“White, black and brown were cryptic colours that made up the plumage coat for White’s Thrush (Zoothera aurea) at Cuc Phuong NP (CPNP) in N. Vietnam.
“The way nature paints, splashes, dots and weave designs on its plumages make these migratory birds, interesting study material.
“Based on photographic references of four birds, I will try to point out relevant details to describe uniqueness of these birds; in consideration that no two foliages of a tree are 100% alike and different lighting conditions do play tricks on colours of birds’ plumage.
“The bird’s patterned plumage appeared to be coloured harlequin in background with brown on its uppers and white below. Rocky 1 and 3 shown here (above, below).
“Thus, it would make it easier to describe bird from tip of upper mandible to upper tail, followed by lower mandible to under tail feathering, to include feet.
“So… let’s begin with the uppers.
“As a ground forager, the bill is noted to be strong and rather chunky. The upper mandible spots a pale base with culmen permeating into grey tone and ends with an overriding small hook (above).
“Several rows of white spots radiate from base of upper mandible. Concentrated on forehead, these rows of spots contour brown head and terminate indecisively, ‘mumbo-jumbo’ at hindneck. Shorter intermittent rows of spots interspaced with main rows noted (below).
“White spots on nape gradually fanned out and replaced with terminal scalloped shapes of light-brown feathering over brown mantle and back as shown in left box of images above.
“All birds observed in CPNP had orangey gapes. While some appeared lighter than others, an opportunity, moving shot of White’s Thrush slurping up an earthworm, confirmed orange inner lining of it buccal cavity. This may suggest the orange gape is a normal feature of vermivorous bird rather than a quick assumption of immaturity.
“In addition to rather thick, white eye lining to black eyes, these birds have beauty spots too. A dark brown, irregular broken patch is noted on lower ear coverts. My reference to ‘brown’ is the colour of milk chocolate. A dark/darker brown (dark chocolate colour) large patch is conspicuous over shoulder tip (above).
“Compact, whitish, fish- like scales tapered at the rump (above). Row of brown, uppertail-coverts sprouted from base of rump.
“In comfort position, Rocky 3 fanned out its tail to display upper tail brown medial feathering. Prominent wide, dark brown band made up of five lateral feathers on either side. Each feather had white terminals fading in size, towards inner fifth observed (above). |
“The wing is an important feature of White’s Thrush (Zoothera aurea) and this opportunity shot of Rocky 3 described in comfort position should not to be dismissed (above).
“Light brown primary coverts looking like fingers, sprouted from below bend of wing, to partially conceal a prominent, medium brown sun disc, radiating from base of primaries. A speculum of matching brown extended from its seven secondaries to all ten primaries to colour match trailing edge of wing. The base of secondaries appeared light brown. Wing shafts gave added visual drama of ‘sunrays’.
Lesser wing coverts were closely scaled in light brown while Median wing coverts appeared an assortment of brown to brownish-black with tips shaped mostly white looking like garlic bulbs. The Greater wing coverts wore brown with light brown contoured sides. Tips of wing coverts were creamish on exterior aspect while whitish on inner sides.
“A comparison of three different birds is shown here (above) to highlight some scale variations of individual birds’ uniqueness.
“As to lower aspects of White’s Thrush … Colour of pale, lower mandible differs from upper with yellowish on base, sometimes quite difficult to discern from distance (above).
“Brown malar stripes border a white chin-throat (above).
“Whiteness on under carriage extends all the way to vent (above).
“Dark brownish scales with buff underlining smudges formed a close knitted, rattan basketry design over breast. Some scales with ‘eyelash’ design noted in enlarged view. Below carpal joint, a brown band bib curved and broken in middle somewhat formed demarcation line with belly.
“The belly is well defined with similar buff smudges under larger dark brown to blackish ‘eyelash’ scales. Scales were more widely spaced than on chest but more compact along flanks (above).
“Scales disappeared almost altogether from between orangey-yellow feet to white vent (above).
“Variation of scaled patterns on flanks of three different birds may be viewed in an image above. The undertail feathers are brown as seen in the first image above.
“I have not forgotten kindness of young S. African couple who offered free return ride to headquarters. One lamented having seen so little for so much paid out and decided a rescheduled trip for Thailand instead. In conversation, she felt ‘so much better’ she said when I put a described name to a large, white bird – a Silver Pheasant (Lophura nycthemera) they saw in a jungle trail.
1) If interested only to view Primate Rescue Centre inside NP. be specific to say so or a saucy receptionist would issue a higher rate package ticket on the sly to include viewing turtles etc.. An irate tourist found out the hard way.
2) CPNP is a scheduled stop for local buses. There is a daily bus that leaves from car park 9am. Tickets can be purchased on board bus. There could be more bus services by now.
“Do not be decoyed by same dishonest receptionist to mislead and cowed to accept bus ticket purchase from reception upon public transport enquiry.
Hear these words from the same receptionist who also issued my half broken portable heater element and charged double for bus ticket:
“Receptionist said, ‘Bus….maybe come… maybe no come. Buy ticket (50,000VD) here, SURE … come!’
I wiped the floor with the management for poor service, uncaring and irresponsible attitude towards in-house visitors and citizen scientists. I warned they were not going to receive a good report from my writing. Such tardy practices simply are not acceptable in any National Parks.
“Just before I left CPNP mid-February morning of 2014, I played part-time coffin sales-executive promoter to Saucy- the receptionist.
“Avian writer said, ‘Want to buy coffin? Cheep…Cheep for you. Only 30,000VD. But…..maybe come, maybe no come. For 500,000, SURE to come!’”
Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
13th February 2016
Copyright article and all copy images – Courtesy of Daisy O’Neill Bird Conservation Fund