Vol. 13 No. 2-text

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Journal of the
Volume 13, No. 2 December, 1978

ISSN 0311-8150

Registered for Posting as a Periodical Category BTHE N.S.W. FIELD ORNITHOLOGISTS CLUB
COMMITTEE J. Strudwick
E. Hoskin
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 Club (due 1st July each year) are:
Single Member (within Co. of Cumberland) $8.00
Single Member (Country and overseas) $7.00
Family Member $9.00
Junior Member $5.00
All members receive a quarterly newsletter and a copy of the quarterly journal “Australian
Birds”. The price of the journal is $2.00 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, Coonabarabran. 2857SUPPLEMENT TO ‘AUSTRALIAN BIRDS’ – VOL.13, NO.2. DECEMBER 1978.
The revised Handlist is coming on, but a bit slower than we first
planned. Copies of the draft list have been circulated, and the
comments made by the reviewers have been noted. Considerable
rewriting is required, but all distributional data has now been
collected. Beryl Marchant is to be commended for the efficient
and accurate manner in which she typed the draft. Our thanks to
R.Cooper, A.E.F.Rogers, D.Gibson, R.Noske, H.Bell, G.Holmes,
J.Hobbs, E.Hoskin, D.Barton and J.Forshaw who commented on the
draft. In the next Newsletter members will be advised of the
pre -publication price and a tear -off portion will be available to
enable people to place their orders.
A number of people have offered pen and ink (black and white)
sketches with which to illustrate the list. We would be happy to
hear from anyone else who would have suitable small sketches that
could be used in the book. Doug Gibson drew the maps and we were
grateful for his efforts, as well as for those people who offered
assistance for this purpose.
Finally, we respectfully ask birdwatchers in New South Wales not
to find any new species until the list is published otherwise it
will upset the numbering in the book!
P.R.McGILL and A.K.MORRIS.Volume 13, No. 2 December, 1978
A number of errors occurred in my article “Birds of the Cobar Region, New South
Wales” 1978 Aust. Birds 12:61 and’ the following corrections are therefore made:
Page 63 line 6 should read – “Intensity of coverage was not uniform in this area and
can best be illustrated by figure …”
Page 66 in the Residential Status List, several lines were moved to the left to make the
meaning obscure, viz. line 3 “other” means “Other summer visitors”; line 6 “from area in
winter” means “Partial migrants from area in winter”; line 9 “Mostly summer” means
“Nomads mostly summer”.
The References cited at the end of the text (page 88) appeared to be those for the
following article instead of the Cobar article. As well as being misplaced the References
had an error, viz.:
Schrader, N. W., 1977 Letter -winged Kites at Parkes, N.S.W., Aust. Birds 12:15.
Appendix 1 which gives the scientific name of plants mentioned in the text way
omitted from the article and hence is appended at the end of this note.
The following species were omitted in error from the systematic list:
White -eyed Duck Aytha australia. Moderately common nomad.
Blue -faced Honeyeater Entomyzon cyanotis. 18%. Moderately common, particularly iri
timber and near water.26 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (13) 2
Since writing the article the following species has been added to the list:
Brolga Grus rubincundus. Two birds at White Tank, Marwarre, 9 km N. N.E. of Merry –
lands H.S. at least from 4 to 21 October, 1978. (N. Coombes pers. comm.).
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus. Male in grassy area by creek near Mt. Merre, 24
February, 1976 (J. Ford pers. comm.).
32 Brennan Street, Hackett, A. C.T. 2602
a. Trees and Shrubs
Acacia aneura Mulga
Acacia brachystachya Umbrella mulga
Acacia doratexylon Currawong
Acacia excelsa Ironwood
Acacia hornalophylla Yarran
Acacia tetragonophylla Dead Finish
Apophyllum anomalum Warrior -bush
Atalaya hemiglauca White wood
Brachychiton populneum Kurrajong
Callitris columellaris White Cypress Pine
Canthium oleifolium Wild Lemon
Capparis mitchelli Wild orange
Cassia eremophila Punty bush
Casuarina cambagei Belah
Dodonaea vista Broad-leaved Hopbush
Eremophila longifolia Emu Bush
Eremophila mitchelli Budda
Eremophila sturtii Turpentine
Eucalyptus dumosa Congoo Mallee
Eucalyptus intertexta Red Box
Eucalyptus morrisii Grey Mallee
Eucalyptus populnea Bimble Box
Flindersia maculosa Lepard Wood
Fusanus acuminatus Quandong
Geijera parviflora Wilga
Grevillia strata Beef Wood
Hakea leucopbera Needle Wood
Heterodendrom oleifolium Rose Bush
Pittosporum phillyraeoides Wild Apricot
Rhagodia spinescens False Saltbush
b. Grasses
Aristida are naria Feather Grass
Aristida jerichoensis Wire Grass
Bassia birchii Galvanised Burr
Bassia uniflora Copper Burr
Chloris acicularis Windmill grass
Danothia caespitosa Wallaby grass
Stipa variablis Corkscrew grass
Xanthium pungens Noogoora Burr (introduced)December, 1978 27
Ingram (1977) has drawn attention to the “unique” opportunity presented by the
Interim List of Australian Songbirds (Schodde 1975), in which the “Ornithological masses”
can comment on a proposed checklist. do not, however, share his optimism as the Interim
List has already been adopted by the R.A.O.U. and the Australian Bird -Banding Scheme,
and was followed in the Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds (Frith, 1976),
despite considerable opposition (for example, Chisholm 1976; Disney 1976; McGill 1976).
