Of the 23 birds in the New Caledonia dry forest, 22 are endemic. There are a variety of habitats in which they settle in from upper dense portions of the forest to the lower parts of the savannahs. Their diet guilds also range tremendously from frusivores to insectivores to nectarivores (World Wildlife Fund 2013; Conservation International 2008). There are only 2 birds that are endemic that have an IUCN classification status of vulnerable or higher while the other 21 are considered “near threatened” or lower and thus are common to the dry forest area. Most of these birds are protected by conservation laws which protect the dry forest through monitoring the primary and degraded forest and nests as well as education to prevent killing of the native species. However, it is especially important to cover the two species with the highest status on the red list because small population size.
Courtesy of bird.net.au
New Caledonia Owlet-Nightjar Aegotheles savesi
The New Caledonian Owlet-Nightjar is a bird species in the family Aegothelidae. It is endemic to New Caledonia and has an IUCN classification of critically endangered. It received this status due to its few sightings and is known only from two specimens (BirdLife International 2012). It is thought to be restricted to the most remote forest massifs (group of mountain forests) of Ni-Kouakoue due to its low numbers (Ekstrom et al. 2000; Tobias and Ekstrom 2002). There is estimated to be no more than 50 specimens living in the dry forest. Possible threats come from wildfires, mining and logging, or predation by rats and cats (Brigham and Geiser 1997). There is no much effort towards their conservation because of no field sightings or credible report of sightings. Furthermore, it is believed that the massifs provide an already added layer of protection and thus the only other necessary steps to protect these birds is to ensure better protection status of Ni-Kouakoue forest and rat control.
Courtesy of antpitta.com
Horned Parakeet Eunymphicus cornutus
The Horned Parakeet is a species of bird found in the Psittacidae family and is endemic to all parts of New Caledonia, including the tropical dry forest. This species is interesting because they were thought to have an IUCN status of endangered with a population size between 1,000-3,000, but recent reports suggests these numbers in the last ten years have actually risen to be stable at 8,000-9,000 individuals, with at least 5,000 being mature individuals (Ekstrom et al. 2000; V. Chartendault 2006). The trend seems to be that the numbers are increasing steadily. These birds are usually in pairs or small flocks and like to feed largely on seeds and nuts in the canopy of trees. Nests can be made in a variety of places including the ground, under fallen tree trunks, or in tree holes (Birdlife International 2012). It has been suggested that these birds may migrate seasonally to foraging grounds in the austral winter. These Horned Parakeets are fully protected by New Caledonia Law and more protection has been proposed. Some of the proposed legislation for conservation has been to study major threats such as rat predation and to initiate counter measures. In addition, it has also been proposed to increase the area of suitable habitats such that it will have protected status.
The Whitebellied Goshawk is classified as Near Threatened because it is confined to a small habitat, and the habitat degradation may be causing its population decline. The Whitebellied Goshawk is endemic to New Caledonia and it is distributed from North of Manjelia to South of Gora. It is not a shy species and is often found near human habitation. Unfortunately, a few are killed by humans since the Whitebellied Goshawk kills domestic chickens, despite the legal protection that is applied to this species.
The New Caledonian Grassbird is classified as Least Concern according to the IUCN. Although the New Caledonian Grassbird has a habitat in close proximity to humans, the population remains stable and does not seem to be affected to predation by invasive species. Endemic to New Caledonia, its population occurs on the mountains in the northern island and a few in the southern island of New Caledonia. It is absent from the Ile des Pins and the Loyalty Islands. The New Caledonian Grassbird is a very secretive species, rarely seen in the open. It is a small bird with a long tail, and makes infrequent calls –either a sharp tzik or a sound similar to a purr of a cat. Its upper plumage is an olivebrown, as its undersides are white. The New Caledonian Grassbird is generally solitary, sometimes seen in pairs, and it favors to inhabit dense forest cover.
The New Caledonian Imperial pigeon is classified as Near Threatened because it may undergo a population decline due to increasing hunting pressure. It is endemic to New Caledonia and is distributed all throughout the country –from Mandjelia to Goro. The New Caledonian Imperialpigeon is very large and has a long tail. Its plumage is dominantly blackish slate grey, while the abdomen is chestnut red. It is restricted to the mountain forests and other remote areas. Its call is a loud booming voice. Although its population numbers is considered safe, if there is any relaxation of hunting laws, it will affect its numbers. The New Caledonian Imperialpigeon is hunted by indigenous Kanaks as it has a symbolic value. It is legally hunted in April by the Kanaks, but it is also killed for the illegal trade and local consumption. The species is protected by law most of the year, but it should be monitored so its population will stay stable.
