This photo is copyrighted.

Species Spotlight

07 Jul 2024

White-Crested Turaco (Tauraco Leucolophus)

Species: White-Crested Turaco
Scientific Name: Tauraco Leucolophus
Other Names:
Chinese: 白冠蕉鵑 (Bái guān jiāo juān)
Japanese: シロガシラエボシドリ (Shirogashiraeboshidori)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Mainly fruits and berries, flowers and invertebrates
Distribution: Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda

Fun Fact: One of the most captivating aspects of the White-crested turaco is its dazzling array of colors. Its body is adorned with a rich, emerald green plumage, a color that seems to embody the lushness of the African rainforest. In contrast, its wings showcase a deep crimson hue, visible only during flight. This flash of red adds a touch of vibrancy and surprise, momentarily breaking the monotony of the green foliage as the bird takes flight. The bird’s most distinguishing feature is its prominent white crest, which stands tall atop its head and gives the species its name. This crest, composed of elongated feathers, serves both as a display of visual splendor and a means of communication. When excited or threatened, the turaco will raise its crest, making it appear larger and more imposing. Conversely, a relaxed bird will have its crest lowered, creating a calmer silhouette.

Beyond their extraordinary pigmentation, White-crested turacos exhibit other notable adaptations that contribute to their survival and success in their arboreal habitat. Their feet are equipped with zygodactyl toes, meaning two toes point forward and two toes point backward. This arrangement allows for a secure grip on branches and facilitates their adept movement through the forest canopy. Turacos are also known for their strong, agile wings, which enable them to navigate through dense foliage with relative ease. While not exceptional long-distance fliers, their ability to maneuver swiftly and accurately within their wooded environment is crucial for finding food, evading predators, and establishing territories.

In conclusion, the White-crested turaco is a captivating bird that boasts a myriad of intriguing characteristics. From its vibrant plumage and unique pigmentation to its specialized adaptations for arboreal life, this species stands as a testament to the diversity and wonder of the avian world. Its beauty, behavior, and ecological significance make the White-crested turaco a true gem of the African forests and a subject of endless fascination for those fortunate enough to encounter it.

White-Crested Turaco (Tauraco Leucolophus)
30 Jun 2024

Schalow’s Turaco (Tauraco Schalowi)

Schalow's Turaco (Tauraco Schalowi)

Species: Schalow’s Turaco
Scientific Name: Tauraco Schalowi
Other Names:
Chinese: 沙氏冠蕉鵑 (Shā shì guān jiāo juān)
Japanese: シャロアエボシドリ (Sharoaeboshidori)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Mainly Fruits and other plant matters, while eating a more insect-based diet as chicks
Distribution: Zambia,uplands of southern Kenya, northern and western Tanzania, central Angola, the southern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and western Malawi

Fun Fact: Schalow’s Turaco’s plumage is a spectacle of nature’s artistry. Its body is cloaked in emerald green, while a ruby-red bill and eye-ring provide striking contrast. The elongated white-tipped crest, gracefully arching forward, serves as a visual beacon during courtship displays and social interactions.

Schalow’s turaco is a vital player in the ecosystem, contributing to seed dispersal throughout its habitat. Its diet primarily consists of fruits, and as it feasts, it inadvertently carries seeds to new locations, aiding in the propagation of plant species. Though not known for their aerial prowess, Schalow’s turacos are adept climbers. They skillfully navigate the complex network of branches, using their strong legs and sharp claws to grip onto the bark. This arboreal lifestyle not only aids in foraging but also provides a refuge from ground-dwelling predators.

While both Schalow’s and Livingstone’s Turacos share a striking resemblance, a closer look reveals subtle yet crucial differences: The most obvious distinction lies in their crests. Schalow’s turaco boasts a longer, more pronounced crest that extends further forward and exhibits a more pronounced droop compared to the crest of Livingstone’s turaco. While both species possess loud and distinct calls, subtle variations in tone, pitch, and rhythm exist. Experienced ornithologists can distinguish between the two based on their vocalizations, adding another layer to their fascinating identities.

17 Jun 2024

Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger Aterrimus)

Species: Palm Cockatoo
Scientific Name: Probosciger Aterrimus
Other Names:
Chinese: 棕櫚鳳頭鸚鵡 (Zōnglǘ fèng tóu yīngwǔ)
Japanese: ヤシオウム (Yashioumu)
Conservation Status: Near Threatened (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Fruit, nuts, berries, seeds and buds of leaves
Distribution: New Guinea and Australia

Fun Fact: The Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus), also known as the Goliath Cockatoo,
is the largest cockatoo species and one of the largest parrots in the world. Its imposing size is accentuated by a prominent crest of feathers that can be raised or lowered to express a variety of emotions. Its plumage is predominantly black, with striking red cheek patches that change color depending on the bird’s mood or health. The most distinctive feature of the Palm Cockatoo, however, is its massive beak, the largest of any parrot species. This powerful tool allows the bird to crack open the toughest nuts and seeds, including the hard-shelled fruits of the Pandanus palm, from which it derives its name.

It is an exceptional avian species that captivates with its unique characteristics and behaviors. Endemic to the rainforests of New Guinea, Aru Islands, and Cape York Peninsula in Australia, this large, dark-plumaged parrot has garnered significant attention from ornithologists and bird enthusiasts alike for its distinct physical attributes, fascinating courtship rituals, dietary habits, and cultural significance.

Another remarkable aspect of the Palm Cockatoo’s behavior is its complex vocal repertoire. These birds produce a wide range of calls, whistles, and screeches, each with its specific meaning. They also possess the ability to mimic human speech, although not as proficiently as some other parrot species. Perhaps the most astonishing vocalization of the Palm Cockatoo is its “hello” call, a low-pitched, guttural sound that bears an uncanny resemblance to the human greeting.

Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger Aterrimus)
10 Jun 2024

Asian Fairy-Bluebird (Irena Puella)

Asian Fairy-Bluebird (Irena Puella)

Species: Asian Fairy-Bluebird
Scientific Name: Irena Puella
Other Names:
Chinese: 和平鳥 (Hépíng niǎo)
Japanese: ルリコノハドリ (Rurikonohadori)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Fruits, nectar and some insects.
Distribution: Southwest and east India, Southernmost China, Mainland Southeast Asia, Thai-Malay Peninsula, Greater Sundas, and Palawan.

Fun Fact: One of the most remarkable aspects of the Asian Fairy-bluebird is its vibrant plumage, exhibiting a pronounced sexual dimorphism. The male bird displays a stunning array of iridescent blue upperparts, shimmering with jewel tones that shift and change depending on the angle of light. This dazzling display is achieved through the unique structure of the male’s feathers, which possess microscopic barbs that refract light and create an almost otherworldly effect. In contrast, the female bird possesses a more subdued yet elegant plumage of dull blue-green feathers. This coloration provides effective camouflage for the female as she incubates eggs and cares for young chicks nestled within the dense foliage of the forest canopy.

Beyond their ecological importance, Asian Fairy-bluebirds hold cultural value in some regions of Southeast Asia. In Thailand, for example, these birds are revered as symbols of good luck and prosperity. Their vibrant colors and melodious calls are seen as positive omens, and folklore tells tales of these birds bringing fortune to those who encounter them. Similarly, in Vietnam, the Asian Fairy-bluebird is associated with happiness and marital bliss. Their lifelong partnerships and dedication to raising their young are seen as an embodiment of strong family values. The depiction of these birds in traditional art and folklore further reinforces their cultural significance, with their image gracing everything from paintings and sculptures to textiles and embroidery.

31 May 2024

Von Der Decken’s Hornbill (Tockus Deckeni)

Species: Von Der Decken’s Hornbill
Scientific Name: Tockus Deckeni
Other Names:
Chinese: 德氏弯嘴犀鸟 (Dé shì wān zuǐ xī niǎo)
Japanese: セグロコサイチョウ (Segurokosaichou)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Ominivorous, eating insects, seeds & fruits.
Distribution: East Africa, east of the East African Rift, from Ethiopia south to Tanzania.

Fun Fact: The Von der Decken’s hornbill holds a special place in the cultural traditions of East African communities. The Maasai people, for example, believe that encountering a Von der Decken’s hornbill is a sign of good luck and prosperity. The bird’s distinctive red bill is said to symbolize courage and determination, while its loud calls are interpreted as messages from the spirit world. Additionally, some communities incorporate the hornbill’s image into their artwork and carvings, reflecting its significance in their cultural identity.

One of the most striking features of the Von der Decken’s hornbill is its eponymous bill. The bill is long, curved, and lacks a casque, a bony structure found on the bills of some other hornbill species. The male’s bill is a vibrant red with a cream tip and black cutting edge, while the female’s bill is entirely black. This sexual dimorphism, the distinct difference in appearance between males and females, serves various purposes, including mate attraction and species recognition.

Von Der Decken’s Hornbills are known for their gregarious nature, often congregating in small flocks to forage for food and engage in nesting activities. Their nesting strategy is particularly noteworthy. The female voluntarily seals herself within a tree cavity, leaving only a narrow opening through which the male provides sustenance for her and their offspring. This remarkable behavior serves as a protective mechanism against predators, ensuring the safety of the family unit.

Von Der Decken's Hornbill (Tockus Deckeni)
29 May 2024

African Wild Dog (Lycaon Pictus)

African Wild Dog (Lycaon Pictus)

Species: African Wild Dog
Scientific Name: Lycaon Pictus
Other Names:
Chinese: 非洲野犬 (Fēizhōu yěquǎn)
Japanese: リカオン (Rikaon)
Conservation Status: Endangered (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Carnivorous. Hunting a wide variety of prey, including warthogs, antelopes, wildebeest calves, rats, and birds.
Distribution: Southern and East Africa. Rare in North Africa and mostly absent in West Africa.

Fun Fact: Hunting is a collaborative endeavor for the African wild dog, and their success rate is remarkably high. These skilled predators employ a combination of speed, endurance, and teamwork to bring down their prey, often targeting medium-sized antelopes. Unlike other large carnivores, such as lions or hyenas, who rely on ambush tactics and brute strength, the African wild dog’s hunting strategy is characterized by relentless pursuit and strategic coordination. Once the prey is exhausted, the pack descends upon it, dispatching it swiftly and efficiently.

The African wild dog exhibits a highly social and cooperative nature, living in tightly knit packs that demonstrate exceptional communication and coordination. These packs are typically led by an alpha pair, who are responsible for making decisions regarding hunting, territory, and reproduction. However, unlike many other social animals, African wild dogs practice a unique form of communal decision-making, where all members of the pack have a voice. This egalitarian approach ensures the collective needs of the pack are met and that all members have a stake in the group’s success.

One of the most striking features of the African wild dog is its distinctive coat pattern. Each individual possesses a unique mosaic of colors and markings, akin to a fingerprint, which serves as a form of identification within the pack. This visually stunning display is not merely ornamental but plays a crucial role in their social interactions and hunting strategies. The large, round ears of the African wild dog are another notable trait. These oversized appendages aid in thermoregulation and act as highly efficient sound receptors, enabling them to detect the subtlest of movements in their vast savanna habitat.

