The Solomon Islands have not seen a male Guadalcanal Moustached Kingfisher since the 1950s. Scientists in Guadalcanal’s isolated highlands have been looking at unique biodiversity and working with local groups to build a protected area there.
“After several days of labor, it is evident we are on the borders of an island in the sky,” said project director Chris Filardi. The species we see here come from two places: the humid coastal plain and the cloud-covered Tetena-Haiaja highlands, which are in the middle of two different worlds.The Chupukama Ridge is a sign that we’re moving from a world of lowland species to a sky island full of scientific mysteries.
In the western Pacific, the most sought-after ‘ghost species‘ is the moustached kingfisher. In the 1920s, a solitary female was described, and in the early 1950s, two other females were brought to collectors by local hunters. No guy has ever been seen. The person’s voice and habits are unknown.The bird’s history of evading detection made finding it unlikely. The Uluna-Sutahuri people who dwell in the forests call the bird “Mbarikuku”; all the older members of the crew hired locally have memories of encounters with it.
The team heard the call of a huge forest kingfisher on the third morning. They soon saw the bird in silhouette, then in full view, pumping its tail and raising its crest. They kept hearing kingfishers calling in the nearby towering highland moss trees. Mist nets were placed out in the woodland and a male bird with a blue back was captured. Oh my god, the kingfisher, “I exclaimed as I approached the netted bird in the cool, shadowy light of the forest. “One of the world’s least recognized birds stood before me, like a mythical monster brought to life.”
An extremely small estimated population is suspected of diminishing, at least in part of its range, according to BirdLife International. But more research may indicate it is more common. The researchers have now obtained photographs and recordings of the species’ calls. The green-backed females may also be photographed. The bird and its habitat are said to be thriving on the island. The male was taken as a specimen to the American Museum of Natural History for further research. With digital photography and DNA sampling, this kind of thing is becoming more and more common in American museums and research centers.