Bjorn Olesen

by | Apr 20, 2016

Just back from a week’s trip to North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Sulawesi is unique because of its high No. of endemic bird species, 95 out of totally 478 species that can be found there. One of the most colorful endemics is the Sulawesi Knobbed Hornbill (Aceros cassidix), which is endemic and classified as vulnerable. As they depend on large trees for breeding, they are particularly vulnerable to forest loss, as they are nesting in natural holes up to 50 above ground in tall forest trees. Hunting is also a serious threat 

Thank you to Monal Capellone of Sultan Birding Tours, for a very productive trip

Sulawesi has one of the highest percentages of endemic of any island, and birding there is an amazing experience as nearly 100 species are endemic. There is an impressive no. of kingfishers there, 17 in all, of which 7 are endemic. The Lilac-cheeked Kingfisher (Cittura cyanotis) show here is one of the endemics, which is classified near threatened. Forest destruction within its elevation range has been extensive in recent decades, and its populations are expected to have suffered a commensurate decline. This is taken at quite a close range, but inside the lowland forest lighting conditions are always difficult, and most of my images have been taken at ISO 3200 all with Gitzo tripod, D4, and 600mmVR lens sometimes with 1.4 teleconverters, all without flash.

 The Sulawesi Hornbill (Penelopides exarhatus exarhatus) is a smallish social species that live in groups of up to 20 individuals. It is believed that only the dominant pair breeds, while the remaining members of the group act as helpers. It is less common than the Sulawesi Knobbed Hornbill (Aceros cassidix), which is also endemic and classified as vulnerable. According to BirdLife, the population is suspected to be declining rapidly, as the species’ specialized breeding requirements (including dependence on large trees) make them particularly vulnerable to forest loss and degradation. Hunting, both for food and for keeping as pets, is also a serious threat. I only saw this male on one occasion, and I particularly like the action and the habitat of this image, which was one of the highlights of my recent trip to North Sulawesi well arranged by Monal Capellone and his team from Sultan Tours!

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