Birding Tabin, Sabah, Borneo – 10,000 Birds

Typically I simply need to hug eBird, or extra particularly, whoever writes the quick species descriptions (despite the fact that I’m not the everyday hugging type of individual, belief me on this). Resembling within the case of the Rufous-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher, which eBird describes as a “tiny, unbelievably cute kingfisher: a luminous ball of pink, orange, yellow, and ranging quantities of blue and purple”.

Admittedly, when pondering of hugging this individual, I hope it’s a cute younger feminine scholar fairly than an previous beer-bellied male ornithologist …

Collared Kingfishers apparently do pretty nicely in palm oil plantations – no surprise as they clearly don’t thoughts fairly weird-looking issues.



In the event you ever get invited to lunch by Collared Kingfishers, you could due to this fact need to fastidiously think about whether or not to simply accept. The identical applies when being invited by some Cantonese individuals.

The Plain Sunbird is the plain vanilla model of the in any other case usually very colourful household (okay, a really low-budget type of joke).

Including insult to damage, eBird disparagingly characterizes it as “extraordinarily plain”.

However it’s true – the species has to face the fact that it’s a lot, a lot plainer than another relations such because the Ruby-cheeked Sunbird.

One paper means that the Ruby-cheeked Sunbird primarily feeds on bugs fairly than on nectar, the extra widespread meals of sunbirds. Nonetheless, the HBW lists nectar amongst its meals.

The burden indicated for each sexes within the HBW (“male 8·2–9·1 g, feminine 8·6 g”) means that the feminine birds management their weight rather more strictly, whereas the males often – perhaps after watching a soccer match whereas ingesting beer and consuming fatty issues – acquire weight which they lose once more at any time when the dearth of unpolluted kitchen gear retains them from making ready meals.

There are about 50 totally different species of flowerpeckers globally. Considerably puzzlingly, Wikipedia states that they’re usually boring in coloration, although the positioning then admits that in a number of species the males have brightly patterned plumage. That characterization works pretty nicely for the Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker


… for which the HBW certainly states that “feminine is duller than male” …

… however much less so for the not-very-dull-in coloration Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker (for which each sexes look comparable).

“Uninteresting, me?”


When you have ever been to Singapore, you’ll know that about half the locations there are named after Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles (1781 – 1826). For good measure, some animals within the close to neighborhood had been additionally named after him, akin to Raffles’s Malkoha.

there may be most likely some evil backstory if Wikipedia talks of a “complicated” legacy of Raffles – additional detailing that “he was in the end an imperialist benefiting on the expense of the indigenous peoples”. So, I assume that is one other chook title that needs to be modified finally.

There isn’t a British explorer named Sir John Noticed (1789 – 1856), so the title of the Noticed Fantail will probably stay unchanged.


One of many scarier moments of the keep at Tabin was when two Asian Shiny Starlings tried to hypnotize me with their piercing purple eyes. I escaped, barely.

In distinction, the Little Spiderhunter is frightening for spiders solely, not for individuals.


To me, the Whiskered Treeswift appears to be like a bit like it’s sporting some type of generic superhero costume. I assume it’s these facial stripes. If these are taken off, the species appears to be like identical to Clark Kent.

eBird characterizes it as “long-tailed and long-winged, like a cross between a swift and a swallow” – maybe impressed by the Genus title Semiprocne (“half-swallow”).

The Crested Serpent-eagle will not be a vulture, however that doesn’t hold me from mentioning a current Economist article right here, “The sudden demise of Indian vultures killed hundreds of individuals”. And whereas this text is behind a paywall, the unique analysis paper will not be. It describes how, when a veterinary drug utilized in India killed the overwhelming majority of Indian vultures, the human demise price in affected areas elevated by about 4% because the vultures had been now not round to feed on animal carcasses and the sanitation thus worsened considerably.


After all, there needs to be a photograph of a vulture right here, not of a Crested Serpent-eagle.


Whereas this was a very good subject to spotlight within the Economist, a current chief on nationalism in the identical journal was much less helpful. In that chief, it’s acknowledged that “Nationalism might be constructive or detrimental” – one thing I doubt very a lot. They quote Yascha Mounk: “At its greatest, it [nationalism] can encourage a white Christian dwelling in rural Tennessee to really feel particular concern for a Hispanic atheist dwelling in Los Angeles—and vice versa.” It is vitally exhausting for me to see how a rural Tennessean having a particular concern for the Hispanic atheist dwelling in Los Angeles however not for one dwelling in Buenos Aires or Tokyo generally is a power of excellent. Isn’t that what nationalism is all about? I care about you as a result of you’ve gotten the identical passport? Us in opposition to them?

Okay, Kai, no person is basically very interested by your ideas on political points – may you get again to the subject of birds?

Nicely, sure. Woodpeckers are birds which are usually well-liked and thought of pretty apolitical (with just a few exceptions, such because the Pileated Woodpecker that took half within the storming of the capitol on Jan 06, 2021, although the chook concerned claims this was a misunderstanding).

Apparently, anyone as soon as made fairly an effort to explain the totally different plumages of the Orange-backed Woodpecker: the natal down, the juvenile (first fundamental) plumage, the formative plumage, the second fundamental plumage, the third fundamental plumage, and the definitive fundamental plumage.

