Image of the Month September 2023: Painted Tiger Parrot

Photographer: Lev Frid   Destination: Papua New Guinea

The heart of any birder is sure to beat just a little faster whenever Papua New Guinea is mentioned. This remote Pacific paradise, with many virtually unexplored lush rainforests and mist-covered mountains, is home to some of the most dazzling bird species on Earth. Among the myriad avian treasures to be found, families like the birds-of-paradise, fruit doves, fig parrots, fairywrens, jewel-babblers, pittas, honeyeaters and berrypeckers stand out amongst the crowd, but that’s not to say that there aren’t the odd few lesser sung heroes that are bound to draw your attention.


While not as extravagantly plumed as some of the aforementioned species, the Painted Tiger Parrot is, without doubt, a visual delight. Sporting vibrant shades of green with striking blue and red patterns, as if it were painted meticulously by an artist's brush. Predominantly found in the high elevation cloud forest, they are generally scarce, but offer great viewing opportunities if you happen to sneak up to them quietly while they feed in low shrubbery.


Papua New Guinea is truly a melting pot of ecosystems, ranging from coastal lagoons to towering peaks. With over 800 recorded bird species, no less than 7 endemic bird families can be found on the island of New Guinea, of which a staggering 112 species are endemics, nothing short of an ornithological Eden. The island's isolation and vast unexplored territories have kept its avian mysteries largely intact, making every birding expedition here an adventure into the unknown.


The resurgence in eco-tourism and an increased emphasis on conservation have seen Papua New Guinea emerge as a sought-after birding destination. Areas previously untouched are now accessible, thanks to the combined efforts of local communities and international conservation bodies.


A birding journey into Papua New Guinea is not merely about spotting species; it's about immersing oneself in a land where traditions run deep, with a huge amount of cultural diversity packed into a relatively small area. With the lack of primates, this has allowed marsupials and many Australasian bird families the chance to flourish within ecological niches that they wouldn’t usually, resulting in an awesome set of weird and wonderful birds and wildlife! Poisonous birds, tree kangaroos, echidnas, cuscus, trioks and many more are sure to boggle the mind of any visiting nature enthusiast, this isn’t even to mention the astounding array of amphibians, iridescent reptiles and stunning butterflies too!


For those embarking on this once in a lifetime journey, it's essential to remember that birding in Papua New Guinea can be an intense experience. As with any remote island exploration the terrain is rugged, the weather can be unpredictable and the challenges of travel within the country sometimes cause delays. But these very challenges just add to the excitement when seeking the out of this world species on a tour here.