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Pied Monarch

Arses kaupi

The Pied Monarch, Arses kaupi, presents a striking figure with its contrasting plumage. This small bird, measuring 15-16 centimeters in length and weighing between 12.5-15 grams, is a member of the Monarchidae family, known for their flycatching prowess.

Identification Tips

Males are adorned with a black head, upperparts, and tail, while their wings are a brownish-black with distinctive white scapulars that form a crescent shape when folded. A white collar, which can be erected, encircles the neck and merges with the white throat. A prominent black breast-band separates the white throat from the white belly and underside. Females are less boldly marked, with a less distinct white throat and collar, and an incomplete collar around the neck. Both sexes have a black eye surrounded by a blue eye-ring, which is more pronounced in males, a blue-grey bill, and black legs. Juveniles resemble females but have duller plumage, lack the blue eye-ring, and possess a horn-colored bill.

Habitat

The Pied Monarch inhabits the tropical forest edges and secondary growth of coastal northeastern Queensland, Australia. It thrives from sea level to elevations of 900 meters, favoring palm-vine scrub, gallery forests, and riverine environments.

Distribution

Endemic to coastal Queensland, this species is found from Cooktown to Ingham. It is mostly sedentary, although some individuals may disperse to Eucalyptus woodlands in the Atherton Tableland during winter.

Behaviour

Insectivorous by nature, the Pied Monarch feeds on beetles and moths, among other insects. It is typically observed alone or in pairs, occasionally forming small family groups or joining mixed-species foraging flocks. It forages at mid-level heights within forests, seldom venturing close to the ground. Its foraging technique involves climbing up tree trunks and probing bark and lichens, akin to treecreepers, as well as capturing prey mid-air.

Breeding

The breeding season spans from October to January, with the species raising a single brood. The nest is a shallow cup constructed from vines and sticks, bound with spider webs and plant material, and adorned with lichen. Positioned on a hanging vine loop, the nest is placed away from the trunk or foliage, 2-10 meters above ground. The female lays two pink-tinged, oval, white eggs speckled with lavender and reddish-brown, each measuring 19 mm by 14 mm.

Similar Species

The Pied Monarch may be confused with other members of the Monarchidae family, but its distinctive plumage and blue eye-ring set it apart.

Diet and Feeding

The diet consists primarily of insects such as beetles and lepidopterans. The Pied Monarch employs both arboreal and aerial foraging strategies to capture its prey.

Conservation status

The IUCN lists the Pied Monarch as Least Concern. Although its global range is small and it is considered uncommon, much of its habitat is protected within national parks or World Heritage Sites, and its population is currently stable.

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Pied Monarches on Birda

Sightings
A map showing the sighting location
🐧
Erin Brown
02 Feb 2024 - 9:20pm
Australia

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White-eared Monarch

Carterornis leucotis
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