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The rapid decline of the Southern Cassowary, the world’s largest fruit-eating bird, affects 100 rainforest plants that rely on it to disperse their seeds. https://goo.gl/xorJTE

Adult Southern Cassowaries can reach 54 kg (120 lbs). Found only in north Queensland, Australia, and in New Guinea, an important feature of their digestion is that they don't use stones to grind food in their gizzards. They swallow fruit with nutritious flesh whole and void the seeds, which sometimes have part of the fruit still attached.

This dietary feature has made this flightless bird a “keystone” rainforest species. Recent studies have shown that they disperse large quantities of the largest fruit seeds over the longest distances of any bird.

Read more – https://goo.gl/xorJTE
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The Stephanie’s Astrapia and other birds-of-paradise have restricted ranges only in New Guinea. (A few species also live on nearby islands.)

Why aren't they found in other places?

The males are probably handicapped from long-distance movements by their ornamental plumes and their strong attachment to their display sites. The plumes are designed for show, not go.

The cryptically colored females, which disperse from males in non-breeding seasons, also must return to leks to breed.

If they dispersed far away from New Guinea, successful breeding would be much less likely.

Read more – https://goo.gl/JUQTfa
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Eyewitness to Extinction

This is the first of an occasional series of posts by this title. (Leave a comment if you have a thought about my title.)

The Victoria Crowned-pigeon, the largest living pigeon, looks as if it’s wearing a Victorian-era ball masque, spiked headdress and hot-ember swim goggles.

The gaudy getup is no defense against New Guinea hunters and trappers. Less hunting is crucial to its survival since breeding pairs produce only one egg per nesting season. Killing this bird for plumes and meat, losses of forests to logging and oil palm plantations, feral pigs, and poaching chicks from nests to raise in captivity make the extinction of the species in the wild a near certainty.

Read more – https://goo.gl/IvFvdw
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The Belford’s Honeyeater hops along branches in the Papua New Guinea canopy during the day, but it also indulges a weird low-down pleasure in the morning.

That’s when they descend to the ground for a prized delicacy: copious nectar produced by a strange tree-root parasitic plant called Mitrastemma yamamotoi. This mostly subterranean plant produces pinky-white, hard, waxy flowers that protrude only a few centimeters from the forest floor.

These flowers can be mistaken for fungi and may emerge in dense mats up to 4 meters (13 ft) in diameter. The parasitic plant responds to a hormone released in the soil by the rootlets of its host plant. The hormone is actually intended to stimulate symbiotic fungi that grows only in association with its host. The plant hormone (called a Strigolactone) is a chemical signal that tells the fungi to grow.

However, root parasitic plants have hacked the plant-fungi communication system. The parasite detects the hormone, immediately germinates, attaches to the host's roots, and grows at its expense.

Photo of the root parasite - https://goo.gl/HxkeSi
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Logging has clouded the prospects of the Black-capped Lory.

It has plenty to eat in previously logged areas, but there’s a caveat. The Lory and many other parrot species require cavities in large, old trees for their nests.

Chainsaws are eliminating those trees – especially from unprotected areas.

A study published in the journal Ibis said that 10-20 individual parrots of one species can be found nesting in a single cavity of one large tree. If those remaining trees are cut down, even if food is abundant, parrots and hornbills, which are among the world’s most threatened birds, will be even more threatened.

Concentrating parrots in the few remaining large trees also makes them more vulnerable to the New Guinea region’s largely unfettered illegal pet trappers. Parrots are popular pets in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and other countries in the region. Large numbers of wild-caught birds are sold daily, legally and illegally.

TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, observed 50 bird stalls between 1997 and 2001 in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province in Indonesia. The 50 stalls displayed a total of 3,500 birds on any given day. Of the 300 bird species sold openly, 56 were “totally protected by law in Indonesia,” according to a report in the journal Birding Asia.

“Dealers are highly aware of the status of protection of the various species, and demand higher prices for protected ones,” wrote TRAFFIC researcher Chris R. Shepherd. He said some species are increasingly difficult for trappers to find in the wild in Indonesia. Those species are being imported “from Malaysia and other countries.”

Read more – https://goo.gl/I2jTg8
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The Papuan Mountain-pigeon, like the other 300 species in the pigeon and dove family, is an ecosystem engineer, milk-providing parent and clever foraging opportunist.

