Ian’s Bird of the Week – Bower’s Shrike-thrush

Bower's Shrikethrush (Colluricincla boweri) by Ian 1

Bower’s Shrikethrush (Colluricincla boweri) by Ian

Bird of the Week – Bower’s Shrike-thrush ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 12-09-13

We spent several days last week camping on the Atherton Tableland at Malanda Falls Caravan Park. It’s a great caravan park incidentally as it borders on rainforest and is within walking distance of both Malanda Falls and the Conservation Park across the road. My aim was to photograph locations for the book Where to Find Birds in NE Queensland but I was of course on the lookout for any obliging birds, in particular the wet tropic endemic Bower’s Shrike-thrush and the local race of the Yellow-throated Scrubwren, both of which I’d found uncooperative in the past.

One of the spots I visited was Mobo Creek Crater about 10km along the Danbulla Forest Drive from the Gillies Highway end. I hadn’t been there before and found it a delightful spot as the path twice crosses the creek near the crater. I spent some time photographing the local resident, rather dark race of the Grey Fantail (we get the southern race here as a visitor in winter). While, I was doing so, a Bower’s Shrike-thrush came to the creek for a swim. The first photo shows her checking out a small pool from a rock in the creek.

Bower's Shrikethrush (Colluricincla boweri) by Ian 2

Bower’s Shrikethrush (Colluricincla boweri) by Ian

She then jumped into the creek and had a good swim, before jumping back out on the original rock, photos 2 and 3.

Bower's Shrikethrush (Colluricincla boweri) by Ian 3

Bower’s Shrikethrush (Colluricincla boweri) by Ian

Then a good shake, fourth photo, and a rather bedraggled but satisfied-looking bird returned to the rainforest. You can tell it’s a female from the grey bill with a pinkish tinge and the buff eye-ring, lores and eyebrow. Males have black bills and grey eye-ring, lores and eyebrow.

Bower's Shrikethrush (Colluricincla boweri) by Ian 4

Bower’s Shrikethrush (Colluricincla boweri) by Ian

Bower’s Shrike-thrush is one of the 12 species endemic to the Wet Tropics of northeastern Queensland. It is found in highland rainforest above 400m from just south of Cooktown to just north of Townsville and is reasonably common within this relatively restricted range.

Shrike-thrushes get their name from their slightly hooked shrike-like bills and their thrush-like appearance and melodious songs. Bower’s Shrike-thrush has a distinctive whistling song that sounds to me like ‘we you you cha cha cha’ and we heard them at a number of sites during our stay. They are related to Whistlers and are sometimes placed in the same family, Pachycephalidae – ‘thick-heads’ as you may remember from the Rufous Whistler bird of the week last month – or placed in their own family the Colluricinclidae.

Yellow-throated Scrubwren (Sericornis citreogularis) by Ian

Yellow-throated Scrubwren (Sericornis citreogularis) by Ian

Here, incidentally, is a male of the local race of the Yellow-throated Scrubwren that I wanted also for the book. A pair of them emerged into the car park at Millaa Millaa Falls after the last tourist buses had departed.

Best wishes
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:

For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land–a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; (Deuteronomy 8:7 NIV)

He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head. (Psalms 110:7 KJV)

Thanks again, Ian. We don’t get to see birds taking a bath that frequently. At least, not in a stream. Dippers do that, but take a dive also.

Here is the sound of the Shrike-thrush from xeno-canto. It really is neat.

As Ian mentioned in his newsletter, the Shrikethrush belong to the Pachycephalidae – Whistlers and Allies Family (IOC), which is where we have it here, or the Colluricinclidae Family. which is where Ian has it listed. He also uses Shrike-thrush, whereas the IOC uses Shrikethrush.

See:

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Rufous Whistler

Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris) by Ian

Bird of the Week #493: Rufous Whistler ~ by Ian Montgomery

Here’s another good candidate for bird of the week that has slipped through the cracks. It’s a good candidate because it’s an attractive bird that sounds beautiful as well. Males are grey and black with a rufous belly, white throat and black breast band and look very dapper. The bird in the first two photos belongs to the nominate race rufiventris, widespread through most of mainland Australia but absent from Tasmania. Males of the nominate race have black eyebrows and lores (the area between the eye and the bill), more obvious in the first photo.

Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris) by Ian

Rufous Whistlers are very vocal with a rich vocabulary which includes loud calls with a Whipbird-like finish – probably territorial between males – repeated ‘joey-joey-joey’ song and trills. The ‘joey’ song note, repeated up to 30 times, is sung by both sexes alternating and accompanied by a seesawing dancing motion of the body. This is wonderful to watch, and the male in the second photo is in mid-performance. The trills are apparently only made by the male.

The third photo shows a female with grey back and rufous belly and streaked throat and breast.

Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris) Female by Ian

Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris) Female by Ian

Juveniles are similar to females, but with browner upper-parts, heavier streaks, bills with a pale base, and rufous edges to the flight feathers (as do immatures of other species such as the Golden Whistler), fourth photo.

Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris) Juvenile by Ian

Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris) Juvenile by Ian

Several other races have been described in Northern Australia, and the males of these generally lack the black eyebrow, see the fifth photo. This bird belongs to perhaps the most distinctive race pallida which has a much paler belly, and this race is found in Cape York, e.g. the Mitchell River Catchment, and Northwestern Queensland.

Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris pallida) by Ian

Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris pallida) by Ian

The large heads of the Whistlers gives the genus the unflattering name Pachycephala (‘thick-head’) and the family the name Pachycephalidae – http://www.birdway.com.au/pachycephalidae/index.htm.

Best wishes
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:

He will raise a signal for nations far away, and whistle for them from the ends of the earth; and behold, quickly, speedily they come! (Isaiah 5:26 ESV)

Xeno-canto Rufous Whistlers

What a beautiful sound that Whistler is making. Must be nice to hear them in person. The bird is also an attractive bird. They belong to the Pachycephalidae – Whistlers and Allies Family which has 52 species in it. Predominantly a reddish-brown and grey bird, it makes up for its subdued plumage with its song-making ability. Like many other members of the Pachycephalidae, it has a variety of musical calls.

The family Pachycephalidae, collectively the whistlers, includes the whistlers, shrike-thrushes, shrike-tits, pitohuis and Crested Bellbird, and is part of the ancient Australo-Papuan radiation of songbirds. Its members range from small to medium in size, and occupy most of Australasia.

The whistlers are stout birds with strong bills, and the group was once known as the thickheads due to the large rounded heads of many species. Their plumage is rufous, brown, or grey in the majority of species. Nevertheless a few species, particularly the Golden Whistler and its close relatives, have bright plumage. One of the more unusual traits of this family is found in the feathers of some of the pitohuis, which have toxins. These toxins are probably a deterrent to parasites and may also serve to dissuade predators from taking the birds. (Wikipedia)

See:

Ian’s Pachycephalidae Family

Pachycephalidae – Whistlers and Allies Family – Here

Ian’s Bird of the Week

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Morningbird – A Voice In The Morning

Morningbird (Colluricincla tenebrosa) by Margaret Sloan

Morningbird (Colluricincla tenebrosa) by Margaret Sloan

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. (Psalms 5:3 KJV)

The Morningbird (Colluricincla tenebrosa) is a songbird species in the family Pachycephalidae. It is also known a “Brown Pitohui, Morning Bird, Morning Pitohui, Morningbird, Palau Morning Bird, Palau Morningbird, and Palau Pitohui” (Avibase) At the present time it is a bird of “Least Concern” but it is hard to find a photo of it. That is what caught my attention to it. I liked its name. A recording of the Morningbird by Todd Mark (xeno-canto) made a remark that it was the “first loud singer of dawn chorus.” That seems to be appropriate according to the name it has been given,

Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. (Psalms 55:17 KJV)

Morningbird (Colluricincla tenebrosa) by Margaret Sloan

Morningbird (Colluricincla tenebrosa) by Margaret Sloan

The Morningbird is endemic to the islands of Babelthuap, Koror, Garakayo, Peleliu and Ngabad in Palau. Its natural habitat is deep primary tropical moist lowland forests. The species is non-migratory. It is apparently commoner on the smaller islands in its range. The feed principally on insects, but also take snails, berries, fruit, and seeds. They feed on or around the ground. Checking the internet, there are many birds called by that name because they sing in the morning, but very few photos. (Margaret Sloan just gave permission to use her photos of this bird, thanks.)

There are videos of a Morningbird Song. Most probably do not know that there actually is a “Morningbird.” Here is one verse of that song:

You are the blood of me
The harvest of my dreams
There’s nowhere I can find peace
And the silence won’t cease

Sorry, but just because a Morning Bird flew away, our lives should not be like those words. We can have peace and knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior is the only real peace anyone really receives. He is the way to peace:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:1-6 KJV)

Palau Morningbird Pitohui © Mandy Etpison

But to You I cry, O Lord; and in the morning shall my prayer come to meet You. (Psalms 88:13 AMP)

The Morningbird (Colluricincla tenebrosa) is a member of the Pachycephalidae – Whistlers and Allies Family. There are presently 58 species that are assigned to that family by the IOC. Others place it in the Colluricinclidae family according to Wikipedia, yet I can’t find much about that family. They are closely related to the Shrike-thrushes and some sources list it as a Pitohui

(Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Links:

Gospel Message

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Ian’s Bird of the Week – (Norfolk Island) Golden Whistler

Ian’s Bird of the Week – (Norfolk Island) Golden Whistler ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter: 5-4-12

My apologies for a belated bird of the week. When I was in Eungella recently chasing the so-named Honeyeater, I encountered a very obliging male Golden Whistler, below, so I’ve chosen it to introduce this week’s subject.

Australian Golden Whistler (Pachycephala pectoralis) by Ian

It’s one of the most gorgeous of the woodland birds of eastern and southern Australia and one of those unusual birds that, unlike Rainbow Lorikeets for example, both look and sound strikingly beautiful. It featured as bird of the week in January 2005, but I don’t suppose you’ll mind me repeating it and I want to share with you the interestingly different Norfolk Island equivalent.

Australian Golden Whistler (Norfolk Island) (Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta) by Ian

Australian Golden Whistler (Norfolk Island) (Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta) by Ian

The bird in the second photo, one of a pair we encountered, is, or could be, an adult male Norfolk Island Golden Whistler. I say ‘could be’ because there, the adult males do not develop the striking yellow and black plumage of the mainland races and remain ‘hen-plumaged’, to quote Schodde and Mason. This was recognised early on in the settlement of the island and it was original described as a separate species, the Norfolk Island Thickhead (Pachycephala means ‘thick-head’) P. xanthoprocta, where xanthoprocta refers to the yellow vent. Here is a painting of a pair by John Gould.

Australian Golden Whistler (Norfolk Island) (Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta) by Ian Drawing

Australian Golden Whistler (Norfolk Island) (Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta) by Ian Drawing

He has labelled the bird in the foreground as a male, and the one in the background as a female. There are subtle differences in plumage, with the female being more lemon-yellow underneath and the male being more buffish yellow and. having darker dark lores. I haven’t been able to find whether these differences are consistent, but it seemed to me that the bird in photo above (141464) looks more like the Gouldian male than its partner below (141440).

 Australian Golden Whistler (Norfolk Island) (Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta) by Ian

Australian Golden Whistler (Norfolk Island) (Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta) by Ian

Mainland juvenile Golden Whistlers have rusty margins on the wing feathers and this is the case with the Norfolk Island birds, as shown in the next photo taken on a different occasion when we were hanging around waiting for the Norfolk Island Parakeets to show up.

Australian Golden Whistler (Norfolk Island) (Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta) Juv by Ian

Australian Golden Whistler (Norfolk Island) (Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta) Juv by Ian

To this day, the taxonomic status of the Golden Whistler ‘complex’ remains unresolved. There are different races on the mainland and in neighbouring locations such as New Guinea, New Britain and Fiji. The mangrove-inhabiting Golden Whistler of northern and western Australia has been elevated to specific status but the others have remained in the too-hard basket and are still lumped together as a single species. It seems to me unusual for avian taxonomists to be stumped by a problem like this, but maybe they’ve met their match.

Best wishes

Ian

**************************************************
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
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Lee’s Addition:

Very interesting and a beautiful bird. I couldn’t resist finding out what this “whistler” sounds like. It is very pretty sounding. Take a listen.

Sound of Golden Whistler

In that day the LORD will whistle for the fly that is at the end of the streams of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. (Isaiah 7:18 ESV)

The Whistlers are found in the Pachycephalidae – Whistlers and Allies. There are 58 members of the family. This Australian Golden Whistler (Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta) is one of those subspecies; there are at least 7 subspecies. The “Norfolks” are found on the Norfolk Island, as Ian mentioned.

The Norfolk Golden Whistler (P. p. xanthoprocta) declined for many years due to habitat loss and fragmentation and possible due to introduced predators such as the Black Rat. Most of the population is now restricted to the Norfolk Island National Park. This has resulted in it being listed as vulnerable by the Australian Government.

Links:

Check out Ian’s other Whistlers

Australian Golden Whistler – Wikipedia

Pachycephalidae – Whistlers and Allies

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