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The morphological resemblance between adult Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher Tanysiptera ellioti and the nais-subspecies of Common Paradise Kingfisher Tanysyptera galatea from Seram Island in the southern Moluccas, suggests a ‘leapfrog’ linkage between these two disjunct islands which probably never have been in closer proximity to one another than they are today.


Birding hotspot

Located roughly mid-way between the North Moluccan island of Halmahera and the Bird's Head Peninsula of West Papua, in the Raja Ampat archipelago still, this truly oceanic island features a generally rather depauperate avifauna with a decidedly Moluccan element, but importantly includes two endemic allospecies: Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher Tanysiptera ellioti and Kofiau Monarch Symposiachrus julianae. Both endemics are readily seen, as are a limited selection of restricted-range and more widespread goodies.

The Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher had a decidely international introduction to the ornithological world as S. D. Ripley pointed out in his 1959 treatise on the Raja Ampat Islands. First secured in 1867 by one of Hoedt's collectors, most likely D. Hokum, the type was acquired by Count Turati in Milan, who sent it to J. Verreaux in Paris for identification. There it was seen by D. G. Elliot of New York, who advised that the specimen be sent to R. B. Sharpe in London. Finally, Sharpe formally described it in 1869.

Kofiau Monarch, on the contrary, was the second last bird species to have been formally described from the entire New Guinea region hitherto. This flycatcher was discovered in 1955 by Jusup Kakiaij, S. D. Ripley’s native Misoolese assistant back from the days of the Denison-Crockett Expedition to New Guinea, and named by Ripley in 1959 in honor of the late Queen Juliana of The Netherlands.

Kofiau endemic birds (2 species)

Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher Tanysiptera ellioti
Kofiau Monarch Symposiachrus julianae

Restricted-range species (5 species)

Dusky Megapode Megapodius freycinet
Spectacled Imperial Pigeon Ducula perspicillata
Spice Imperial Pigeon Ducula myristicivora
Violet-necked Lory Eos squamata
Olive-crowned Flowerpecker Dicaeum pectorale

Widespread goodies

Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrot Micropsitta keiensis
Great-billed Parrot Tanygnathus megalorynchos
Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida
Island Monarch Monarcha cinerascens

Related links

Browse our check-list of the birds of West Papua.

    Kofiau birding facts
  • Two single-island endemics: Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher and little-known Kofiau Monarch.
  • Five restricted-range species including a megapode, two imperial pigeons, and a parrot.
  • In general, a depauperate oceanic island avifauna, just short of 60 land and fresh water species.