Ornithological Note 37

Range extension for the Spectacled Monarch in the southern Moluccas

Phillip Edwards June 30, 2015
Country: Maluku Islands
Section(s): range extension, Status and Conservation

The Spectacled Monarch (Monarcha trivirgatus) has a relatively large distribution area through the Wallacea and the Australo-Papuan regions, from the northern Moluccas and central Lesser Sundas to eastern Australia. In the southern Moluccas, the endemic subspecies M. t. nigrimentum inhabits the islands of Seram and Ambon, but not apparently that of Buru (Clement 2006) which lies only c. 70–75 km to the west of the former two. Rheindt & Hutchinson (2007) note the weaknesses of the current taxonomy pertaining to the Spectacled Monarch complex and highlight the presence on Seram of two distinct forms, first referred to by Bowler & Taylor (1989) and Isherwood et al. (1997). Reeve et al. (2014) refer to these as a ‘spectacled’ plumaged form and a ‘non-spectacled’ one that lacks any black coloration on the throat or upper breast beyond a tiny black chin spot; and provide photographs of birds in the hand. They also note that the spectacled form appears to occur on Searam at low altitude (up to 200m) and close to the coast, while the non-spectacled form seems to occur further inland and at generally at higher altitudes up to 1,050m, but that some overlap occurs since they record the non-spectacled form at 140m and 210m.

On 27th September 2014, I observed a single spectacled form on Buru, while it was foraging in the mid-canopy of tall trees along the Upper Wamlana Logging Road, at an altitude of c. 700 m. The bird was observed at close distance in good light conditions.


Bowler, J. & Taylor, J. (1989). An annotated checklist of the birds of the Manusela National Park, Seram (birds recorded on the Operation Raleigh Expedition). Kukila 4: 3–29.

Clement, P. (2006). Spectacled Monarch (Monarcha trivirgatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2014). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Isherwood, I.S., Willis, J.D.A., Edwards, T.R.K., Ekstrom, J.M.M., Kuriake, S., Lubis, I.R., Notanubun, H., Putnarubun, J., Robinson-Dean, J.C. & Tobias, J.A. (1997). Biological Survey and Conservation Priorities in North-east Seram, Maluku, Indonesia. Final Report of Wae Bula ’96. CSB Conservation Publications, Cambridge.

Reeve, A.H., Haryoko, T., Poulsen, M.K., Fabre, P.-H. & Jønsson, K.A. (2014). New ornithological records from Buru and Seram, south Maluku, Indonesia, 1995–2012. Forktail 30: 10–22.

Rheindt, F. E. & Hutchinson, R. 0. (2007) A photoshot odyssey through the confused avian taxonomy of Seram and Buru (southern Moluccas). BirdingASIA 7: 18–38.

Recommended Citation

Edwards, P. (2015). Range extension for the Spectacled Monarch in the southern Moluccas. HBW Alive Ornithological Note 37. In: Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow-on.100037