Forest birds are well represented in Bali and it is quite easy to spot a fair number of indigenous species from the roadside if one takes a route through the central highlands, particularly in the vicinity of the three crater lakes of Bratan, BuyanandTamblingan. The Bali Barat National Park is also a refuge for many native forest species.
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
The greater racket-tailed drongo (Dicrurusparadiseus) is fairly common in areas of Bali where there are remnants of lowland forest. This spectacular bird is easily recognized by its distinctive forked tail which trails some 30-40 centimetres behind. Tweedie, in his Common Birds of the Malay Peninsula, comments that “When the bird is in flight, the shafts of the tail feathers are barely visible and one receives the impression of a black bird closely pursued by two large bees.”
The most famous bird in Bali, and one that is extremely unlikely to be seen from the roadside, is the endemic Bali starling (Leucopsarrothschildi). First discovered by European ornithologists in 1911, its distribution, even at that time, seems to have been limited to the western tip of the island. Today, it is a strictly protected bird and there are severe penalties for those who try to capture them for the caged bird market. Despite these measures, at the last count (1993), there were only 34 individuals left in the wild and it is perhaps fortunate, though somewhat ironic, that there are now probably several thousand in captivity—there are plans for a controlled breeding programme which will allow the release of their offspring back into the wild.
The magpie robin (Copsychussaularis) is a common denizen of Balinese gardens and hotel lawns,where it is frequently seen, particularly in the early morning, struttingaround in its dapper pied plumage,with tail fanned out, pluckingearthworms from the moisttopsoil. Its call is a loud clear whistle, which is variously phrased and issues forth in a continuous chortle, proclaiming its territorial rights to any would be challengers. Disputes with other males are characterised by a harsh acrimonious chatter. Female magpie robins are slightly less distinguished than their mates. Whereas the males sport a blue-blackplumage, this is replaced by dull grey feathers in the females.