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When Chris Filardi, director of Pacific Programs at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, was finally holding the elusive Guadalcanal moustached kingfisher, he told Slate writer Rachel Gross, it was like finding a unicorn.
Filardi had been searching for the orange, white, and brilliant-blue bird for more than 20 years, when on a field study in the high forests of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, he finally heard the “ko-ko-ko-ko-kiew” sound of what he described as the unmistakable call of a large kingfisher.
After days of tracking, he and his colleagues captured a male moustached kingfisher in a mist net.
“When I came upon the netted bird in the cool shadowy light of the forest I gasped aloud, ‘Oh my god, the kingfisher,’ one of the most poorly known birds in the world was there, in front of me, like a creature of myth come to life.” Filardi wrote in a Sept. 23 blog post.
The team snapped the first-ever photos of the remarkably photogenic bird and made the first-ever recordings of a male variety of the species (a female was described back in the 1920s).
Then the team killed it.
“The specters of extinction for island birds loom in today’s world,” Filardi wrote. “The collection of a single moustached kingfisher is not among them. And, beyond advancing science, I believe this act will positively impact the kingfisher’s world.”
Beautiful but very cryptic forest kingfisher. Very few sightings, and male plumage remains undescribed.
Controlling introduced predators may more positively impact the kingfisher's world.
As a hole-nesting species, it is potentially threatened by introduced rats and cats which are found at high altitudes
Chris Filardi is the "Director, Pacific Programs" with a public Email address of "email@example.com" and company phone of 212-313-7431. So anybody wishing to reach out and personally tell him what you think of his actions you can and should do so.