Obo

Phil and I arrived in Obo last week. Obo is situated in the middle fly region of Papua New Guinea, or roughly halfway between the mountains and the ocean in Western Province. We’re a days paddle from the Indonesian border and a ten hour boat ride from the nearest town.

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Obo is a small village with locals who make a living selling either fish (barramundi and black bass) and crocodile skins (both fresh and saltwater). Compared to our other site on Milne Bay, they are also much more dependent on bush meat and most families regularly hunt wallabies, pigs, cassowary, or the introduced deer population.

Of note for our work, we enjoy the healthy Savannah here that is full of the lorentzi subspecies of White-shouldered Fairywren! In this population, females are brown and strongly contrast the male’s ornamentation.

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I am interested in why this population is so different than the birds in Milne Bay (see previous post!). This year, we are collecting samples and experimental data that will help us better understand this striking pattern of female ornamentation.

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Down the Fly River!

Last week we said goodbye to these fairywrens in Milne Bay Province. Remi will stay behind with Serena and the field crew to continue monitoring the population for nests and banding birds.

IMG_2973 (2)In the meantime, Phil and I are off to Western Province where we will work for two weeks with a population of White-shouldered Fairywrens where the females are brown (unlike the photo above, where females, left, are black and white like the males!). My Ph.D. research is interested in why these differences occur and we are collecting observations and conducting experiments to try to understand this variation.

I will be keep this short, as we leave early in the morning and I won’t be able to update for a couple of weeks. Here are a couple of shots of birds in Western Province to tide you over until then!

Southern Crowned Pigeon from the forests around Kiunga were a surpise, as most of these have been eaten.

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Finally, I was able to see another fairywren species (the Emperor Fairywren) in which females are highly ornamented as well! Males are glowing blue and females maintain the blue head, but with an orangey brown body (below). These ones will have to wait for another Ph.D to study…

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