BIRDS OF MAURITIUS: A guide to knowing what you see

BIRDS OF MAURITIUS: A guide to knowing what you see

Birds made their way to Mauritius long before humans did. They ruled over the island as the biggest species to be found for millions of years.

Since humans arrived about 500 years ago the island changed a lot. A lot of Mauritian birds are known to be fearless of people. The most popular example of this might be the Dodo. Sadly the Dodo was a bit to fearless and tasty to survive the wild colonial times. Nevertheless, Mauritius is a paradise to many bird species which can rarely be found somewhere else.

When spending time on the island you will inevitable come across a beautiful bird and ask yourself:

 

“What bird is that?”

Maybe it is time for you to get a glimpse into the hobby of “Birding”? All you need to enhance your truly mauritian experience is open eyes and a short overview of what to look for!

There are different characteristics of a bird that help you identify exactly what species you are looking at:

Size:

Small (<15cm), medium(15cm-30cm), large(>30cm)

Plumage:

Colors, patterns on the head, back, front and wings

Wings:

Pointy, Round or Sharp

Tail:

Long or short, bushy or pointy

Beak:

Long or short, hooked, pointy or round

Feet:

Long or short legs, Adaptation for swimming, running or clawing

Behavior:

Is it part of a swarm, is it hunting, in what environment did you find it etc.

Sound:

How does it sing?

The easiest way to completely identifying a bird is to take a good picture of it while it is sitting and another one while it is flying and to spend some time watching its behavior.


Birds of Mauritius

To get started it is maybe better to look for specific birds. The following list contains a variety of Birds. Some are easy to find while lying on the beach, others are rare and special, but only when you know what you see you will really appreciate it!

 

Red-Whiskered Bulbul

The Red-Whiskered Bulbul is about 20 centimetres in length and sits up right. It has brown upper-parts and whitish under- parts with buff flanks and a dark spur running onto the breast at shoulder level. It has a tall pointed black crest, red face patch and thin black moustachial line. The tail is long and brown with white terminal feather tips, but the vent area is red.

It has round wings and a short pointy beak.

The loud and evocative call is a sharp kink-a-joo (also transcribed as pettigrew or kick-pettigrew or pleased to meet you) and the song is a scolding chatter. It is more often heard than seen, but will often perch conspicuously especially in the mornings when they call from the tops of trees.

You can find the Red-whiskered Bulbul in open areas with bushes or within thickets in more urban or cultivated environments. Look for bushes with fresh fruits, berries or seats. Often the bird can be found there looking for food. Sometimes they will also search for ants in more open grounds. They usually life in lose social groups which vary in size.

 

Yellow-fronted canary

The yellow-fronted canary is 11–13 cm in length. It has a green back and brown wings and tail. The under parts and rump are yellow, and the head is yellow with a grey crown and nape, and black malar stripe.

The bird has a short round beak and round wings. His tail measures about one third to one half of its body length.

The yellow fronted canary can be found in groups and in bushes and grass looking for seeds and insects. Its song is a warbled zee-zeree-chereeo.

Mauritius Bulbul

It can reach a size up to 24 cm. It is characterized by bright yellow-brown eyes and pink legs. Its plumage is generally grayish contrasted with a black crest. The plumage of the juveniles is pale brown.

Their bill is orange to yellow, medium in size and pointy. Its tail is long and of the same grayish color like the wings.

The Birds are rather hard to find and life in humid forest areas. You may find them eating fruits in the trees and bushes or search for insects while flying.

The Mauritius Bulbul classified as a vulnerable species.

 

Rose-ringed Parakeet

On Mauritius you can also find some parakeets. The Rose-ringed parakeets measure on about 40 cm in length, including the pointy tail feathers, a large portion of their total length. Their average single-wing length is about 15–17.5 cm. They are easily identified by their hooked beak long tail and bright green color. You will mostly find them sitting in trees looking for insects or fruit. Also you are likely to find them in urban areas, as they are well adapted to live in cities. In the wild, this is a noisy species with an unmistakable squawking call. Observant travelers from European countries might recognize them from home. You can find Parakeet populations in big European cities like London, Amsterdam or Cologne.

It is possible that you might confuse the Rose-Ringed Parakeet with a Mauritius Parakeet as they are quite similar in their appearance. Nevertheless, the Mauritius Parakeet is a bit stockier, has a shorter tail and a more emerald green. If you see one you can consider yourself very lucky. This bird was nearly extinct in the 1980 (about 10 Animals left), but the wild population managed to recover to more then 300 individuals.  

@Michael S.