New Zealand Pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae) by Ian

Pipits have been completely ignored as subjects for bird of the week because they aren’t, I don’t think, very interesting: they all look much the same – brown and streaked; they don’t behave in particular interesting ways; and they aren’t famous for the quality of their songs. So I was left the problem of finding a way of making them interesting. You could do a spot the difference quiz between the Australian  above, and the New Zealand below but even that is a bit limited in extent. The Australian is more buffish, the New Zealand more rufous; the New Zealand has more streaks on the flanks; if you had the birds in the hand you might notice that the Australian has a white belly, the New Zealand has a greyish one. That’s about it.
I could talk about their biology and show this photo of an adult feeding an insatiable fledgling, which was begging raucously for more food in another photo taken less than a second later. Instead, I decided this morning to Google the information contained in the sentence: “I took this photo of a New Zealand pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae, J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Queen Charlotte Sound, South Island, New Zealand) on Enderby Island in November 2011”. Google led me on never-ending links of interesting information about the history of the Auckland Islands, voyages to Queen Charlotte Sound in the late 18th century, the work and publications of Johann Friedrich Gmelin and even to the novel Moby Dick* while I reminisced about the 2011 trip to the Sub-Antarctic Islands and dug out more photos of what we saw on Enderby Island. My task now is to distill all that stuff into a few sentences.
The Auckland islands are a rugged group of now uninhabited islands about 460km south of the South Island of New Zealand. Traces of Polynesian settlement dating back to the 13th century have been on Enderby Island, a small island about 5km long at the north eastern tip of the main island. They were rediscovered in 1806 by the whaling ship Ocean. Captain Bristow named the Islands after his friend the first Baron Auckland and Enderby Island after his boss Samuel Enderby, whose company owned the ship. The islands became an important sealing and whaling station, though by 1812 most of the New Zealand Sea Lions had been hunted and the focus switched to Campbell Island and Macquarie island farther south. There were several unsuccessful attempts at settlement later in the 19th century.
Most of the human activity on Enderby Island was at a sheltered bay called Sandy Cove on the south side of the island (below). That was where we landed and we hiked from there across to the north coast and then back along the coast in a clockwise direction, a distance of about 10km. Sandy Cove had lots of sea lions and Red-crowned Parakeets, strange to see on such a chilly windswept island.
I remember the last few kilometres along the south coast as being hard work wading through waist-deep tussocky grass but the wildlife along the way was wonderful and well worth the effort. In the tundra on the north coast there were New Zealand Snipe and Double-banded Plovers, while the cliffs on the north coast (below) had nesting Light-mantled Albatrosses. We watched their display flight  in the updrafts along the cliffs,a  veritable aerial ballet a deux, and could look down on other birds on their nests.
There were flightless Auckland Teal both along the coast and in pools of freshwater and we had to run the gauntlet of assertive male sea lions. We found that if you held your ground, they calmed down quite quickly and the following photo shows me making friends with one.
See? I’ve hardly mentioned pipits and, given the competition, it is surprising that I actually took any photos of them. Because various pipits all look much the same their taxonomy has long been, well, a mess.  There are – at the moment based on DNA studies – five similar species in Eurasian, Africa and Australasia that have in the past been treated as a single species. The other three are Richard’s pipit (central Asia), the African Pipit and the Paddyfield Pipit (south and southeast Asia). The first one to be named was a New Zealand specimen in 1789 by the German naturalist Johann Friedrich Gmelin, below, so according to the rules of taxonomic precedent that single species should have been novaeseelandiae.
Gmelin, 1748-1804, is best known for continuing to update and publish new volumes of the Systema Naturae after the death in 1778 of Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy. Here is the cover of the 1788 edition of Gmelin’s Volume I. Note that the classification is of the three natural kingdoms (Regna Tria Naturae) of animals, plants and minerals. This was in the days before anyone had to worry about evolution, and was all about managing the complexity of specimens of everything that were accumulating in vast numbers in museums, herbaria and other collections in Europe.
There were four levels of generalisation: classes, orders, genera and species. So the New Zealand Lark (as it was called then) belongs to the class Aves (birds), the order Passeres (sparrow-like), genus Alauda (larks) and species novae Zeelandiae (of Nova Seelandia). The system has proved remarkably robust. Class ‘Aves’ is still used for birds; ‘formes’ has been added to avian order names so Passeres survives as PasseriformesAlauda is still used for true larks. The New Zealand Lark is now recognised as a pipit and has been moved to the Pipit genus Anthus. The main change to the classification structure is the addition of the Family level between order and genus. Pipits and Old World Wagtails are in the family Motacillidae and I was interested to find that the name Motacilla, the Wagtail genus, is to be found later in the same volume.
The volume makes interesting reading just at the level of habitats which hints at the enormity of the task faced by Linnaeus and Gmelin. The species above the New Zealand Lark is the ‘Cape Lark’ Alauda capensis from a specimen collected at the Cape of Good Hope (caput bonae spei). On just these two pages are species from Portugal, Argentina, Mongolia and Siberia and this on pages 798-799 of the volume on birds. I found another whole volume on worms and another on a subset of plants. Gmelin was primarily a botanist was published various books on plant and chemical poisons. On the zoological side he specialised in amphibians, reptiles and molluscs, so his publication of bird species was fairly incidental. Such was the all-encompassing nature of scholarship in those times.
Meanwhile, back at the website, progress continues. I’ve finished updating all the family pages and I’m now working through the 1,500 species and updating their pages to make them mobile-friendly. On a good day, I can do about 20 species. On the way, I’m adding new photos of previously prepared but not included photos and you can track this progress on the new Recent Additions page – the most recent photos are at the top of this page. This used to be a section on the Home Page which had become unmanageably large for mobiles and needed to be broken up. The Home Page now serves as a gateway to the rest of the website and to advise of updates. such as recent additions and the latest bird of the week.
I started by listing the two ways of getting new species for the website. I’m planning to do the other way next week, take a break from the website and go up to the Daintree River in search of nesting Black Bitterns. This is one of my bogey birds. I’ve seen them only flying away since the single occasion on which I saw one stationary at Chittaway Point on the Central Coast of New South Wales in the year 2000 before I took up serious bird photography with serious equipment. So this (scanned from film) is what I’m trying to improve on:
As usual I ask for your moral and spiritual support!
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Greetings
Ian
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*PS. In Moby Dick the fictitious ship Pequod of Nantucket met a whaling ship from London called the Samuel Enderby which had also encountered the white whale. The Samuel Enderby was a real ship belonging to the Enderby company and was one of three that arrived at Auckland Island in 1849 to attempt a new settlement with 150 settlers.
**************************************************
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:

Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. (or Pipits) (Luke 12:6-7 KJV) (emphasis mine)

All work and no play is hard for anyone. We will be praying that you find that elusive Black Bittern. Then you can tell us all about them next.

Here are a few articles that tell about Carolus Linnaeus:

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Crimson Rosella

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Crimson Rosella ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 11/20/15

Some birds are very obvious choices for bird of the week because they are beautiful and popular. Ironically, I can overlook them for exactly that reason as I assume they’ve featured previously. Here is one such, the Crimson Rosella, an iconic and popular bird of the forests of eastern and southeastern Australia.

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) by Ian

Normally rather shy in its natural habitat and can become quite tame in parks and gardens. It’s popularity is reflected in the fact that it has been introduced to New Zealand and Norfolk Island and (unsuccessfully) to Lord Howe Island. It nests in tree hollows and is regarded by conservationists as a pest on Norfolk Island as it competes with the smaller, endangered Norfolk Parakeet for nest sites.

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) by Ian

It feeds mainly on the seeds and fruit of trees and will forage on the ground for the grass seed, like the bird in the third photo. It’s a very vocal species and its ringing calls are a characteristic sound of forests in eastern Australia. Out of the breeding season, it is found in small flocks but it is territorial when breeding and the pair bond is though to persist for several years or longer.

