CHRISTMAS ISLAND GOSHAWK
By Michelle Manhal
One of the first things you notice on Christmas Island is the Red Crabs. Red Crabs are just one of twenty (20) terrestrial, semi-terrestrial and freshwater species on the Island. Fallen leaves are the Crabs primary food source. The Red Crab is mainly responsible for the unique nature of the rainforest on Christmas Island. The rainforest floor is kept clear of leaves, fruits, berries and carrion (including their own kind) by the Red Crabs. Red Crabs remove seeds and seedlings at a greater rate than Mammals on the main land of Australia.
I was invited by Parks Australia North – Christmas Island to assist in a Biodiversity Monitoring Programme on the Christmas Island Goshawk, as to date there had been no detailed studies on this species.
The Christmas Island Goshawk is currently listed as Endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) . It is currently thought to be a subspecies, but its taxonomy needs resolution. The CI Goshawk is considered to be the rarest endemic bird on the Island. These birds were fantastic to work with, not the typical behaviour that we have come to love and know from the species in Australia. A Juv CI Goshawk, who I lovingly nicknamed "Goofy", was one of the first birds I trapped. Afterwards he would come and visit me at the Research Station and sit on the clothes line while I hung out my washing. The research involved taking morphometrics and DNA sampling as well as the type of habitat the CI Goshawk was trapped in i.e. primary or secondary rainforest and or rehab fields.
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