28 May 2024

Northern Carmine Bee-Eater (Merops Nubicus)

Species: Northern Carmine Bee-Eater
Scientific Name: Merops Nubicus
Other Names:
Chinese: 北方洋紅蜂虎 (Běifāng yánghóng fēng hǔ)
Japanese: キタベニハチクイ (Kitabenihachikui)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Mainly bees and other flying insects such as flying ants, locusts and grasshoppers.
Distribution: Across Northern tropical Africa, from Senegal eastwards to Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Fun Fact: The Northern Carmine Bee-Eater’s striking appearance is characterized by its predominantly carmine-colored body, contrasting with a greenish-blue head and throat, accentuated by a distinctive black mask. This visually stunning bird exhibits sexual dimorphism in the form of elongated central tail feathers in males, which play a role in courtship displays.

A master of aerial maneuvers, the Northern Carmine Bee-eater utilizes a hunting technique known as “hawking.” With laser focus, it launches itself from a perch, snatching flying insects mid-air in a dazzling display of acrobatic prowess. Their agility is complemented by a remarkable adaptation – before consuming potentially venomous prey like bees, the bee-eater cleverly removes the stinger and venom sac by expertly rubbing the insect against a hard surface.

The Northern Carmine Bee-eater’s ecological significance extends far beyond its role as a skilled predator. It plays a vital part in a fascinating symbiotic relationship with larger animals like antelopes and kori bustards. These gentle giants unwittingly provide the bee-eater with a unique hunting advantage by allowing them to utilize their backs as elevated perches. This behavior beautifully exemplifies the interconnectedness of species within their shared ecosystems.

Northern Carmine Bee-Eater (Merops Nubicus)
27 May 2024

Black-Casqued Hornbill (Ceratogymna Atrata)

Black-Casqued Hornbill (Ceratogymna Atrata)

Species: Black-Casqued Hornbill
Scientific Name: Ceratogymna Atrata
Other Names:
Chinese: 黑盔噪犀鳥 (Hēi kuī zào xī niǎo)
Japanese: クロコブサイチョウ (Kurokobusaichou)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Mainly insects, fruits and sometimes small animals
Distribution: West and Central Africa from South Guinea and Sierra Leone, East to South Sudan and West Uganda, and South to North-West Angola.

Fun Fact: One of the most striking features of the Black-Casqued hornbill is its eponymous casque, a large, hollow structure on top of its beak. This casque serves multiple purposes, including amplifying its calls, attracting mates, and potentially aiding in thermoregulation. Males possess larger casques than females, and they use them to produce loud, resonating calls that can carry over long distances. These calls often serve as territorial warnings or announcements of food sources.

Black-Casqued Hornbills exhibit a fascinating twist on parental duties during breeding season. To ensure the safety of her eggs and developing chicks, the female becomes practically walled-in inside a specially chosen tree cavity. She seals the entrance with mud and debris, leaving only a narrow slit for the male to pass food through. This remarkable behavior is known as “brick walling.” The male takes on the sole responsibility of providing for his mate and offspring during this critical time. He diligently forages for fruits, insects, and small animals, regurgitating them through the opening to nourish the female and chicks.

One of the most noticeable differences between male and female black-casqued hornbills lies in their physical appearance. Males are generally larger than females, boasting a more prominent casque – a hollow structure on top of their beak that serves a variety of functions. This casque can reach up to impressive sizes, with some males sporting casques exceeding 5 inches or 12.7 centimetre
in length. The casque is thought to be a sexually selected trait, with larger casques potentially indicating greater fitness and dominance. Additionally, the casque may play a role in amplifying the male’s calls and acting as a visual signal during courtship displays. The coloration of the casque also differs between the sexes. As the bird’s name suggests, the male’s casque is typically a glossy black, contrasting sharply with their otherwise white and black plumage. Females, on the other hand, possess smaller casques that are often a lighter shade of yellow or brown, sometimes even appearing reddish.

26 May 2024

White-Cheeked Turaco (Menelikornis Leucotis)

Species: White-Cheeked Turaco
Scientific Name: Menelikornis Leucotis
Other Names:
Chinese: 白頰冠蕉鵑 (Bái jiá guān jiāo juān)
Japanese: ホオジロエボシドリ (Hoojiroeboshidori)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Mainly fruits, insects and occasionally small reptiles
Distribution: Native to Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia

Fun Fact: White-cheeked Turaco is a visual spectacle with its vibrant green body, blue-green tail and wings, and distinctive crimson wing undersides that flash during flight. Beyond their striking appearance, these birds boast an array of unique qualities that make them a fascinating subject of study.

While they live in flocks of up to a dozen individuals, White-cheeked Turacos are surprisingly shy and prefer to remain hidden within the dense foliage of their arboreal habitat. Their complex social interactions and communication remain somewhat enigmatic due to their secretive nature.

With a fondness for feasting on fruits, White-cheeked Turacos play a crucial role in seed dispersal. By scattering seeds through their droppings as they move from tree to tree, they contribute to the regeneration of forests and the maintenance of plant diversity in their ecosystem. However, their less-than-refined dining habits can sometimes lead to them being considered pests by farmers, as they may target cultivated fruits.

White-Cheeked Turaco (Menelikornis Leucotis)
24 May 2024

Green Wood Hoopoe (Phoeniculus Purpureus)

Green Wood Hoopoe (Phoeniculus Purpureus)

Species: Green Wood Hoopoe
Scientific Name: Phoeniculus Purpureus
Other Names:
Chinese: 綠林戴勝 (Lùlín dài shèng)
Japanese: ミドリモリヤツガシラ(Midorimoriyatsugashira)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Mainly insects
Distribution: In most of Sub-Saharan Africa, like Senegal

Fun Fact: The Green Wood Hoopoe or also known as Phoeniculus purpureus, a charismatic bird species inhabiting sub-Saharan Africa, is a treasure trove of biological marvels. Its distinct flight, marked by a rhythmic alternation between rapid wing beats and graceful glides, creates an undulating dance against the African sky. This unique pattern, coupled with their long tail feathers, makes their aerial movements both efficient and visually captivating.

Their diet is primarily insectivorous, but their foraging methods set them apart. Utilizing specialized claws, they cling to the undersides of branches, probing bark crevices with their long, decurved bills. This upside-down acrobatics grants them access to a bounty of insects and spiders overlooked by other birds.

Green Wood Hoopoes defy the stereotype of the independent bird. Instead, they orchestrate a fascinating social tapestry. At the heart of this system lies a breeding pair, responsible for raising the next generation. However, they are not alone in this endeavor. Several non-breeding helpers, likely offspring from previous broods, contribute to the group’s welfare. This cooperative breeding system fosters a remarkable display of shared parental care and territorial defense, significantly increasing the group’s overall success.

23 May 2024

Violet Turaco (Musophaga Violacea)

Species: Violet Turaco
Scientific Name: Musophaga Violacea
Other Names:
Chinese: 紫蕉鵑 (Zǐ jiāo juān)
Japanese: ニシムラサキエボシドリ (Nishimurasakieboshidori)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Mainly fruits, and also leaves, flowers, buds, insects, slugs and snails.
Distribution: West Africa such as Senegal to Nigeria, with isolated populations in the Central African Republic and Chad.

Fun Fact: The Violet Turaco (Musophaga violacea), a mesmerizing avian jewel of West Africa, boasts an array of captivating traits that make it a true wonder of nature. With plumage so vivid it seems to have been plucked from an artist’s palette, this turaco species is a sight to behold.

Their feathers shimmer with a deep, iridescent violet, reminiscent of twilight skies. This resplendent hue is accentuated by a regal crimson crest, a bold yellow forehead, and a sturdy, scarlet beak. These vibrant colors not only serve as a visual spectacle but also play a crucial role in communication and mate selection.

While they might be a bit shy around humans, Violet Turacos are confident acrobats in their treetop world. Their four toes, two facing forward and two facing backward, allow them to grip branches like little feathered gymnasts. This unique foot structure, along with their strong legs, makes them more adept at running, hopping, and leaping through the branches than they are at flying. They’ll readily use their impressive agility to navigate the dense forest canopy, chasing insects, escaping predators, or simply showing off for a potential mate.

Violet Turaco (Musophaga Violacea)
21 May 2024

Crested Coua (Coua Cristata)

Crested Coua (Coua Cristata)

Species: Crested Coua
Scientific Name: Coua Cristata
Other Names:
Chinese: 鳳頭馬島鵑 (Fèng tóu mǎdǎo juān)
Japanese: カンムリヂカッコウ (Kanmuridjikakkou)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Mainly of various insects, fruits, berries, seeds, small reptiles and snails
Distribution:  Endemic to Madagascar

Fun Fact: The Crested Coua, a bird endemic to Madagascar, is a fascinating creature with several distinctive traits that set it apart. Its striking appearance is characterized by a gray-green body, a prominent pointed crest on its head, and a long tail adorned with blue feathers tipped in white. Perhaps the most eye-catching feature is the vibrant turquoise skin encircling its eyes, adding a touch of exotic elegance. These birds are an important part of the Malagasy culture. They are featured in folklore and traditional stories, and their presence is considered to be a sign of good luck.

Unlike some cuckoo species that abandon their eggs in other birds’ nests, Crested Couas are devoted parents. They collaborate in building the nest, take turns incubating the eggs, and share the responsibility of caring for their young until they are fully fledged. The chicks themselves possess a unique characteristic: red and white markings on the inside of their mouths that resemble bullseyes. Scientists believe these markings serve as a guide for the parents, indicating where to deposit food.

These inquisitive birds are constantly on the move, hopping from tree to tree and exploring their surroundings with an insatiable curiosity. While they are not a good flyer nor able to cover vast distances in flight, they are adept at navigating the arboreal landscape, making them more akin to tree climbers than long-distance flyers.

20 May 2024

Green Turaco (Tauraco Persa)

Species: Green Turaco
Scientific Name: Tauraco Persa
Other Names:
Chinese: 綠冠蕉鵑 (Lǜ guān jiāo juān)
Japanese: ギニアエボシドリ (Giniaeboshidori)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Mainly fruits, sometimes insects, leaves and flowers
Distribution: West and central Africa, such as Senegal, South to Northern Angola, Guinea, Nigeria, Ghana and more.

Fun Fact: The Green Turaco is renowned for its vibrant plumage, which is predominantly a brilliant green. However, its wings conceal a hidden treasure: crimson flight feathers containing turacin, a rare copper-based pigment exclusive to turacos. This vivid red coloration only becomes visible during flight, adding an unexpected splash of color to its otherwise verdant appearance.

Green turacos are highly social creatures, often forming flocks of up to 30 individuals. They are strongly territorial. These flocks are characterized by complex social dynamics, with members communicating through a variety of vocalizations. Their calls range from loud, raucous cries to softer, melodic sounds, each serving a specific purpose in maintaining cohesion within the group, defending territory, or attracting mates.

They are masters of disguise. Their emerald plumage acts like a chameleon’s cloak, allowing them to vanish into the dappled sunlight filtering through the rainforest canopy. This remarkable camouflage makes them nearly invisible to predators, giving them a vital edge in the constant struggle for survival. It also allows them to approach unsuspecting prey undetected, making them efficient hunters of insects and small invertebrates.