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) by Ian

Juvenile birds of the eastern nominate race are mainly olive green with blue cheeks and patches of red on the head, breast and undertail-coverts. The nominate race extends from Cooroy in Southeastern Queensland to about Kingston in eastern South Australia.

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) by Ian

Farther north, an isolated population of the race nigrescens (‘blackish’) occurs from Eungella near Mackay north to the Atherton Tableland. This is smaller and darker than the nominate race, fifth photo, and is mainly a bird of highland rainforest.

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) by Ian

Juveniles of this northern race are much more like the adults than their southern relatives and have brownish-black feathers on the back instead of green (sixth photo).

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) by Ian

Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) by Ian

In southeastern Australia the populations of blue-cheeked Rosellas look very different and were for a long time treated as two different species, the Yellow Rosella, seventh photo, of the river systems of southern New South Wales and northern Victoria, and the orange-plumaged Adelaide Rosella of South Australia from the Flinders Ranges in the north to the Fleurieu Peninsula south of Adelaide (no photo). Yellow and Adelaide Rosellas interbreed where their ranges meet along the Murray River in South Australia. The two are now treated as races of the Crimson Rosella, flaveolus and adelaidae respectively.

Yellow Rosella (Platycercus elegans flaveolus) by Ian 4

Yellow Rosella (Platycercus elegans flaveolus) by Ian 4

The Yellow Rosella looks very like the other blue-cheeked Rosella, the Green Rosella of Tasmania. It is, however, retained as a separate species. I included this photo of the Yellow Rosella when the Green Rosella was bird of the week in March 2013.

Christmas is looming ever closer, so this wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory commercial. What do you give to the digitally-competent birder or nature-lover who has everything? An electronic book of course and both Apple and Kobo have facilities in their ebook stores for giving gifts. I’ve included a Giving Gifts section on the Publications page with help on how these stores let you give gifts. Google has facilities only for giving the equivalent of a gift token and not specific items. These book images are linked to the corresponding web pages:

Where To Find Birds - Ian

Ian's Book 2

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  iTunes; Google Play Kobo Books


Lee’s Addition:

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly. (Psalms 84:11 NKJV)

Thanks again, Ian, for sharing some more avian wonders. I especially like the second photos. That little guy looks like he is walking with an attitude. :)

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You. (Psalms 143:8 NKJV)

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More Ian’s Bird of the Week

Ian’s Psittacidae – Parrots Family

Pale-headed Rosella ~ 8-24-14

Psittaculidae – Old World Parrots (Here)

Wordless Birds – Hummers

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Tomtit

Tomtit (Petroica macrocephala) by IanIan’s Bird of the Week – Tomtit ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 10/30/15

Last week we had the Snares Penguin and I made a passing reference to the locally endemic race of the Tomtit, so here is it and two of the other four New Zealand races of the Tomtit as this week’s choice. It’s called a Tit after the European Tits family Paridae which includes the North American Chicadees) but it’s not one of these but an Australasian Robin (Petroicidae), which in turn were named after the European Robin but don’t belong to its family either (Muscicapidae). The Tomtit’s closest relative is the Pacific Robin (Petroica multicolor) which in turn is very close related the Scarlet Robin of Australia.

A friend of mine who is a member of the bird of the week club but not a birdwatcher as such expressed confusion over subspecies (or races) and species, so I Googled a couple of references which might be useful: 1. a simple explanation2. Wikipedia and 3. a more scholarly one. I talk about them a lot as I’m interested in the classification of birds (taxonomy) and their evolution and biogeography (how they got to where they are) so here is a brief description.

Tomtit (Petroica macrocephala) by Ian

A (biological) species is the fundamental unit (‘taxon’) of the classification of organisms, both plants and animals. It’s fundamental in the sense that it is considered reproductively isolated (genetic differences are supposed to be such that interbreeding across species boundaries isn’t possible or at least doesn’t produce fertile offspring). From a bird-watching point of view, a species is what you add to lists, whether your life list, your national list, your annual list, your yard list, or your annual bird list… The possibilities are endless but in the competitive world of ‘twitching’, a species is as important as a referees decision about a goal or score in football or tennis.

