Birds of Flores lowland forest

by Cam Webb

March 28, 2014

Bare-throated Whistler

Birds of Flores lowland forest

Bare-throated Whistler; photo by Lars Petersson (

Bare-throated Whistler; photo by Lars Petersson (

Live news: we’re out of the forest! The trip wrapped up very successfully, thanks to all the great support we have had from local government staff and villagers. On the last evening in Roang, we had another “kepok” (sorry, chickens!), and left by truck for Labuan Bajo. After a trip to the very helpful KSDA (conservation) office in Ruteng to obtain permits to transport specimens, we sent the samples on to Java via a cargo transport company. Acun, Endro, and I have now left for our respective home bases. I’ll back-fill a few stories now as we rest and begin to process the specimens.

While the birds of Flores are not quite as amazing as those of Papua, their song does provide a lovely backdrop to work in the forest. We were very lucky on this trip to have been accompanied by Feri Irawan, the Biodiversity Officer for the Mbeliling Program of the NGO, Burung Indonesia. Feri was interested in learning some forest inventory methods and in visiting this particular lowland forest, and in return left us with his bird checklist, the first we have had for one of our project sites. He visited first during our initial week, and constant rain seemed to have made many birds scarce; his list was worryingly poor. But his second trip, coinciding with warm and sunny weather, quickly made up for the first. While his 33 taxa are fewer than he would have seen in a similar period in the open savanna of Rinca or Komodo, they comprise many more interesting, restricted-distribution, and forest species. Feri felt that the list was longer than he would have obtained during a similar sampling period in the higher elevation forests on Mt. Mbeliling where he usually works. Overall, he was prepared to say this was the richest, most interesting site for forest birds that he has visited in Flores. Bird-watchers take note!

Here is Feri’s list. The ‘*’ indicates restricted-range species for Northern Nusa Tenggara:

[Metadata. Site: Wai Dongkong, Roang, Desa Golo Pongkor, Manggarai Barat, Flores, Indonesia (8.607224 S, 119.902451 E); forest type: primary, plus some secondary, plus riparian; elevation: 180-500 m ASL; dates: 18-22 February 2014 and 11-12 March 2014; sampling methods: visual and auditory]
  1. Accipitridae : Accipiter sp. (Goshawk)
  2. Alcedinidae : Alcedo atthis (Common Kingfisher, Rajaudang Erasia)
  3. Alcedinidae : Caridonax fulgidus (White-rumped Kingfisher, Cekakak Tunggir-putih) *
  4. Alcedinidae : Ceyx erithaca (Oriental Dwarf-kingfisher, Udang Api)
  5. Apodidae : Collocalia esculenta (Glossy Swiftlet, Walet Sapi)
  6. Campephagidae : Pericrocotus lansbergei (Flores Minivet, Sepah Kerdil) *
  7. Columbidae : Ducula aenea (Green Imperial-pigeon, Pergam Hijau)
  8. Columbidae : Ducula lacernulata (Dark-backed Imperial-pigeon, Pergam Punggung-hitam) *
  9. Columbidae : Ptilinopus cinctus (Black-backed Fruit-dove, Walik Putih)
  10. Columbidae : Ptilinopus melanospila (Black-naped Fruit-dove, Walik Kembang)
  11. Corvidae : Corvus florensis (Flores Crow, Gagak Flores) ENDANGERED *
  12. Cucilidae : Cacomantis sepulcralis (Rusty-breasted cuckoo)
  13. Dicaeidae : Dicaeum sp. (Flowerpecker)
  14. Dicruridae : Dicrurus densus (Wallacean Drongo, Srigunting Wallacea)
  15. Megapodiidae : Megapodius reinwardt (Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Gosong Kaki-merah)
  16. Meliphagidae : Philemon buceroides (Helmeted Friarbird, Cikukua Tanduk)
  17. Meropidae : Merops sp. (Bee-eater)
  18. Monarchidae : Hypothymis azurea (Black-naped Monarch, Kehicap Ranting)
  19. Monarchidae : Monarcha sacerdotum (Flores Monarch, Kehicap Flores) ENDANGERED *
  20. Monarchidae : Terpsiphone paradisi (Asian Paradise-flycatcher, Seriwang Asia)
  21. Oriolidae : Oriolus chinensis (Black-naped Oriole, Kepudang Kuduk-hitam)
  22. Pachycephalidae : Pachycephala nudigula (Bare-throated Whistler, Kancilan Flores) *
  23. Pachycephalidae : Pachycephala pectoralis (Golden Whistler, Kancilan Emas)
  24. Phasianidae : Gallus varius (Green Junglefowl, Ayamhutan Hijau)
  25. Picidae : Dendrocopos moluccensis (Brown-capped Woodpecker, Caladi Tilik)
  26. Pittidae : Pitta elegans (Elegant Pitta, Paok Laus)
  27. Rhipiduridae : Rhipidura diluta (Brown-capped Fantail, Kipasan Flores) *
  28. Strigidae : Otus silvicola (Wallace’s Scops-owl, Celepuk Wallacea) *
  29. Sylviidae : Tesia everetti (Russet-capped Tesia, Tesia Timor) *
  30. Turdidae : Zoothera sp. (Thrush)
  31. Zosteropidae : Heleia crassirostris (Thick-billed White-eye, Opior Paruh-tebal) *
  32. Zosteropidae : Lophozosterops dohertyi (Crested White-eye, Opior Jambul) *
  33. Zosteropidae : Zosterops wallacei (Yellow-spectacled White-eye, Kacamata Wallacea) *

I find that in most forests I have visited, there is one particular bird call that sticks in my mind, adding a soundtrack to my memories. For example, the “screaming piha” (Lipaugus vociferans) of the Nouragues forest in French Guyana (CALL at At Wai Dongkong it was the haunting call of the orange-footed scrubfowl (CALL at, especially when heard in the 3:00am quiet and darkness. But the richest, most musical call was that of the bare-throated whistler. On a trip up-river, we came across one male calling loudly and continuously as it flitted back and forth between perches in the understory, completely undisturbed by our nearby presence. I was able to make this recording. The bird is a mimic, and much of its song is probably a ‘remix’ of the songs of other bird species!

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