Silktail (Lamprolia victoriae)

Silktail (Lamprolia victoriae)

The Silktail (Lamprolia victoriae) measures 12cm from beak tip to tail tip. It is a striking bird, with deep velvet black plumage and metallic blue spangling on the head, nape, throat and breast.

Also known as: Silktail

Local Names: Sisi

 

Description

The Silktail measures 12cm from beak tip to tail tip. It is a striking bird, with deep velvet black plumage and metallic blue spangling on the head, nape, throat and breast. It has a conspicuously silky white rump extending over the greater part of the tail. Distribution

This Fiji endemic bird is restricted to mature forest on Taveuni and the Natewa Peninsula of Vanua Levu.

Habitat Ecology and Behaviour

The Silktail forages almost exclusively in the substage of the forest, very rarely ascending to the canopy and it very rarely emerges from beneath the canopy into open areas, paths, roads etc. It is an insectivorous bird which energetically gleans small insects from the substage of the forest and often descends to the ground or makes aerial sallies after slow flying insects. It appears that the larger Natewa form, in the absence of the Blue-crested Broadbill on the Natewa Peninsula, is less of a trunk gleaner than the Taveuni form, instead it makes more aerial sallies. For a delicate bird, the Silktail has a rather substantial nest, usually 1-3 m. The nest is slung between a horizontal fork in a broad-leaved understorey tree or shrub, usually 1-3 m above the ground and always placed immediately underneath an umbrella of one or two leaves. The nest is constructed of pliable fibres, rootlets, shredded bark, vine tendrils and other material; the outside is sometimes decorated with green leafy liverworts and moss; inside is generally lined with feathers. Females lay a single pale pink egg, with indistinct lilac and purple blotches, which forms the clutch.

The Silktail is a restless bird, with a swift darting flight, usually in the substage of the forest. The rounded wings and flashing white rump are distinctive when in flight. The alarm call of the Silktail is a short, sharp twitter psiu-psiu-psiu. The song comprises 5-7 brief whisting notes initially rising, and then falling.

 Silktail (Lamprolia victoriae) Photo: Birdlife International

Silktail (Lamprolia victoriae) Photo: Birdlife International

 Silktail (Lamprolia victoriae) map

Silktail (Lamprolia victoriae) map

 Illustration of the Silktail by Chloe Talbot-Kelly

Illustration of the Silktail by Chloe Talbot-Kelly

Threats

Like other forest birds of Fiji, the Silktail is threatened by habitat destruction, introduced mammalian predators, and introduced competitive and invasive species such as the Mynah birds and Bulbuls.

Conservation Status

Silktail is listed as Vulnerable under the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species. The Silktail is a flagship conservation species with a significant international profile, yet it is clear that the Natewa form of the Silktail is severely threatened and far from receiving conservation action, current land use development in the peninsula are worsening the situation.

In 2000, Birdlife International categorised this species as Vulnerable under the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species; in 2006 this category was worsened to Near Threatened as data revealed that the ongoing deforestation continued at a very fast rate.

Remarks and Cultural Significance

Silktail is listed as Vulnerable under the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species. The Silktail is a flagship conservation species with a significant international profile, yet it is clear that the Natewa form of the Silktail is severely threatened and far from receiving conservation action, current land use development in the peninsula are worsening the situation.

In 2000, Birdlife International categorised this species as Vulnerable under the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species; in 2006 this category was worsened to Near Threatened as data revealed that the ongoing deforestation continued at a very fast rate.

References

Masibalavu and Dutson (2006);
Watling (2004).

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