NATURAL HISTORY

TINIAN MONARCH } Monarcha takatsukasae

FAMILY: Monarchidae

DESCRIPTION: The Tinian monarch is a 7.5-inch flycatcher with a buffy-tan face and underparts, a gray crown and nape, and a bold eye-ring. Its back is chocolate brown, and its wings and tail are black with a white tail tip and white wing bars. Its voice is raspy, loud and scolding, and its typical call is high-pitched and squeaky.  

HABITAT: Monarchs live in forested and brushy areas, with native limestone forest patches being most important to their survival. They can also be found in introduced thickets of tangan-tangan, a shrubby legume. The birds have higher nesting success in native forest patches, likely because of a greater protection from fire and storms and a higher availability of insects. Only 549 acres of native limestone forest remain on Tinian.

RANGE: The monarch is found only in forested and brushy areas on Tinian Island in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory in the western Pacific Ocean east of the Philippines and south of Japan. Tinian is a 39-square-mile island located three islands north of Guam.

MIGRATION: Tinian monarchs do not migrate; they spend their entire lives in forested areas on Tinian Island.

BREEDING: Monarchs build nests in trees and breed year round, though little nesting occurs during periods of little rainfall.

FEEDING: Monarch flycatchers feed on insects.

THREATS: The Tinian monarch is threatened by forest clearing for military activities, development and agriculture, disease, predation from rodents and cats, typhoons, climate change, and potential invasion of the island by the predaceous brown tree snake.

POPULATION TREND: The Tinian monarch population declined by approximately 39 percent from 1996 to 2008. The total estimated population is around 38,000 birds.

 

 

Tinian monarch photo by Devon Pike/Wikimedia Commons