As the bulk of critical remarks concerning the list have dealt with changes in vernacular
names (Cole 1976; Glover 1976; Sedgwick 1976; Cooper et al 1977), shall confine my
comments to some of the taxonomic changes at the generic and specific level. In this
paper I examine the evidence cited in relation to such changes and question the
supposition of Glover (1976) that “there have been few controversial decisions (in the
scientific nomenclature adopted by the list)”.
Schodde has attempted to eliminate many monotypic genera, although reasons for this
approach are not clearly established. No consistent set of criteria has been used to confer
congenerity and in many cases few characters have been used. Pteropodocys (Ground
Cuckoo -Shrike) has been lumped with Coracina merely on the grounds that “it is closer to
that genus than to any other” (Schodde 1975:7). Similarly, Lacustroica (Grey Honeyeater)
is included in Conopophila, “because it is evidently more closely allied to that genus than to
any other; their eggs are identical and their bills similar” (Schodde 1975:19). However, the
bills of honeyeaters from many genera are “similar”, and if eggs are important, the White –
throated and Little Treecreepers Climacteris Ieucophaea deserve separation from the rest of
their aenus.
By contrast, Schodde retained monotypic Trichodere (White -streaked Honeyeater) and
Grantiella (Painted Honeyeater) apparently on the basis of distinctive eggs and plumage.
coloration (Schodde 1975:18). As in the case of Lacustroica only two generic criteria are
given, of which the latter is doubtfully reliable (see for example discussion of flycatchers;
Schodde and McKean 1976:535). Obviously, plumage differences were considered
unimportant in the case of Lacustroica.
Three examples of generic change will now be discussed in detail.
Mangrove Robin
Schodde has united this species, formerly in the monotypic genus Peneoenanthe, with
Eopsaltria (yellow robins) because it seemed closest to this genus “in juvenile plumages,
calls and nests” (Schodde 1975:7). No supportive evidence is given and the only
reference cited is Storr (1973), which is a bird list and does not attempt to explain
nomenclatural changes.
What of the stated similarities between this robin and the yellow robins? Galbraith (in
Hall 1974) described the juvenile plumage of the Mangrove as unmarked, except for buff
terminal spots on the upper wing coverts and secondaries. This is quite different from the
white -streaked upperparts of the juvenile Eastern Yellow Robin Eopsaltria australis (Wilson
in Frith 1969; Lane 1976). On a recent visit to Cape York noted at least three separate
calls of the Mangrove Robin, none of which reminded me of the latter species (with which
am well acquainted). One of the calls was like the rasping notes given by Myiagra
flycatchers. In the literature, reference is often given to its “musical song” (for example,
Macdonald 1973; Slater 1974) a call clearly absent or at least undescribed in E. australis.
The remaining criterion of nests is of doubtful value as Keast (1958) stated that all the
robins have “a generalised cup -shaped nest”.
Schodde’s reasons for lumping Peneoehanthe with Eopsaltria are less than satisfying,
particularly when he stated elsewhere that “concensus of current opinion leaves it in
Poecilodryas” (Schodde and McKean 1976:534). He has ignored the advice of Keast
(1958), who, in his detailed revision of the flycatchers, says:
“Its characteristics of a long, strong bill and prominent rictal bristles, rounded tail, and
absence of wing -bar, are such that it is surprising its distinctiveness … has not been
more widely stressed … The Mangrove Robin is without close relatives … there is no
alternative but to place it in a monotypic genus (Peneoenanthe)” (Keast 1958:78).
Field -Warblers
Chisholm (1976) described the merging of Chthonicola (Speckled Warbler), Hylacola
(Heath-Wrns), Calamanthus (Field -Wrens) and Pyrrholaemus (Redthroat) with Sericornis
(Scrub -Wrens) as “an absurb example of lumping” (see also McGill 1976). Differences
between the first four genera in “breast and forehead markings, tarsal scutellation,
frequency of tail cocking, and degrees of out -of -breeding flocking” are considered “trivial”
(Schodde and McKean 1976:532), as presumably are “disparities in epigamic displays”
(Ford in Schodde 1975), unstreaked underparts in Pyrrholaemus (Schodde 1975:12), and a
different bill shape in Chthonicola (Schodde and McKean 1976). In their description of
three distinct patterns of sexual dimorphism (some hitherto undescribed in the literature).
Schodde and McKean (1976) have highlighted differences between these genera, more so
than similarities! “Furtive, solitary behaviour” (Schodde 1975:12) hardly describes the
Speckled Warbler, a species which is usually confiding and easily observed, commonly
seen in groups of four or more individuals (McGill 1970; pers. obs.) and a co-operative
breeder (Rowley 1976).
Yet even if we accept that these four genera are closely related, what evidence exists
to suggest they are scrub -wrens? The sole reason Schodde gives for lumping these two
groups is that one of the genera (Hylacola) closely resembles Sericornis frontatus
maculatus (Spotted Scrub -Wren) in its pattern of plumage. Having broadened Sericornis to
include Hylacola Schodde feels the other three genera “must also be taken in” (Schodde
1975:12). Differences in calls, nest -sites (arboreal in most scrub -wrens), eggs (typically
pale, freckled darker in Sericornis), and pattern of plumage (unstreaked in the majority of
Sericornis) are apparently insignificant in this case.
Black, Banded and Pied Honeyeaters
Schodde has transferred Myzomela (sometimes Cissomela) pectoralis (Banded
Honeyeater) and M. nigra (Black Honeyeater) to Certhionyx (Pied Honeyeater) because of
similarities in plumage, eggs and tongue shape. In reference to the first of these criteria,
Schodde (1975:19) states “That these sexually dimorphic species (The Banded and the
Black) … are unrelated to Myzomela is indicated most obviously by the lack of
. . .
iridescent red in males”. However, the Banded is not obviously sexually dimorphic (Colston
in Hall 1974). Moreover, red is completely lacking in some other myzomelas found outside
Australia and is only faint in the monomorphic Dusky Honeyeater M. obscura.