So, in case you ever consider dressing up as an Orange-backed Woodpecker of various ages, keep in mind: you will want to spend some huge cash on costumes.

Whereas the costume social gathering an Orange-backed Woodpecker goes via when rising up appears like enjoyable, the Latin species title of the Buff-rumped Woodpecker (tristis, “unhappy, gloomy”) doesn’t.

In a evaluate of Gorman’s e book on woodpeckers, the reviewer (Koenig) suggests a woodpecker massive yr, as he causes that the possibility to come across a wave of Buff-rumped Woodpeckers in his (presumably North American) yard may be very slim …

Not solely people endure from Harry Potter books. Apparently, because the launch of the Harry Potter sequence in Indonesia within the early 2000s the recognition of owls such because the Buffy Fish Owl as pets has elevated, resulting in extra birds being caught within the wild after which offered at native chook markets.


Even the title of the owls has modified: “Whereas previously owls had been collectively generally known as Burung Hantu (‘Ghost birds’), within the chook markets they’re now generally known as Burung Harry Potter (‘Harry Potter birds’)”. (supply)

Poor Buffy Fish Owl. It deserves rather a lot higher than being caught and locked in a cage.

The Brown Boobook appears to be like virtually similar to the Northern Boobook passing via Shanghai on migration. Each are a part of what one paper calls the Brown Hawk Owl complicated – one thing that’s a lot much less objectionable than the military-industrial complicated however (at the least to me) not likely much more attention-grabbing.

The Brown Boobook is sedentary, although. No likelihood of seeing it in Shanghai, it’s important to come additional south to see it (as I did on this journey).

eBird appears barely spooked by the species, mentioning its “massive, unsettling yellow eyes”. Perhaps the imprecise reminiscence of a nightmare? Hopefully, the well being plans of Cornell College embrace entry to some psychiatrists …

Like owls, the Better Inexperienced Leafbird (if that is certainly one) additionally suffers from being captured and offered as a cage chook – it’s now listed as Endangered.

Its species title sonnerati is derived from Pierre Sonnerat (1748-1814), a French naturalist. His considerably doubtful declare to fame features a e book describing his journey to New Guinea even if he by no means really acquired to the mainland space of New Guinea (supply).

The HBW even has data on the value growth of this species: “It’s now one of the crucial quite a few species in Indonesian chook markets. Market costs have tracked demand: in 1987 birds retailed for $ 14, rising to $ 44 in 2014 and $ 99 in 2016.”

My historical past of taking photographs of the Black-naped Monarch will not be a contented one – whereas I’ve seen it just a few occasions, even in Shanghai, I by no means acquired the type of photograph I actually wished – that of a male with a very good view of the black cranium cap (or zuchetto – I regarded this up) in any other case worn by bishops.


This was one other certainly one of these events – some respectable pictures of a feminine however not of the specified male. Sexism in chook images is alive and in impolite well being, I’m afraid.


Thankfully for the discerning male birder who doesn’t need to come over as misogynistic, female and male Blue-throated Bee-eaters look alike. So there is no such thing as a have to particularly search for males.

Curiously, the Latin species title viridis (“inexperienced”) is rather more applicable for the juvenile chook than for the one partly inexperienced grownup.

Life as a juvenile Blue-throated Bee-eater is the same old hell that nature gives for a lot of creatures: “Blue-throated bee-eaters apply asynchronous brooding, which implies that chicks hatch at totally different occasions, usually pairing with siblicide. Older chicks aren’t solely bigger and capable of face up to bigger wounds from different siblings, but in addition have the flexibility to monopolize the meals they’re fed by mother and father.” (supply)

One other paper is much more easy: “Sibling competitors in blue-throated bee-eaters invariably led to nest fatalities, which had been induced by sibling assaults with an apparently distinctive, however developmentally non permanent, hook on the tip of the higher mandible.”

Full with gory particulars recorded in scientific element: “Variety of peck wounds and scars on blue-throated bee-eater chicks in relation to the sum of mass variations between every chick and its bigger siblings (known as the ‘mass drawback’) …” Or clarify this to the youthful certainly one of a pair of siblings: “Mortality usually begins with smaller and youthful people as a result of lack of meals and assaults from their bigger siblings” … (supply).

Nonetheless, regardless of these identified murderous tendencies of Blue-throated Bee-eater chicks [note: Grammarly helpfully suggests replacing Bee-eater with Beef-eater: but no, this is a birding blog, not a cooking show], none of them has ever been accused of homicide in a US court docket, a lot much less convicted. That makes it even much less justifiable that some individuals should endure prolonged court docket battles simply because they tried to overthrow election outcomes. The one clarification I’ve for this unequal remedy is that it should be a witch hunt.

If that every one sounds a bit too thrilling to you, why not take a look at photographs of the Brown Fulvetta? Even the normally pretty constructive eBird reviewer admits that “because the title suggests, that is a reasonably uninteresting-looking fulvetta with out flashy distinguishing traits”.

The Brown Fulvetta is listed as “Close to Threatened”, which is a bit puzzling provided that the HBW names quite a lot of areas the place it supposedly is fairly widespread. My private concept is that listers who see this chook have already forgotten all about it by the point they get round to placing their eBird lists collectively.

Within the “different” part of this put up masking these unlucky animals that aren’t birds, we have now a tarsier.

And another animals.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *