Acoustic Monitoring in New Caledonia

October 19th, 2009 · 1 Comment

by Doug Quin

This past summer I had the pleasure of traveling to New Caledonia (an island nation northeast of Australia, between New Zealand and New Guinea), where I was part of a team that was developing a methodology and protocol for remote acoustic sensing to help monitor populations of the Kagu, a ground-nesting bird, and eventually other endangered species. So far, so good using the Wildlife Acoustics Song Meters and Song Scope software.  I’d like to share some photos and sounds from the trip.

My colleague Sophie Rouys is a conservation biologist and heads up the Kagu Recovery Plan for New Caledonia; she recorded some really close up calls one morning in the park at Riviere Bleue. They call, usually in groups, for anywhere between 5 minutes and an hour at dawn. They’re pretty silent the rest of the time, except for clucking sounds when male and female switch off at the nest and the occasional display.

Below the fold are some of Sophie’s pictures of Kagu, and a five-minute soundscape of dusk in the Parc de Riviere Bleue…

Kagu on nest

Kagu on nest

Kagus are flightless and nest on the ground where they lay one egg at a time. Females come into breeding condition when they are between 3 and 6 years old. The males are generally between 6 and 9 years old when they are ready. They live for over 20 years, mate for life, and tend to stay in family groups as long as food is available within reach. Kagus are about the size of night or green heron–16 inches or so. They are sort of similar–distantly–to bitterns but/and are their own genetic “cul-de-sac” with no other known relatives.

Kagu portrait

Kagu portrait

Kagu display

Kagu display

Their displays are impressive and, depending on whether they are trying to attract a mate or are posturing, they will hiss or produce a low clicking snarl or a “come on, come on” clucking. Sometimes they will beat their wings on the ground for added effect.

We also recorded in the evenings when there is a wonderful chorus from around 5pm until it gets dark about an hour later. In this recording you can hear friar birds (a type of honeyeater). They are loud and boisterous and sound a bit like what you might think are classic “jungle” parrots. The low groaning growl and a two-tone, “tic-toc” is produced by the crow honeyeater. This bird is critically endangered and we were lucky to have heard three of them. There may be as few as about 200 individuals left. You can also hear a couple of fantails squawking at us, and the low cooing of a notou, or imperial pigeon. All in all, it’s pretty active for a “winter” soundscape.

To see a brief news spot on our work from Télé Nouvelle-Calédonie, please stop by the Kagu Recovery Plan blog:


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Categories: Doug Quin · General · Natural soundscapes · Raw field recordings
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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Katrina Fellerman // Mar 29, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Hi Doug
    Great blog!
    I’m really interested in hearing more about your (and Sophie’s) work. Do you have an email address I could contact you on?

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