Monday, 23 December 2013

Obscure bird of the week: Ferruginous Partridge

It's the most festive week of the year and it wouldn't be Christmas without a partridge! This week, I'd like to introduce you all to a creature that I think is subtly one of the most beautiful birds I've ever seen!
The ferruginous partridge (Caloperdix oceluea) of Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. 
What a beast
Now there are many threatened and obscure species of partridge, dove, geese, swans and 'colly birds' that I could have chosen to focus on to make this a Christmas-themed blogpost, but I am somewhat charmed by the beautiful ferruginous!
This lovely bird frequents a mixture of lowland dry forest, evergreen and semi-evergreen forest, swamps and has even been recorded on moist forests of 1,200m.
As you can probably imagine, a forest dwelling small game bird that doesn't have an elaborate breeding behaviour, song or courtship, is a right dump truck to see! They are so elusive, that even though their range is quite widespread through South East Asia and Oceania, their population has never been properly estimated, so there is little way of knowing just how rare, common or threatened they are.
However, in Thailand, a bit of concentrated effort has been made to monitor the species and the current estimation is that 'they are rare' and currently undergoing a population decline. Therefore, our old friends at IUCN have categorized ferruginous partridge at 'Near-threatened'.

Skulking birds are always best ©Thaibirder
Habitat loss seems to be the main contributing factor to the decline of almost every species included in obscure bird of the week. Ferruginous partridge is by no means the exception that proves the rule.

Now, at this point in the blog post, I can imagine that some of you reading may well be world-experts on partridges and can think of many other 'Perdix' that would better fill the Christmas theme such as chestnut-breasted partridge (Arborophila mandellii), snow partridge (Lerwa lerwa) or even a partridge that frequents a pear tree (which, {un?}surprisingly, I can't seem to find!). Whilst I agree that these may be more appropriate, that's not the point of the 'obscure bird of the week'. It is to raise the awareness of the 'unsung hero'. And what a copper-chested, zebra-striped, black polka-dotted hero we have!
On the first day of Christmas, NGB gave to me...
Merry Christmas from all the Next Generation Birders!

-Zac Hinchcliffe
When Zac's not counting birds on patch, he's usually ringing birds on his regular Bangor site or is depressed that he does't have the money or time to twitch the latest big thing. Zac is 21 and currently studying a Research Masters at Bangor University and investigating Welsh Twite; adding a touch of science to his birding.

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