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Common Paradise-kingfisher, the “Goddess of the Ocean” Alfred R. Wallace Admired

Common Paradise-kingfisher (Tanysiptera galatea) belongs to the Alcedinidae family and is widely dispersal. In Indonesia, the distribution covers the lowland forests of Maluku Islands and Papua. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), this species is low-risked to extinction and status Least Concern (LC).

Its scientific name derived from ancient Greek tanusipteros, or long tail, and galatea, a nereid in Greek myth. The scientists then spirited these terms to an English name for the bird: Common Paradise-kingfisher.

Like all paradise kingfishers, the Common Paradise-kingfisher also wears red beak and distinctive metallic blue feathers, but its long tails bring a singular appearance to this species compared to others.

The Common Paradise-kingfisher usually occupy and modify empty termite nests in big trees. Together with its mate, it claims 0,3 to 0,5 hectares in the habitat as their nesting territory, and aggressively defends the area.

The taxonomy of the Common Paradise-kingfisher was first described in 1859 by George Robert Gray, the Head of the British Museum's Ornithology Section, based on a collection of specimens by Alfred Russel Wallacea during an expedition in western Papua. It was also Gray who pinned Tanysiptera galatea as the scientific name for the Common Paradise-kingfisher.

The Encounter with Alfred Russel Wallace

Alfred Russel Wallace is a name famous for his explorations in the archipelago and the discovery of the Wallacea line, which completed the puzzle of Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection evolution. In an expedition in Ambon Island, Wallace had his first encounter with this bird and was impressed with its physical beauty, especially its long and spoon-shaped twin tails. To him, the Common Paradise-kingfisher is the most distinctive and beautiful in the Alcedinidae family. Wallace’s admiration was expressed in the book “The Malay Archipelago” (1869).

Wallace menilai cekakak-pita biasa adalah salah satu jenis yang paling unik dan indah dari famili Alcedinidae. Ia mengagumi keindahan fisiknya, terutama kedua ekornya yang sangat panjang dan berujung serupa sendok.

“I also obtained one or two specimens of the fine racquet-tailed kingfisher of Amboyna, Tanysiptera nais, one of the most singular and beautiful of that beautiful family. These birds differ from all other kingfishers (which have usually short tails) by having the two-middle tail- feathers immensely lengthened and very narrowly webbed, but terminated by a spoon-shaped enlargement, as in the mot-mots and some of the humming-birds. They belong to that division of the family termed kinghunters, living chiefly on insects and small land-molluscs, which they dart down upon and pick up from the ground, just as a kingfisher picks a fish out of the water.

They are confined to a very limited area, comprising the Moluccas, New Guinea, and Northern Australia. About ten species of these birds are now known, all much resembling each other, but yet sufficiently distinguishable in every locality. The Amboynese species, of which a very accurate representation is here given, is one of the largest and handsomest. It is full seventeen inches long to the tips of the tail-feathers; the bill is coral red, the under-surface pure white, the back and wings deep purple, while the shoulders, head and nape, and some spots on the upper part of the back and wings, are pure azure blue. The tail is white, with the feathers narrowly blue-edged, but the narrow part of the long feathers is rich blue. This was an entirely new species, and has been well named after an ocean goddess, by Mr. G. R. Gray” (A.R. Wallace, 1869).


Unduh wallpaper burung edisi Juni 2017 di tautan berikut ini: Common-paradise Kingfisher

Important fact: Out of 10.000 bird species in the world, Indonesia is a home for 1.769 wild birds. Discovering the various types of birds and their services for the environment is a way of appreciating the biodiversity richness of Indonesia.