Articles from April 2009

“Bornean” Brown Barbet

“Bornean” Brown Barbet by Ck Leong

Despite the fact that its plumage does not display the four or five colours normally associated with barbets, and that it whistles while others “took-truk”, it is still a member of the Asian barbets. The Brown Barbet lives in groups and is common throughout the lowlands of Borneo. In the northern part of Borneo, this subspecies Calorhamphus f. tertius displays a rufous-orange chin and throat while laying claims to Bornean endemicity.

Streaky-breasted Spiderhunter

Streaky-breasted Spiderhunter by Ck Leong

Special thanks to G.W.H. Davison (The Birds of Borneo, 4th Edition, 1999) for putting away this discussion of an endemic “Bornean spiderhunter”. What we do have is this Arachnothera affinis (race A. a. everetti in Borneo) with heavy streaks extending from the chin to lower abdomen. You can find this bird easily around Poring Hotsprings, Danum Valley and the Rafflesia Forest Reserve. While on the field, care must be taken not to mistaken the Grey-breasted Spiderhunter (less heavy streaks, on upper breast) with this bird.

Crested Fireback

Bornean Crested Fireback by Ck Leong

After numerous attempts I have finally done it, a half decent shot of the Bornean subspecies of the Crested Fireback Lophura i. nobilis. This bird has strong backing for it to be elevated to full species making it an Bornean endemic. The Bornean male bird’s dirty yellow central tail feathers and chestnut belly differentiates it from other races. A fairly common resident of lowland forest, it moves about on the forest floor in small parties. When disturbed it breaks into a run and is also capable of short flights. Many years ago, I saw a party of 5 birds crossing a river, 1 bird at a time, flying just above the water. I was quite impressed.

Tabon Scrubfowl

Tabon Scrubfowl by Ck Leong

I have only seen the Tabon Scrubfowl Megapodius cumingii in the islands around Sabah and in Sulawesi but I have also been told that the bird is easily seen in the coastal areas around Pitas in northeast Sabah. This member of the Megapode family is known for its powerful feet which it uses to bury its eggs under a big mount of sand and vegetative material. The eggs are incubated by the heat generated by the decaying vegetation and solar heat on the sand. Its long mournful whistles give away its presence but will take off quickly if disturbed.