A performer unmasked

2005 June 16
by David J. Ringer

MADANG PROVINCE, PNG — Another mystery solved today! I’d occasionally heard a garbled but musical chattering from thick bushes, and I’d gotten only glimpses of the very secretive singers.

But today all was revealed when I got a very good look at a Variable Pitohui. Variable seems quite an accurate name for the species, which apparently encompasses a wide variety of colors and patterns among its races. This particular race sports a medium gray hood, a red-brown back, and an orange-brown belly.

The bird struck me as a “generic” passerine — I mean it was neither small nor large, and its proportions were all even. It didn’t have any crests or frills. Its bill wasn’t short, wasn’t long, wasn’t heavy, and wasn’t slender.

Nonetheless, the bird was attractive, and I was glad that this case was closed. The name pitohui sounds familiar to me. Are they the ones that secrete toxins?

Related posts:

  1. PNG bird songs, part one
  2. Answers, clues, and mysteries
  3. Variable Sunbird, Cinnyris venustus

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