During the Great Southern Bioblitz 2021, we organised an expedition with Kevin and Wojciech from @birdexplorers to photograph and film Fiji’s endemic and rarely seen Pink-billed parrotfinch (Erythrura kleinschmidti).
This elusive bird is only found on Fiji’s largest island Viti Levu and has to date to the best of my knowledge never been filmed. Thanks to Fiji’s leading ornithologist Vilikesa Masibalavu, who had previously identified an active nest in the Sovi Basin in Fiji’s Naitasiri Province, we were able to capture many stills and video of two individuals tending to their nest in about 9m height in an African Tulip tree
The two pink-billed parrotfinches were tending to their nest in the early morning hours, flying in and out of it for about two hours before becoming inactive. The nest was built as a dome-shaped structure with a side/bottom entrance. A very sophisticated nest!
The pink-billed parrotfinch is listed as ‘Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to increasing habitat loss in its already very small distribution area (these birds are only found in Viti Levu). Great to see these two birds raising the next generation and fingers crossed, they will be successful!
I filmed the following footage on my Blackmagic Ursa Mini pro G2 in 4.6 and some of it in 120 frames per second. While carrying the camera was hard work (as we had to cross a river and hike through the bush) the result was absolutely worth it!
More information on pink-billed parrotfinches can be found online on Fiji’s first local NGO NatureFiji-MareqetiViti!
Also, check out my short documentary about the search for the Kulawai here in Fiji – another rare bird that hasn’t been seen for almost thirty years! Blog post here about this expedition here.
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Tom Vierus is an award-winning photographer, filmmaker, and marine biologist based in Suva, Fiji Islands. This blog is dedicated to his assignments and to sharing some behind-the-scenes footage.