Pericrocotus igneus

Physical characteristics: One of the smallest species in the Campephagidae family, the fiery minivet was first recognized as a separate species in 1846 during an expedition to the Moluccas, a group of islands in Indonesia. They range in length from 6 to 6.5 inches (15 to 16.5 centimeters) and typically weigh between 0.5 to 0.6 ounces (14 to 16 grams). Males have black upperparts and throats, with vivid red breast, belly, rump, and outer tail feathers. Females are more subtly colored, with gray upperparts, yellow undersides, orange rumps, and black tails. The bird has a distinct, rising call of "swee-eet."

Geographic range: Fiery minivets are Asian birds, occupying southern Myanmar, southern Thailand, and parts of Malaysia and Brunei, as well as the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo and the Palawan Province islands of the Philippines.

Habitat: This species typically makes its home in the canopies of forests and along the forest edges, but it will also occupy pine plantations and casuarinas, an Australian evergreen, groves. Many of the birds may be found in lowlands, but it is also commonly sighted in the sub-montane slopes and montane forests of Sumatra at altitudes up to 8,900 feet (2,700 meters). Another favored habitat is coastal mangrove swamps.

Diet: Although little is known about the feeding habits of fiery minivets, ornithologists presume that the species, like birds in the rest of the family, eats primarily insects, particularly moths and caterpillars. They forage in the canopies of trees where they live.

Behavior and reproduction: Sociable and energetic, fiery minivets are frequent participants in what scientists call "mixed-species bird parties," groups that contain a number of bird species. They are believed to be monogamous, with mated pairs working together to build a cup-shaped nest of fine plant parts, spider webs, and lichens, fungus, that they place high in a tree. This species breeds in Palawan's dry season of December and in Malaysia's rainy season that starts in May. The female usually lays two eggs.

Fiery minivets and people: The species' beautiful coloring makes it a favorite of birdwatchers.

Fiery minivets are frequent participants in what scientists call "mixed-species bird parties," groups that contain a number of bird species. (Illustration by Emily Damstra. Reproduced by permission.)

Conservation status: While extensive and ongoing destruction of forests in this region of Asia presents a continuing threat to fiery minivets and many other birds, the species' use of sub-montane slopes and second-growth forests leads scientists to conclude that it is not immediately threatened. Fiery minivets are common in Palawan and Sumatra, although somewhat rare in Thailand. ■

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Books:

Sibley, C. G., and B. L. Monroe. Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990.

Stattersfield, A. J., and D. R. Capper, eds. Threatened Birds of the World: The Official Source for Birds on the IUCN Red List. Cambridge, U.K.: BirdLife International, 2000.

Periodicals:

Ripley, S. D. "Notes on the Genus Coracina." Auk 58 (1941): 381-395. Web sites:

"Fiery Minivet." BirdLife International. http://www.birdlife.net/ datazone/search/species_search.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid= 5973&m=0 (accessed on June 13, 2004).

"Cuckoo-shrike." The Encyclopedia Mauritiana. http://www.encyclopedia. mu/Nature/Fauna/Birds/Endemic/Cuckoo-shrike.htm (accessed on June 25, 2004).

"Fiery Minivet." The Red Data Book: Threatened Birds of Asia. Online at http://www.rdb.or.id/view_html.php?id=543&op=periigne (accessed on June 25, 2004).

BULBULS Pycnonotidae

Class: Aves Order: Passeriformes Family: Pycnontidae Number of species: 131 species

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