Green Turaco (Tauraco Persa)
19 May 2024

Western Long-tailed Hornbill (Horizocerus Albocristatus)

Western Long-tailed Hornbill (Horizocerus Albocristatus)

Species: Western Long-tailed Hornbill
Scientific Name: Horizocerus Albocristatus
Other Names:
Chinese: 白冠彎嘴犀鳥 (Báiguānwān zuǐ xī niǎo)
Japanese: シラガサイチョウ (Shiragasaichou)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Mainly insects, fruits, seeds and small vertebrates.
Distribution: West Africa from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Ghana

Fun Fact: The Western long-tailed hornbill boasts a prominent casque on its upper mandible. This bony structure, often referred to as a helmet, is thought to play a multifaceted role in the bird’s life. It may serve as a visual ornament during courtship displays, influencing mate selection by females. Additionally, the casque might function as a weapon during clashes between males competing for territory or mates.

As its name suggests, the Western long-tailed hornbill possesses an exceptionally long tail, often exceeding its body length. This elongated tail serves multiple purposes. It acts as a counterbalance, providing stability during flight, particularly when navigating the dense rainforest canopy. The long tail also functions as a rudder, enabling the hornbill to make sharp turns and maneuver through thick foliage with agility. Additionally, the tail feathers might play a role in communication, with displays being used to attract mates or assert dominance.

Despite their impressive size, Western long-tailed hornbills are surprisingly agile fliers. Their long tails function as effective rudders, aiding them in navigating the dense rainforest canopy with remarkable dexterity. This aerial agility is essential for navigating the branches and avoiding obstacles as they move through their forest home.

19 May 2024

Great Blue Turaco (Corythaeola Cristata)

Species: Great Blue Turaco
Scientific Name: Corythaeola Cristata
Other Names:
Chinese: 藍蕉鵑 (Lán jiāo juān)
Japanese: カンムリエボシドリ (Kanmurieboshidori)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Fruits, flowers, nectar and plants
Distribution: West and Central Africa like Guinea and Imatong Mountains

Fun Fact: The Great Blue Turaco or also known as Corythaeola Cristata, the largest of the turaco species, is a remarkable bird native to the central African rainforests. Renowned for its striking appearance, unique biological features, and vital ecological role, this species continues to fascinate ornithologists and nature enthusiasts alike.

Its plumage is a visual feast. Its predominantly blue feathers are punctuated by vibrant crimson flight feathers and a yellow-tipped crest. This coloration is not merely aesthetic; the blue pigment, turacoverdin, is a porphyrin-based pigment unique to turacos and is thought to aid in thermoregulation. Additionally, the red pigment, turacin, a copper-based pigment found only in turacos, lends the feathers a metallic sheen and may play a role in intraspecific communication.

Despite their size, Great Blue Turacos are surprisingly agile climbers. Their zygodactyl feet, with two toes facing forward and two backward, coupled with strong legs, allow them to navigate the dense rainforest canopy with ease. While they are not strong fliers, their short, rounded wings facilitate quick hops and glides between branches.

Great Blue Turaco (Corythaeola Cristata)
16 May 2024

Red-Vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus Cafer)

Red-Vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus Cafer)

Species: Red-Vented Bulbul
Scientific Name: Pycnonotus Cafer
Other Names:
Chinese: 黑喉紅臀鵯 (Hēi hóu hóng tún bēi)
Japanese: シリアカヒヨドリ (Shiriakahiyodori)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Fruits, insects, petals of flowers, nectar and occasionally house geckos
Distribution: Natural range from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, before it was introduced into many countries such as Tonga, Fiji, Samoa Tahiti and New Caledonia

Fun Fact: Red-vented bulbuls are like the peacocks of the bulbul world, rocking a secret splash of crimson under their tails. This hidden flash of red, which is how they got their name, adds a touch of panache to their otherwise understated brown and black plumage.

These birds are adventurous eaters with a discerning palate! Their menu includes a wide variety of fruits, from sweet berries to juicy mangoes. They also enjoy nectar, insects, and even the occasional gecko to keep things interesting. Their love for flowers goes beyond nectar – they’ll also nibble on petals for a bit of floral flair in their diet. They’re resourceful foragers, readily adapting their diet to what’s available in their habitat.

Red-vented bulbuls are like the cool kids of the bird world, adapting well to the hustle and bustle of city life. They can often be spotted in parks and gardens, adding a touch of nature to the urban landscape. Their boldness and their willingness to find food in human-made environments have allowed them to flourish in urban areas. They’re a common sight in many cities around the world, bringing a bit of avian charm to the concrete jungle.

15 May 2024

Blyth’s Hornbill (Rhyticeros Plicatus)

Species: Blyth’s Hornbill
Scientific Name: Rhyticeros Plicatus
Other Names:
Chinese: 藍喉皺盔犀鳥 (Lán hóu zhòu kuī xī niǎo)
Japanese: パプアシワコブサイチョウ (Papuashiwakobusaichou)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Fruits and insects
Distribution: Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands

Fun Fact: The Blyth’s Hornbill couple presents a striking example of sexual dimorphism in the avian world. The male flaunts a vibrant plumage of rufous (reddish-brown) feathers, while the female is adorned in an elegant all-black ensemble, punctuated by a crisp white throat and tail. This stark contrast in appearance not only makes them easily distinguishable but also reflects their distinct roles in reproduction. The male’s flamboyant colors likely serve to attract mates and deter rivals, while the female’s subdued attire provides camouflage while nesting and caring for their young.

Named after the renowned English naturalist Edward Blyth, who made significant contributions to the study of Asian wildlife, the Blyth’s Hornbill is a unique and fascinating bird. Their loud, booming calls, reminiscent of a dog’s bark, echo through their forest habitats. These vocalizations serve various purposes, including communication, territorial marking, and mate attraction. The calls are not uniform, however, and vary depending on the bird’s age and sex, with juveniles producing higher-pitched sounds and adults having deeper, more resonant calls. This complex acoustic repertoire adds another layer to the intricate lives of these remarkable birds.