New research about pigeons in Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Jamaica, Europe and the U.S. paint a persuasive picture of pigeons as essential architects of forests rather than “rats with wings,” as some refer to them.

These 9 facts about pigeons will change your appreciation of one of the most under-rated groups of birds: http://bit.ly/PapuaPigeons
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The Blue-faced Honeyeater loves ripe bananas, which is why such a beautiful bird is called a pest by fruit growers.  

https://goo.gl/GO0xWu

The “Bananabird” is gregarious and noisy. It’s one of the first birds to sing in the morning in northern and eastern Australia and not shy around housing developments. (It’s also found in southern Papua New Guinea.)

(Photo: Andy Walker)

The bright blue skin around its eyes and contrasting white, olive and golden feathers give it a uniquely distinctive appearance.

It eats locusts and many other insects, but the blue facial skin of the honeyeater seems to be designed to help the bird stay relatively clean while eating fruit and sticky nectar. Facial feathers would quickly get soiled if they had them.

TASTE FOR SWEETS

The tongue of the honeyeater betrays its preference for sweets. The tongue is a brush instead of a hummingbird-like tube. The bird seeks many sugar-rich liquid foods.

Aphids and other insects withdraw sap from trees and other plants and excrete sugar-rich honeydew that the honeyeaters love. The larvae of some so-called plant lice are Eucalyptus specialists: these psyllids suck plant phloem sap from the branches and cover themselves with a protective coating of crystalized honeydew. The white coat is called lerp.

The Blue-faced Honeyeater is a lerp lover, which is one reason they forage in Eucalyptus trees. The honeyeaters usually leave the lerp-producing larvae behind to make more.

I believe that the more we watch, photograph, protect and study Blue-faced Honeyeaters, the better for the species, all birds, all wildlife and all humans.

#Australiabirds #NewGuineabirds #binoculars #birds #birding #birdwatching #birdlovers #naturephotography #wildlifephotography  #birdphotography #ornithology #amazingbirds #birdphotos #birdingtour #birdingguides #ecotourism #beautifulbirds #amazingplacestosee #beautiful_nature 
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If you haven’t seen the BBC’s video of a male Lawes’s Six-plumed Bird-of-paradise meticulously preparing and then dancing at his courtship-display area, here’s your chance. This bird-of-paradise species sports a coppery breast plate and other iridescent, shimmering colors. 

http://bit.ly/BirdOfParadiseDance

During the breeding season, this New Guinea bird is famous for seductively waving six wire-like plumes tipped with spatulate tips. The plumes jiggle as the male gyrates his head back and forth. 

In Papua New Guinea, Trans Niugini Tours operates a system of 7 award-winning, sustainably constructed and operated birdwatching lodges with comfy access to 708 bird species, including 43 known bird-of-paradise species.

http://bit.ly/7NewGuineaBirdLodges

More acrobatic courtship dances are performed by the mankins of Central and South America, but this bird-of-paradise is the peacock of jet black temptation.

I believe that the more we watch, photograph, and study the Lawes’s Six-plumed Bird-of-paradise, the better for the species, all birds, all wildlife and all humans. 

#NewGuineabirds #birdofparadise #binoculars #birds #birding #birdwatching #birdlovers #naturephotography #wildlifephotography  #birdphotography #ornithology #amazingbirds #birdphotos #birdingtour #birdingguides #ecotourism #beautifulbirds #amazingplacestosee #beautiful_nature 
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Like all hornbills, Papuan Hornbills are aloof. You can hear that attitude in their staccato ka-ka-ka-ka when they fly, as if they're laughing at everybody else.

Hundreds of hornbills congregate for choruses of grunts and calls at raucous nighttime roosts.

Male Papuan Hornbills are 25 percent shorter than the 90 to 130 cm (35-51 in) Southern Ground Hornbill of Africa. However at 3 feet tall, sporting a curved, double pickax bill, they get their way on New Guinea and many surrounding islands with everything but human hunters.  

Males have rufous heads and necks, and the smaller females (like the young one pictured here) have an all-black head and neck with less brown around the base of the bill. Young hornbills have no folds in the casques on their upper mandibles, but acquire them with age.

