Vol. 12 No. 4-text

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Journal of the
Volume 12 No. 4 June, 1978

ISSN 0311-8150

Registered for Posting as a Periodical Category BTHE N.S.W. FIELD ORNITHOLOGISTS CLUB
COMMITTEE W. Lormemore
W. Boles
The object of the Club is to promote the study and conservation of Australian birds and the
habitats they occupy.
Annual subscription rates of the Ctub (due 1st July each year) are:
Single Member (within Co. of Cumberland) $8.00
Single Member (Country artd overseas) $7.00
Family Member $9.00
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All members receive a quarterly newsletter and a copy of the quarterly journal “Australian
Birds”. The price of the journal is $1.50 plus postage per issue to non-members. Club badges
are available to club members at $1.30 or $1.50 if posted. The Club holds a meeting and a
field excursion each month.
All correspondence should be addressed to the Hon. Secretary at:
90 Picnic Point Road, Picnic Point. 2213
All membership fees should be sent to the Hon. Treasurer at:
18 Russell Street, Oatley. 2223
Manuscripts should be sent to the Editor at:
P.O. Box 39, Coonaberabran. 2857MinMIAMI
Volume 12, No. 4 June, 1978
Recorded in this paper are the 216 bird species observed in an area around Cobar, N.S.W.
by the writer and others since 1968. Recent N.S.W. Bird Reports (eg. Rogers 1975, 1976)
have shown that the distribution of birds in this part of the State is not well known. Continued
ornithological observations in less accessible areas of the state are relatively few. Most informa-
tion seems to be gathered as a result of fairly brief visits, or during specialised study of only a
few species. These have an inherent tendency to be effected by chance sightings that easily
distort the picture obtained of the birdlife. Seasonal movement, nomadism, and the effects of
‘good’ and ‘bad’ seasons over longer periods, are readily overlooked or undectable. Hopefully
this paper is able to place on record a more accurate overview of the surprisingly rich avifauna
of the area.
No comprehensive previous records are known for this area which limits to speculation
any discussion of changes in the avifauna since European settlement. There is no doubt that
changes have occurred, largely due to vegetation modification by grazing and related activities
including fire. It is probable that large changes have occurred in relative proportions of species
and in total abundances. No species is known to have become extinct, although numbers and
range of some have been drastically reduced.
The region is of ornithological significance as it encompasses the gradation zone from the
Bassian to Eyrean faunal subprovinces of Baldwin -Spencer. Additionally, elements of the
typical mallee fauna reach the southern portion of the area discussed.62. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (4)

0 ZO

  • TRIG A
    —– O 30TH 0MER R CO OA ND T OUR 32.S
    BINDIJuno, 1978
    Limits of the area discussed extend from the Gunderbooka Range and Louth in the north
    to Nymagee and Bindi Homestead in the south; from Mt. Boppy in the east to Lerida Tank in
    the west. Limited reference is made to some observations at Bourke and along the River Darling
    towards Louth. This is because several species occur only along the river while the floodplains
    appear to mark the western range limits of several species. Unless specified this northern area
    is excluded from any general discussion in the following sections. Intensity of coverage by
    figure 1 which shows numbers of species per 10 minute block, recorded during Australian Bird
    Atlas surveying (to February 1978). It must be remembered that variety of habitat in a block
    as well as intensity of observation effect the number of species recorded. For example the
    blocks with the most species are adjacent to Cobar itself reflecting in part accessibility. How-
    ever, these also contain the only significant permanent wetlands away from the River Darling
    in the region covered.
    No major physiographic boundaries occur within the area other than the Darling River
    floodplain on the north-western edge. Several vegetation changes occur within the area and
    these control the distribution of some species.
    Most of the area is gently undulating with relief differences seldom greater than 30
    metres. The most significant hilly areas are the Mt. Gunderbooka, Drysdale, Merrere and Nurri
    With the exception of the River Darling there are no permanent streams in the region.
    Ephemeral streams flow for short periods after heavy rains several weeks
    after exceptionally heavy rain. With the exception of one small ephemeral lake at Booroondarra
    and water left after flooding along the Darling, surface water in the area has been provided as
    a result of European settlement.
    The climate in the region is one of hot summers and mild winters. Mean temperatures
    typical of January are: maximum 32-36°C, minimum 18-22°C; and for July: maximum
    17-21°C, minimum 4-10°C.
    The erratic rainfall shows a slight summer maximum averaged over many years. The
    average over 90 years is 358mm per year, with an extreme range between 125mm and 775mm.
    Although first impressions are that the scrubland of the region is monotonous quite a
    variety of habitats are present. Five major vegetation subdivisions can be recognised and each
    contains some distinctive species.
    a. Native Pine Woodlands. The essential component of this subdivision is the presence of
    considerable areas where Callitris Pine dominates. These may be monospecific patches or mixed
    with bimble and red box, mallee and some acacia (seldom mulga) species. This association
    occurs south and south-east of Cobar. A characteristic species is the Speckled Warbler.64. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (4)
    b. Mallee. Discontinuous patches dominated by mallee species occur southwards from Cobar
    and become quite extensive at the latitude of Nymagee. Smaller patches occur throughout the
    region but are too isolated to contain typical mallee birds. Spinifex occurs with the mallee
    only in the far south. Typical species include the Grey -fronted Honeyeater and Spotted
    c. The Box-Acacia-Eremophila Association. This is dominant over most of the region. Within
    it two major subgroups can be recognised. Drainage areas (flats and creeks) with deeper soil
    and greater moisture are typically dominated by bimble box. This may be the only species or
    an understorey of budda, wilga, and Eremophila sp. etc, may be present. Locally yarran may be
    dominant or the only species. Vegetation in some flats may be quite dense. Birds typical of
    these flats are Yellow Robins, Restless Flycatchers, White -plumed and Yellow -plumed Honey –
    The non -drainage areas frequently have less soil and are drier. The vegetation comprises
    varying proportions and densities of the species listed in Appendix 1. Areas of several tens of
    hectares, usually on ridges, may be dominantly or solely belah, mulga or leopard wood. Large
    areas may be dominated by the shrubs hop, turpentine or punty bush, which are widespread
    as understorey species. Typical birds are the Singing, Painted and White -fronted Honeyeaters,
    Chestnut- tailed and Broad -tailed Thornbills, Mulga Parrot, Crested Pigeon, Red -capped Robin
    and many others.
    d. Grassland and Saltbush Steppe. Large scrub free areas are scattered and uncommon in the
    region, except along the Darling Floodplain and about 35km west of Cobar. Mixed open scrub
    and grassland areas are widespread. Remnant small areas of saltbush occur on the Darling Flood –
    plain and at Booroondarra. Increasingly large areas are being covered by galvanised burr which
    provides a habitat similar to saltbush. Grassland birds are the Brown Songlark, Singing Bushlark
    and Pipit while White- winged Wrens occur in saltbush and galvanised burr.
    e. The Riverine association along the Darling includes the large gums of the riverbank and
    scattered smaller trees away from the river. The Red-tailed Black -Cockatoo and Crested Shrike –
    tit are restricted to this habitat.
    Although occupying an insignificant portion of the area, those wetlands present provide
    an essential habitat for approximately 25% of the species recorded. Three reservoirs near Cobar
    and the town sewerage ponds are the only permanent large bodies of water in the region. The
    most important of these are the New Cobar Reservoir (referred to as NCR henceforth), the
    Great Cobar Tank (GCT) and adjacent sewerage ponds. Ease of access means that a frequent
    watch can be kept on these, particularly the GCT, which in spite of extensive human disturb-
    ance, provides a haven for a continual flow of waterbirds. Almost all of the species recorded in
    the region have been seen sometime at the GCT. Disturbance however prevents breeding by all
    except a few species.June, 1978 65.
