Ogea monarch (Mayrornis versicolor)

Ogea monarch (Mayrornis versicolor)

The Ogea monarch (Mayrornis versicolor) is a small bird, measuring 12 cm from beak tip to tail tip.

Also known as: Ogea Monarch

Local Names:

Description

The Ogea monarch is a small bird, measuring 12 cm from beak tip to tail tip. The upperparts of this bird are dark slate grey with a rufous wash on the tail. The tail is tipped with a buff. The underparts of the Ogea monarch are dull pinkish cinnamon in colour, with a paler pink throat.

Distribution

As the name suggests, this bird is not only a Fiji endemic, but it is endemic to only two limestone islands in Southern Lau: Ogealevu and Ogeadriki.

Habitat Ecology and Behaviour

The Ogea monarch is a forest bird, frequently venturing to the forest edge; but is not seen within the village areas or in the agricultural areas. This little bird is insectivorous, primarily being a foliage gleaner for insects at any height, beginning from the ground layer of the forest to the canopy. This bird has been observed hawking for flying insects, and sometimes working their way up large branches and trunks.

There are no breeding records for this bird.

The Ogea monarch is vocal, with a mild but carrying tsic being the most common call. When agitated, this tsic becomes more intense, louder and is rapidly repeated. Another frequent call of the Ogea monarch is a double or short series of tsic immediately followed by an upslurred whistle.

The bird rarely flies long distances but has a rapid and direct flight.

 Ogea monarch (Mayrornis versicolor)

Ogea monarch (Mayrornis versicolor)

 Ogea monarch (Mayrornis versicolor) map

Ogea monarch (Mayrornis versicolor) map

Threats

There are no major threats to the Ogea monarch in the forests of Ogea. However,this endemic bird is confined to the limestone forest on the two small islands of Ogealevu and Ogeadriki. Therefore, like many of Fiji’s endemic fauna, the main potential threats would be introduced predatory mammals (cats, rats, and the mongoose), and mammals that may destroy the forest ecosystem such as goats. A catastrophic cyclone or disease could also wipe out the small island populations. Interestingly, hybridization with the closely related Slaty monarch, Mayrornis lessoni may be a threat to its existence as a separate species.

Conservation Status

A study conducted in 1986 concluded that there were about 2, 000 Ogea monarchs on the two islands, and reported that the closely related Slaty monarch, with whom the Ogea monarch coexists and inter-breeds on Ogea was present but very rare. There has only been one other survey – a brief visit in 2004 when there was no apparent change in its status. The Ogea monarch is listed as Vulnerable under the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species because of its small population size and area of occupancy.

One of Fiji’s 14 Important Bird Areas was identified at Ogea on account of the Ogea monarch.

Remarks and Cultural Significance

A study conducted in 1986 concluded that there were about 2, 000 Ogea monarchs on the two islands, and reported that the closely related Slaty monarch, with whom the Ogea monarch coexists and inter-breeds on Ogea was present but very rare. There has only been one other survey -0 a brief visit in 2004 when there was no apparent change in its status.

The Ogea monarch is listed as Vulnerable under the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species because of its small population size and area of occupancy.

One of Fiji’s 14 Important Bird Areas was identified at Ogea on account of the Ogea monarch.

References

Masibalavu and Dutson (2006);
Watling (1988, 2004)

Front Page Photo: Dick Watling