Blyth's Hornbill (Rhyticeros Plicatus)
14 May 2024

Red-Whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus Jocosus)

Red-Whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus Jocosus)

Species: Red-Whiskered Bulbul
Scientific Name: Pycnonotus Jocosus
Other Names:
Chinese: 紅耳鵯 (hóng ěr bēi)
Japanese: コウラウン (Kouraun)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Fruits, nectar and insects
Distribution: Malaysia, Vietnam, China, India, Nepal, Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Laos

Fun Fact: The red-whiskered bulbul, a flamboyant bird found in tropical Asia and introduced to many other parts of the world, is full of surprises! Did you know that their unique “kink-a-joo” call sounds like they’re saying “pleased to meet you”? Or that they’re notorious for their messy nests, often decorated with bits of plastic and paper, which some might call resourceful, others might call eccentric? These social birds are quite the foodies, feasting on a buffet of fruits, insects, and even flower nectar. They’re not afraid to show off their punk-rock hairstyle either, with a spiky black crest and a fiery red “whisker” behind their eyes. In fact, these red patches are technically called malar stripes, but “whiskers” adds a touch of whimsy to their already quirky appearance.

Bulbuls are also talented singers, with a repertoire that goes beyond their signature call. Their complex songs can be quite scolding at times, but some find them cheerful and evocative. Listen closely, and you might even hear them mimicking other birds or whistling a catchy tune!

Beyond their musical abilities, red-whiskered bulbuls are fascinating parents. Both mom and dad take turns incubating the eggs and feeding the chicks, which hatch with only a bit of fuzz. As the chicks grow, their diet transitions from insects to fruits, mirroring the shift in their parents’ own eating habits. These attentive birds fiercely defend their territories during breeding season, but come together in large groups to roost at night, creating a cacophony of chirps and twitters.

12 May 2024

Colugo (Galeopterus Variegatus)

Species: Colugo or Sunda Flying Lemur
Scientific Name: Galeopterus Variegatus
Other Names:
Chinese: 斑鼯猴 (Bān wú hóu)
Japanese: マレーヒヨケザル (Marē hiyōkezaru)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Leaves, shoots, flowers, sap and fruits
Distribution: Myanmar, Indochina, the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo and Java.

Fun Fact: Colugo, also known as the “flying lemur,” is a captivating mammal that inhabits the lush rainforests of Southeast Asia. But don’t be fooled by its nickname – the colugo is neither a lemur nor capable of true flight.

It is a master glider, not a flyer. It uses a specialized membrane called a patagium to glide gracefully between trees, covering impressive distances. Unlike squirrels or monkeys that jump from branch to branch, the colugo can travel much greater distances with minimal effort thanks to its unique patagium

It belongs to its own unique order of mammals called Dermoptera. The colugo’s camouflage is exceptional. Its mottled fur helps it blend seamlessly with tree bark and foliage. This arboreal mammal is primarily nocturnal, spending its days resting and its nights foraging for food.

10 May 2024

Bearded Barbet (Lybius Dubius)

Bearded Barbet (Lybius Dubius)

Species: Bearded Barbet
Scientific Name: Pogonornis Dubius
Other Names:
Chinese: 須擬啄木鳥 (xū nǐ zhuómùniǎo)
Japanese: ヒゲゴシキドリ (Hige goshikidori)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Mainly Fruits and Insects
Distribution: West Africa such as Niger, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon

Fun Fact: Believe it or not, the Bearded Barbet is a close relative of the iconic Toucan! Both birds belong to the family Ramphastidae, a group known for their vibrant plumage and presence in tropical regions of the Americas and Africa.

Toucans are famous for their enormous, brightly colored beaks, which have evolved to be surprisingly lightweight despite their size. This adaptation allows toucans to reach fruits on flimsy branches that would be inaccessible to heavier birds. Additionally, the impressive size of their beaks enables them to consume and disperse even the largest fruits, ensuring the propagation of these plants throughout the rainforest canopy.

However in contrast, the Bearded Barbet has a more modest beak, but its smaller size allows it to navigate the dense understory with ease. This difference in beak size and maneuverability creates a complementary seed dispersal partnership. The toucan takes care of fruit-bearing trees in the upper canopy, while the barbet ensures the forest floor receives its fair share of seeds. This cooperative effort guarantees a wider variety of plants can thrive throughout the rainforest, from the very highest branches to the shaded forest floor below.

09 May 2024

Andean Cock-Of-The-Rock (Rupicola Peruvianus)

Species: Andean Cock-Of-The-Rock
Scientific Name: Rupicola Peruvianus
Other Names:
Chinese: 安第斯動冠傘鳥 (Āndìsī dòng guān sǎn niǎo)
Japanese: アンデスイワドリ (Andesu iwadori)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Primarily frugivorous, supplementing with insects.
Distribution: Andean cloud forests of South America, spanning Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador.

Fun Fact: The male and female Andean cock-of-the-rock exhibit striking sexual dimorphism, meaning their appearances are dramatically different.

The male Andean cock-of-the-rock is a flamboyant showstopper. His vibrant crimson plumage is unmatched in the forest, and his dramatic fan-like crest, nearly concealing his short, hooked bill, adds to his regal appearance. This flamboyant outfit is more than just feathers, though – it’s an essential tool in his quest to attract mates. During elaborate courtship displays at special lek sites, the male struts his stuff, bobbing and hopping, his bright colors and impressive crest becoming the center of attention. This dazzling visual spectacle captivates potential mates, who are watching intently from the nearby foliage.

In contrast, the female Andean cock-of-the-rock adopts a completely different strategy. Her plumage is a muted olive-brown or greenish tint, which blends seamlessly with the surrounding foliage. This subdued coloration provides excellent camouflage, allowing her to remain undetected by predators while nesting on the forest floor or caring for her young. Unlike the male, who spends most of his day at the lek, the female is responsible for building the nest, incubating the eggs, and raising the chicks. Her inconspicuous plumage keeps her safe during these vulnerable times.