    After exceptionally heavy rain flooding at the NCR may cover several tens of hectares. At
    such times hundreds of individuals of some species may be present (ie. Coots, Native -hens,
    Whiskered Terns, Ibis, Grey Teal). Breeding has been attempted by many species including
    Whiskered Terns, Pied Stitls etc. as detailed in the systematic list. Rapid lowering of the water
    level by pumping into the main reservoir usually foils these breeding attempts.
    Flooding at the Booroondarra Lake and at several tanks (eg. Claytons, Lerida, Cappy),
    provide excellent shorter term habitats for waterbirds. The numerous earth stock tanks, although
    relatively sterile habitats, carry a significant floating population of Grebes, small Cormorants,
    Herons, Wood Ducks and Black -fronted Dotterels.
    Flooding along the Darling prompts large accumulations and mass breeding of some
    The effect of European settlement in the area has been quite severe and has caused a
    major modification of the vegetation. In turn, habitat alteration has undoubtedly caused a
    change in the fauna of the area. However, owing to a lack of historical data, discussion of this
    alteration can only be speculative.
    Not all changes were injurious. The provision of watering places has undoubtedly favoured
    many species by allowing permanent occupation by greater numbers of individuals (Rowley,
    1974). For some waterbirds it has allowed some species to become resident in an otherwise
    waterless region (Anon. 1901, p.3). The provision of permanent water has increased the diversity
    of waterbirds visiting the region (eg. Musk Duck).
    Pre -settlement vegetation was largely open box woodland with some pine and other
    species. Extensive areas of ‘saltbush’ were to be found. This state of equilibrium seems to have
    been maintained by infrequent relatively low intensity fires which destroyed shrubs and smaller
    trees. Soils were soft and porous allowing a rapid response to rain by grasses.
    The arrival of sheep (and later rabbits) had two effects. The first of these was the removal
    of the grass cover followed eventually by soil compaction. These combined to reduce the regen-
    eration of grass. The reduction in combustible material plus some fire control measures decreased
    the frequency and intensity of fires preventing shrub destruction. In much of the area ring –
    barking of larger trees also favoured scrub growth. Eventually most of the area came to be
    dominated by a dense growth of shrubs and smaller trees with very little grass. Grazing was
    directly responsible for rapid destruction of the ‘saltbush’ steppe in much of the region.
    Two major periods of regrowth have been identified (Anon. 1969) following periods of
    exceptional rainfall in the early 1890’s and mid 1950’s. The second regrowth cycle continues
    to the present day. The first period of regrowth would undoubtedly have caused the most
    drastic change in the fauna. A major bushfire in 1921 temporarily re -opened much of the
    country but did not result in a return to the former condition.
    The destruction of grassland and in particular ‘saltbush’ steppe caused the reduction of
    several species, while the destruction of large trees may have affected others. Reduction of
    some species has been caused by hunting (Bustard, Mallee Fowl), pest destruction (eagles) and
    the introduced fox and cat. Hunting pressure on the small nomadic waterfowl population has
    little effect on the total numbers. Table 1 lists some species whose numbers have probably
    changed in the last century.66. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (4)
    Scrub regrowth continues and only very extensive fires are likely to reverse this trend.
    Clearing in response to a revival of the pastoral industry is unlikely in the foreseeable future
    because of the low productivity of the land. Predation by humans and introduced animals
    has probably reached a steady state with further drastic change unlikely. No major threat to
    the fauna as a whole seems likely although declining species will probably continue to be
    Some Birds whose numbers may have changed since settlement.
    Numbers Decreased Numbers Increased
    Saltbush Pine Regrowth
    White -winged Wren Speckled Warbler
    Orange Chat Other Regrowth
    Chirruping Wedgebill Mulga Parrot
    Grass -wrens Some Thornbills
    Brown Songlark Grey Shrike -thrush
    Grassland and Open Woodland Crested Bell -bird
    Pipit Common Bronze -wing
    Bustard Southern Yellow -robin
    Quails Water
    Squatter Pigeon (?) Double -barred Finch
    Blue Bonnet Parrot Plum -headed Finch
    Black -shouldered Kite Bar -shouldered Dove
    Large Trees Reed Warbler
    Kookaburra Little Grassbird
    Sulphur -crested Cockatoo (?) Welcome Swallow
    Introduced Predators Fairy Martin
    Malleefowl All waterbirds
    Bush Curlew Brown Honeyeater
    The residential status of all species are shown in fairly broad categories on the following
    Resident 117
    Summer Visitors Transequatorial 11
    Other 11
    Winter Visitors 2
    Partial Migrants to area in winter
    From area in winter 4
    Vagrants, rare or accidental 12
    Nomads irregular 34
    Mostly summer 20
    Introduced 4
    TOTAL 216June, 1978 67.
    Resident birds show no detectable seasonal variation but the same individuals may not be
    present all year.
    Analysis of monthly sightings records shows that several species are partial migrants with
    significant seasonal variation in numbers. A number of others show some inconclusive evidence
    of variation. Uncertain partial migrants are included in the total for resident species.
    The Transequatorial migrant group comprises nine waders and two swifts. The waders are
    not merely passage migrants as most have been seen outside the main migration period.
    Evidence suggests that adults and juveniles of the Sharp -tailed Sandpiper have different
    migration periods. The variety and numbers seen support the conclusions of Thomas (1970)
    regarding the importance of inland flightpaths.
    The irregular nomads are all waterbirds and very dependent on the availability of habitat.
    The summer nomad group are difficult to classify. Most are found during spring and summer,
    but numbers, arrival and departure times vary. Some may be found outside this period and
    show some degree of correlation to rainfall. Some are so regular in their movements that they
    could almost be classified as migrants.
    Vagrants are species outside their normal range that are apparently casual visitors.
    Species that regularly breed at Cobar mostly do so during spring and early summer (late
    August to December). A second minor period of breeding has been noted from late March to
    early May. Species breeding during this later period include the Zebra Finch, Bronze -wing
    Pigeon, Noisy Miner and White -winged Chough.
    During exceptionally dry periods breeding is curtailed or may not even take place at all.
    Frenzied breeding may take place during autumn if rain falls in late summer or early autumn
    after drought. Most waterbirds that have bred in the area have done so after exceptionally
    heavy spring or summer rain causing flooding.
    The sequence of listing, classification and vernacular names used follow those of the most
    recently accepted systems. These are the ‘Checklist of the Birds of Australia’, Part 1, Non –
    Passerines (Condon 1975), and the ‘Interim List of Australian Songbirds’, Passerines (Schodde
    The following scheme is used to describe each species:
    Name: The vernacular followed by scientific, trinomials being given only to sub -species readily
    identifiable in the field.
    Abundance: A subjective scale of measurement is used varying from rare to very common. An
    attempt has been made to take into account the abundance when a preferred habitat can be
    recognised. For waterbirds this is particularly important because of the very limited suitable
    habitat available. The percentage figure in parenthesis is a more objective measurement of theAUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (4)
    commoner species. It representents the number of days on which the species was seen, as a
    percentage of the total number of days (during which a complete species list was compiled),
    when that species could be expected to be present in the region. Thus allowance is made for
    migrants but not nomads, unless they are normally fairly regular in their movements. As ob-
    served abundances depend on the ease of observation and identification of species the figures
    do not provide a completely objective scale. The figures for some are low because of the
    difficulty of distinguishing between similar species under certain circumstances (eg. the two
    Kingfishers, Woodswallows, Thornbills etc.. In this case although sighted, they are not con-
    sidered because of uncertain identification. The relative abundances of similar forms and
    species in similar habitats are probably accurately shown. This number is not a measure of
    absolute abundance of species. The numerically most common species is probably the Weebill
    or one of the Thornbills.
