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Accipiter from Tangkoko, Sulawesi (1 Viewer)

Rgallardy

Well-known member
Hi all,

A bit confused about this accipiter from Tangkoko, Sulawesi a few days ago. All the information I can find seems to be a bit inconsistent so really hoping someone who has more experience with Nanus (Small Sparrowhawk) and Rhodogaster (Vinous-breasted Sparrowhawk) can weigh in (I've seen neither except this bird!). Attached are two photos as well as link to two recordings of the bird.

The tentative ID of this bird is Nanus, but this might be skewed as local bird guide Samuel ID'd it as such a few days before I saw it (reasonably sure it's the same bird as it's apparently nesting in the area).

Here are my thoughts/confusion points:

Plumage: Although very similar, according to the description in the new guide, "Rhodogaster underwing is more strongly mottled on wing linings and less strongly barred on flight feathers than Nanus" Looking at my flight photo the bird clearly has barred flight feathers and fairly clean underwings which would make me lean towards Nanus BUT looking at the illustrations in the book, the illustration of Nanus in flight looks nothing like the bird I photographed (and more closely to the illustration of Rhodogaster) It doesn't help that there doesn't seem to be any flight pictures of either species online (or at least I can't find any!)

Vocalizations: The book states that the best way to separate the two species is by voice...the only problem is that there are very few recordings online to compare to! XC provides four recordings of Nanus and two recordings of Rhodogaster. Nanus should be a "thin, high pitched, "kiliew" sometimes followed by a very sharp "kik-kik-kik", higher pitched than Rhodogaster" and Rhodogaster is a rapid "hihihihihihi" lower pitched and less piercing than Nanus. Based on these descriptions, XC210258 by Verbelen matches the description for Rhodogaster, but his second recording XC210256 is much higher pitched (higher than the recordings of Nanus on XC) and is VERY similar to my recordings XC382582 and XC382583.

So there you have it, based on book plumage description and vocal description I'd say Nanus. Based on book illustration and XC recordings, I'd say Rhodogaster....

Any thoughts would be very appreciated.

My recordings of bird
http://www.xeno-canto.org/382582

http://www.xeno-canto.org/382583
 

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Cinereous

Well-known member
This is kinda like the Willow Warbler/Chiffchaff ID... I've never been able to work out the difference myself... They've always looked identical to me... There are so many Indonesian/Pacific ocean Island Accipiters of similar colouration it mind-boggling..
 
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Larry Sweetland

Formerly 'Larry Wheatland'
Hi Ross. I had pretty much the same thing happen at Tankoko a few years ago, though my views weren't so good, and I also enquired on birdforum. Rob Hutchinson's thoughts were that Little Sparrowhawk occurs at higher elevations, as far as he was aware, and that Samuel was probably not familiar with distinguishing it from Vinous-breasted (the expected species at Tankoko).

EDIT just found Rob's post:-

"Accipiter - the ID of these is very difficult. I have only ever seen Small Sparrowhawk in montane habitat at Lore Lindu and Gunung Ambang, I doubt it is at Tangkoko as I have never heard a reliable report from this well visited site. I certainly doubt that it would be common enough for Samuel to be familiar with the calls"
 
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James Eaton

Trent Valley Crew
Hi Ross, the call is classic rhodogaster in my opinion, I have recordings of confirmed rhodogaster that are near-identical to this (from a nesting pair, including photographed immatures on Peleng, so no confusion with ID there).

As Rob/Larry mentioned, nanus has never (as far as I'm aware) been confirmed as occurring in the lowlands. I'll have a word with Samuel!

Underwing - though barred it's not particularly strong, black barring, nanus should be darker in my opinion (the backlight makes it look more conspicuous than it is).

This species pair are much under-rated as to their identification, really difficult in adult plumage except when calling. Vinous-breasted they are!

James
 

Rgallardy

Well-known member
James,

Thanks for the reply. I really appreciate the help with the ID. Very interesting that there aren't any confirmed reports from the lowlands. There are quite a few eBird records from Tangkoko which presumably are mostly suspect (none have documentation).

A bit off topic, but along the lines of "birds being reported where they aren't", any thoughts on Rufous-throated Flycatcher at Gunung Mahawu? A few trip reports mention it there and eBird has a number of records, but I believe Mahawu should be well above the elevation level for Rufous-throated. There also don't seem to be many pictures of female RT available on the web and a few of the ones I've seen seem to be mis-identified.

Best,

Ross
 

James Eaton

Trent Valley Crew
James,

Thanks for the reply. I really appreciate the help with the ID. Very interesting that there aren't any confirmed reports from the lowlands. There are quite a few eBird records from Tangkoko which presumably are mostly suspect (none have documentation).

A bit off topic, but along the lines of "birds being reported where they aren't", any thoughts on Rufous-throated Flycatcher at Gunung Mahawu? A few trip reports mention it there and eBird has a number of records, but I believe Mahawu should be well above the elevation level for Rufous-throated. There also don't seem to be many pictures of female RT available on the web and a few of the ones I've seen seem to be mis-identified.

Best,

Ross

Hi Ross, no problem. Silent adult Small and Vinous-breasted Sparrowhawks, without vocalising is about as hard as it gets in identification in Indonesia - really tough. I have yet to see any photos or listen to any sound recordings of Small from Tangkoko, so I'd be very surprised.

Rufous-throated Flycatcher at Mahawu - given the sites popularity I find it highly surprising it's yet to be photographed or sound recorded from there, which I think says it all. It'a a lowland bird in my opinion and shouldn't be on Mahawu.
It's turned into a really tough bird due to the sad disappearance of easily accessible lowland forest - I've only seen it at Bogani Nani Wartabone in 2004 in a lush, forested gulley. It's an unobtrusive bird however.

The only caveat is my personal birding experience on Sulawesi is fairly limited compared to other parts of Indonesia.

Best of luck with your continued travels through Indonesia,

James
 

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