Monday, November 7

roses are red, violets are blue-violet cuckoos...

i got this lifer waaaaaay back in october 2008 while birding with adri, leni & tinggay in subic.  i remember it distinctly because of a clarification from des asking us whether the bird we saw was "real violet purple" or a "deep blue violet".  it being my lifer my reaction to the inquiry was...
 according to kennedy, the endemic race amethystinus is described as blue-violet above, while the resident race xanthorynchus is purple violet.  let me copy-and-paste the exact email from des (circa 2008!) below:

Hi Trinket, Adri, Leni,
Just a quick query before I send this through: the Violet Cuckoo. Was
this a real violet purple colour (as we saw at PICOP Leni) or a deep
blue-violet? All the birds I have seen photographed in the Phils have
been the same violet that we saw and which is typical of Violet
cuckoos in SE Asia. However the endemic race amethystinus is supposed
to be violet blue - and there are skins showing this. However, I have
never seen it. The violet-purple birds always seem to be seen in
winter, leaving the possibility that they are migrants from abroad. If
so, what has happened to the endemic race?

well, my reply to that query was that in my opinion, the birds we saw then (as well as the violet cuckoos felix, nicky, ixi & i saw in makiling a couple of weeks after that) were deep violet purple & not bluish.  i remember jokingly asking for a pantone reference since it was so hard to differentiate  "bluish violet" from "violet purple" when the colors are spelled out on paper after the fact.
and so, when alex, tere, mang boy, adri & i came across this beautiful bird last weekend in rizal, i voiced out this concern, "we had better take note of whether it is bluish violet or purple violet!"  alex thought i wasn't making sense until i reminded him of des's comment from 3 years ago!
 we were all in agreement, it was definitely blue-violet.

 so is this the endemic amethystinus?
 or merely a trick of the light?

the cuckoo was perched on a large trema orientalis, its iridescent back and breast shining in the morning light.  the bright orange bill & eyering stood out.  its clean white belly was  striped, not with black as i thought previously, but with the same dark iridescence that shimmered as its little body moved from left to right.  super thanks to adri for the digiscoped pictures and video! 
unfortunately our same group (minus mang boy and plus carmela b.) had dipped several times on the violet cuckoo on our recent trip to picop... it was listed as HO ("heard only").  (but christian p. had just recently come from a trip there and shared a picture of a purple-violet looking bird with his fb friends!)
we also got good views of the equally beautiful (but not so purple) female violet cuckoo which is actually a greenish gold version.   unfortunately no pictures. the female i had also seen in subic, makiling and palawan previously.  actually greenish gold is my personal description. kennedy describes it as "greenish bronze"!
whatever the actual color or correct term for it, one thing's for sure. on each occasion I've seen this bird,  its mere sighting has sent myself and everyone i was with, literally... cuckoo!

thanks to alex & tere for inviting us to bird with you! it was a wonderful end to my sem break run of short birding trips!


  1. this is awesome trinket and adri. i wish i had more time birding last sem break. but i did sporadically while we looped luzon with my family-- with my kids now all grown up and dictating the itinerary. we all had fun, though it was a loooong drive. we took off from nueva ecija to isabela, stopped by to shoot ancient churches, landscapes. stopped by at local restos to test their local delicacies! then we stopped by at lal-lo suspension bridge in cagayan. we stayed overnite in a station in abulug, before we proceeded to port irene in sta ana for my car-crazed daughter and boys.
    from there we proceeded to patapat bridge, driving slowly spotting for anything flying among the trees!
    then we dropped by at the bangui windmills.. the next day we proceeded to paoay lake, and saw the ducks taking the morning bask. we went home dropping by in vigan for some rounds and shoots at the heritage center.
    the following day was rest day for me, before we proceeded to laguna near lucban, quezon where we plan to put up our permanent abode (later when we decide to call it quits and simply tour.^_^).
    back home to nueva ecija on the 3rd day. it was a 5-day tour, and amazingly i can still drive that far. wooohoooo!!
    we saw some birds along the way- brahminy kites, fruit doves, egrets- we saw chinese kinds in isabela; many flocks of egret in buguey, cagayan. but what amazes me were how the brown shrikes were still active hopping between lamp posts at past 8pm at the robinsons mall in san nicolas, ilocos norte.

    it was a real enjoyable sem break, though of course, we dont count how much it was. hahahaha! when you saw beth at trinoma, we were on our way home from laguna na. we meet in all places..hmmm..birds fly, birders fly too.^_^

  2. Thanks ka rene!
    Wow, inggit ako, I've always wanted to do a road trip of Ilocos because its much more flexible than public transport. Someday...

  3. Wow may diff pa pala yun akalain mo! hahaha Ang galing double tick na!