Black-winged Monarch RFI

Subject: Black-winged Monarch RFI
From: Phil Gregory <>
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2012 21:58:34 +1000
The more you study the less you know- it was not until earlier this year that I realized how distinct the Cape York subspecies canescens of Black-winged Monarch is from the 3 other subspecies in New Guinea. Our bird is much more like Black-faced Monarch in face pattern, whereas with the other 3 races the black of the face reaches or goes just behind the eye. Researching the situation in New Guinea I am not sure what the status is of canescens there.

I have seen Black-winged Monarchs in NG in a few spots in the hills, they seem to be altitudinally separated from the wintering Black-faced Monarchs, though there are odd records of them being seen in the lowlands. BUT, all my records are of the New Guinea subspecies, I have not seen canescens there, and I wonder if anyone else has?

I know there are records of Black-winged Monarchs from the Torres Strait islands, but how about in New Guinea proper? Interestingly Brian Coates in his classic "Birds of PNG" states that canescens is presumed to winter, but he doesn't cite any records. 22+ years later, I can add nothing to that picture, yet we all know our Back-winged monarchs winter in New Guinea, right? Does anyone actually have records of this Australian taxon there? There are parallels with Noisy Pitta here, known from Torres Strait, but basically otherwise only from the southern Trans-Fly , where they are likely to be resident, so just where are all the Australian migrants?

I won't open the Pandora's box of immature Black-faced vs Black-winged here, suffice to say it's not as straightforward as I'd hoped...... Hoping someone may have information out there anyway

Phil Gregory


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