The Papuan Hornbill is commonly seen in the Sepik area of Papua New Guinea. Karawari Lodge is a popular birding destination in that area, and the hornbill, parrots, birds-of-paradise and many other birds are found there. Trans Niugini Tours runs seven award-winning birdwatching lodges in Papua New Guinea, including Karawari Lodge, providing guides, aircraft, vehicles, boats and luxury accommodations at all seven.

http://www.pngtours.com/lodge2.html

The Papuan Hornbill occasionally eats crabs on the beach, but it favors figs and fruit. Many kinds of fruit they eat contain poisonous, bitter-tasting compounds. The bad-tasting deterrents and the birds’ ability to cope with them are part of arms race between plant and birds that eat them. 

The Papuan Hornbill and many parrots have evolved the ability to use soil as a dietary supplement to inactivate tannic acid, quinine and other poisonous or bitter-tasting compounds in fruit. South American parrots are well known to congregate at clay licks in the Amazon rainforests to eat soil.

New Guinea has its own version of an Amazonian clay lick: blue soil that contains clay and a mixture of iron-containing minerals. One blue-soil patch is near the confluence of the Oo and Pio Rivers. Papuan Hornbills and fruit-eating parrots, Palm Cockatoos, crows, Dwarf Cassowaries and pigeons visit the site. 

Many Papuan fruit-eating birds also drink from saltwater seeps, including one at the Crater Mountain Biological Research Station. A Magnificent Bird-of-paradise was seen drinking saltwater there.  Ornithologists suspect that both the clay and the saltwater may help detoxify compounds found in fruit. However, this dietary phenomenon in New Guinea’s birds has not been studied in detail.

Traditional rural groups hunt wild pigs, deer, and other animals and birds, including the Papuan Hornbill, the only hornbill species in New Guinea. However, more people are becoming aware that too much bushmeat harvesting will not only threaten wildlife, but also reduce the food security of poor people who rely on bushmeat. 
 
(Photo: Trans Niugini Tours)

I believe that the more we watch, photograph, study and enjoy the Papuan Hornbill, the better for the species, all birds, all wildlife and all humans.
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The Black-capped Lory (Lorius lory) is one of Papua New Guinea’s most colorful parrots that can be found in densities of up to 50 birds per square kilometer in some forest gardens. 

The two birds pictured here are members of one of the seven subspecies (L. l.  salvadorii) that is found in northeast Papua New Guinea from the Aitape area to Astrolabe Bay.

Why are parrot densities occasionally so high?

Parrots and hornbills in Papua New Guinea’s lowlands eat the fruit primarily of 15 trees commonly found in logged forests, and flowers of nine plant species commonly found in forest gardens.

The Black-capped Lory has plenty to eat in such previously logged areas. But there’s a caveat. The Black-capped Lory and other parrot species still require the cavities in large, old trees as nesting sites. However, those trees are disappearing from unprotected areas. 

A study published in the journal Ibis said that 10-20 individual parrots of one species can be found nesting in a single cavity of one large tree. If those remaining trees are logged, even if food is abundant, parrots and hornbills, which are among the world’s most threatened birds, will be more threatened.

Concentrating parrots in a few trees also makes them vulnerable to the region’s largely unfettered illegal pet trappers. Parrots are popular pets in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and other countries in the region, and large numbers of wild-caught birds are sold daily. 

TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, observed 50 bird stalls between 1997 and 2001 in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province in Indonesia.

The 50 stalls displayed a total of 3,500 birds on any given day. Of the 300 bird species sold openly, 56 species were “totally protected by law in Indonesia,” according to a report in the journal Birding Asia.

“Dealers are highly aware of the status of protection of the various species, and demand higher prices for protected ones,” wrote TRAFFIC researcher Chris R. Shepherd. He said some species are increasingly difficult for trappers to find in the wild in Indonesia. Those species are being imported “from Malaysia and other countries.”

(Photo: Trans Niugini Tours)

The Black-capped Lory is commonly seen in the Sepik area of Papua New Guinea. Karawari Lodge is a popular birding destination in that area, and the Black-capped Lory and other parrots, bird-of-paradise species and many other birds are found there. Trans Niugini Tours runs seven award-winning birdwatching lodges in Papua New Guinea, including Karawari Lodge, providing guides, aircraft, vehicles, boats and luxury accommodations at all seven.

http://www.pngtours.com/lodge2.html

I believe that the more we watch, photograph, study and enjoy the Black-capped Lory, the better for the species, all birds, all wildlife and all humans.

Top Birding Tours newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bw4KE1

#birding   #birds   #birdingtours   #birdphotography   #parrots   #papuanewguinea   #pettrade   #ornithology   #wildlifetrade   #pettrappers   #hornbills  
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