PNG bird songs, part two

2007 February 6
by David J. Ringer

DUNCANVILLE, TEXAS — Nearly eleven months ago (how is that possible?) I wrote a post called Backyard birds in PNG. Not only did I see many of those birds daily in the Aiyura Valley, I also became acquainted with their songs and calls. Shortly before I left last October, I turned on the recorder one morning to capture a few of their voices.

  • Willie-wagtails (Rhipidura leucophrys) are perhaps the most frequently encountered bird in PNG. They thrive from the hot, sticky lowlands to the cool mountain valleys, and they seem perfectly content to live near people. Here’s a rather faint recording of a song phrase. Their bright, perky songs can be heard at all hours of the day and night.
  • Grey Shrike-thrushes (Colluricincla harmonica) whistle varied, musical phrases. It’s a joy to wake up to this song!
  • Brush Cuckoos (Cacomantis variolosus) puzzled me for months. They start calling before dawn and continue after dusk, but from March to July, I never actually saw a bird, and I had no idea what species this was. Finally, I saw Brush Cuckoos on Pak Island, Manus Province, and the mystery was solved. The birds sound plaintive and frantic to me; I imagine them saying, “Wait for me, Wait for me, WAIT FOR ME!” In this recording, two birds are calling together.
  • Morning chorus. Given what you’ve just learned, you should be able to identify some of the songs in this sample. Others though, you’ll be hearing for the first time. The recording starts out with a different version of the Brush Cuckoo’s call — a descending series of whistles. At about four seconds in, an Ornate Melidectes (Melidectes torquatus) gives three warbling calls. At about the 15 second mark, you can hear a Brown-breasted Gerygone (Gerygone ruficollis) begin soft, stuttering whistles in the background. A Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica) chatters briefly during seconds 21-23. The occasional screeching in the background is from distant Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus).
  • Unidentified songster. Yes, we end this post with a plea for assistance. There was one song I never could positively identify, but I did manage to get a marginal recording. In this clip, I’ve snipped out the spaces between the bird’s phrases so that you hear them one right after the other. In actuality, the phrases were separated by gaps of 5-15 seconds. If you know what this bird is or know anyone who might, please let me know!

Related posts:

  1. PNG bird songs, part one
  2. Backyard birds in PNG
  3. Niche-filler
  4. House Sparrows expanding range in PNG
  5. New songs, ancient dances

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