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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Rare Bird Rediscovered

Rare Bird Rediscovered

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, October 13, 2015/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, birds, sustainability, environment

                     Archival Illustration of the Mosutached Kingfisher  (credit: Wiki-commons)

The  Moustached Kingfisher  is a technicolor bird known from only a few sightings on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands of the southwestern Pacific. The rare kingfisher was recently observed by a research team from the  American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in remote cloud forests on the island. It was then collected. That decision has divided people at a time when wildlife conservation is a major concern.
      Cloud Forest Landscapes and Moustached Kingfisher, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands  (credit: AMNH)

The field team in the mountains of Guadalcanal commented to the Museum:

“After several days of work, it is clear we are on the shores of an island in the sky. Species we encounter here are of two worlds—one that descends to the humid, coastal plain, and another that rises into the cool, cloud-raked mountains of Tetena-Haiaja. Just as the white sands of an island beach divide land and sea, the ascending Chupukama ridge marks the transition from a world of known lowland organisms to a sky island filled with scientific mystery.“

Cloud forests 
are one of the richest and most bio-diverse ecosystems on Earth. They are sometimes called "islands in the sky" and are also one of the most limited of forest ecosystems. Cloud forests are found wherever mountains rise high enough to intercept cool mists year-round, particularly on tropical mountains, but where snow does not fall. Local people in the Solomon Islands, of which Guadalcanal is part, have been working with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in a  partnership  to create a reserve in their mountains where the rare kingfisher was observed.

It is always better to gain an understanding of the behavior and ecology of a rare species in situ rather than collecting a specimen. Some times it is necessary for genetic, captive breeding, or other educational purposes. A famous wildlife ecologist once said: "if you have the habitat, you'll have the wildlife". Let's hope the new agreement signed by the Solomon Islanders and the IUCN will preserve enough prime habitat that this exceptional kingfisher becomes a symbol of the possibilities of combining conservation with local communities. 


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