The second criterion is questionable as some texts (for example, Officer 1964; Cayley
1966; Macdonald 1973) imply that the eggs of the Banded Honeyeater are not spotted,December, 1978 29
while those of the other two species are spotted. According to Frith (1977), however, the
eggs of all three species are dissimilar. Of the final criterion, Schodde mentions that the
furcations at the tongue -tips of Banded and Black Honeyeaters are meliphagine, and not
myzomeline, in proportion. The situation in the Pied is not clearly stated. However,
Schodde and McKean (1976:538) admit that there is some difference between the Banded
and the Black in the depth of the median furcation of the tongue. Schodde and Mason
(1975:17) advise that “there is … so much individual ‘variation in the tongue in species of
honeyeaters that structure can be used only with ciution as a criterion of taxonomic
Schodde and McKean (1976:537) also mention that the Black and Banded differ
from other myzomelas in their long wings with very short first primary, a character
which reflects differing degrees of nomadism. However, the wing of the banded is
proportionately even shorter than that of the Scarlet Honeyeater M. sanguinolenta (Keast
1968). In addition, its second primary is noticeably shorter than the third, whereas in the
Black it is not (see Keast 1968, plate opposite p. 159).
The Black and Banded Honeyeaters differ from the Pied in at least three characters,
the most obvious of which is size. They both have a sweet, chattering or tinkling song
(Officer 1964; Frith 1977 for Banded; Ford in prep. for Black), which has been likened to
that made by the Scarlet Honeyeater (R. M. Cooper, H.A. Ford, pers. comm.). By contrast,
the Pied’s call is usually described as a piercing and plaintive whistle, which resembles the
call of the Little Grassbird Megalurus gramineu.§ (Serventy and Whittell 1951; Officer 1964).
Thirdly, the flight of both Black and Banded sometimes resembles that of the chats
Ephthianura (See Frith 1977 for Banded; Ford in prep. for Black). Furthermore,
nest -building is performed by both sexes in the Pied, but only by the female in the Black
and the majority of other honeyeater species (Immelmann 1961). However, a distinctive
tumbling flight display is exhibited by both Pied and Black Honeyeaters (see Serventy and
Whittell 1951 for Pied; Ford in prep. for Black).
Clearly these three honeyeaters require further study before their inter- relationships
and affinities can be assessed.
“Union of parapatric forms that are quite distinct morphologically or ecologically or
both … is often based wholly or partly on the evidence of a few hybrids or intermediates
… such specimens are assumed to represent zones of intergradation (see Short (1969)
for types of hybridisation and their taxonomic implications)” Schodde (1975:2).
Admitting the shortcomings of this approach, Schodde has nevertheless accepted it
wholeheartedly and has dissolved many “species” of the 1926 Checklist frequently on the
basis of a “few hybrids”. Although he refers to Short (1969), the conclusions of the latter
have clearly been disregarded in the compilation of the Interim List. Schodde has confused
the terms “hybrid zone”, and “zone of overlap and hybridisation” (see also Burton and
Martin 1976). Short (1969) defines the former as “as area occupied by a hybrid population
connecting two parental gene -pools. The parental phenotypes together comprise less than
5 per cent of the hybrid zone population”, and as such represent subspecies only.
However, “zones of overlap and hybridisation” are occupied by numerous hybrids and both
parental phenotypes. Such zones are formed by semi -species, which Short regards as
good species.30 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (13) 2
A probable example of the latter phenomenon concerns the stripe -crowned pardalotes
Pardalotus substriatus, ornatus and striatus. A number of parental phenotypes occur in many
areas where two forms or more overlap and hybrids are the exception (Hindwood and Mayr
1946). Such forms should thus be treated as species, using Short’s (1969) definitions.
Schodde, however, has lumped them all.
If Schodde’s blanket interpretation of hybridisation was invoked for all Australian birds,
we might see the lumping of such distinct species as the Crimson and Eastern Rosellas
Platycercus elegans and eximius. Courtney (1967) reported a natural Crimson -Eastern
RoseIla hybrid, which was mated to an Eastern at Swan Vale, near Glen Innes, New South
Wales. Yet no less than 12 hybrid individuals, usually in the company of apparently pure
Crimson Rosellas, have been seen since the publication of that article (J. Courtney, pers.
comm.; pers. obs.). Courtney and recently observed the nesting and successful rearing of
young by two pairs of Crimson and hybrid Rosellas; thus, the hybrids are apparently fertile.
Indeed, interbreeding of closely related yet normally distinct forms is not such an
unusual event and in Australia it has been recorded in the Scarlet and Redcapped Robins
Petroica multicolor and P. goodenovii (Cooper 1971), White-browed and Masked
Wood -Swallows Artamus superciliosus and A. personatus (Boehm 1974), Grey and Pied
Butcherbirds Cracticus torquatus and C. nigrogularis (Hall in Hall 1974), Little and Fairy
Terns Sterna albifrons and S. nereis (Cox and Close 1977), Grey and Brown Goshawks
Accipiter novaehollandiae and A. fasciatus (Cupper 1976), Spotted and Yellow-rumped
Pardalotes Pardalotus punctatus and P. xanthopygus (S. Parker in lift.), and Cinnamon and
Chestnut Quail -Thrushes Cinclosoma cinnamomeum and C. castanotus (Ford 1974, 1976).
Naturally, the offspring produced in some circumstances may be sterile or fail to reach
sexual maturity and in such cases, hybridism would generally be considered insignificant. It
may be useful to look at some examples of species -lumping in the Interim List, and the
evidence – the frequency of hybridisation – on which they are based.