Tomtit (Petroica macrocephala marrineri) by IanNothing in biology is ever quite so simple, so the differences between various taxonomic levels (species, genus, family, order … going up and species, subspecies going down) are really part of a continuum. At the lower levels – genus, species and sub-species – the degree of genetic separation and therefore reproductive isolation varies a lot. Some groups are particularly troublesome as apparently quite different ‘species’ have a taxonomically irritating tendency to hybridise. Among birds, the diving ducks of the genus Aythya come to mind and among plants the orchids are notorious for spreading their genes around. Subspecies or races (using the terms interchangeably) are usually geographically isolated so they don’t get the chance to interbreed and are usually sufficiently different to be identifiable in the field. That means if you’re a birdwatcher, you can make lists of them too…

Tomtit (Petroica macrocephala marrineri) by Ian

The eighteen century Swedish scientist and physician Carl Linnaeus is regarded as the father of modern taxonomy as he invented the binomial – double-name – system that is still in use today. This was a century before Darwin, so Linnaeus was concerned, lucky man, with only degree of similarity. He classified types of organisms as belonging to a genus (‘family’ in Latin) represented by the first name, e.g. Anas (Latin for ‘duck’) and a species, e.g. platyrhychos (Greek for ‘broad-billed’) to name the Mallard and distinguish it from say the similar Gadwall, Anas strepera, where ‘strepera’ is derived from the Latin for ‘noisy’. There is no linguistic rule to prevent mixing of languages but adjectival species names usually agree in gender with the genus, something of a challenge when one name comes from Greek and the other from Latin.

Tomtit (Petroica macrocephala dannefaerdi) by IanNeedless to say, taxonomists have added many levels since, but orders, families, genera and species are the most important. To accommodate races or subspecies a third name was added the binomial system making it trinomial. The first race of a species to be named is called the nominate race, and the name of the race, if any, must be the same as the name of the species. So the nominate race of the Tomtit Petroica macrocephala is Petroica macrocephala macrocephala(Petroica is Greek for ‘rock-dwelling’ and macrocephala is Greek for ‘big-headed’). Any additional subspecies described later will be called Petroica macrocephala somethingelse.

Tomtit (Petroica macrocephala dannefaerdi) by Ian

Sorry, that was supposed to be a brief description so let’s get back to Tomtits. The first two photos show the nominate race which occurs on the South Island of New Zealand. The male is black and white with a yellow breast; the female is grey-brown with a white belly. This pair was in an Antarctic Beech forest – quite Lord of the Rings – near Cascade Creek in Fiordland and both birds were busy feeding nestlings. The male has a juicy green caterpillar and a large mosquito in his bill.

The third and fourth photos are male and female examples of the Auckland Islands race marrineri on Enderby Island one of the Auckland Islands group. Both males are females are mainly black and white, the male being glossier with only a trace of yellow on the breast. The race is named after New Zealand biologist George Marriner who took part in the 1907 Sub-Antarctic Islands Scientific Expedition.

The Snares race dannefaerdi is the most distinctive, photos 5 and 6, with both sexes being completely black, the male again being glossier than the female. It is named after Sigvard Dannefaerd who was a Danish collector and photographer based in New Zealand and the original specimen was from his collection but ended up with the second Baron Rothschild who described it.

Back at the Birdway website, I’m continuing to redevelop it for mobile devices and the latest changes include the Bird of the Week page and I am gradually working my way through the various families in taxonomic sequence (that word again!): MegapodesChachalacas and GuansGuineafowlNew World Quails and, in progress, the Ducks, Geese and Swans.

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:

The little birds (sparrows) have places for themselves, where they may put their young, even your altars, O Lord of armies, my King and my God. (Psalms 84:3 BBE)

What cute little birds. I am glad the Lord saw fit to create birds in so many different sizes. Looks like Ian has been busy working on his website. I am sure he would appreciate you looking around again for his improvements.

