Vol. 18 No. 2-text

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Journal of the
Vol. 18, No. 2 March, 1984

ISSN 0311-8150

Registered by Australia Post Publication No. NBH0790THE N.S.W. FIELD ORNITHOLOGISTS CLUB
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:
Adult Member $10.00
Junior Member (up to 17 yrs) $ 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
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All correspondence should be addressed to the Hon. Secretary and all membership
fees should be sent to the Hon. Treasurer at:
P.O. Box C436, Clarence Street, Sydney. N.S.W. 2000.
Manuscripts should be sent to the Editor at:
Dept. of Ornithology, Australian Museum,
6-8 College Street, Sydney 2000.17
Vol. 18, No. 2 March, 1984
In January 1980, the N.S.W. Field Ornithologists Club initiated a survey to find out which
garden plants are most attractive to birds in New South Wales. Members were asked to fill out
and return a questionnaire published in NSWFOC Newsletter No. 43, detailing locality, plant
and bird species and nature of attraction.
The bulk of the information obtained in this survey was from the area bounded by Gosford
in the north, the Lower Blue Mountains in the west, and Ingleburn in the south (22 of the 26
contributors), and concerned plants which were attractive bcause of the flowers or fruits. These
22 contributors are listed in Table and the information is summarised in Table 2. Plant and
bird species for which only very limited information was obtained are not included.
The remaining four contributors provided detailed notes on some country areas: Inverell
(M. Baldwin), Grafton (G. Clancy), Coonabarabran (A.K. Morris) and Canberra (H.L. Bell). These
letters are summarized in an appendix. English and scientific names of birds follow Morris,

McGill 6- Holmes (1981).18 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (18) 2

R. Bradley, Balgowlah
M. Crawford, Hornsby Heights
E. Eakins, Forestville
B. Howie, Thornleigh
N. Kirby, Winmalee
D. Larkins, Turramurra
J. Miller, Lapstone
M.R. Nearn, Ingleburn
J. Russill, Peakhurst
L. Smith, Longueville
D.S. Stringfellow, Epping
H.D. Williamson, Killara
S. Buchanan, Thornleigh
P. Curling, Maianbar
L. Heywood, Erina Heights
D. Et B. Jenkinson, Eastwood
N. Kirkwood, Mosman
N. Maxwell, Balgowlah
M. Mills, Willoughby
M. Price, Eastwood
K. Smith, St. Ives
P. Smith, Lane Cove
G. Tozer, Arncliffe
Key to Symbols used in Table

  • occurs naturally in the Sydney area
    T – tree, >10m F – feeds on flowers
    t – low tree, 4-1 0m M – feeds on moist or green fruit
    March, 1984 19

Codes for bird species attracted:

