Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Behold, My Passion: Wild Lories

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A pair of Moluccan Red Lories, Eos bornea rothschildi (upper, center and right), and a pair of Rainbow Lorikeet, Trichoglossus haematodus haematodus (lower, center (that bird is hanging upside down) and left), near the north coast of Seram, Indonesia.

Image: Kevin Sharp [wallpaper size].

More about this image below the fold.

As you know, dear readers, I am passionately in love with the birds of the South Pacific Ocean, especially the parrots. The lories, a nectar-feeding group of parrots is one group of parrots that I focused my research efforts on (I also bred a flock of eight species of lories in captivity for more than one decade before I moved to NYC to accept my postdoc). I cannot begin to describe to you how much I miss my birds. But a reader of mine has kindly shared a series of lovely images of wild lories with me, and all of you, too!

These photographs were taken recently on the Island of Seram, in Maluku Province, Northern Indonesia. Shown are Moluccan Red Lories, Eos bornea rothschildi, and Rainbow Lorikeets, Trichoglossus haematodus haematodus, near the north coast. The latter are among a group of Rainbow Lory subspecies sometimes referred to as “Green-naped Rainbow Lories”.

The third species observed, but not pictured here, was the Red-flanked Lorikeet, Charmosyna placentis placentis. A flock of eight to twelve individuals was seen and included one pair exploring a potential nesting cavity.

Blue-eared and Purple-naped Lories, Eos semilarvata and Lorius domicella, respectively, are both endemic to Seram but were not observed. Neither are generally common on the island and Juniper and Parr indicate in their book there have been no recent reports of the Purple-naped Lory from nearby Ambon (a sighting on Buru is evidently believed to be of an escaped pet). The Purple-naped Lory is a particularly striking bird, similar in appearance to the Black-capped Lory of New Guinea and surrounding islands, and the Yellow-bibbed Lory of the Solomon Islands, both also of the genus Lorius. Blue-eared and Purple-naped Lories are primarily montane species, with the Blue-eared Lory even ranging above the tree line on occasion.

Lories are nearly constantly on the move, and fly extremely fast, making them difficult subjects to photograph (particularly in the dim light of the forest). From two forest canopy platforms maintained by the Indonesian Parrot Project (IPP) both Moluccan Red and Rainbow Lories were frequently seen foraging together as shown here. They were often observed feeding in two flowering trees, known among the locals as “Kayu Merah” and “Kayu Putih”.

The height of the platforms afforded observations, and opportunities to photograph birds, such as these feeding high in the tree tops, that would have been difficult from the ground. Lories were also frequently observed from above as they flew underneath the platforms. Other Psittacines observed were Great-billed, Eclectus, and Red-cheeked Parrots, and Moluccan (Seram) Cockatoos. A lone Chattering Lory (probably of the subspecies, Lorius garrulus flavopalliatus) was perhaps a vagrant from Obi or Bacan Islands to the north, but was more likely an escapee, as lories and other birds are commonly kept as pets locally and often transported between islands.

More pictures of wild lories will be appearing here in the following days and also will be featured in Birds in the News in the coming weeks.

Comments

  1. #1 judyroth@mac.com
    September 19, 2007

    A film by the director Terry Mallick called ‘The Thin Red Line’ shows the parrots of the Solomens as their primal forest is breeched for the first time.
    Using the wildlife, he contrasts the two forces of man and nature.
    A amaZing film about paradise lost

  2. #2 Neil
    September 19, 2007

    Takes me back. I trekked on that Island during a Summer study trip when I was a little younger. Afraid to say I spent a lot of time in the undergrowth looking for Spiders but did catch a view of some of these stunning animals at higher altitudes. My camera wasn’t good enough to catch any quality images – Still I was very fortunate to get the chance.

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