Snow Mountains of New Guinea
The discovery in 1938 of the densely populated and agriculturally advanced Grand Baliem Valley in the heart of the Snow Mountains by American mammalogist, explorer and millionaire, Richard Archbold, and the massively supplied, 14 months' expedition he mounted under the auspices of the American Museum of Natural History, may well have been the last great feat of the age of exploration. Among the scores of novelties brought back from the field were no less than 40 undescribed bird taxa, four of which received full species status.
Following in Archbold's footsteps, a superb selection of New Guinea's wonderfully diverse montane avifauna can be seen when hiking through cultivations and upper montane forests up the Ibele Valley onto the Lake Habbema alpine plateau at 3,200 m elevation above the timberline, in the shadow of Peak Trikora. Here, in some of the most splendid mountain scenery this side of the Himalaya, lives MacGregor’s 'Bird of Paradise' Macgregoria pulchra. This monotypic genus has been treated as a bird of paradise by virtually all authors. However, T. Iredale observed living birds and back in 1956 already indicated that Macgregoria is instead a member of the honeyeater family Meliphagidae, a conclusion which more recently was reinforced by molecular and morphological evidence.
Only three bird species, namely Orange-cheeked Honeyeater Oreornis chrysogenys, Snow Mountain Robin Petroica archboldi and Black-breasted Munia Lonchura teerinki, appear to be genuinely confined to the Snow Mountains but a staggering 33 montane restricted-range species occur. Snow Mountain Quail Anurophasis monorthonyx, Archbold's Owlet-Nightjar Aegotheles archboldi, Short-bearded Melidectes Melidectes nouhuysi, Lorentz’s Whistler Pachycephala lorentzi, Splendid Astrapia Astrapia splendidissima, and Snow Mountain Munia Lonchura montana do range further to the east into the Star and Victor Emanuel Mountains. The latter mountains lie across the border in Papua New Guinea and were first sighted by the great Italian explorer L. M. D'Albertis while cruising the upper Fly River in 1867. D'Albertis named this lofty range for his King.
New Guinea Snow Mountains endemic birds (3 species)
Orange-cheeked Honeyeater Oreornis chrysogenys
Restricted-range species (33 species)
Snow Mountain Quail Anurophasis monorthonyx
Salvadori’s Teal Salvadorina waigiuensis
Read on about our short birding break to the Snow Mountains of New Guinea.
Read on about our Best of Papua birding expedition visiting the Snow Mountains of New Guinea.
Read on about our Easy Papua birding expedition visiting the Snow Mountains of New Guinea.
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Lorentz and Habbema
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