A Rainbow Lorikeet

B Australian King -Parrot

C Crimson Rosella

D Eastern Rosella

E Common Koel

F Red Wattlebird

G Little Wattlebird

H Noisy Friarbird

Noisy Miner

J Yellow -faced Honeyeater

K White -eared Honeyeater

L White -plumed Honeyeater

M New Holland Honeyeater

N White-cheeked Honeyeater

O Eastern Spinebill

P Silvereye

Q Olive -backed Oriole

R Satin Bowerbird

S Pied Currawong
Column headed f indicates number of times noted.
** Additional information on flowering and fruiting times and cultivation was obtained from Beadle (1978),
Gowland (1976), Forestry Commission of N.S.W. (1976), Forest Native Nursery (1978), Lord (1964),
Macoboy (1969) and Simpfendorfer (1978).).sr
March, 1984 25
The results of the survey indicate the following garden plants as the most attractive to
birds in the Sydney area. These plants are those which were most often noted, or attracted the
widest range of bird species, or both:
Albizia /ophantha Crested Wattle
Banksia ericifolia Heath Banksia
Banksia serrata Old Man Banksia
Callistemon viminalis Drooping Bottlebrush
Eucalyptus caesia Gungurru
Grevillea Banksii Banks’s Grevillea (both red & white flowered forms).
Grevillea bipinnatifida x banksia “Robyn Gordon”
Mela/euca hypericifolia Red -flowering Paperbark
Cotoneaster anc. Crataegus spp
Eyrthrina indica Indian Coral Tree.
The various species of Cotoneaster and Crataegus are attractive because of their berries,
although some species are more favoured than others. For example, a Crataegus “Smithiana”
shrub at St Ives, Sydney was more favoured by Eastern Rosellas than a Cotoneaster frigidus
shrub growing beside it. In all other plants on the above list the main attraction is the flowers,
although the legumes of the Crested Wattle also attract birds, both when green and when dry.
A wide range of plants was noted in the survey as being attractive to birds, including many
exotic species. The majority of the most favoured species are natives (although of these only
Heath Banksia, Old Man Banksia and Red -flowering Paperbark occur naturally around Sydney),
but the flower of the Indian Coral Tree and the berries of Cotoneaster and Crataegus are also
major food sources.
Several plants were noted by some contributors as having been unsatisfactory, but
whether this failure was related to the individual plants or to the locality is uncertain. It is
noteworthy that Eucalyptus leucoxylon, mentioned by Salter (1969) as an outstanding species
for attracting birds in the Melbourne area, was not listed as a favoured species around Sydney.
However, this species seldom grows well near Sydney, at least in the most eastern suburbs
from which the majority of the contributions to the survey came.
Of the birds, the species most often attracted were the Red Wattlebird and Noisy Miner.
Other commonly attracted species were: Eastern Spinebill, White-cheeked Honeyeater,
Rainbow Lorikeet and Little Wattlebird. Although these all visit a wide range of garden plants,
some differences are apparent. For instance, the Eastern Spinebill seems the most adaptable to
exotic plants and utilizes a greater variety of these than do other birds.26 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (18) 2
Inadequate information was obtained to indicate which plants are the most attractive to
birds in terms of the insect populations they support or the cover they provide. These are
important factors because the majority of Australian bush birds are wholly or partly insectivorous
and it is only a relatively small proportion which feeds on nectar or fruit. This point is discussed
by H.L. Bell (see appendix), who noted that among plant species of similar size, some have a
much greater total leaf surface area than others. These consequently harbour larger insect
populations and provide more cover, hence in turn tend to attract more birds. Notable among
such plants are Eucalyptus cinerea, Argyle Apple and Acacia baileyana, Cootamundra Wattle.
Large- and Small -leaved Privet and Camphor Laurel are included in the tables because
many observers are aware of the use Pied Currawongs make of these exotics as a food source
(Cooper Er Cooper 1981), although the desirability of attracting Pied Currawongs is debatable.
Privet and Camphor Laurel are generally regarded as pests. However, White -headed Pigeons
have been seen feeding on their berries which, as noted by Frith (1977) may prove of some
value in assisting this pigeon to maintain population levels as its natural rainforest habitat
disappears. He further pointed out (1982) that, unlike other fruigivorous pigeons, this species
digests the seed as well as the pericarp.
Several contributors mentioned the presence of tall trees as assisting in attracting birds to
a garden. Most insectivorous birds were recorded from gardens adjacent to large areas of
natural bushland (e.g. J. Miller, N. Kirby, M. Crawford). Tall trees are also used for roosting, as
vantage points from which to reconnoitre the garden, and as resting points for nomads or
migrants. M. Baldwin stressed the availability of water as an attraction. Finally, John Grieve
raised an interesting point: he asked whether the result of our efforts to attract native birds to
our gardens might be to provide prey for cats and small boys.
Beadle, H.L., A.A. Evans and R. Carolin. 1978. Flora of the Sydney Region. Reed: Sydney.
Cooper, C. Er R. Cooper. 1981. Observations on the food sources utilized by Pied Currawongs. Aust. Birds
15: 50-52.
Forestry Commission of NSW. 1976. Trees for New South Wales. Government Printer: Sydney.