    Residential status is given for almost all species. The status of some species of low
    abundance is not clear simply because there are not enough observations. Others may follow a
    regular pattern, which can be broken by seasonal climatic variation or for no apparent reason.
    Species are classified as resident, summer or winter migrants, nomads or vagrants. Partial
    migration or nomadism is indicated for several species. No species appears to be solely passage
    migrants, that is seen only during the migration period.
    Breeding status is given with approximate dates for those which breed outside the normal
    Spring-early summer period and for unusual records.
    Habitat preferences are given for species where one can be recognised.
    Many thanks are due to 0. Kershaw (OK) of Cobar, who has made available all his inform-
    ation on birds gathered since arriving there in 1968. Most breeding records and knowledge of
    the several species have not seen are due to his efforts. Thanks are due to N. Coombes, who
    first pointed out the Dollarbird and Friarbirds in the area, and likewise J. Brooke (JB) for his
    sighting of the Common Sandpiper, among other general observations of theirs in the region.
    Several other interested people have provided useful records.
    Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae (56%) Common breeding resident. Congregates into flocks in
    dry years.
    Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus Very rare visitor, a single bird on NCR between 7 June
    and 10 July and at GCT on 3 July 1976. One at NCR on 4 October 1976.
    Hoary -headed Grebe Poliocephalus poliocephalus Locally common breeding resident, less
    widely distributed than Little Grebe. At times very common at Cobar Sewerage Ponds (maximum
    100-120 birds), but seldom at nearby GCT, also at NCR, Lerida, Claytons Tank, and
    Little Grebe Tachybaptus novaehollandiae (41%) Common widespread breeding resident, up
    to 60-70 birds may be present at Cobar Sewerage Ponds.June, 1978 69.
    Australian Pelican Pelecanus conspicillatus . Uncommon visitor to larger tanks (eg. GCT, NCR,
    Booroondarra, Tindarey H.S.)
    Darter Anhinga melanogaster. Moderately common and widespread but somewhat erratic
    visitor, maximum 20 birds at GCT on 7 August 1976, but may be absent for considerable
    Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax varius. Uncommon Visitor, mostly on larger tanks, (GCT,
    NCR, once Cuttygullyaroo and Merrylands).
    Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos 20% Common, widespread, resident,
    found on even small tanks.
    Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo Moderately common on larger tanks (NCR, GCT,
    Nullamut, Lerida etc.)
    Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris (16%) Common and widespread, (but less
    so than Little Pied).
    White -necked Heron Ardea pacifica (20%) Common, widespread resident.
    White-faced Heron Ardea novaehollandiae (32%) Common, widespread, breeding resident.
    Cattle Egret Ardeola ibis Single bird at GCT 15 November 1977, (one individual of each of the
    four Egrets were present after heavy rain).
    Large Egret Egretta alba Moderately common visitor, (particularly GCT, NCR).
    Little Egret Egretta garzetta Rare visitor to GCT and NCR.
    Plumed Egret Egretta intennedia Moderately common visitor.
    Nankeen Night -heron Nycticorax caledonicus Normally regular visitor in small numbers,
    usually juveniles. An irruption of juveniles in summer 1974-75 corresponded to that recorded
    by Hobbs (1976). Some of these birds were very quiet, four were temporarily resident at a
    drilling camp near Poon Boon, sheltering and feeding by operating machinery.
    Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus A moderately common visitor, recorded from NCR, GCT,
    Booroondarra, Darling Downs.
    White Ibis Threskiornis molucca A moderately common visitor in small numbers.
    Straw -necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis The most common Ibis, variable numbers (over
    100 recorded at GCT and NCR), some away from water after rains.
    Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia A moderately common visitor, usually with Yellow -billed
    Spoonbill.70. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (4)
    Yellow -billed Spoonbill Platalea flavipes Common, widespread, some may always be present
    in the area.
    Plumed Tree -duck Dendrocygna eytoni Rare, small flocks at GCT on 15 November 1976 and
    7 February 1977. Recorded on a tank 45km west of Merrylands H.S. on 15 November 1976
    and 1 March 1977.
    Black Swan Cygnus atratus Uncommon visitor, quite widely reported by graziers.
    Black Duck Anas superciliosa (8%) Moderately common, widespread.
    Grey Teal Anas gibberifrons (21%) Common, widespread, breeding; recorded most commonly
    at NCR, GCT and Sewerage Ponds.
    Chestnut Teal Anas castanea Very rare, recorded only at NCR.
    Shoveller Anas rhynchotis Rare, records from GCT, Cobar Sewerage Ponds, and Booroondarra.
    Pink -eared Duck Malacorhynchus membranaceus Moderately common nomad.
    Wood Duck Chenonetta jubata (25%) Common, breeding resident, the most wide spread
    duck in small numbers.
    Musk Duck Biziura lobata Uncommon visitor, has bred at NCR, individuals may remain for
    considerable periods.
    The relative abundance of duck species is (> greater than): Grey Teal, Wood Duck >
    Black Duck > Pink- eared Duck, White -eyed Duck > Black Swan, Must Duck > Plumed Tree
    Duck, Shoveller > Chestnut Teal.
    Black -shouldered Kite Elanus notatus (16%) Distribution limited normally to more open
    country, several pairs regularly breeding near Cobar town.
    Letter -winged Kite Elanus scriptus Single bird in late evening of 28 February 1977, during a
    period of widespread records in south eastern Australia, (eg. Rogers 1977, Shrader 1977).
    Black Kite Milvus migrans Moderately common visitor in small numbers, (abundant at Bourke
    and Wilcannia with several hundred near town after major flooding in early 1976),
    approximately 50 at Cobar Rubbish Tip, August-November 1977.
    Black -breasted Kite Hamirostra melanosternon Single records at GCT (April 1976) and NCR
    (date unknown).
    Whistling Kite Haliastur sphenurus Common, regularly breeding resident.
    Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus (12%) Common, bleeding resident.June, 1978 71.
    Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrhocephalus Common, breeding resident.
    Wedge-tailed Eagle Aquila audax (25%) Common, breeding resident. Successful rearing of twin
    young noted in 1976.
    Little Eagle Hieraaetus morphoides Moderately common breeding resident. (Light and dark
    phases recorded).
    Spotted Harrier Circus assimilis Numbers variable, relatively common early and mid 1976. One
    resident pair has bred near Lerida Tank (eg. October 1977).
    Black Falcon Falco subniger One undated sighting at NCR and two birds near Lerida Tank
    during November 1977 (OK).

Perigrine Falcon Falco peregrinus (3%) A breeding pair resident at New Occidental Mine open

cut 3km SE of Cobar. Breeding suspected at Mt. Drysdale Mine, 36km to north of Cobar,
widely seen through area.
Little Falcon Falco longipennis Moderately common, breeding resident.
Brown Falcon Falco berigora (17%) Common, breeding resident. Light and dark phase birds.
Nankeen Kestral Falco cenchroides (46%) Common breeding resident.
Mallee Fowl Leipoa ocellata Extinct in much of the area, several old mounds located to the
north of Cobar. Nearest recent report by Mr. R. Eaves of one in Mallee 27 km SE of Cobar
during June 1976, the first he had seen for 20 years. Several reports for the same mallee belt
further SE.
Stubble Quail Coturnix pectoralis Status uncertain, perhaps common, possibly spring-autumn
visitor. Mostly in open grassland but some in scrub.