Andean Cock-Of-The-Rock (Rupicola Peruvianus)
08 May 2024

White-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus Leucotis)

White-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus Leucotis)

Species: White-eared Bulbul
Scientific Name: Pycnonotus Leucotis
Other Names:
Chinese: 白耳鵯 (Bái ěr bēi)
Japanese: シロミミヒヨドリ (Shiromimi hiyodori)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Primarily frugivorous, supplementing with insects
Distribution: South-western Asia from India, Pakistan to Arabian Peninsula

Fun Fact: With the arrival of breeding season, the White-eared Bulbul transforms into a resourceful architect, meticulously crafting a seemingly messy, cup-shaped nest. This woven masterpiece is comprised of fine twigs, dry grass, and plant fibers, all carefully selected and meticulously woven together.

The bulbul’s keen eye for detail extends to the nest’s placement, tucked away discreetly within the branches of a variety of trees. Here, cradled amongst the leaves, the nest offers both a secure haven for its chicks, shielded from predators and harsh weather. The cleverly chosen location also provides a perfect vantage point for the parents to keep watch over their growing family, allowing them to spot any potential threats and ensure the safety of their precious offspring.

07 May 2024

White-eared Catbird (Ailuroedus Buccoides)

Species: White-eared Catbird
Scientific Name: Ailuroedus Buccoides
Other Names:
Chinese: 白耳貓鳥 (Bai Er Mao Niao)
Japanese: ミミジロネコドリ (Mimijiro Nekodori)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Dietary: Mainly Fruits and Insects
Distribution: Papua New Guinea, West Papuan Islands and Indonesia

Fun Fact: Shrouded in secrecy and possessing an uncanny ability to vanish into the emerald labyrinth, the White-eared Catbird has rightfully acquired the moniker “the rainforest’s phantom.” A rare glimpse of this enigmatic bird is a coveted experience for birders fortunate enough to enter its verdant domain. Even seasoned birders find this a challenging feat, as the White-eared Catbird spends most of its time flitting amongst the dense foliage, its cryptic plumage offering exceptional camouflage.

Its presence is often made known only by its vocalizations, a series of sharp whistles and scolding calls that echo through the forest. But for those patient observers rewarded with a sighting, the sight of the White-eared Catbird, with its contrasting black and white markings and bright eyes, is an unforgettable experience.

White-eared Catbird (Ailuroedus Buccoides)
06 May 2024

Blue Bellied Roller (Coracias Cyanogaster)

Blue Bellied Roller (Coracias Cyanogaster)

Species: Blue Bellied Roller
Scientific Name: Coracias Cyanogaster
Other Names:
Chinese: 藍腹佛法僧  (Lán fù fó fǎ sēng)
Japanese: アオハラニシブッポウソウ (Aohara nishi buppōsō)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Distribution: Western and Central Africa, from Senegal to Southern Sudan

Fun Fact: Blue-bellied Rollers are awe-inspiring aerial acrobats. Their courtship displays are a breathtaking spectacle, featuring gravity-defying dives, flips, and rolls. These aerial maneuvers showcase their exceptional agility and mastery of flight, leaving a lasting impression on potential mates. It’s a dazzling performance that highlights their true prowess in the skies.

Unlike most roller species that are solitary nesters, Blue-bellied Rollers exhibit a unique social behavior. They often live in colonies, utilizing abandoned woodpecker holes or natural cavities in trees as their nests. This creates a fascinating cooperative breeding system where multiple breeding pairs work together to raise their young. Parents take turns incubating the white eggs and feeding the chicks after they hatch, ensuring a higher chance of survival for their offspring. This cooperative approach to chick-rearing is a remarkable adaptation that contributes to the success of these vibrant birds.

The Blue-bellied Roller is a visual and auditory delight for birdwatchers. Their plumage is a captivating combination of contrasting colors – a rich, dark brown back, a warm buffy head and chest, and a stunning display of bright blue on their belly and wings. These contrasting hues create a truly eye-catching spectacle, especially when they take flight and their wings spread wide. Their vocalizations also add to their charm. They possess a distinct and loud chattering call, often described as a harsh clicking “ga-ga-ga” sound, that contributes to the vibrant soundscape of their savanna habitat.

05 May 2024

Green Broadbill (Calyptomena Viridis)

Species: Green Broadbill
Scientific Name: Calyptomena Viridis
Other Names:
Chinese: 綠闊嘴鳥 (Lǜ kuòzuǐ niǎo)
Japanese: ミドリヒロハシ (Midorihirohashi)
Conservation Status: Near Threatened (IUCN Red List)
Distribution: Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand

Fun Fact: With their wide beaks, Green Broadbills can swallow fruits too large for other birds to handle. These fruits, like figs and berries, often contain large seeds that would otherwise be difficult for the rainforest to disperse. The Green Broadbill’s digestive system breaks down the fruit flesh for nutrients, but the seeds pass through the bird unharmed. When the Green Broadbill defecates, these seeds are deposited in the forest floor, scattered far and wide from the parent tree. This process, called seed dispersal, is crucial for the regeneration of rainforest trees.

Seed dispersal by the Green Broadbill is particularly important because many rainforest plants rely on animals to spread their seeds. Rainforest trees often produce fruits with fleshy exteriors that are attractive to birds. The seeds within these fruits are too large for most birds to swallow, so they are instead passed through the bird’s digestive system and deposited in the forest floor. Here, the seeds have a much greater chance of germinating and growing into new trees, helping to maintain the diversity of the rainforest plant community.