New Caledonian Cuckooshrike Coracina analiS
This species is classified as Near Threatened. It is endemic to New Caledonia and there is a small population that is believed to be declining due to habitat loss and land fragmentation. It is distributed on the islands of Grande Terre and Ile des Pins. The New Caledonian Cuckooshrike inhabits dense forest and shrub and is usually restricted to larger forest fragments. Because the dry forests of New Caledonia are distributed in small patches, the New Caledonian Cuckooshrike is sensitive to habitat modification. The population seems to be affected by the threat of mining and fire on the forests. Currently there are 6,000 to 15,000 individuals in New Caledonia. This species is not protected by law, but conservation actions have been proposed.
The Yellowbellied Robin is classified as Least Concern despite its restricted range. It is a bird endemic to New Caledonia and is in the Petroicidae family. It is a small bird, with dark brownish grey upper plumage and olive color on the back, wings, and tail. The throat and breast are white, while the abdomen is bright lemon yellow. Both the males and females have the same colorings. A frequent forest bird, it hops through the bushes with its wings and tail drooped. The Yellowbellied Robin often feeds on the ground and makes cupshaped nests on low bushes.
Courtesy of internationaldovesociety.com
New Caledonian Crow Corvus moneduloides
Under the family Corvidae, the New Caledonian Crow is endemic to New Caledonia. It is a common species found throughout the country and its population size is believed to be very large. Thus the species is classified as Least Concern. The New Caledonian Crow forages for food in pairs or small flocks (although a flock of 30 has been seen). Their call is distinctive with a soft wawa. The females are smaller than the males, and its black plumage has a slight bluish or purplish shine. The species has also been introduced to the neighboring island of Mare. The New Caledonian Crow feeds on insects, fruits, nuts, snails—almost anything that is edible. This species is unique for their use of tools to extract food from crevices. They are known to be able to manufacture tools by breaking off twigs from bushes and trimming them into functional hook shaped tools. Although the New Caledonian Crow is classified as Least Concern, the clearing of forests throughout New Caledonia still pose a threat to this species.
The Greenbacked Whiteeye is endemic to the islands of New Caledonia. It is a small bird that feeds on insects and fruits. The head and back are dark olive green with a wide white eyering, the throat and breast are yellow and the undersides are white. The wings are brown and olive green. Both males and females have the same plumage. The species is classified as Least Concern, although the Greenbacked Whiteeye is believed to be decreasing in numbers due to the ongoing habitat destruction and fragmentation. However, the rate of population loss is not sufficient to be classified as Vulnerable.
Courtesy of International Bird Collection
New Caledonian Myzomela Myzomela caledonica
This bird is within the honeyeating, Meliphagidae family of avifauna. Sometimes, this species name is used interchangeably with the Scarlet Myzomela of Australia. The geographic range is bird is more limited, only occurring in the New Caledonian islands of Grande Terre and Isle of Pines. Despite the more constricted geographic range of this bird and the lack of global population size study, IUCN scientists believe its population is stable and numerous enough to be classified of least concern. It is 11cm in length and is 68 grams, with males being slightly heavier. Males have: a scarlet head, breast, and back; black wings and tail; and a white belly and rump. The females have: a dull brown head, breast, and back and a slight wash on the face; and duller wings and belly. Juveniles appear similar to the female. Originally living in humid rainforests, stunted hill forests, and savanna woodland, it has adapted to live in plantations and gardens.
Barred Honeyeater Phylidonyris undulatus
Another Meliphagidae family member, like most ‘least concern’ species on our list, despite the limited range (this bird is exclusively endemic to the New Caledonian island, Grande Terre) and scientific uncertainty over the population trends, it continues to enjoy a sizeable population. This species has a long, slender, downcurved bill. It has pale scalloping on the nape and the crown and a fine grey barring below. They mostly occur in montane forests. Even with an unknown population trend, the widespread distribution of the species has led the IUCN to designate it of least concern.
This bird is part of the Acanthizidae family. The Gerygone does not enjoy much land to call its own. It shares the islands of New Caledonia, much of Vanuatu, and some of Solomon Islands. Unlike the fruit dove however, the Gerygone does not reside on any of the islands directly north of Ureparapara nor on any islands due slightly southeast of Efate. Additionally, some Gerygones call both Bellona and Rennell Islands home. Gerygone has a light grey color with a beige belly. Due to the least concern designation, it can be inferred that there are at least 10,000 mature individuals that have a stable rate of change.
Unlike most birds within a restricted geographic range, the New Caledonian Whistler has maintained a stable population trend in spite of being limited to the main island of New Caledonia, Grande Terre, and the Isle of Pines. Although no survey has ever been conducted in regards to their population size, the population trend is stable. Both of these facts are welcome given that this bird is the only one from the Pachycephalidae family. Though they can occupy humid forest up to 900 m they are particularly well suited to living below 300 m. The species is a whistler of medium size (1416 cm and 1825 grams) and sedentary behavior. They usually feast upon insects, snails, and seeds.