Temminck’s Babbler and Sunbird.

Temminck’s Babbler and Sunbird.

Temmink’s Babbler @ Tras Madi.

Birders to the montane forests of northern Borneo pay more attention to the Whitehead trinity of Broadbill, Trogon and Spiderhunter than the other bird species named after another ornithologist Coenraad Jacob Temminck.

The three Whiteheads are rarer which made their quest more rewarding. John Whitehead, an English explorer and naturalist was the first documented person to scale Mount Kinabalu. He also was the first collector of the Whitehead Broadbill and had 10 bird species named after him.

Coenraad Temminck, a well known Dutch ornithologist and zoologist was the first director of the Leiden Museum of Natural History. He inherited a large collection of bird specimens from his father who was a good friend of Francois Levailant, another well known French ornithologist and wildlife collector.

Male Temminck’s Sunbird at Tras Madi. Lacks the purple forehead of the Crimson Sunbird.

There are 20 birds and 14 mammal species named after Temminck. During our trip to Tras Madi, Sabah in June, I added the Temminck’s Babbler, Pellorneum pyrrhogenys, to my list of two species i.e. Malaysian Eared Nightjar, Eurostopodus temminckii and Temminck’s Sunbird, Aethopya temmickii. I missed Temminck’s Stint at Sungei Balang by an hour. 

The Temminck’s Babbler is found in the sub montane forests of Borneo and Java. There are four subspecies with the ones in Borneo having a grey face instead of the brown-grey face of the Javan subspecies. 

Female Temminck’s Sunbird has a grey face and head.

The Temminck’s Sunbird on the other hand can be found in the lower montane and lowland forests of Peninsular Malaysia, West Sumatra and Central Borneo. The nearest population to Singapore is at the Panti Bird Sanctuary but not often seen. It looks like the Crimson Sunbird with its reddish head and back but the Temminck’s has a silvery white belly and a red upper tail compared to the greyish underbelly and dark tail. 

Reference: Eaton, Rheindt et al. Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago. Wikipedia. 

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