Friday, June 15, 2012

Bulletin #157 - other Big Island birds and animals

There were some other birds introduced into the Hawaiin islands as well. Many of these were game birds to stock the ranches for hunting, as there were no native game birds.
One of the non-game birds is the familiar Cattle Egret. There are 4 species of introduced pigeons and doves. Two are the familiar Rock Pigeon and our own Mourning Dove. However, the Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis) of Chinese origin, is a large brown dove with a patch of white and black spots on the back of the neck. This bird also occurs in the Los Angeles area as a result of escapes or releases.

Spotted Dove
The Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) is smaller, about the size of an Inca Dove. It was brought from southeast Asia. It is similar to an Inca Dove, but has fine black and white stripes on the breast and flanks. The sexes are similar.
Zebra Dove
Photo by Lisa Kelly-McDonald

The Gray Francolin (Francolinus pondicerianus) is a brown game bird in the partirdge family. It is native to the Indian subcontinent. It occurs at lower elevations than the next bird. This one was photographed on the grounds of our hotel.

Gray Francolin
The Erckel's Francolin (Francolinus erckelii) is a grayer colored cousin to the bird above. He has a bright rufous crown. It occurrs at higher elevation on the mountain sides. It is native to Ethiopia.

Erckel's Francolin
The popular game bird, the Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) was also introduced to Hawaii. The male is gray and brown with a very long tail, red on the face, and green head.

Ring-necked Pheasant - male
The female is a brown bird with a long tail.

Ring-necked Pheasant - female
Lastly, the Thanksgiving bird was also introduced. A family of Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) inhabited the grounds of the hotel and paraded around. Here is the male (tom) displaying.

Wild Turkey - male displaying
Photo by Lisa Kelly-McDonald

As far as land mammals go, Hawaii had only 1 native, a bat. Many of course were introduced. Here is the Indian Mongoose (Herpestes javanicus). As in all the other introductions of this species to control some other animal or reptile, it didn't work. They were brought to Hawaii to control rats in the sugar cane fields. However, the rodents are nocturnal and the mongoose in diurnal, thus their paths didn't cross and the mongoose ate bird eggs and other things rather than the intended prey. We saw several of these in broad daylight on the hotel grounds.
Indian Mongoose
Photo by Lisa Kelly-McDonald

Here is a close up of another animal. Notice the cute pink nose, but the horizontal slit pupils in the eyes I thought were most unusual.
Indian Mongoose - detail
Our hotel had flood lights at night along a section of shoreline. These lights attracted plankton and the plankton attracted Manta Rays (Manta birostris). I saw 5-6 of these 5 foot rays at one time.

Manta Ray
Here is a close up of the peculiar wide mouth.

Manta Ray - detail

We always appreciate comments and I'm sure Lisa would like to hear from you as well as her photos are being shown for the first time. We are a great team and it is wonderful to have a partner to bird and do photography with.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

davidkmcd@ymail.com

Lisa Kelly-McDonald
lisajanekelly67@yahoo.com

photos copyright 2012 David McDonald and Lisa Kelly-McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask for subscribe.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bulletin #156 - Hawaii Introduced Songbirds

I have the pleasure of showing off my star pupil, my new wife Lisa. She has been taking photos that are as equal quality and sometimes better than mine!

In the last bulletin, I described how the endemic species of Hawaii were decimated and some were driven to extinction by the arrival of humans and their baggage of domestic animals, agriculture etc.

The islands were repopulated with many non-native bird species from around the world. Several of our familiar songbirds were introduced including the Northern Mockingbird, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, Western Meadowlark, and of course the ubiquitous House Sparrow of European origin. Fortunately at least they did not import the Starling! I did not bother to photograph these species. I concentrated on the birds from elsewhere, many of which are very beautiful.

The most stunning of the birds was the Saffron Finch (Sicalis flaveola). This bird was introduced in the 1960s and is native to South America (where I have also seen it). The male is bright yellow with reddish orange on the face. These birds were all around our hotel and a real delight.

Saffron Finch - male
Photo by Lisa Kelly-McDonald
The female lacks the red face.
Saffron Finch - female
The juvenile is grayish with some yellow.

Saffron Finch - juvenile
Another somehwat similar bird was the Yellow-fronted Canary (Serinus mozambicus). As its Latin name implies, it is a native of Africa. It too was introduced in the 1960s. It is greenish above with yellow below. The face is also yellow with brown stripes.
Yellow-fronted Canary
The most colorful bird was the Red-billed Leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea). Unlike the rest of the birds here, it is a forest bird and exceedingly difficult to see. It was introduced from China in 1918. However, we were lucky to hear a bird screeching as we hiked down to one of the famous black sand beaches. We saw the bird on an open branch about 6 feet away. I guess we must have been close to its nest. I only had my scenery 24-105mm lens with me, but the bird was close enough to get a decent photo.
Red-billed Leiothrix
The Common Mynah (Acridotheres tristis) is a native bird of India. It was introduced in 1865. This bird aslo can be found in the USA in the Miami area. It is brown with yellow bare skin on the face, yellow legs, and bill. It is very noisy! The sexes are similar.
Common Mynah
The Yellow-billed Cardinal (Paroaria capitata) is another South American bird. It was introduced in 1973, and is only on the Big Island. It seems to be misnamed as the bill seems to be pinkish rather than yellow, at least in the adult. The sexes are similar. It has a red head without a crest, dark gray back and white underparts. Altogether, it is a beautiful songbird.
Yellow-billed Cardinal - adult
The juvenile has more a a yellow bill, and ochre coloration of the head rather than red.
Yellow-billed Cardinal - juvenile
The African Silverbill (Lonchura cantans) is a 4.5" brown and white bird with a thick bill. It was introduced in the 1970s. It occurs on all the main islands in the Hawaiian chain.

African Silverbill
Photo by Lisa Kelly-McDonald

We watched one of these birds pulling threads off the volleyball net.

African Silverbill
The Nutmeg Mannikin (Lonchura punctulata) is the same gunus as the above bird. It was introduced in 1865 from Southeast Asia. It has a brown back, and speckled brown breast with the dark bill. This bird also occurs in the USA as escaped caged birds, although I have not seen it here. The sexes are similar.
Nutmeg Mannikin
The Java Sparrow (Padda oryzivora) is a handsome 6" gray bird with white face, black head, and 2 tone thick red bill. As it name implies, it was introduced from Indonesia in 1867. It was reintroduced in the 1960s and occurs on Oahu and now on the Big Island as well. The sexes are similar.
Java Sparrow - adult
The juvenile is dull gray and lacks the black head.
Java Sparrow - juvenile
The last bird was common, but very frustrating to photograph. It was hyperactive, (like a cross between a warbler and a hummingbird) flitting through the branches. This is the Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicus). This is an yellow or olive 4.5" bird with a prominent white eye ring. The male is more yellow on the throat and the female is olive. It was introduced in 1929 on Oahu and 1937 on the Big Island.

Japanese White-eye - male

Japanese White-eye - female
Photo by Lisa Kelly-McDonald


We always appreciate comments and I'm sure Lisa would like to hear from you as well as her photos are being shown for the first time. We are a great team and it is wonderful to have a partner to bird and do photography with.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald
davidkmcd@ymail.com

Lisa Kelly-McDonald
lisajanekelly67@yahoo.com

photos copyright 2012 David McDonald and Lisa Kelly-McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask for subscribe.