The benefits of seed dispersal by Green Broadbills extend beyond the plant kingdom. A healthy rainforest teeming with plant life provides food and shelter for a wide variety of animals, including insects, mammals, and other birds. By helping to ensure the regeneration of rainforest trees, Green Broadbills play a vital role in maintaining the health of the rainforest ecosystem for future generations.

Green Broadbill (Calyptomena Viridis)
03 May 2024

Oriental Magpie-Robin (Copsychus Saularis)

Species: Oriental Magpie-Robin
Scientific Name: Copsychus Saularis
Other Names:
Chinese: 鵲鴝 (Que Gu)
Japanese: シキチョウ (Shikichō)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Distribution: Southeast Asia, China to Indian Subcontinent

Fun Fact: The Oriental Magpie-Robin is renowned for its melodious song, often heard during the breeding season. The male’s song is particularly elaborate, a complex and beautiful sequence of whistles, trills, and mimicry of other birdsongs. This vocal prowess is used for a variety of purposes. During breeding season, the male’s song serves as a beacon to attract potential mates. Studies have shown that females find complex songs more attractive, potentially indicating a male’s fitness or the quality of his territory. The song also plays an important role in territorial defense. The complex melodies act as a way to communicate boundaries to other males and prevent encroachment on their breeding grounds. The richness of the song may also signal the quality of the male’s territory and his own health and fitness, deterring competition from rivals.

In addition to its complexity, the Oriental Magpie-Robin’s song is notable for its mimicry. Males are known to incorporate sounds from their environment into their repertoire, including calls of other birds, insects, and even human-made sounds. This ability to mimic may further enhance the song’s effectiveness in attracting mates and defending territories. Researchers believe that mimicking the songs of other territorial birds might function as a bluff, making the Oriental Magpie-Robin appear to be larger or more powerful than it actually is. Additionally, mimicking sounds from the environment may help the male to blend in acoustically, making it more difficult for predators to locate him.

The Oriental Magpie-Robin’s song is a fascinating example of how birds use vocalizations to communicate and survive. The complexity, mimicry, and versatility of their songs allow these birds to navigate the challenges of breeding, territorial defense, and predator avoidance.

02 May 2024

Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus Macrurus)

Species: Large-tailed Nightjar
Scientific Name: Caprimulgus Macrurus
Other Names:
Chinese: 長尾夜鷹 (Chángwěi yè yīng)
Japanese: オビロヨタカ (Obi Royotaka)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Distribution: Southeast Asia, Eastern South Asia, Northern Australia & Southern Himalayan foothills

Fun Fact: Large-tailed Nightjars forgo nest building altogether, a strategy known as ground nesting. Instead, they lay their eggs directly on the bare ground or amongst leaf litter on the forest floor. This tactic relies heavily on camouflage to keep their eggs safe from predators. The nightjar’s plumage is mottled brown, gray, and black, which blends in perfectly with fallen leaves and forest debris. This cryptic coloration, similar to that of many other ground-nesting birds, makes it difficult for predators to spot the eggs. Research suggests that some nightjar species may even position their eggs in patches of light-colored gravel or sand, further enhancing their camouflage.

By foregoing nest construction, nightjars reduce the energy expenditure required for nest building and incubation. However, this strategy also leaves their eggs more vulnerable to ground-based predators, such as snakes and mammals. To mitigate this risk, nightjars typically nest in areas with good visibility, allowing the parent bird to spot approaching threats. Additionally, both parents will incubate the eggs and care for the chicks, working together to ensure their offspring’s survival.

Ground nesting is not without its challenges. Because their eggs are laid directly on the ground, they are susceptible to trampling by animals or damage from the elements. To compensate for this vulnerability, female nightjars typically lay only one or two eggs at a time. This reduces the risk of losing their entire clutch to a single predator attack. Additionally, the eggshells of ground-nesting birds are often thicker and more robust than those of cavity-nesting species. This extra layer of protection helps to shield the eggs from potential damage.

Another interesting adaptation of ground-nesting nightjars is their incubation behavior. Unlike some bird species that remain continuously on the nest, nightjars will often leave their eggs unattended for brief periods during the day. This helps to reduce the risk of attracting predators to the nest site. However, during these times, the eggs are not left completely vulnerable. The mottled coloration of the eggs provides a degree of camouflage, and the parent bird will typically not stray too far from the nest. When the parent returns, it may use its body to shade the eggs from the hot sun, helping to regulate their temperature.

Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus Macrurus)
30 Apr 2024

Indian Gharial (Gavialis Gangeticus)

Species: Indian Gharial
Scientific Name: Gavialis Gangeticus
Other Names:
Chinese: 恆河鱷 (Héng Hé È)
Japanese: インドガビアル (Indo Gabiaru)
Conservation Status: Critically Endangered (IUCN Red List)
Distribution: India, Nepal & Bangladesh

Fun Fact: The Indian gharial holds a unique dental record among crocodilians. Their elongated snouts are lined with approximately 110 sharp, interlocking teeth, an adaptation perfectly suited for their piscivorous diet. This impressive dental arsenal far surpasses the average tooth count of other crocodilians, which typically possess around 66 teeth. With nearly double the number of teeth compared to their relatives, gharials can grasp and maneuver slippery fish with exceptional precision. The unique shape and spacing of their teeth also allow them to interlock and hold onto struggling prey, preventing fish from escaping their grasp.

But the gharial’s teeth aren’t just numerous, they’re also specially designed for a fish-based diet. The interlocking design prevents fish from slipping free, while the pointed shape allows for easy piercing and gripping of prey. Additionally, the lack of molars reflects their specialized diet; gharials don’t need to crush or grind their food, as they swallow their fish whole. This unique dentition is a remarkable example of evolutionary adaptation, allowing the gharial to thrive as a specialized fish predator in its freshwater environment.