Quail -thrushes
Ford (in Schodde 1975) has lumped the Chestnut -breasted Quail -thrush Cinclosoma
castaneothorax with the Cinnamon C. cinnamomeum, despite their “many differences in
morphology and ecology” (Ford 1976:551). The evidence is two presumed hybrid
specimens collected in the Beale Range in south-western Queensland (see Ford 1974).
This is later interpreted in the following way: “Hybridisation between these rufous -breasted
forms occurs in south-western Queensland … and presumably wherever their habitats are
contiguous” (Ford 1976:548). Yet Ford did not find any more hybrids despite intensive
sampling in that region (see Ford 1974:83). Indeed, parental phenotypes of each form were
found only two km west and 10 km east of the hybrid locality, respectively. These forms
must, therefore, represent true species.
Interestingly, Ford (1974, 1976) has also obtained four hybrids between the Chestnut
and Cinnamon Quail -thrushes C. castanotum clarum and C. cinnamomeum marginatum, and
reported two or three mixed pairs. These forms, however, were retained as species
apparently because they interbreed “only occasionally” (Ford 1976:551). Ford’s
inconsistency is again illustrated by his two interpretations of paler -plumaged
Chestnut-breasteds in the western parts of its range. First he suggests that this is due to
“intrusion of cinnamomeum genes (Ford 1976:548), but later he attributes this colour
change to clinal variation (p. 552). There is nor real evidence for his “extensive”
introgression (p. 548), and indeed Ford later admits that “introgression (between these
two forms) is probably impeded because each parental gene -pool confers better adaptions
to its particular environment” (pp. 551-2).December, 1978
Fairy -Wrens
Parker in Schodde (1975) treated the Black -backed, Turquoise and Splendid Wrens
Malurus malanotus, callainus and splendens as conspecific on the basis of ten hybrids
between the last two forms see Ford 1975). However, hybrids between the Turquoise and
Black -backed Wrens have yet to be found (Reid et al 1977). Storr (1973) is cited here,
presumably because he is the only one to have used the recommended name for the
Black -backed.
The Lovely and Lavender -flanked Wrens Malurus amabilis and M. dulcis, distinguished
by their blue -plumaged females, were united by Parker (in Schodde 1975) with the
Variegated and Purple -backed Wrens M. lamberti and M. assimilis, which have brown
females. This is based upon three possible hybrid females (see Harrison 1972, in Hall
1974), and the probability that they all occupy similarly structured habitats (S. Parker in
litt.). However, there are numerous examples of largely allopatric congeneric Australian
bird species which occupy similar habitats. The Blue -breasted and Purple -backed Wrens
M. pulcherrimus and M. assimilis, for instance, are both known to inhabit mallee
communities (see Ford 1966:50, 1969).
Macdonald (1969b; in Hall 1974) clearly stated that there is no evidence of contact or
hybridisation between the Striated and White -winged Sittellas Neositta striata and N.
leucoptera, though Schodde (1975:16) discards this observation as “sketchy” and
inconclusive. It is, however, quite likely that these forms “are adjacent end products of a
long circular cline of intergraded forms which, if they do come into contact, may behave as
true species. This situation is already well-known elsewhere” (Macdonald 1969b:171).
Moreover, there is very little published information on the plumage coloration of young
sittellas. Hando (1970) suggested that immature White -headed Sittellas N. leucocephala
possess dark head colouring, but the immature Orange -winged N. chrysoptera is noticeably
paler on the head than the adult (Slater 1974; pers. obs.). This factor could lead to some
confusion in areas where these two forms approach each other.
Stripe -crowned pardalotes
Schodde had relegated the Black -headed Pardalote Pardalotus melanocephalus and
stripe -crowned pardalotes P. substriatus, ornatus and striatus, to subspecific status.
Contrary to his suggestion, however, there is little published evidence to suggest that the
Black -headed interbreeds with the Eastern Striated P. ornatus. One of the references cited
in this context, Disney et al. (1974), does not even mention the possibility. Macdonald
(1969a)and Cowles in Hall (1974) report one possible case of a mixed pair of these
species but the former considered that they do not hybridise.
Bell (1959) noted that the Black -headed was predominantly a winter breeder and “of
distinctly different nesting habits to the Red -tipped species” (Bell 1959:135), in the
Brisbane area. This is also the case in north -coastal New South Wales where it breeds
from February to October (G. Holmes, pers. comm.). Differences between the breeding
seasons of these two species could present a temporal barrier to hybridisation. The
predominant call of the Black -headed in this region is quite distinct from any of the
stripe -crowned species (tape- recordings in possession of G. Holmes). Striated and
Eastern Striated Pardalotes also differ in their main call (Cooper 1961; Slater 1974; pers.
obs.; tape -recordings in possession of G. Holmes). Such differences in calls may act as a32 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (13) 2
pre -mating isolation mechanism in zones of contact and overlap. Indeed, the two forms of
Wedgebill, Psophodes cristatus and P. occidentalis were separated primarily on the basis of
distinct calls (see Ford and Parker 1973).
These pardalotes are most likely still in the process of attaining full genetical and
reproductive isolation. The complexity of the situation is exemplified by the finding of an
apparently pure Eastern Striated in a flock of Black -headed x Striated Pardalotes in
south-western Queensland (Macdonald 1969a). Indeed, whilst many hybrids between
melanocephalus and substriatus have been collected, these two forms have yet to be found
nesting together (Disney et al. 1974).
In conclusion, Schodde’s (1975:22) remark that “there can be little doubt that striatus,
ornatus and substriatus are conspecific” is unjustifiable confident.