Brown Quail Coturnix australis Status uncertain, less common than Stubble Quail. In scrub.
Painted Button -quail Turnix varia Uncommon, breeding spring -summer visitor, may remain
until April after rain (eg. 1973 after end of drought). Recorded near Lerida Tank, 3km west
an 12km WSW of Cobar. (OK).
Little Button -quail Turnix velox Moderately common, probably in variable numbers, spring-
summer breeding visitor. Mostly in grass with interspersed scrub.
Red -chested Button -quail Turnix pyrrlzothorax Moderately common spring-summer visitor in
variable numbers. Common in grassland and open scrub on Booroondarra and Poon Boon
Stations during spring-summer 1974-75. Mostly in grassland and light scrub but once each in
mulga scrub and wilga scrub on a rocky ridge, both with little or no ground cover. A female
captured in a rock garden in Cobar during September 1974.72. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (4)
Marsh Crake Porana pusilla Once at NCR, attempted breeding but eggs spoiled by flooding
Spotted Crake Porzana fluminea Locally moderately common at tanks where a suitable
habitat occurs such as Lerida, NCR and Cobar Sewerage Ponds.
Spotless Crake Porzana tabuensis Once at NCR (OK).
Black -Tailed Native -hen Gallinula ventralis Widespread erratic nomad sometimes common, has
bred once at NCR. Widespread in small groups in spring of 1977.
Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa Uncommon, GCT and NCR where they have bred once.
Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio Uncommon, recorded at NCR, GCT, Cappy and Lake Tanks.
Coot Fulica atra Moderatelycommon, recorded at NCR, GCT, Booroondarra, Claytons Tank.
Sometimes 100+ birds at NCR after heavy rains. Has bred at NCR.
Bustard Ardeotis australis Most recent report was a bird shot by a grazier in early 1970’s. Said
to have been common until 1940’s.
Bush Stone -curlew Burhinus magnirostris A recent sighting of a bird by JB at Wrightville 3km
SE of Cobar in 1975. Other recent sightings of unusual long legged birds in scrub may be this
species. Older local residents state that the species was fairly common until 1930’s.
Painted Snipe Rostralula benghalensis Rare, records from NCR, GCT, and Cappy Tank.
Masked (spur -winged) Plover Vanellus miles (32%) Moderately common breeding resident in
open areas, usually near water.
Banded Plover Vanellus tricolor (7%) Moderately common breeding resident, somewhat

nomadic with numbers variable. Very common in spring 1977.

Eastern Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica One at GCT 16 September 1976, and 31 October
November 1977.
Red -kneed Dotterel Erythrogonys cinctus Uncommon, records from NCR, GCT, Borroondarra
Cappy, Claytons and Lerida Tanks.
Red -capped Dotterel Charadrius ruficapillus A female at GCT on 4 December 1975.
Black -fronted Dotterel Charadrius melanops (38%) Common breeding resident throughout.
Pied Stilt Himantopus himantopus Normally uncommon, widespread records from many
tanks. Regularly at GCT, often at NCR. Larger numbers after heavy rains at NCR where they
have bred.June, 1978 73.
Red -necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae Rare visitor to NCR and GCT.
Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos One at GCT on 6 September 1976. Noske (1975) and
Rogers (1977) give other inland records for this species.
Greenshank Tringa nebularia Uncommon but apparently annual visitor to GCT with records
between 11 September and 25 February 1976-77. Birds may remain for periods of up to 18
days. One at Lerida Tank on 28 September 1977.
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis Rare visitor to GCT, one from 4-8 October, one on 5, 6
December and two on 7 December 1976.
Japanese Snipe Gallinago hardwickii Rare visitor to NCR (eg. one on 4 September 1976, and
16 October 1977), and GCT (one on 24 September 1976). Small flocks have been reported
from NCR in previous years.
Sharp -tailed Sandpiper Calidris acurninata Annual visitor to CGT when conditions suitable
with records between 4 September and 11 February 1976-77. In 1976, when detailed records
were kept, a maximum of 12 adults in remnant breeding plumage were seen between 4 and 22
September with a few from 7 to 9 October.
Juveniles (1-37 birds, identified from the description in Falla et al, 1970) were seen
almost daily from 7 October until 24 November, no adults being noted after 9 October. A few
(maximum 7), mostly recognisable as juveniles, were then seen regularly until 11 February

  1. Several records from NCR and one bird at Darling Downs on 20 August 1972.
    Red -necked Stint Calidris ruficollis Rare visitor. Single birds at GCT on 11 September and
    5 November 1976. Winter record at Claytons Tank on 18 July 1972.
    Long -toed Stint Calidris subminu ta Two birds present at NCR from 23 November 1975 to
    7 February 1976 were identified as this species. Recent reports show this species hitherto
    regarded as a very rare vagrant, to be a regular visitor in small numbers to southern Australia
    (Eckert 1965, Smith 1968, 1969, Lowe 1972, Beruldsen 1972, Cooper 1977).
    Curlew Sandpiper Calidris lerruginea Uncommon visitor recorded only in 1976 with seven
    birds from 16 to 22 September, one on 7 to 9 and 15 to 19 October, four on 3rd and three on
    4 November 1976.
    Australian Pratincole Stiltia isabella Uncommon spring-summer breeding migrant, recorded
    at GCT and NCR. Maximum about 50 at NCR October-November 1974 and 40 at GCT on 11,
    12 October 1977.
    Silver Gull Larus novaehollandiae Uncommon, regular visitor in small numbers to GCT and
    NCR, also recorded at Cappy Tank.
    Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida Moderately common visitor to GCT and NCR generally
    in small numbers but over 100 seen at NCR after heavy flooding (eg. February 1976) where
    they have bred once. Sparse records for other tanks (eg. Cappy).74. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (4)
    Gull -billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica Rare visitor to GCT and NCR, once at Cobar Cycle
    Track after heavy rain.
    Domestic Pigeon Columba livia Common around towns and some stations. Some living wild in
    old mine shafts.
    Peaceful Dove Geopelia striata (18%) Moderately common, breeding resident.
    Diamond Dove Geopelia cuneata (5%) Moderately common spring-summer breeding visitors.
    Numbers variable, apparently less numerous in dry season (eg. summer of 1972-73).
    Bar -shouldered Dove Geopelia humeralis Moderately common, breeding resident near water.
    Most records from near Cobar. Known range limits are 22km west of Merrylands H.S.; Lerida
    Tank, Ghost Tank to the SW; Shearlegs Tank to the south and near Mt. Boppy to the east of
    Cobar. Presumably extends to the north and NE.
    Common Bronze -wing Phaps chalcoptera (58%) Common breeding resident in woodland and
    scrub areas.
    Crested Pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes (76%) Very common breeding resident, prefers less scrubby
    Squatter Pigeon Petrophassa scripta A bird thought to be this species 5km NE of
    Booroondarra, on 15 December 1975 in open scrub. Recorded to NW of here (Morris in Rogers
    1977), on Tundulya Station. Note also the record of Longmore (1976) near West Wyalong.
    Red-tailed Black -Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus magnificus Moderately common in woodland
    along the Darling River.
    Galah Cacatua roseicapilla (89%) Very common, breeding resident.
    Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea Rare vagrant, four at No. 1, Tank on 13 September 1973,
    seldom occurs east of Darling floodplain.
    Pink Cockatoo Cacatua leadbeateri (43%) Moderately common breeding resident. Forms large
    flocks during normal and wet winters, dispersed in poor seasons (eg. 1972 which was very
    dry, and flocks 1973-76).