  • Fri- th,- H- .J. 1977. Pigeons, in Parks and wildlife 2 (1): 000-000
  1. Pigeons and doves of Australia. Rigby: Adelaide.
    Gowland, P.A. 1976. Trees and shrubs for the Western Region of Sydney. CSIRO Div. of Land Use
    Research, Canberra. Technical Memorandum 76/IF.
    Lord, E.E. 1964. Shrubs and trees for Australian gardens. (fourth edition, revised). Lothian: Melbourne.
    Macoboy, S. 1969. What flower is That? Paul Hamlyn: Sydney.
    Morris, A.K., A.R. McGill 8: G. Holmes. 1981. Handlist of birds in New South Wales. NSW Field
    Ornithologists Club: Sydney.March, 1984 27
    Salter, B. 1969. Australian native gardens and birds. Jacaranda: Brisbane.
    Simpfendorfer, K.J. 1973. An introduction to trees for south-eastern Australia. Inkata Press: Melbourne.
    L. Smith, 94 Emu Plains Road, Mt Riverview, NSW 2774
    D. Larkins, 225 Kissing Point Road, Turramurra, NSW 2074
    J. Pegler, 90 Picnic Point Road, Picnic Point, NSW 2213
    Survey results from four country areas: Inverell, Grafton, Coonabarabran, Canberra.
    A. Inverell, Mrs M. Baldwin, Gilgai via Inverell
    PLANT SPECIES Flowering Used for Used by
    TREES *
    Eucalyptus blakelyi spring food Striated Et Spotted Pardalotes
    Weebill, thornbills
    food Mistletoebird
    Eucalyptus nicholli food Pardalotes
    Banksia sp food Spinebill,
    White -plumed, Yellow -faced,
    Fuscous, Blue -faced Honeyeaters
    Noisy Miners, Noisy Friarbird
    Red Wattlebird
    Casuarina sp spring food Eastern Rosella

Casuarina cunninghamiana King Parrot, Red -winged Parrot

Acacia Cootamundra spring food All insect eaters including
Accacia Black insects thornbills.
nest Crested Pigeon
Camphor Laurel spring food Sittella
nest Red Wattlebird

nest Apostlebird28 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (18) 2

Almond spring food
green nuts parrots
Auracaria sp nest Double -barred Finch, red-browed
Finch, Zebra Finch, Yellow -tailed
Thornbill, House Sparrow
Alyssum spring seeds Red-rumped Parrot
Gazania summer greens Eastern Rosella
Grevillea spp all year food honeyeaters as above

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater

Kunzea parvifolia spring food Striped Honeyeater
case moth. Australian Magpie
nest Red Wattlebird
material Rufos Whistler
Callistemon viminalis spring food Striped Honeyeater
Callistemon salicifolia
Callistemon spp nest Double -barred Finch
Leptospermum sp spring food Insect eaters
Lonicera frarantissima Jul -Aug food Honeyeaters

Lonicera Woodbine spring food Mistletoebird

Lonicera fragrantissima spring food Olive -backed Oriole

Jul -Aug nest Rufous Whistler

Crataegus sp spring food Eastern Rosella, King Parrot

berries Pied Currawong

Pyracantha sp spring food Eastern Rosella, King Parrot
berries Pied Currawong, Silvereye
Rose sp. spring nest Fuscous Honeyeater
autumn Willie Wagtail
Viburnum sp spring nest Crested Pigeon