Little Treecreepers
Schodde was “constrained” to treat the Little and White -throated Treecreepers as
separate species on the basis of four characters possessed by the former. The first two,
small size and rainforest habitat, are of doubtful significance since the White -throated
Climacteris leucophaea also inhabits rainforest and according to Bergmann’s Rule (Van
Tyne and Berger 1971) a decrease in size is to be expected in a northern isolate (see for
example Willie Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys in Keast 1958:84).
According to Schodde (1975:16), the Little C./. minor has ”somewhat dissimilar
vocalisations” but there is no cited evidence to substantiate his claims. have identified at
least nine separate calls in the White -throated during a long-term study (Noske 1976 and
unpublished data) and on brief visits to the Atherton Tableland, Queensland, have noted
two of the calls of the Little to be identical to two of those of the former. Another call of the
Little is not identical but clearly analagous to the White-throated’s call (tape -recordings in
possession of myself and R. Swaby).
Finally, Schodde points out differences in ventral coloration between the Little and
White -throated Treecreepers. Contrary to his suggestion, this ventral pattern is not closer
to the Red-browed Treecreeper C. erythorops, as the edges of the ventral feathers are
olive -brown as in the Red-browed. Schodde then sugges-ts that the Little gave rise to both
the White -throated and the Red-browed, but the latter species displays more affinity with
the Brown Treecreeper C. picumnus in some anatomical features (Orenstein 1977 and in
litt.), as well as in egg colour, nest -site calls, juvenile plumage and behaviour (Noske,
unpublished data). Moreover, the Red-browed and Brown Treecreepers are both
gregarious, and display a co-operative breeding system (Orenstein in Frith 1977, for
Brown; Noske 1976, and in prep., for Red-browed). This contrasts sharply with the solitary
habits of the White -throated (Noske 1976).
Cooper et al. (1977) found many inconsistencies in vernacular names adopted by the
Interim List. Although in this paper I have examined only a few of the changes in scientific
nomenclature it is readily apparent that the list shows no consistency in the types ann
number of criteria used in assessing relationships.
One of the most frequently cited references in the list, Schodde and McKean (1976),
does not present any quantitative data and in many cases barely expands upon the
“evidence” mentioned in the list. References cited to support the merging of LacustroicaDecember, 1978
with Conopophila are Colston in Hall (1974) and Salomonsen in Peters i 1967) choice of
genera for the Painted Honeyeater (Conophophila), White -streaked Honeyeater (Lichmera
and Banded Honeyeater (Cissomela). Similarly, Colston in Hall (1974) is not followed in his
use of Myzomela for both Black and Banded Honeyeaters, and Conopophila for the Painted.
Such references have been used only where Schodde sees fit.
It is obvious from the Interim List that there are very large gaps in our knowledge of
Australian passerines. However, this fact does not excuse the sweeping conclusions
evident in this list. Changes should only be made when information from comprehensive
studies becomes available. I hope that birdwatchers have realised the desperate need for
more bird -watching. We require the collection of objective, quantitative data on foraging
behaviour, social organisation, calls (sonograms), and many other aspects of behaviour
and ecology. Apart from Watter’s (1968) as yet unpublished work, know of no serious
attempt to apply numerical taxonomy to Australian birds. In this cI ase, information on
plumages, detailed morphology and anatomy, ecology, ethology, vocalisations, nest. eggs.
physiology and biochemistry are all included.
In view of the criticisms this Interim List has received one wonders why the R.A.O.U.
accepted its recommendations so rapidly and unequivocally. Certainly, the R.A.O.U. Atlas
Scheme will suffer, first through the loss of information on those species which are
currently regarded as subspecies, as many atlassers will not bother to determine the form
observed. Secondly, “beginners” must be confused by the difference in nomenclature
between Slater’s field guides, and that used in the scheme.
In conclusion, I urge the editors of Australia’s various state journals to follow “An Index
of Australian Bird Names” (C.S.I.R.O. 1969), in preference to this unscientific Interim List.
I wish to thank Dick Cooper, Hugh Ford, Glenn Holmes and Arnold McGill for
encouragement and for comments on an earlier draft of this paper. am also very grateful
to Shane Parker, who gave many helpful comments. I
Bell, H. L., 1959. Some observations of the Black -headed Pardalote on the Brisbane Area.
Emu 59:131-136.
Boehm, E. F., 1974. Hybridism in wood -swallows. S. Aust. Orn. 26:167.
Burton, T. C. and Martin, A. A., 1976. Analysis of hybridization between Black -backed and
White -backed Magpies in south-eastern Australia. Emu 76:30-36.
Cayley, N. W., 1966. What Bird is That? 4th ed. Sydney: Angus and Robinson Ltd.
Chisholm, A. H., 1976. Interim List of Australian Songbirds (comment). RAOU Newsletter
Cole, L. R., 1976. Checklist comment. RAOU Newsletter 29:3.
Cooper, R. M., Rogers, A. and Dibley, M., 1977. An assessment of the Interim List of
Australian Songbirds: Passerines by R. Schodde, 1975. Unpublished manuscript (39
pp): N.S.W. Field Ornithologists Club.
Cooper. R. P.. 1961. Field notes on the nesting of the Red -tipped Pardalotes. Emu 61:1-6.

  1. Robin hybridization. Aust. Birdwatcher 4:7-15.
    Courtney, J., 1967. Observations on hybridism among Rosellas in the natural state. Emu
    67:152-154.34 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (13) 2
    Cox, J. B. and Close, D. H., 1977. Interbreeding of Little and Fairy Terns. Emu 77:28-32.