Ian’s Bird of the Week

Ian’s Petroicidae Family

Petroicidae – Australasian Robins Family

Gideon

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Snares Penguin

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Snares Penguin ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 10/23/15

Before we get on to this week’s bird – the Snares Penguin – here is a postscript on last week’s discussion on the boundary between Fuscous and Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters on the Atherton Tableland west of Cairns. Keith Fisher sent me this photo of a bird taken at Springvale Road in the Kaban area between Herberton and Ravenshoe in the western drier part of the Tableland (Chapter 14 in Where to Find Birds in Northern Queensland, hint, hint). He also sent me information from Lloyd Nielsen who has been studying these birds. It would be a brave person who would identify this bird on appearance alone and it seems that the matter will remain unresolved until someone does some DNA analysis. Thank you Keith.

Fuscous Honeyeater (Lichenostomus fuscus) by Ian at Birdway

Now for something completely different and for no other reason than I like penguins and so do most people. We saw various penguin species on the Sub-Antarctic Islands trip that we did in 2011 and here is one of two that hasn’t featured as bird of the week. The first island group that we reached after leaving Dunedin on the South Island of New Zealand was the Snares, an isolated group of islands with a total area of 340ha/840acres about 200km/125miles south of the South Island.

Snares Penguin (Eudyptes robustus) by IanThe Snares are of particular scientific and conservation value as, unlike other similar islands in the Southern Pacific they were left largely untouched by sealing and whaling and survive, vegetation intact in a fairly pristine state and have no mammalian predators. The Snares Penguin and the Snares Snipe are endemic species and there is an endemic race of the Fernbird and an all black-race of the Tomtit. The islands are of huge importance for nesting seabirds with 2 million pairs of Sooty Shearwaters and large numbers of Common Diving Petrels. Because of its conservation status – ‘minimum impact’ – we weren’t allowed to land but we cruised close by in Zodiacs in ideal weather conditions and saw all the bird species of interest except the Snipe.

Snares Penguin (Eudyptes robustus) by IanThere are about 25,000 pairs of Snares Penguins. The species is closely related to the Fiordland Penguin of the South Island of New Zealand and the Erect-crested of Bounty and Antipodes Islands, but has a much heavier bill (hence the name robustus) and pink skin between the bill and the cheek and throat so it usual now to treat all three as full species. Like all penguins, they are delightful to watch and be watched by and they are quite curious and popped up beside the Zodiac to have a good look.

Snares Penguin (Eudyptes robustus) by IanThey nest in colonies of up to 1,000 pairs mainly usually under trees or bushes, but sometimes in the open. There is continual traffic between the ocean and colonies which scours away any vegetation.

Snares Penguin (Eudyptes robustus) by IanAt the colony we visited, there was a favoured spot for launching into the water and all the seaweed had been worn away. The penguins would wait for a calm period between ocean swells and then dash after the most intrepid into the water.

Snares Penguin (Eudyptes robustus) by IanLanding seemed to be done on a hope and a prayer and the birds would get washed up on the rocks and then scramble to safety. There were several landing spots and these still had seaweed, which presumably cushioned the birds from hard landings.

Snares Penguin (Eudyptes robustus) by IanSnares Penguins lay a clutch of 2 eggs, and breeding success is about 40%. The population is thought to be increasing, though the species is classified as Vulnerable because it depends on a single location. After breeding the bird disperse in the ocean and are recorded as vagrants in mainland New Zealand and Tasmania. The birds take about 4 years to mature and live for about 20 years.

This bird of the week is a bit late as I’ve been busy this week finishing reformatting the ebook Diary of a Bird Photographer. I’ve made each bird of the week section start on a new page to prevent the separation of caption and content. The new version has now been uploaded to the Apple, Google and Kobo bookstores and is recognisable by a re-designed cover. If you have already purchased it, you should be able to upload the latest version from the store. The following cover image links to the Diary page on the Birdway website.

Ian's Book 2

I’ve also been redesigning the website templates to make them more suitable for viewing on smart phones or tablets. The original design was for monitors a width of 1200 pixels, but we live in a more fluid world now. I’ve applied the new design to two families, and I’d be grateful if you could check them your devices and see if they behave: Stilts and Avocets and Barn Owls. I’ve tested them on iPhone and iPad using the browsers Safari and Chrome.