White -throated Warbler

Lippia Lemon -scented spring nest Australia Magpie
AbutiIon sp spring food All Honeyeaters
Weigala sp spring food SpinebillMarch, 1984 29
NOTES: * All species of birds find shelter in trees and insect eaters get food.
** Crataegus and Pyracantha berries NOT eaten together?
All species use these shrubs for shelter especially from predators and also from
inclement weather. Night roosts.
These notes are based on observations in two adjoining old gardens with some large trees,
mixed shrubs, flowers and natural grasses, herbage. These gardens abut onto open woodland
and scrub in which water is not always available. 74 species of birds have been recorded in the
gardens to date.
Grass is used by finches for food and as foraging sites for insects and nest material;
herbage is used for nesting and as foraging sites (for insects and green food) for finches and
parrots. Predators benefitting from influx of birds to the garden are: Australian Kestrel,
Australian Hobby and Collared Sparrowhawk; butcherbirds sp.
NATURAL FOODS have encouraged: Rainbow Bee -eater, Welcome Swallow, Fairy Martin,
Black -faced Cuckoo -shrike, Jacky Winter, Grey Shrike -thrush, Grey Fantail, Weebill, Yellow
Thornbill, Brown Honeyeater, Diamond Firetail, finches spp., Superb Blue Wren, Eastern
Yellow Robin, Restless Flycatcher, Galah, Masked Lapwing, Yellow -tufted Honeyeater, Golden
Whistler, Scarlet Robin, White -eared Honeyeater, Striated Thornbill, White-naped Honeyeater,
Black -chinned Honeyeater. These are in addition to those already listed and could be classed as
casual visitors brought by food and water always available.
PROVIDED FOOD (grains and scraps, etc) has encouraged: Peaceful Dove, Crested Pigeon,
Laughing Kookaburra, House Sparrow, finches spp, Magpielark, Australian Magpie, Grey
Butcherbird, Pied Butcherbird, Torresian Crow, Australian Raven, Little Raven, Pied Currawong,
White -winged Chough, Eastern Rosella, Australian King -parrot, Red-rumped Parrot, Willie
Wagtail, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Superb Blue Wren.
B. GRAFTON Greg Clancy, South Grafton.
PLANT SPECIES Flowering Used for Used by
Eucalyptus sideroxy/on spring feeding Rainbow a- Scaly -breasted Lorikeets
Pink -flowering Ironbark summer Brown, White -throated Honeyeaters
Noisy Friarbird
Varied Sittella
Spangled Drongo30 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (18) 2
Eucalyptus saligna feeding Silvereye, Brown Honeyeater
Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Striated (Black- headed) Pardalote
Rufous Whistler
Melaleuca quinquenervia summer feeding Silvereye
Rufous Whistler
Umbrella Tree feeding Little Friarbird
Blue -faced Honeyeater
Jacaranda spring nesting Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Mulberry feeding Figbird
Olive -backed Oriole
Rose Robin
Noisy Friarbird
Callistemon spp feeding Rainbow Er Scaly -breasted Lorikeets
Scarlet Er Brown Honeyeaters
Little Er Noisy Friarbirds
GreviIlea ‘Robyn Gordon’ feeding White -throated Honeyeater
Grevillea banksii feeding most honeyeaters
Grevillea hookerana feeding Brown Honeyeater, House Sparrow
Hibiscus spp. feeding Brown Honeyeater, House Sparrow
(Sleeping species very popular White -throated Honeyeater
with Honeyeaters and bees)
C. COONABARABRAN A. K. Morris, Coonabarabran
PLANT SPECIES Flowering Used for Used by
Eucalyptus melliodora Sep -Oct nectar Noisy Friarbird, White -plumed,
Yellow Box feeding White -eared, Yellow -faced and
Brown -headed Honeyeaters
Friarbirds, Grey Fantail,
White -throated Treecreeper
Weebills, Buff-rumped Thornbill

Whistlers, Boobook Owl.March, 1984 31

Eucalyptus blakelyi Dec -Jan food As above.
Blakely’s Red Gum Christmas
roosting Galah
Eucalyptus scoparia spring feeding Weebill, Buff-rumped Thornbill
Wallangara White Gum
Angophora floribunda spring roosting Boobook Owl
Rough -barked Apple insects White -plumed Honeyeater
Grevillea rosmarinifolia Jul -Nov nectar Spinebill, White -plumed
2 different varieties Yellow -faced, White -eared
Banksia ericifolia Apr -Jul nectar As above
Acacia podalyriifolia spring insects Silvereyes, Whistlers, Weebill,
Queensland Silver Wattle Little, Buff-rumped and Yellow –
Acacia polybotrya Aug -Nov rumped Thornbills, Grey Fantail
Pilliga Wattle
Acacia baileyana
Cootamundra Wattle
Crab Apple spring fruit Pied Currawong
Only Grevillea rosmarinifolia varieties and wattles grow well in this area. Banksia integrifo/ia

although over 15 feet high has not flowered after 5 years whilst Banksia spinu/osa has not grown