    Cupper, J., 1976. Interbreeding of Brown Goshawk and White Goshawk. Aust. Birdwatcher
    C.S.I.R.O., 1969. An Index of Australian Bird Names. Dvn. Wildl. Res. Tech. Paper No. 20.
    Disney, H. J. de S., 1976. Interim List of Australian Songbirds. R. Schodde (comments by
    members). RAOU Newsletter 27:3.
    and others. 1974. Bird in the Hand. Sydney. Bird Banders Assoc. Aust.
    Ford, H. A., 1978. The Black Honeyeater: Nomad or Migrant? S. Aust. Orn. 27:263-269.
    Ford, J. R., 1966. Taxonomy and variation of the Chestnut -shouldered Wrens of Western
    Australia. Emu 66:47-57.
  2. The range limits of the Blue- breasted Wren in Western Australia. Emu
  3. Taxonomic significance of some hybrid and aberrant -plumaged Quail -thrushes.
    Emu 74:80-90.
  4. Hybridization of Splendid and Turquoise Wrens. Emu 75:153-154.
  5. Systematics and speciation in the Quail -thrushes of Australia and New Guinea.
    Proc. XVI Int. Orn. Congr.: 542-556.
    and Parker, S. A., 1973. A second species of Wedge -bill? Emu 73:113-118.
    Frith, H. J. (ed), 1969. Birds of the Australian High Country. Sydney: Reed.
    (ed), 1976. Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds. Sydney: Reader’s
    Digest Services Pty. Ltd.
    Glover, B., 1976. Interim List of Australian Songbirds: Passerines (book review). S. Aust.
    Orn. 27:113-116.
    Hall, B. P. (ed), 1974. Birds of the Harold Hall Australian Expeditions (1962-70). London:
    Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History).
    Hando, R., 1970. White -headed Sittella: a plumage and behavioural note. Sunbird 1:26-27.
    Harrison, C. J. 0., 1972. A re-examination of the Chestnut -shouldered Wren complex of
    Australia. Bull. Br. Mus. Nat. Hist. (Zool.) 21:313-328.
    Hindwood, K. A. and Mayr, E., 1946. A revision of the Stripe -crowned Pardalotes. Emu
    Immelmann, K., 1961. Beitrage zur Biologie and Ethologie australischer Honigfresser
    (Meliphagidae). J. Orn., Lpz. 102:164-207.
    Ingram, G. J., 1977. Avian systematics in Australia. Sunbird 8:25-36.
    Keast, J. A., 1958. Variation and speciation in the Australian Flycatchers. Rec. Aust. Mus.
  6. Seasonal movements in the Australian Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae) and their
    ecological significance. Emu 67:159-209.
    Lane, S. G., 1976. Results from banding Southern Yellow Robins. Aust. Bird -Bander
    Macdonald, J. D., 1969a. Hybridization in Pardalotus. Emu 69:41-44.
    1969b. Notes on the taxonomy of Neositta. Emu 69: 169-174.
  7. Birds of Australia. Sydney: Reed.
    McGill, A. R., 1970. Australian Warblers. Melbourne: Bird Observers Club.
  8. Interim List of Australian Songbirds – Passerines (review). Aust. Bird Bander
    Noske, R., 1976. Niche differentiation and behaviour in three Sympatric Treecreepers.
    In prep. Co-operative breeding in Australian Tree -creepers.
    Officer, H. R., 1964. Australian Honeyeaters. Melbourne: Bird Observers Club.
    Orenstein, R. I., 1977. Morphological adaptations for bark foraging in the Australian Tree –
    creepers (Ayes: Climacteridae). Ph.D. Thesis. Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.December, 1978 35
    Peters, J. L., 1967. Checklist of Birds of the World, XII. Cambridge, Mass.: Mus. Comp. Zool.
    Reid, N., Paton, J. B. and Paton. D. C., 1977. Critical range -limits of the Turquoise and
    Black -backed Wrens in S.A. S.Aust. Orn. 27:216-221.
    Rowley, I., 1976. Co-operative breeding in Australian birds. Proc. XVI Int. Orn Congr.:
    Schodde, R., 1975. Interim List of Australian Songbirds. Passerines. Melbourne:RAOU.
    and Mason, I. J., 1975. Occurrence, nesting and affinities of the White -throated
    Grass- Wren Amytornis woodwardi and White -lined Honeyeater Meliphaga albilineata. Emu
    and McKean, J. L., 1976. The relationships of some monotypic genera of Australian
    oscines. Proc. XVI Int. Orn. Congr.: 530-541.
    Sedgwick, E. H., 1976. Vernacular Names. RAOU Newsletter 27:3.
    Serventy, D. L. and Whittell, H. M., 1951. Birds of Western Australia. 2nd ed. Perth: Lamb
    Short, L. L., 1969. Taxonomic aspects of avian hybridization. Auk 86:84-105.
    Slater, P., 1974. A Field Guide to Australian Birds. Passerines. Adelaide: Rigby.
    Storr, G. M., 1973. List of Queensland Birds. Spec. Pubis. West. Aust. Mus. No. 5 Govt.
    Printer, Western Australia.
    Van Tyne, J. and Berger, A. J., 1971. Fundamentals of Ornithology. New York: Dover Pubis.
    Watters, P. A., 1968. An integrated numerical and orthodox approach to the taxonomy of
    the order Psittaciformes. Ph.D. Thesis. Univ. of New England, Armidale, N.S.W.
