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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Rare Bird Re-discovered

Rare Bird Re-discovered

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Wednesday, July 24, 2019/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, birds, sustainability, environment

                     Archival Illustration of theMoustache Moustached Kingfisher  (credit: Wiki-commons)

The Moustached Kingfisher is a technicolor bird known only from 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 mountaintops 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. Depending on their mountain location, they are often called "sky islands". 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. Such forests are some of the most limited in geographic area of any forest ecosystem. 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 caused by the work of foreign timber companies that was publicly exposed before the rare bird's rediscovery. The problem has only become worse as the recent Global Witness report, Paradise Lost, shows.

It is better to observe the behavior and ecology of rare and endangered species in situ rather than from a dried specimen. Live collections are often necessary for genetic, captive breeding, or educational and other scientific purposes. Hopefully, the new IUCN agreement with the islanders will preserve enough prime cloud forest habitat that this exceptional kingfisher and other mountain species survive before collected specimens are the only remnants of the richly bio-diverse Solomon Islands forests.



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