2018 Field season finale


As we boarded our tiny, 7-passenger plane to leave Obo Village, we wave goodbye to a truly unique field season in Papua New Guinea. We’ve laughed and had a great time. We struggled with sickness and the fall out from being held-up. We captured over 200 birds, implanted 30 or so fairywrens for one project, performed 217 behavioural assays for another, and tested out some very early pilot work for any future PNG endeavors. We got a few life birds (my favorite was the Chinese Sparrowhawk which shouldn’t have been in Obo Village!). We sent Doka to Australia where he learned the ways of the red-backed fairywren field crew. We made new friends and new allies and we also enjoyed the company of our two families we’ve come to know and love on opposite ends of the country.


And now comes the fun part. I’ll have my hands busy with data preparation and analysis for the foreseeable future. Doka will return home to Milne Bay to his family as well as to scope out a new village that has expressed a lot of interest in our involvement with their local fairywrens. And Ian continues to be an awesome field technician while he works in South Australia with Allison Johnson. But first, Ian and I will spend a week with the red-backed fairywren crew ourselves in Brisbane for a little time ‘off’ before we move on to teaching (me) and field work (Ian). I need 7 more life birds to reach 500… maybe it’s time for a trip to see white-winged fairywrens afterall.

I don’t have much else to say in terms of updating this blog other than to say thanks for tuning in throughout the field season. Hopefully we’ll be back soon here in Papua New Guinea – and hopefully I’ll have a better photo to provide more bird photographs. For now, these will have to do.

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This family group (the same group in our group selfie) included the 200th bird to hit our mist-nets this field season. I named them after my MSc university’s (Appalachian State) with YYK (Yellow, Yellow and Black; school colors) and ROK (‘rock’; the name of our football stadium – not that I watched much football or am a fan, mind you, but it seemed appropriate as this bird was near the tallest hill on the field site (elevation of 40m above sea level) that we refer to as ‘Everest.’).


The bower of a Fawn-breasted Bowerbird.


Ok maybe this isn’t the greatest photo in the world, considering we were seated on the edge of the field, but I always enjoy watching rugby gameplay, particularly in PNG. It’s a unique brand of Rugby League.


Never enough love for jumping spiders


And finally, Doka’s goodbye message we left on our white board in the guest house. Last year our theme for the year was ‘No Let Down.’ 2018 was the year of ‘No Brakes,’ as we worked nonstop to let little stand between us and finishing our research goals. For all it’s faults, 2018 was a good year for fairywren research. I look forward to my return.

If you’re still keen on anything fairywren between now and our return to PNG, and want to participate in some citizen science, the Fairywren Project has officially launched over at fairywrenproject.org. They also can be found on twitter at @FairywrenProj. And again, I am myself on twitter at @JonesJA91. Until next time,



Author: John Anthony Jones

Fairywren researcher, extraordinaire(ish)

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