    R. NOSKE, Zoology Department, University of New England, Armidale, N.S.W. 2351.
    Since the preparation of this manuscript, Keast (1978 Emu 78:20-24) has also
    disagreed with the inclusion of Pyrrholaemus and Calamanthus in Sericornis, and has
    shown (1978 Emu 78:110-125) that Sericornis, as previously defined, forms a natural and
    fairly well -delineated assemblage of forest -inhabiting species. Ford (1978 Emu 78:30) has
    also disputed Parker’s (in Schodde 1975) decision to combine Malurus dulcis and
    M. amabilis with M. lamberti, but this appears to be based primarily on personal preference
    rather than any conclusive evidence.36 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (13) 2
    Occurrences of the Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii near Ballina on the far north coast of
    N.S.W. in 1973 and 1976 are reported. All sightings were made at Flat Rock (also known
    as Sand Point), a coastal rock platform situated about 4 km north of the entrance to the
    Richmond River. Flat Rock is regularly used as a loafing area by terns frequenting adjacent
    seas and nearby estuary. Since 1971 the writers have made frequent checks of the area.
    These visits, although not regular, probably averaged twice per week. To date (March
    1978) three apparently separate occurrences of the Roseate Tern have been recorded.
    (1) 16 January, 1973: G.C.F. identified a Roseate Tern among a resting assemblage
    of terns that included Common Terns S. hirundo on Flat Rock The bird was located again
    the following day by G.F.C. and W.D.W. and on subsequent visits. It remained around Flat
    Rock for at least five days.
    The bird was considered to be an adult on breeding plumage. Although a full field
    description was not taken at the time, its outstanding features were noted down in
    comparison with S. hirundo and considered diagnostic.
    Full black cap: upper surface otherwise very pale: long tail streamers; bicoloured bill
    with base red and remainder black; legs bright red; underparts white (no pink flush being
    Call: a distinctive sparrow-like chirrup (interpreted as “Philip”) uttered with head and
    bill raised.
    Flight: faster, shallower wing beats (resembling that of Little Tern S. albifrons)
    allowing it to be picked out at first sighting when out to sea.
    (2) 36 August, 1976: D.G.G. visited Flat Rock at high tide (1115 hrs.) following
    information that a White -fronted Tern S. striata was present. An assemblage of terns
    comprising mainly Crested Terns S. bergii, about 20 Common Terns, several Little Terns
    and Gull -billed Terns Gelochelidon nilotica and a solitary White -fronted Tern were found.
    Whilst comparing the White -fronted Tern, which was approaching full breeding
    plumage, with several of the Common Terns (all of which were in non -breeding plumage)
    standing close by, the observer noticed a distinct pink tinge to the breast of the one
    nearest. This individual had been resting with its head concealed; but when alerted it
    lifted its head, revealing a full black cap from bill to nape. It was immediately recognised
    that this bird was not a Common Tern and its pinkish underparts prompted suspicion of a
    Roseate Tern.
    Over the next 30 minutes the bird was scrutinised closely. It remained hunched up for
    most of this time and was reluctant to flush, allowing approach to within 10 m. When it did
    fly it moved only about 10 m before settling again.December, 1978 37
    The observer then left, returning with W.D.W. at 1315 hrs. The tern was soon
    located again but almost immediately flew off to join a number of Common Terns feeding
    100-150 m off shore. It fed for about 15 minutes before returning to the rock platform
    where it was again viewed at close quarters for a further 15 minutes.
    The following description was built up during the two periods described and added to
    during a further 30 minutes’ observation early the following afternoon. The bird was
    examined for much of the time from as close as 5 m using X10 and X8 binoculars.
    Conditions on both days were fine, mild with a slight breeze and occasional light cloud.
    Direct comparisons were made with S. striata and S. hirundo, both of which were present
    Size: much smaller than striata; at rest approximately the same size as hirundo
    (marginally smaller than some) but in flight appeared noticeably slighter and more slender
    in overall body shape and size.
    Upperparts: black cap to head extending from bill to nape in line passing immediately
    below eye; a small amount of white flecking on forehead visible at close quarters from
    front; black on head dull and lacking sheen of striata and bergii (in breeding plumage)
    suggesting feathers worn. Back and upper surface of wings pale grey though not as light
    as striata; in flight noticeably paler and more uniform than hirundo; slight greyish shoulder
    smudge, visible when perched, though less prominent than in hirundo (absent in striata);
    prolonged examination from close range (5 m; rear, side views) showed the outer vane at
    the ends of the longest primaries on both wings to be worn back to the whitish shaft
    exposing them at the tips; tail deeply forked with streamers white, very long and at rest
    projecting (estimated 20 mm) beyond tips of wings (as in striata but not in hirundo);
    streamers noticeably very long in flight compared with hirundo, flexing when hovering,
    wheeling and diving.
    Bill: black, longer and more pointed than hirundo.
    Underparts: white with distinct pink flush on neck, breast and abdomen visible at
    close range and in direct sunlight; apparently less readily discernible in cloudy bright
    conditions: the intensity of the pinkness seemed to be increased when the feathers were
    ruffled as the bird rested in a hunched posture.
    Legs: dull, dark reddish.
    Flight: noticeably faster wing beats than hirundo; this feature together with its slimmer
    build, longer tail streamers and finer, more pointed profile of the head produced by the full
    black cap to bill, enabled the bird to be readily picked out among feeding hirundo up to
    100 m off shore.
    The bird remained around Flat Rock for at least ten days during which it was seen
    independently by each of the writers. It was also photographed by W.D.W. and R. Brown
    though results were only partially successful. On 8 September among the Common Terns
    present were several retaining almost full breeding plumage. These individuals were
    readily separable by their greyer backs and duskier underparts. The Roseate Tern was
    not seen again until 4 October when what was probably the same individual was
    observed by W.D.W. and D.G.G. On this last occasion noticeably more white flecking was
    visible on the forehead.