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:

In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death. (Proverbs 14:26-27 NKJV)

Sounds like Ian has been quite busy, but I am thankful he took time to share those Snares Penguins with us. I didn’t pick up how they got their name, but this from Wikipedia explains it further.

“The Snares penguin (Eudyptes robustus), also known as the Snares crested penguin and the Snares Islands penguin, is a penguin from New Zealand. The species breeds on The Snares, a group of islands off the southern coast of the South Island.”

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Ian’s Bird of the Week

Snares Penguin – Ian’s Birdway

Snare Penguin – Wikipedia

Spheniscidae – Penguin Family

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Fuscous Honeyeater

Story of the Wordless Book

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Black-fronted Tern

Black-fronted Tern (Chlidonias albostriatus) by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Black-fronted Tern ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 3/10-14

To mark the 500th bird of the week, here is a rather special tern from New Zealand, the Black-fronted Tern, which I photographed while on the quest for the very special Black Stilt. The tern is special, as it’s a New Zealand endemic, attractive and, unfortunately, endangered. The first photo shows a bird incubating at a typical nesting site on the gravelly bank of one of the branching – ‘braided’ – rivers in the Waitaki Valley on the South Island.

The second photo shows another incubating bird at the same colony four days earlier, when I found the sole Black Stilt. The plant with the palmate leaves is feral Lupin, one of the threats that this species faces, in this case by encroaching on the nesting sites.

Black-fronted Tern (Chlidonias albostriatus) by Ian

I took these photos from a sufficient distance with a 500mm lens so as not to disturb incubating birds, but like many terns they are quite aggressive and other non-incubating individuals like those in the third and fourth photos showed me how unwelcome I was by flying intimidatingly close to me and calling harshly.

Black-fronted Tern (Chlidonias albostriatus) by Ian

They look very smart in breeding plumage with sharp black caps, bright orange bills and legs, and white cheek stripe and rump contrasting with otherwise grey plumage. They’re quite small, 30cm/12in in length, with, by tern standards, quite short tail streamers. In non-breeding plumage, the cap is grey, streaky and less extensive and the orange of the bill and legs is paler. In the breeding season, this is an inland species, nesting only along the rivers of the South Island, though it used to breed on the North Island. Outside the breeding season, the birds disperse to coastal waters with some reaching Stewart Island in the south and North Island but don’t travel far and have never been recorded in Australia. They feed on small fish invertebrates mostly snatched in flight either from the water surface or the ground – they will follow ploughs – and will also plunge into water to catch fish.

Black-fronted Tern (Chlidonias albostriatus) by Ian

The population is estimated at about 5,000 individuals and declining, hence its endangered status. Main threats to the population are predation by introduced mammals particular stoats and weasels, feral weeds, disturbance by people and stock and hydroelectric schemes. Breeding success appears to be low, but colonies do respond well to conservation measures such as protection of nesting sites, removal of weeds by spraying and provision of artificial nesting sites such as rafts. The Black-fronted is one of two endemic New Zealand terns, the other being the marine White-fronted. It’s considered a close relative of the Roseate Tern is quite abundant and many migrate to southeastern Australia in winter.

Website links:
Black-fronted Tern 
White-fronted Tern 
Roseate Tern 
Black Stilt 

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


Lee’s Addition:

the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after their kinds; (Deuteronomy 14:15 NKJV)

Ian has again introduced us to another neat creation, the Black-fronted Tern. In that second photo, notice how well it blends in with the terrain. What a graceful looking bird.

Terns and Sea Gulls both belong to the Laridae – Gulls, Terns & Skimmers Family. Ian mentioned three of the Terns on his website, but he has plenty more photos fo that family.

Check out his Laridae Family which he breaks up into Laridae – Tribe: Sternini & Rynchopini (Terns and Noddies) and Laridae – Tribe: Larini (Gulls and Kittywakes).

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