or flowered! Banksia ericifolia will not flower if it gets little rain in autumn which seems to
happen most years. Three Leptospermum spp have all died and so have two Me/aleucas.
Grevilleas Ivanhoe and Robyn Gordon won’t grow for me but do for my neighbour!
D. CANBERRA H.L. Bell, Canberra
Comments by H.L. BELL
Our garden in Canberra has 500 plants of 350 species. The importance of nectar -producing
plants is generally over -rated; they are important, but most bush birds are insectivorous and it is
these which should be catered for. In the Canberra region, the outstanding tree is the Argyle Apple
Eucalyptus cinerea. This species has, by virtue of leaf shape and density, a very much greater leaf
surface area than other eucalypts of similar size; also its leaves, being mostly in the shade, are less
leathery and thus are eaten more by insects. Streets in Canberra planted with mature E. cinerea
harbour dense populations of native birds, in particular thornbills and pardalotes. Even birds like
the Australian Hobby often reside in these trees, so dense is the cover and also (presumably) the
prey. The long -leaved eucalypts (e.g. E. viminalis and E. St Johnii) seem to be the least productive
in food and cover, and the least used by birds.32 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (18) 2
Bippinate acacias (the “feathery” ones likeA. balleyana, A. decurrens etc) harbour very dense
insect populations and here again leaf surface area seems the key. They also provide more shelter
than the phyllodorous species. Near the carillon in Canberra is a dense swathe of A. bai/eyana
planted in 1961; in my lunch -hours recorded 60 species- 35 of them resident- in what used to
be a sheep paddock.
As to honey flora, banksias lead the field as to quantity of flowers, provision of cover, and
length of flowering. rate B. marginata (the Sydney form, not the Tablelands and Victorian form
usually sold) first, for all-round suitability. Plants of B. ericifolia with abundant flowers often have
sparse foliage, hence inadequate cover; those with dense foliage often flower sparsely. B. serrata
is good but, until very old, often has few flowers.
Callistemons are greatly over -rated. have never found them much favoured (compared, say,
to Ca/othamnus, which are) but the main drawback is their very short flowering time. rate C.
salignus and C. viminalis the most attractive to birds. Grevilleas are always good, both for cover
and flowers. Hakeas have too short a flowering time, except forH. petio/aris orH. /aurina which are
outstanding for attracting birds. However, the prickly ones (e.g. H. sericea and H. gibbosa) often
attract nesting finches. They do have the advantage of very quick growth, extreme hardiness and
freedom from insect attack. For dense cover almost all Mela/euca and Leptospermum spp. will

do. Leptospermums are useless for nectar but some Me/a/eucas are good (M. hypericifo/ia and M.