    (3) 15 November, 1976: A Roseate Tern in breeding plumage seen at Flat Rock by
    W.D.W. was considered to be a different individual from that present in previous months38 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (13) 2
    on the basis of the condition of its plumage. It differed from the bird described above (2)
    in the following ways.
    (i) sleek full black cap with no sign of white flecking on forehead;
    (ii) paler upper surface;
    (iii) legs bright red reminiscent of leg colour of bird seen in 1973 (1, above);
    (iv) pink flush extended unevenly over neck and breast.
    The bird rested apart from a cluster of Common Terns preening for about ten minutes
    before suddenly flying off directly out to sea.
    The Roseate Tern is a northern Australian breeding species. In the east off Queens-
    land its breeding range extends south as far as the Capricorn and Bunker Groups though
    it ranges much further south in Western Australia (Serventy et al 1971). There appears to
    be little published information on its movements and distribution in northern and eastern
    Australia outside the breeding season. Storr (1973) gives its status in Queensland as:
    “Uncommon north of 12’S; scarce further south”. It is seldom recorded along the south-
    eastern Queensland coast (Elks 1966, C. Corben in litt) and does not appear to have
    been previously recorded in N.S.W. (Rogers 1977). The isolated occurrences near Ballina,
    N.S.W., described herein therefore appear to be the most southerly yet reported in
    eastern Australia.
    Elks, R., 1966. Field List of Birds of Queensland’s South -East Corner. Brisbane: The
    Rogers, A. E. F. (Ed), 1977. N.S. W. Bird Report for 1976. Aust. Birds 11:81-104.
    Serventy, D. L., Serventy, V. and Warham, J., 1971. The handbook of Australian Seabirds.
    Sydney: Reed.
    Storr, G. M., 1973. List of Queensland Birds. Spec. Pubis. West. Aust. Mus. 5:1-77.
    D. G. GOSPER, 15 Arthur Street. Casino, N.S.W. 2470
    W. D. WATSON, Bonview Street, Ballina, N.S.W. 2478
    G. C. FRASER, Wardell Road, Alstonville, N.S.W. 2480
    J. W. WAUGH
    The Yellow Chat Ephthianura crocea has been recorded from northern and north-
    eastern subcoastal districts and from south-western Queensland as stated by Ford and
    Parker (1972 Emu 74:189-190).
    On 25 January 1978 while travelling from Borroloola to the Barkly Highway saw the
    Yellow Chat 2 km north of No. 6 Hinkler Bore, between Brunette Downs and Alroy Downs,
    in the ten-minute block 19’05S 136’05E, a locality not given by Ford and Parker (loc. city.
    The first bird was flushed with a group of Singing Bushlark Mirafra javanica from a wideDecember, 1978 39
    roadside drain. On stopping flushed a pair of the birds from the same drain and followed
    them for twenty minutes.
    The area is treeless, black -soil plain and the drain contained shallow water and
    exposed mud. The sides of the drain and nearby depressions were covered in seeding
    sedge about 300 mm high and the birds kept to this, seldom flying to the surrounding
    The male was more difficult to observe than the female because when flushed it
    usually dropped quickly to the ground after a flight of 20 to 30 m whereas the female
    often perched on the stems of the sedge. If the female was separated from the male it
    gave a repeated three -note call and then flew to where the male had landed. Both birds
    fed on the ground and occasionally while clinging to seed heads. Both call and habitat
    were similar to those reported by Ford and Parker (loc. city.
    The male had a fine dark line from eye to bill, brilliant yellow underparts and rump, an
    orange tinge to the yellow of the throat, and on the breast a broad dark band with
    rounded ends. The female had the male’s brilliant yellow rump, grey -brown wings with
    white edges to the feathers, and dark -centred tail with white edges and tip, but its breast
    was pale yellow, the bill brownish rather than black, and the band missing.
    The nearest reported sighting to this one is on the banks of the Nicholson River, as
    stated by Jackson (1907 Egg Collecting & Birdlife in Australia), the headwaters of which
    are about 130 km to the north-east.
    wish to thank S. A. Parker for his comments on my Unusual Record Report and the
    original draft of this report and P. Paton for her provision of the references used.
    J. W. WAUGH, 33 Cecil Street, Caringbah, N.S.W. 2229
    J. D. GIBSON
    Though not unknown in other parts of the world, the occurrence of the Crested Grebe
    Podiceps cristatus in coastal waters does not seem to have been previously recorded for
    Australia except in the immediate vicinity of estuaries.
    On 30 July 1978 at c.1100 hours, during an albatross banding excursion, a single
    bird in non -breeding plumage was observed by H. Battam, myself and others about 4 km
    at sea off Bellambi Point near Wollongong, New South Wales. The weather was calm and
    sunny and no unusual conditions had prevailed during the previous week.
    The grebe was tentatively identified at 50 m range where it gave the impression of a
    greyish bird with a pale, slender, stiffly erect neck and small head, swimming rather low in
    the water. At this range it took off and flew northwards about 2 m above the water until
    out of sight. In the air the flight style, white underparts and distinctive upper wing pattern
    put its identity beyond doubt.
    J. D. GIBSON, 10 Treetop Glen, Thirroul, N.S.W. 251540 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (13) 2,tCONTENTS
    B. L. Schmidt Birds of the Cobar Region, N.S.W. Corrections and
    Additions 25
    R. Noske Comments on some of the scientific names used in the
    “Interim List of Australian Songbirds” 27
    D. G. Gosper et al Sighting of the Roseate Tern on the north coast of New
    South Wales 36
    J. W. Waugh A sighting of the Yellow Chat in the Northern Territory 38
    J. D. Gibson Crested Grebe at sea 39
    Registered for Posting as a Periodical -Category B
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