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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Rare Bird Rediscovered

Rare Bird Rediscovered

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, December 18, 2018/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 where wildlife conservation is a major concern.

      Cloud Forest Landscapes and Moustached Kingfisher, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands  (credit: AMNH)

The museums' field team said:

“After several days of work, it is clear we are on the shores of an island in the sky (sky islands). 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 next to coral reefs. Depending on their mountain location, they are often called "sky islands". Such forests are also one of the most limited in area of any forest covered ecosystems. Cloud forests are found when mountains rise high enough to intercept year-round cool mists, particularly in the tropics, but where snow doesn't fall. Local Solomon islanders are working with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in a unique partnership to create a reserve in their mountains.
However, the partnership is underway against a background of deforestation and corruption by foreign timber companies exposed well before the rare bird rediscovery. These problems have only become worse as a new Global Witness report, Paradise Lost, shows.

It is always better to observe the behavior and ecology of rare and endangered species in situ rather than from a collecting specimen. Live collections are often necessary for genetic, captive breeding, or other educational or scientific purposes. Let's hope the new IUCN agreement with the Solomon Islanders will preserve enough prime habitat that this exceptional kingfisher and other mountain species before the dried specimens are the only remnants of the Solomon Island's forests and their bio-once diversity.



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