New ornithological records from Buru and Seram, south Maluku, Indonesia, 1995-2012

Although the islands of Buru and Seram in eastern Indonesia support unique avifaunas with many endemic and near-endemic species, these have been little studied and are poorly known. Basic data on the distribution, abundance and habitat use of these species are urgently needed to better understand their ecology and conservation needs. Here we present new information obtained during three ornithological expeditions to Buru (October-December 1995, May-June 1996, January-February 2011) and one to Seram (January-February 2012). Our records extend the known altitudinal ranges of 32 species, including rare or threatened endemics such as Salmon-crested Cockatoo Cacatua moluccensis, Purple-naped Lory Lorius domicella and Seram Thrush Zoothera joiceyi, and distinctive endemic subspecies of Variable Kingfisher Ceyx lepidus and Red-bellied Pitta Pitta erythrogaster. Notes are included on all species encountered that are endemic to south Maluku or have a designated IUCN threat category of Near Threatened or higher, including a new observation of the Endangered, rarely recorded Rufous-throated White-eye Madanga ruficollis. Although our records significantly improve understanding of the distribution of Buru and Seram's birds, they also highlight the need for further fieldwork on the upper slopes of the islands' highest mountains, particularly the unexplored high plateau of Buru's Gn Kapalat Mada.