    Sulphur -crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita Two in the town area in mid -September may have
    been wild birds, possibly vagrants from the east where they occur along the Bogan River. Their
    general very wary behaviour suggested that they may have been wild birds although the
    possibility of aviary escapees cannot be discounted. If truly wild birds they represent the only
    record between the Darling, Lachlan and Bogan Rivers (Foreshaw 1969). Uncommon along the
    Darling; two specimens from Bourke belong to the sub-speciesgalerita (Forshaw 1968).June, 1978 75.
    Red -winged Parrot Aprosmictus erythropterus (39%) Moderately common, breeding resident.
    Cockateil Nymphicus hollandicus (36%) Common irregular nomad, often after heavy rain when
    they breed. Approximate abundances are compared to rainfall for the period May 1972 to end
    of 1977 in figure 2. Note that with the exception of the summer 1972-73 (rare) and winter
    1973 (abundant) they appear to be regular spring-summer visitors.
    Budgerygah Melopsittacus undulatus (28%) Common nomad, often breeding after rains.
    Approximate abundances are compared to rainfall in figure 2. Note that they appear to be
    regular spring-summer visitors except during periods of drought (summer 1972-73). Abundant
    late February to early March after end of drought, some birds nesting but most continuing to
    the east where many were noted breeding near Byrock.
    Mallee Ringneck Barnardius barnardi (92%) Common, breeding resident.
    Red-rumped Parrot Psephotus haematonotus (45%) Common breeding resident,tends to form
    flocks in all but dry winters.
    Mulga Parrot Psephotus varius (54%) Common breeding resident preferring more scrubby areas
    than the preceding species.
    Blue Bonnet Northiella haematogaster (49%) Common breeding resident preferring open
    woodland and scattered scrub areas.
    Bourke’s Parrot Neophema bourkii One 5km NE of Louth by the Darling, late August 1977
    (I. Pearce, pers. comm.). McGill (1960) refers to specimens from Bourke.
    Neophema species. A single bird flying high overhead at Booroondarra on 10 April 1977,
    belonged to this genus. Single bird seen overhead in Cobar town on 3 June 1977 and next day
    at GCT. Definately not a Bourke’s Parrot (call, colour), possibly Blue -winged Parrots which
    have recently been recorded just south of the area considered (Rogers 1975).
    Scarlet -chested Parrot Neophema splendida McGill (1960) refers to specimens collected by
    Grant near Bourke in 1892. S. Parker (pers. comm.) warns that many of Grant’s localities
    are unreliable (see also Bourke’s Parrot specimens in McGill).
    Pallid Cuckoo Cuculus pallidus (11%) Common breeding migrant normally present from
    August to April, some earlier (mid -July) and vagrants may be present all year. Hosts recorded
    are Singing, White -fronted, (OK) and Brown -headed Honeyeaters.
    Fan -tailed Cuckoo Cuculus pyrrhophanus Rare, records throughout year.
    Black -eared Cuckoo Chrysococcyx osculans Uncommon normally, moderately common in
    spring of 1975 (OK).76. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (4)
    Rufous -tailed Bronze- cuckoo Chrysococcyz basalis Moderately common, breeding migrant
    extremes mid -July to April, normally late August to March). Hosts noted are Black -backed and
    Purple -backed Wrens (OK).
    Golden Bronze- cuckoo Chrysococcyz lucidus Uncommon, breeding migrant; Yellow-rumped
    Thornbill recorded as host (OK).
    Boobook Owl Ninox novaeseelandiae Status uncertain, possibly relatively common, breeding
    Barn Owl Tyto alba Status uncertain, possibly relatively common at times, most sightings
    November 1974 to February 1975.
    Tawny Frogmouth Podargus strigoides Possibly common, breeding resident.
    Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles cristatus Possibly common, breeding resident.
    Spotted Nightjar Caprimulgus guttatus (7%) Common, breeding resident (?) records between
    12 August and 19 June, not noted during winter. Breeding recorded from late August to
    February. One of the few birds that nested in the very dry spring of 1972.
    Spine -tailed Swift Hirundapus caudacutus Possibly relatively common migrant, flocks nomadic
    recorded between December and March. Flocks of several hundred around Cobar on 30
    December 1976, near Mt. Boppy 20 February and near Nymagee 12 March 1977.
    Fork -tailed Swift Apus pacificus Less common than above, small flocks or mixed in larger
    flocks of Spine -tailed Swifts (eg. near Mt. Boppy on 20 February 1977). Seen from December
    to early April.
    Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae Uncommon resident in much of the area, restricted to larger
    timber in creek flats near water, more common in larger red box woodlands to SE of Cobar.
    Moderately common along Darling River (Bourke, Gunderbooka H.S., Louth, Tilpa).
    Red -backed Kingfisher Halcyon pyrrhopygia (13%) Moderately common breeding migrant,
    normally present from early September to- late March. There appears to be yearly variation
    in arrival and departure dates. Arrival is probably linked to the onset of warmer weather and
    the emergence of the food supply. Very uncommon (or absent) in dry summer of 1972-73.
    Sacred Kingfisher Halcyon sancta (8%) Moderately common breeding summer migrant. Arrival
    and departure times variable as for the Red -backed Kingfisher.
    Rainbow Bee -eater Merops ornatus (34%) Common breeding summer migrant. Conspicuous
    flocks after first arrival in early October, these soon disperse as breeding begins, departs late
    March or early April.
    Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis Very rare vagrant, single birds in bimble box and pine wood-
    land 30km east of Cobar on 27 March 1977, 5krn. SE of Cobar on 30 October 1977, and inJune, 1978 77.
    92 [‘BOURKE
    L 14 15 30
    61 10
    66 7
    47 35 102 47
    60 34 97 78 96 105
    117 110 108 93
    26 116 91 103
    15 114 168 110
    24 139 185 132 39 117
    49 64 60
    31 18 51
    89 85
    Cobar 27 February 1978. One at Bourke on 14 November 1976. One near Mt. Merrere, 24
    February 1976 (J. Ford, pers. comm..
    Singing Bushlark Mirafra javanica Rare, localised in grassy areas, known only from near Lerida
    Tank and less commonly NCR.
    White -backed Swallow Cheramoeca leucosternutn (5%) Locally common resident nesting in
    creek banks and mine dumps. Present all year.
    Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena (52%) Common breeding resident preferring less scrubby
    Tree Martin Cecropis nigricans (21%) Common breeding resident in more open country. May
    be less numerous in winter.
    Fairy Martin Cecropis ariel (20%) Locally common breeding resident. A distinct decrease in
    numbers during winter.
    Richard’s Pipit Anthus novaeseelandiae (11%) Common breeding resident in suitably open
    Black -faced Cuckoo -shrike Coracian novaehollandiae (54%) Common breeding resident, a
    partial migrant with a very distinct decrease in numbers from April to July.
    Ground Cuckoo -shrike Coracian maxima (11%) Moderately common breeding resident in
    more open areas.
    White -winged Triller Lalage sueurii (46%) Common breeding migrant, arrives in early
    September, sometimes in large groups, and remains prominant until December. Some birds in
    eclipse (or immature) plumage until late February.
    Common Blackbird Tudus merula A male seen several times in Cobar town and at GCT winter
    and spring 1976. Pair nesting in Cobar, November, 1977.
    Red -capped Robin Petroica goodenovii (68%) Common breeding resident.
    Hooded Robin Melanodryas cucullata (41%) Commbn breeding resident.
