Schlagwort-Archive: Alcedinidae

Todiramphus ‚divinus‘ – der ‚Göttliche‘ Liest

Two species of Kingfishers were common on Bora-Bora (Halcyon veneratus and Todiramphus tutus), ….


This species is fairly common, especially on the island of Bora-Bora.

Common throughout the Tahiti group.
“ [2]


Diese beiden eher flüchtigen Randnotizen aus dem Jahr 1907 sind ein Hinweis auf die ehemalige Existenz einer Vogelart, die heute nicht mehr existiert und von der heute (fast) keine Spur mehr zu finden ist.


Die Gesellschaftsinseln sind einer der ganz wenigen Orte, an denen zwei Eisvogelarten gemeinsam vorkommen, zumindest auf den Inseln Mo’orea und Tahiti im Ostteil der Inselgruppe; hier finden sich der weit verbreitete Borabora-Liest (Todiramphus tutus (Gmelin)), der in der gesamten Inselgruppe vorkommt sowie der Tahiti-Liest (Todiramphus veneratus (Gmelin)) und der Moorea-Liest (Todiramphus youngi Sharpe), die auf jeweils eine Insel beschränkt sind.

Die beiden Verweise auf die Insel Bora Bora deuten aber an, dass dies offenbar auch auf weiteren der Inseln der Fall war.

Tatsächlich ist der geheimnisvolle Liest aber nicht nur durch kleine Randnotizen sondern anhand von mindestens zwei Exemplaren bekannt, die zu Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts gesammelt wurden, und von denen eines offenbar noch existiert. Dieses einzige noch erhaltene Exemplar wurde 2008 untersucht und mit dem Tahiti- und dem Moorea-Liest verglichen. 

Die Autoren kamen zu dem Schluss, dass es sich hierbei um einen nicht voll ausgefärbten Jungvogel der tahitianischen Art handelt, erwähnen jedoch auch einige Unterschiede, einschließlich eines viel kürzeren Schnabels und einiger Unterschiede im Gefiedermuster, und folgern, dass es sich möglicherweise auch um eine ausgestorbene Unterart handeln könnte. [3]

Die Art wurde auch mindestens einmal bildlich dargestellt (siehe unten). [1]


Zwischen Bora Bora im nordwestlichen Teil der Inselgruppe und Mo’orea und Tahiti im Ostteil befinden sich noch vier weitere Inseln, nämlich Huahine, Mai’ao, Ra’iatea und Taha’a, die, zumindest heute, jeweils nur vom Borabora-Liest bewohnt werden.

Sollte die Insel Bora Bora tatsächlich einst zwei Eisvogelarten beherbergt haben, dann muss es sich bei diesem Vogel nicht um eine Unterart des Tahiti-Liest, sondern um eine eigenständige Art gehandelt haben; und, die anderen Inseln zwischen Bora Bora und Mo’orea und Tahiti müssen höchstwahrscheinlich ebenfalls heute ausgestorbene und unbekannte eigenständige Arten beherbergt haben.


Meiner bescheidenen Meinung nach handelt es sich bei der Ortsangabe Bora Bora aber schlicht um einen Fehler, und die beiden dort gesammelten Vögel stammen wohl eher von der Insel Tahiti.

… doch wer weiß ….



[1] M. L. I. Duperrey: Voyage autour du monde: Exécuté par Ordre du Roi, Sur la Corvette de Sa Majesté, La Coquille, pendant les années 1822, 1823, 1824, et 1825, par M. L. I. Duperrey; Zoologie, par Mm. Lesson et Garnot. Paris: Arthus Bertrand 1828 
[2] S. B. Wilson: Notes on birds of Tahiti and the Society group. Ibis Ser. 9(1): 373-379. 1907
[3] Claire Voisin; Jean-François Voisin: List of type specimens of birds in the collections of the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (Paris, France). 18. Coraciiformes. Journal of the National Museum (Prague), Natural History Series 177(1): 1-25. 2008


‚Göttlicher‘ Liest (Todiramphus ‚divinus‘)

Darstellung aus: ‘M. Lesson: Description du genre Todiramphe et de deux espèces d’oiseaux; qui le compossent. Mémoires de la Société d’Histoire naturelle de Paris 2(3): 419-422. 1827’

(public domain)


bearbeitet: 24.10.2020

Was there once a Giant Kingfisher living on the Fiji Islands?

The Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris (Boddaert)) has a extremely wide distribution and occurs from parts of Arabia well into western Polynesia; it is the only kingfisher living on the Fiji Islands (with three endemic subspecies) – yet, may there once have been another kingfisher species?

Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris ssp. vitiensis)

Photo: Tom Tarrant

(under creative commons license (3.0))

Rollo H. Beck, an American ornithologist, quotes some notes that he received by a Mr. G. T. Barker on June 5, 1925, during a stay on the island of Viti Levu, Fiji: ‚Notes by Mr. G. T. Barker, Suva, Fiji. June 5, 1925‘.:

Giant Kingfisher

I saw this bird, or a single bird at least, on two occasions and it rose, both times, from nearly the same place. On the last occasion, I was on the lookout for it and it passed within twenty feet in front of me so that I had a good opportunity to see it clearly. I was riding down from the village of Navuniwi, Viti Levu Bay, toward the beach and it was from a patch of swampy ground on my left that the bird arose.
The kingfisher was fully eleven inches long, with the same colored plumage as the small kind only more dingy. The blue was not so bright, and the white feathers on the wings were discolored. The back was nearly black. Its flight was heavy-much slower than that of the small species, and as it flew in a straight line toward the mangrove swamp on my right, I noticed that it held its head in a line with the shoulders.
Natives told me that these giant kingfishers were plentiful in the early days, but as the bird nested in the low mangrove, it has practically disappeared since the advent of the mongoose which is a vertitable beach comber, haunting the swamps and beaches. About twenty-five years previously I had seen one of them back of Ovalau, but was told that it was only stray in that part.
On the second occasion of my seeing the giant flycatcher
 [indeed, he writes flycatcher here instead of kingfisher], I dismounted from my horse and went into the swampy patch, finding that the bird had been eating the native sila (Job’s tears) [Coix lacryma-jobi (L.) Lam.].

Ordinary Flycatcher

It is generally supposed that this bird is an insect eater, and does not eat fish, but this is not invariably so. As I was coming out of the Wainidoi River, ten miles below Suva, I saw a belo
 [Pacific Reef Heron (Egretta sacra (Gmelin))] fishing in shallow water, and getting close up, noticed that it had a kingfisher in company. Three times I saw the kingfisher dive into the shallow water after shrimps, then fly onto a rock to eat them.“ [1]

So, what’s this somewhat strange account about?

There is indeed a possibility that the large Fijian Islands once harbored more than one kingfisher species, however, this particular account here pretty sure refers to the Collared Kingfisher, with the small species mentioned being the European Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis (L.)).

The whole account is expressed a bit unhappily, and this Mr. G. T. Barker very likely wasn’t a naturalist at all, that becomes very clear when he later also descibes a hummingbird that he had killed on the Fijian Island, and which in fact has been a honeyeater (Myzomela jugularis Peale) (his description, however, does not fully match that species, but that is another story ….).   



[1] Whitney South Sea Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History. Extracts from the journal of Rollo H. Beck. Vol. 2, Dec. 1923 – Aug. 1925


edited: 13.03.2020

Blog moving – and, to celebrate the day … a Common Kingfisher

The blog has moved, again, I hope this time it will be for good ….

I wanted to take a break from the strenuous work of logging on, uploading, and, and, and with two small trips outside to freak out relax and freshen up when suddenly this little colorful thing flew in front of my cell phone lens.

The cell phone photo of course was completely useless, so I decided to go back home, catch my camera and to try my luck … maybe the little bird might come back?

It did indeed. 😛

The bird, apparently a female, as can be seen by its red colored lower mandible, was sitting amongst the willow shrubs along the local flood ditch.

The place where I photographed the kingfisher is quite busy, and of course various passers-by had to check what I was probably doing there … hm, of course none of them could see what I saw.


The bird is surprisingly well camouflaged due to its small size alone, in addition, most people are completely nature-blind anyway, thus miss al the little treasures surrounding us.


edited: 29.01.2020