Biak monarch

Monarcha brehmii

TAXONOMY

Monarcha brehmii Schlegel, 1871, Biak Island, New Guinea.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Monarche de Brehm; German: Falbschwanzmonarch; Spanish: Monarca Biak.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

5.2 in (13 cm). One of the smallest monarchs. Males have black upperparts, throat, and breast, with pale yellow under-parts, tail, and wing bars. Along with a short crest, its most significant feature is pale yellow crescent on each side of the head. Females similar, but have a whitish patch on throat and breast.

DISTRIBUTION

Endemic to the islands of Biak and Supiori in Cenderawasih (Geelvink) Bay, Papua (formerly Irian Jaya) in Indonesia.

HABITAT

The few birds found were in lowland forest, but it is suspected that they favor thick, elevated forests. The rainforests of Biak are very important for wildlife, with 13 endemic or near-endemic birds, 18 endemic butterflies, and five endemic mammals.

BEHAVIOR

Few individuals have been seen, so little is known. Its grating call is characteristic of the Monarchidae.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Appear to gain most of their insect food by gleaning from foliage in the subcanopy of the forest, and by hawking aerial insects from a perch.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Not known.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Listed as Endangered by the IUCN and BirdLife International, with a declining and small population. Recorded only four times between 1980 and 2000, though there have been no recent expeditions to the interior forests, where it may be more common. Logging for timber and clearing the land for farming has already destroyed the primary forest in southern Biak and threatens the northern areas. Fortunately, Supioro's forests are steeper, with fewer people, and so at lower risk.

New expeditions to find and protect the most important areas of forest are a priority for their conservation.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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