    Eastern Yellow Robin Eopsaltria australis Moderately common breeding resident east and SE
    of Cobar but rare to the west and NW. Found in a variety of habitats SE of Cobar including
    pine, various mallee assemblages and eucalypt woodland, west and north-west of Cobar it
    rapidly becomes less numerous and is confined to denser vegetation along the drainage
    (including pine, yarran, bimble box etc.. Known distribution limits are 29km to the west, Poon
    Boon H.S. to the NNW, and Brura H.S. to the north of Cobar, distribution seems to be
    continuous to the south, at least east of Ghost Tank. To the west more open vegetation
    probably limit its range but it may extend to the Darling floodplain to the north-west along
    suitably vegetated drainage.June, 1978 79.
    Jacky Winter Microeca leucophaea (28%) Common breeding resident, more numerous in
    winter, particularly 1972 and 1974.
    Crested Shrike -tit Falcunculus frontatus Not known in the area under discussion but occurs
    along the River Darling and may extend south along suitably wooded creeks (eg. Yanda and
    Kerrigundi). Recorded from Bourke (13 November 1976), near Gunderbooka H.S. (20 April
    1975) and Tilpa (Miller in Rogers 1975).
    Gilbert’s Whistler Pachycephala inornata Several nesting pairs in wilga scrub adjacent to a
    bimble box flat near Lerida Tank, one pair 1km SW of Cobar in a bimble box flat. These
    occurrences, as far as is known, are quite isolated. Many similar habitats occur in the district
    and other isolated colonies may be located. Previous north-western most recorded locality is
    Nymagee (Slater 1974, Officer 1969).
    Rufous Whistler Pachycephala rufiventris (79%) Common breeding resident throughout in all
    but most open areas.
    Grey Shrike -thrush Colluricincla harmonica (70%) Common breeding resident, prefers thicker
    scrub and woodland areas.
    Crested Bellbird Oreoica gutturalis (70%) Common resident in all but grassland areas.
    Restless Flycatcher Myiagra inquieta (46%) Common breeding resident, particularly along
    bimble box flats near water, but occasionally in scrub and rarely in shrub away from water.
    Grey Fantail Rhipidura fuliginosa (37%) Common non -breeding winter migrant. Arrives early
    April (or late March) and most depart in September with stragglers until November.
    Willy Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys (92%) Very common breeding resident.
    Chirruping Wedgebill Psophodes cristatus Not recorded although apparently suitable habitats
    have been examined. Ford and Parker (1973) refer to specimens from Coronga Peak (to the
    NW) and Cobar. These are from the Grant collection (Parker, pers. comm.) note comments on
    Scarlet -chested Parrot.
    Chestnut -breasted Quail -thrush Cinclosoma cinnamomeum castaneothorax (21%) Moderately
    common breeding resident to a little south of Cobar. This extends south the range given by
    Ford (1974), and in Rogers (1975 and 1976). Careful visual identification has been made of
    this subspecies throughout the area.
    Chestnut Quail -thrush Cinclosoma castanotum Seen by OK in belah and mallee 5km north of
    Bindi H.S. in the far south of the area.
    Grey -crowned Babbler Pomatostomus temporalis (72%) Very common breeding resident
    extending north-west to at least Mulya Station and perhaps the edge of the Darling floodplain.80. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (4)
    White-browed Babbler Pomatostomus superciliosus (28%) Common breeding resident.
    Chestnut -crowned Babbler Pomatostomus ruficeps (20%) Common breeding resident, its range
    may not extend far SE of Cobar.
    Clamorous Reed Warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus Locally common spring-summer migrant
    where habitat is suitable. Recorded at NCR, GCT, and Lerida Tank.
    Little Grassbird Megalurus timoriensis Moderately common breeding spring-summer visitor in
    this very limited habitat, recorded from GCT, Cobar Sewerage Ponds, NCR, Cappy and Lerida
    Rufous Songlark Cinclorhamphus mathewsi (35%) Common spring-Summer breeding visitor
    apparently normally present from September to January but maybe as early as the end of July
    (1974 when very common in spring) and as late as early April. In the summer of 1972-73
    (drought) they were absent until after rain in February 1973.
    Brown Songlark Cinclorhamphus aura& Uncommon but fairly widespread breeding spring –
    summer migrant, restricted to open country as at NCR.
    Variegated Wren Malurus lamberti assimilis (34%) Common breeding resident throughout but
    prefers more open scrub, and shrubby (galvanised burr) areas. Sight identified as Purple -backed
    Wren. Most feeding takes place in or near to cover.
    Splendid (Black -backed) Wren Malurus splendens melanotus (43%) Common breeding resident
    avoiding more open areas. Feeding is more likely to take place in open areas and at greater height
    than for the Variegated Wren.
    White -winged Wren Malurus leucopterus Known only from Curraweena Tank (in galvanised
    burr) becoming increasingly common in open country further north and the dominant wren on
    the Darling floodplains. Other areas of suitable habitat have been unsuccessfully searched. The
    Curraweena Tank colony is probably isolated.
    Striated Grass -wren Amytornis striatus A bird identified as this species was seen bathing at the
    edge of No. 13 Tank Booroondarra on 29 October 1974. Open scrub, shrubs and near the tank
    itself, galvanised burr, evidently provided a suitable habitat for this elusive species. Subsequent
    searches here and at other similar localities have not produced additional sightings.
    Shy Hylacola Sericornis cautus In mallee-spinifex 5km north of Bindi H.S.
    Speckled Warbler Sericornis sagittatus Locally in suitable habitats. This species was known to
    occur in pine -eucalyptus woodland near Mt. Boppy siding (OK 1968) and Nymagee. Deliberate
    search of similar habitats south and south-east of Cobar has resulted in the discovery of
    scattered populations near Nurri Trig; 6km north of Buckambool H.S. and 2km SW of Ghost
    Tank. Other locations will undoubtably be found in suitable pine stands further south and
    perhaps west of these (eg. near Mt. Grenfell H.S.).June, 1978 81.
    Weebill Smicornis brevirostris (82%) Very common breeding resident in all but tree -less areas.
    Western Warbler Gerygone fitsca Possibly common, breeding resident, but there have been
    relatively few sightings of this unobtrusive and inconspicuous bird. Prefers thicker bimble box
    Broad -tailed Thornbill Acanthiza apicalis (44%) Common breeding resident.
    Chestnut -tailed Thornbill Acanthiza uropygialia (62%) Common breeding resident, tends to
    predominate in more open scrub often in mixed groups with the above species.
    Buff-rumped Thornbill Acanthiza reguloides Scattered breeding populations in mulga scrub
    8km NNW and 48km north of Cobar.
    Yellow-rumped Thornbill Acanthiza chrysorrhoa (50%) Common breeding resident. More
    nomadic and wider ranging feeder than other species.
    Yellow Thornbhill Acanthiza nana (39%) Common breeding resident. Tends to feed at greater
    height in trees than other Thornbills.
    Striated Thornbill Acanthiza lineata One 5km SE of Cobar but this is probably a recording
    error (for Yellow Thornbill). Possibly in mallee near Barrow Ranges south of Canbelego.
    Southern Whiteface Aphelocephala leucopsis (42%) Common breeding resident in all but
    thickest scrub.
    Varied Sittella Daphoenostta chrysoptera (22%) Moderately common breeding resident
    throughout the area. Flocks usually comprise variable individuals intermediate between the
    Orange -winged and Black -capped forms. In general the head is significantly darker than the
    neck (some almost black) with streaking of the underparts restricted to a few at the side of the
    breast. Flocks may contain almost black -headed in addition to the normal grey -headed
    individuals, no birds seen had completely streaked breasts. An impression is that dark -headed
    individuals are increasingly more common to the north-west. A flock to the south near Bindi
    H.S. containing only black -headed individuals was identifiable as the Black -capped form.
