Hi Mike, birding-aussers,
just a couple of comments & queries on the Ashmore Reef posting on birding-aus
Firstly, once again a comprehensive report of what has become an iconic annual
trip of Australian birding. Congratulations.
Next, the questions/commentary:-
Collared Kingfisher of Indonesian origin?
I agree that is most likely, but it would be useful for others to know your
reasoning. Jeff Davies has suggested that the Asian including Indonesian birds
(i.e. White-collared or Collared Kingfisher, palmeri (Java + Bali) and chloris
- Wallacea) and Aust. birds (formerly Mangrove Kingfisher sordidus and pilbara)
are quite distinct and should probably be split. I agree with him, on the basis
of dorsal colour, vocalisations and habitat preference. Probably other more
subtle characters to differentiate the two groups will become apparent upon
further investigation. If they are ultimately split, you will need to have
notes supporting a BARC submission!
Black-faced Cuckooshrike (BFCS) - 'Photographs of one showed unmarked white
underwing coverts indicating the Australian taxon'. I agree the bird is from
(mainland) Australia, however:-
There are three Aust. taxa of this bird. Nominate novaehollandiae from
Tasmania, melanops from most of mainland Australia and subpallida from the
Pilbara, WA. There are no other taxa of BFCS, so it is somewhat misleading to
suggest that there might be. The only breeding population of BFCS outside
Australia is in southern PNG (Coates 1990 The Birds of Papua New Guinea Volume
As discussed in HANZAB Vol. 7 Part A p. 282, BFCS Coracina novaehollandiae is
part of the C. caledonica superspecies comprising eight forms. HANZAB correctly
splits this group as separate species, contrary to previous taxonomic orthodoxy
that prevailed prior to the 1980's, such as King 1975 A Field Guide to the
Birds of South-East Asia and others. I have observed in the field six of the
eight (all except caledonica and schistacea) and I'm satified that none of the
other five are conspecific with BFCS. Each one is vocally and morphologically
distinct and instantly recognisable as different to BFCS. The fact they were
ever lumped is an indictment of old-style museum-based ornithology based solely
on dead birds.
The splitting of this group is supported by most recent workers e.g. White &
Bruce 1986 The Birds of Wallacea; Inskipp et al. 1996 An Annotated Checklist of
the Birds of the Oriental Region (and 2009 online update); Coates & Bishop 1997
A Guide to the Birds of Wallacea; Schodde & Mason 1999 The Directory of
Australian Birds; Robson 2000 A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia.
So in summary, Black-faced Cukooshrike Coracina novaehollandiae is not found
west of Wallace's Line and occurs as a breeding species only in Australia,
Tasmania and southern PNG on current information, although it migrates to the
Lesser Sundas and Moluccas groups and elsewhere in eastern Indonesia, and as
far as northern Melanesia.
Hope this is useful to Campephagephiles (and Kingfisher buffs) on the list.
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