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Papuan Spine-tailed Swift

Mearnsia novaeguineae

The Papuan spinetail, known scientifically as Mearnsia novaeguineae, is a diminutive yet robust swift, measuring a mere 11.5 cm from beak to tail. It boasts a glossy blue-black plumage on its head and upper parts, contrasted by a white or whitish belly and undertail coverts. Its underwing is dark, adorned with a pale central stripe. In flight, the small spines at the tail's end, which give this bird its name, are concealed.

Identification Tips

When observing the Papuan spinetail, look for its short, rounded tail and the distinctive pale stripe on the underwing. The contrast between the dark upperparts and lighter underbelly is also a key feature for identification.

Habitat

This species is found at the forest's edge, within gardens, and in cleared areas where standing dead trees are present, providing essential nesting sites.

Distribution

The Papuan spinetail is endemic to New Guinea, where it is a common sight in the lowlands and hills at elevations up to 550 meters. It has also been recorded on Boigu Island in Queensland, within the Australian territory of the north-western Torres Strait.

Behaviour

This swift is known for its exceptionally rapid flight, darting through the air as it pursues its prey.

Food

The diet of the Papuan spinetail consists primarily of flying insects, which it captures with remarkable aerial agility.

Breeding

The breeding habits of the Papuan spinetail involve nesting in high tree hollows, taking advantage of the natural cavities found in the forest landscape.

Conservation Status

The Papuan spinetail is classified as a species of Least Concern. It is a common and widespread bird within its range, indicating a stable population without immediate threats.

References

  • BirdLife International (2016). "Mearnsia novaeguineae". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22686634A93119357. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22686634A93119357.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  • Various authors and works cited within the original text, providing additional information on the species.
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