    White-browed Tree -creeper Climacteris affinis Rare, records 18km WSW of Cobar in open pine
    and in mulga near O’Donnells Tank. Bred in mulga 77km north of Cobar late November 1976,
    and in belah 5km north of Bindi H.S. during September 1977.
    Brown Treecreeper Climacteris picumnus (40%) Common breeding resident.
    Spiney-cheeked Honeyeater Acanthagenys rufogularis (81%) Very common breeding resident.
    Striped Honeyeater Plectorphyncha lanceolata (46%) Common breeding resident in woodland.
    May be partly nomadic following flowering mistletoe.
    Noisy Friarbird Philemon corniculatus Two birds at Merrylands H.S. Tank for at least two
    weeks early in April 1977. Nearest known record was an immature bird in mallee 9km west of
    Nymagee on 12 March 1977. See also 1976 Bird Report (Rogers 1977) for a record near
    Bobodah. May penetrate west along the River Darling.DO ).N
    Little Friarbird Philemon citreogularis (15%) Moderately common breeding migrant mostly
    near water, records from early August to late April. Possibly present along the Darling River all
    Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala (14%) Common breeding resident in woodland east, and
    south of Cobar where it is the dominant miner. Numbers rapidly decrease west and north-west
    of Cobar. Known range limits are Bindi H.S. in the south, west almost to Lerida Tank, 5km
    west of the C.S.A. Mine, 7km west of Tindarey H.S. and north to Yandilla H.S.
    Yellow -throated Miner Manorina flavigula (89%) Very common breeding resident north, north-
    west and west of Cobar; subordinate to the Noisy Miner in most areas to east and south.
    Singing Honeyeater Lichenostomus virescens (82) Very common breeding resident in all but
    the most open areas.
    White -eared Honeyeater Lichenostomus leucotis Locally common breeding resident in suitable
    habitat. Known from 1km to 35km east of Cobar and to the SSE in mallee (particularly mallee-
    acacia on the Queen Bee-Nurri range), to 6km south of Shearlegs Tank, also 5km north of, and
    14km ENE of Bindi H.S.. Recorded once in bimble box-pine woodland 30km east of Cobar.
    Common in mallee and pine-bimble box woodland near Nymagee.
    Yellow -plumed Honeyeater Lichenostomus ornatus Prior to 1977 this species was known to
    be a common breeding resident in mallee east and south-east of Cobar. On 2 April 1977 it was
    located in bimble box-pine woodland several km west of previously recorded localities feeding
    with a few Grey -fronted Honeyeaters on flowering mistletoe at Pony Tank. It was noted near
    Poon Boon H.S. in thick bimble box on 4 April. Subsequently deliberate search showed it to be
    widespread, occuring as far north-west as Merrylands H.S. where at least four were seen
    drinking with White -plumed Honeyeaters. Most have been seen in bimble box flats, or scattered
    mallee and several times in flowering ironwood. In thick yarran near Onions Tank they were
    very common and the dominant Honeyeater at least in May 1976. They have perhaps always
    been present in these areas and have been cursorally identified as White -plumed Honeyeaters rather
    than being a temporary irruption. However only continual observation will clarify this matter.
    Grey -fronted Honeyeater Lichenostomus plumulus Moderately common breeding resident in
    mallee areas. Known range limits include mallee in an area from 10km ENE of Cobar to 1km
    east of Cobar, SSE to Pony Tank and south along the Mt. Hope Road (ie. 6km south of
    Shearlegs Tank). The eastern limit is unknown but may extend to at least the mallee along the
    Canbelego-Nymagee Road. They are also known from 5km north, and 14km ENE of Bindi
    H.S., at the Shuttleton Mine 22km WSW of, and 9km west of Nymagee, all in mallee. Although
    Jenkins and Miller (1976) could find few records for N.S.W. it is obviously quite common in
    many areas (this report, also McGill, 1977). Almost totally restricted to mallee but recorded
    once (see above) with Yellow -plumed Honeyeaters feeding on flowering mistletoe in bimble
    box and pine at least 2.5km from the nearest mallee. Also seen in dense belah near Bindi H.S.,
    although mallee was only a few hundred metres away. Where Yellow -plumed Honeyeaters are
    also present this species shows a preference to feeding around the margins of mallee patches,
    occasionally on the ground.84. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (4)
    White -plumed Honeyeater Lichenostomus penicillatus (68%) Common breeding resident
    throughout. Mostly in bimble box (some mallee) but sometimes in more open and low scrub
    and in pine. Once with Yellow -throated Miners feeding in grass after a rapid fall in water level at
    Brown -headed Honeyeater Melithreptus brevirostris (56%) Common breeding resident
    throughout, occurring at least as far north-west as Gunderbooka H.S. on the Darling River.
    Known limits are Wuttagoona H.S., Merrylands H.S., Cappy Tank and Lerida Tank to the NW
    and W.
    Brown Honeyeater Lichmera indistincta Locally common breeding resident, mostly near water.
    Known range limits are from Bura H.S. in the north; SW to Wuttagoona H.S.; to 29km west of
    Cobar in the Barrier Highway; at Lerida Tank and particularly common in the vicinity of Cobar
    town. The southern and south-eastern limits are not known.
    Painted Honeyeater Grantiella pitta A moderatly common spring -summer visitor (until March)
    probably nomadic.
    White -fronted Honeyeater Phylidonyris albifrons Breeding nomad that may be very common at
    times. Regular visits the area in July to October (including dry year 1972) when many shrubs
    flowering (puntee, turpentine) but noted in small numbers throughout 1976 and 1977 (locally
    very common in flowering ironwood in April 1977). Small numbers may always be present in
    the area and be supplemented by a larger nomadic population.
    Black Honeyeater Certhionyx niger Moderately common breeding spring-summer visitor.
    Probably nomadic as abundance varies from year to year.
    Pied Honeyeater Certhionyx variegatus Nomadic, recorded only from October to December
    1975 when about 12 pairs bred 3km west of Coba-.
    Crimson Chat Ephthianura tricolor (19%) Breeding migrant or nomad present from early
    September until March. There appears to be some variation in arrival but particularly in
    departure dates. A few uncoloured birds were seen by JB near the CSA Mine until 9 June
  2. In 1977 they were not seen after mid -February. Found in almost all habitats.
    Orange Chat Ephthianura aurifrons Rare nomad, recorded several times in Noogoora burr and
    grass at NCR, once each from GCT, Cobar Airport, and on the roadside near Mulgaroon. May
    occur more frequently in more suitable open habitats such as occur near Booroondarra.
    White -fronted Chat Ephthianura albifrons Uncommon breeding resident recorded from few
    locations (GCT, NCR, Amphitheatre Tank, Darling Downs and Poon Boon H.S.’s). Prefers
    open grassy areas with some shrubs.
    Mistletoebird Dicaeum hirundinaceum (60%) Largely nomadic as numbers vary considerably
    (very common spring-summer 1976-77) although some are perhaps always present.
    Spotted Pardalote Pardalotus punctatus Recorded twice in mallee 1km east of Nurri Trig and
    once 14km ENE of Bindi H.S. Definately Yellow -tailed sub -species at the latter locality.June, 1978
    Red-browed Pardalote Pardalotus rubricatus Twice at Gunderbooka Range, and an aural
    record from Bourke.
    Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus (53%) Common breeding resident in all timbered areas.
    Silvereye Zosterops lateralis Winter visitor in town area and once near Burrawa H.S. Numbers
    variable, common 1975, rare 1976.
