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[Fiji, Taveuni] Separating Silktails (1 Viewer)


Hoping there's some hardcore Fiji experts out there. After a day of birding in the Taveuni highlands near Lake Tagimoucia, I have some shots of Silktails. Based on what I know from the guides and eBird, this should be a slam dunk for Taveuni Silktail as it's the only reported Silktail on Taveuni and the other Silktail (Natewa Silktail) is across the strait on Vanua Levu. Because of this clear geographic distinction, there's very little information on the differences between these two silktail species. Upon seeing my photos, including a slight hook to the tip of the bill, my local guide is convinced that my bird could be Natewa Silktail, as he believes that both species might live in Taveuni based on his 20+ years of experience.

Anybody out there either A) know of some diagnostic feature separating the two? (I can't find anything online about bill shape) or B) have an opinion about the range of Natewa Silktail?

Thanks so much!


Never been anywhere near Fiji but to keep this near the top of the page, I can offer the following:

Collins 'Birds of the World' agrees with you on range for the two species and describes Taveuni as "Unmistakable, with striking white rump, short tail and sparkling black plumage" and gives the size as 12cm. Natewa is said to be 10cm and "Similar to Taveuni Silktail but smaller and more iridescent". Neither illustration shows a hooked bill.

'All the Birds of the World' agrees on range, sizes and both illustrations are very similar.

No help really but I hope someone can.
I was on Taveuni in early 2003, On a walk down from the transmitter I saw a Silktail, but back then (even with the guidebook) I wasn't aware that there might be 2 species. It wasn't long after a tropical hurricane had gone through the islands so perhaps that might be how they may get displaced?
Even without any suggested ID pointers yet, could you nevertheless post the pictures (if not for us to identify, then at least for us to admire)? Do you have access to Birds of the World - Comprehensive life histories for all bird species and families?

BTW, fun fact: anyone in
Eswatini, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe
now has free and unlimited access to all of BotW (source: Birds of the World - Birds of the World is the new home for Roberts 8 (Birds of Southern Africa) species content).
The two silktails are separated on range basically, and the Natewa bird has a very limited range in quite disturbed habitat on the Natewa Peninsula of Vanua Levu, it looks notably smaller in my experience and I am not aware of any bill shape distinctions. Vocals would be of interest but both seem quite silent and are hard to get anything recorded
Hi all! Apologies for not responding sooner- just got back from a trip to Bangladesh (we were lucky and got the White-eared Night heron, the Masked Finfoot, the Cachar Bulbul, and many other goodies). Thanks so much for all the feedback! After a discussion with some local academics here in Singapore, I think I'll keep them as Taveuni Silktails in my list and keep an open mind when reading future trip reports from Taveuni and Natewa!

As requested, here's some of the photos!


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my local guide is convinced that my bird could be Natewa Silktail, as he believes that both species might live in Taveuni based on his 20+ years of experience.
This reminds me of a situation in St. Lucia in the Caribbean. Local guides thought there were two species of tremblers. Everyone else saw it as juveniles vs adult.


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