    House Sparrow Passer domesticus Very common in Cobar and immediate surrounds where
    introduced plants are common (particularly boxthorn). Also present at Bourke and Louth and
    at many stations. Absent from some as a result of deliberate destruction (Bundella, Karoo) but
    appears never to have reached or become establishedat others (eg. Wilgaroon, Darling Downs,
    Poon Boon).
    Diamond Firetail Emblem guttata Uncommon in woodland east and south-east of Cobar.
    Known range limits are Burrawa H.S. in north and 4km west of the C.S.A. Mine.
    Zebra Finch Poephila gut tata (32%) Common breeding resident throughout.
    Double -barred Finch Poephila bichenovii (27%) Common breeding resident known as far NW
    as Mulya Tank; 22km west of Merrylands H.S.; 30km west of Cobar and south-west to 11km
    north of Bindi H.S.. Present throughout the year.
    Plum -headed Finch Aidemosyne modesta Locally common near tanks with cover provided
    by grass or shrubs during spring and summer when it breeds. One record on 14 June 1976.
    Probably a migrant or regular nomad. Commonly around NCR and GCT.
    Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris Common in and near Cobar, some penetration of bush
    away from town, usually near water. A flock resident at Booroondarra, also seen at Claytons
    Tank and Darling Downs in small numbers.
    Olive -backed Oriole Oriolus sagittatus Uncommon breeding spring-summer migrant as far
    west as the River Darling, mostly near water.
    Spotted Bowerbird Chlamydera maculata (59%) Common breeding resident. Almost all bowers
    constructed under wilga bushes, some under the very similar introduced pepper tree (Schinus
    White -winged Chough Corocorax melanorhamphos (53%) Common breeding resident, usually
    in bimble box flats or pine, less commonly in more open scrub.
    Apostlebird Struthidea cinerea (87%) Very common breeding resident in all but most open
    Australian Magpie Lark Grallina cyanoleuca (88%) Very common breeding resident, flocks of
    40-50 in Cobar during late Autumn and Winter.
    White -breasted Woodswallow Artamus leucorhynchus (21%) Locally common breeding
    migrant arriving early September and departing March-April although some were present until
    at least mid -May 1977. Almost always near water where they breed often in old Magpie Lark’s
    nests. Maybe nomadic rather than migratory.AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (4)
    Masked Woodswallow Artamus personates (41%) Common breeding regular nomad. Usually
    in mixed flocks with White-browed species. Not recorded during Winter.
    White-browed Woodswallow Artamus superciliosus (69%) Very common breeding regular
    nomad. Variable arrival, normally September to early October departing in March or early
    April. Some large flocks were still present in early June and had returned by 13 August in 1977,
    with some birds throughout winter. Normally winter records are rare (eg. a pair on 25 July 76).
    Black -faced Woodswallow Artamus cinereus (18%) Moderately common breeding resident;
    there seems to be a distinct August-October maxima. This species tends to be swamped by the
    large flocks of White-browed and Masked Woodswallows from October and the maxima may
    extend over the summer but not be recognised. Some are present all year.
    Dusky Woodswallow Artainus cyanopterus Uncommon, small possibly resident breeding
    population near Mt. Boppy (30km east of Cobar). A flock of approximately 50 near Nurri Trig
    on 16 June 1976 suggests that some may move north into the area during the winter. One by
    Darling River near Gunderbooka H.S. on 14 November 1976.
    Little Woodswallow Artamus minor At Gunderbooka Ranges near Brura H.S. in early spring
  3. Flock of about 50 five kilometres north of Mulgaroon H.S. on 23 September 1976. Two
    with White-browed Woodswallows near O’Donnells Tank on 25 October 1976. These were seen
    to add two mulga leaves to a nest later found to be occupied by White-browed Woodswallows.
    Two 5km NE from O’Donnells Tank on 1 November 1976 may have been the same birds. One
    at Coronga Tank on 9 January 1977. At Bourke in trees along the Darling River on 26 April
    and 8 May 1976.
    Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus (70%) Very common breeding resident.
    Pied Butcherbird Cracticus nigrogularis (45%) Common breeding resident. Preference for more
    open woodland.
    Australian (Black -backed) Magpie Gymnorhina tibicen tibicen (98%) Very common breeding
    resident throughout.
    Australian Raven Corvus coronoides (93%) Very common breeding resident.
    Little Raven Corvus mellori Possibly in area but not identified, one recorded 190km west of
    Cobar in Rogers (1977).
    Little Crow Corvus bennetti Probably common, breeding resident.June, 1978 87.
    In standard texts on Australian birds, there are few references to birds of non -aquatic
    habitats feeding on leaves and other vegetative parts of plants.
    On 18 July 1977 was watching two Pied Currawongs Strepera graculina feeding on
    the ground in the bush at Thornleigh Park, Sydney. One bird bit off the top 80 mm
    (measured after the bird had gone) of a new, soft Paroo Lily Dianella caerulea shoot,
    manipulated it in its beak for a few seconds, then dropped it. The birds then walked to
    a group of terrestial orchids, Tartan Tongue -Orchid Cryptostylis erecta. They proceeded to
    feed on the leaves of the Tartan Tongue -Orchid for approximately ten minutes. The usual
    method was to tug a leaf up so that the long petiole (the length is very variable but is
    often between 25 and 60 mm) broke off beneath the ground. The free leaf was manipulat-
    ed, using the beak only, until the petiole could be bitten off, the remainder of the leaf
    was then dropped and the peticle swallowed.
    Occasionally one of the birds would fly up onto a branch, where the Orchid leaf
    was held with one foot while the bird tore pieces from the lamina. These pieces were
    After the birds left, found 31 pulled up Tartan Tongue -Orchid leaves in the area
    approximately 1.5 x 1.5 m. Of these leaves, 24 had all or part of the petiole bitten off.
    The remaining seven leaves had all or part of the petiole and part of the lamina missing.
    While searching for these leaves, I also found a freshly regurgitated pellet. This pellet
    contained the petioles and a few pieces of lamina of Tartan Tongue -Orchid leaves. The
    meal I watched was obviously not their first feed of orchid leaves for the day.
    On 25 July 1977 found at least seven leaves of another orchid Acianthus sp.
    leaves, three of which had been swallowed whole, in a Pied Currawong pellet.
    Of the 380 pellets have examined between October 1976 and June 1977 (collected
    at Thornleigh), only three pellets contained vegetative plant parts that could not be readily
    explained by accidental ingestion while foraging for insects. These pellets contained grass.
    In contrast, A. Barclay Rose (1973 Emu 73: 177-183) found that 12.5% of 152 Pied
    Currawong pellets contained grass. Grass was only found in the pellets between April and
    June inclusive and was present in 21.6% of the pellets during these months. This percentage
    seems to be far too high to be the result of accidental ingestion.
    From field observations and pellet analysis it is obvious that Pied Currawongs do on
    occasion deliberately eat leaves.
    Barbara Howie (pers. comm.) has also observed birds eating leaves. On 31 July 1973 a
    pair of Rainbow Lorikeets Trichoglossus haematodus, were seen feeding on the leaves of
    Long -flower Mistletoe Dendrophthoe vitellina and flocks of the same species fed frequently
    on Apricot Prunus sp. leaves during March and April, 1977.
    Three immature or female Satin Bowerbirds Ptilinorhynchus violaceus were observed
    eating bean leaves on 8 April 1975 and one bird was seen eating the leaves of Wandering
    Jew Tradescantia albiflora on 4 June 1976.
    Although few land birds feed predominately on the green parts of plants, the deliber
    ate feeding on leaves by these three unrelated birds with such different diets makes me
    wonder how widespread, if occasional, is this practice.
    ROBIN BUCHANAN, 19 Ferguson Ave., Thornieigh. -2120.88. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 12 (4)
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