lateritia particularly red -flowering forms). Of smaller plants all Anigozanthos, Correa,
Eremophila, Astro/oma, and Epacris are good for nectar but unless one is a keen gardener it is
more economical in effort to grow large, nectar -producing plants such as grevilleas.
Of nectar -producing eucalypts, the best are E. leucoxylon rosea, E. leucoxylon macrocarpa
rosea, E. caesia, and E. sideroxy/on rosea for all-round suitability. But the main value of
eucalypts is as vantage points. No matter how attractive the shrubbery is, in an isolated native
garden birds are only likely to come down if there is a vantage point from which they can
reconnoitre the garden. Many outstanding gardens in the ACT attract no native birds until they
get a fairly large tree.
As to trees, many people overlook casuarinas. Birds just seem to like perching in them,
particularly large birds. Also parrots eat the seeds. Casuarinas are not sufficiently widely
planted – a pity for there is one for every situation (C. cunninghamii for situations with bad
drainage, g/auca for saline soils, cristata for clay, stricta or /ittora/is for shallow soils, toru/osa
for rich soils, etc). They are reliable and quick, and do not block out the light. Another small tree
well worth cultivating-for reliability, appearance and dense cover- is Eucalyptus stricta Blue
Mountains Mallee, even though the flowers are unimpressive. Acacia seeds attract parrots; one
needs a species that has lots of seeds, but more important, one that holds the seeds in the pods
for extended periods. Though have no data on the subject, the bippinates seem the best here
(A. decurrens and A. dealbata particularly).March, 1984 33
William Edward Weatherill described the east -coast population of the Mangrove Warbler
Gerygone levigaster as a new species Pseudogerygone cantator from a specimen taken in
Moreton Bay, Queensland (Weatherill 1908), although a full description subs-e quently also
appeared in the Emu (Weatherill 1909) annotated “sp. nov.” (new species) a foot -note
mentions that Weatherill had sent the paper clipping for publication in that journal, but the
editor had no idea where it first appeared! A few published notes about this bird appear in
subsequent issues of the Emu, but all from south-eastern Queensland (north to Mackay). Both
the 1926 RAOU official Checklist and Cayley (1931) record its entire distribution as simply “S.E.
Apparently the first published evidence of it in New South Wales is that of J. Allan Keast
(1944: 183), who recorded “moderate numbers in forest adjoining mangroves at Tweed
Heads”. About twelve months later Mervyn Goddard (quoted in Hindwood, 946) recorded it
breeding near Macksville, on the Nambucca River, indicating a sizeable range extension. Just
over a decade later, Hindwood Et McGill (1956) published a number of observations extending
its distribution south to the mouth of the Manning River, where a low island, heavily studded
with mangroves, can readily be reached along the breakwater from Harrington. Although my
first positive sighting there was on 29 December 1955, am now certain that also observed it
there on 3 January 1944, when had a very close, but brief, view of a small and active greyish
bird, which unfortunately did not call. Lacking field -glasses (which had been surrendered for
war use), and with the knowledge that it meant a significant range extension, I hesitated to
publish or make known the record at the time.
John Hobbs and Jack Debert shortly afterwards found the Mangrove Warbler in the
Tuncurry-Forster district, bringing its range a bit further south; it was confirmed as still common
and breeding at Tuncurry in 1971 (Rogers 1972). For extensive information on observations
southwards from there am indebted to E.S. Hoskin, who has contributed much of the following
from the files of the “Keith Hindwood Bird Recording Service”:
“On 17 January 1964 Johnno Rhodes exhibited a nest of the Mangrove Warbler at a
meeting of the NSW Branch of the RAOU which he said originally contained three eggs. He
said that it had been collected on an island near Woy Woy in December 1963. Later he told
Hindwood (after he had discussed the matter with him) that the location near Woy Woy was St
Hubert’s Island. Hindwood, Peter Roberts and E.S. Hoskin visited that and several other islands
in the vicinity on 17 September 1966, but could not locate any Mangrove Warblers. That did not
prove the birds were not present, as it might have been too early, assuming that, in this case, the
species was a migrant to the Woy Woy area.34 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (18) 2
“Albert Gwynne said he gave Rhodes a nest of the Mangrove Warbler in November 1963.
This is most likely the one Rhodes exhibited at the meeting. Gwynne’s nest came from near
Kempsey. There is a Way Way Creek in the Nambucca area, and it is probable that Rhodes’ nest
came from there, as he exhibited it seven weeks after he received it from Gwynne. Rhodes at
that time was considered by some to be rather unreliable with his data.”
In 1967, both David Sawyer (on 18 January) and Glenn Holmes (on 30 September) located
the species in mangroves on Kooragang Island at the mouth of the Hunter River, and on 14
October of the same year E.S. Hoskin found a nest there. This extended its breeding range south
from the Tuncurry district. A number of other reports confirm the occurrence of the species at
about the same period near Port Stephens, a little further south: two (perhaps four) individuals
at Fennell Bay on 21 November, one at Teralba on 29 December, three or four at Black Neds Bay
(Swansea) on 31 December and one at Blacksmiths on the same day (see also Lindsey 979).
On 8 October 1981, birds were located in mangroves at Pelican Island near Woy Woy, and on
Erina Creek at West Gosford. To date, there have apparently been no reports from the extensive
mangroves on the lower Hawkesbury River.
There has always been, with the Mangrove Warbler’s southern movements, the possibility
that it would eventually reach the Sydney area, so one seen and heard persistently in
mangroves at Bonna Point, southern Botany Bay, by a group consisting of Athol Colmane, Keith
Brandwood, Fred Johnston and myself on 15 October 1982, is of special interest. We had
hardly got out of the car when Athol demanded silence and then exclaimed “a Mangrove
Warbler!” He had picked up the unmistakeable notes at some distance, and finally we all were
rewarded with close views of a very restless bird. We met John Waugh a little later that day and
he also obtained good views. However, a team of observers failed to record the bird there on 30
October, despite a careful search. E.S. Hoskin also visited Bonna Point on 30 November 1982
and searched the length of the mangroves with a tape-recording of the call, supplemented by
his own imitations, but could not locate the bird. Other mangroves in the vicinity were also
searched. He adds the cautionary note: “I heard Grey -tailed Tattlers giving plaintive chattering
notes which though somewhat reminiscent of the call of the Mangrove Warbler … feel that
records by call alone should be carefully check.” There have been several subsequent
observations at that locality.
The movements of the Mangrove Warbler in New South Wales are difficult to assess on
present evidence. have recorded the bird at Harrington on 22 visits since my original sighting
on 29 December 1955. These observations were all made during spring and summer, but
cannot recall noting it on the few occasions walked to that location during autumn or winter.
This might suggest some sort of seasonal movement, or possibly when its musical call -notes
are not heard it might be difficult to locate, as the mangroves are difficult to penetrate even at
low tide. The majority of other records fall during the spring and summer months, but again, this
might merely reflect the difficulty of locating the species when not in song. Mangrove Warblers
have however been reported during the autumn and winter months at, among other places,
Tuncurry and Kooragang Island. Dion Hobcroft, familiar with the species near his home at
Swansea, records it as resident (Lindsey 1982). If, as is presently suspected, there is someMarch, 1984 35
migratory movement during autumn and winter, it is possible the one vagrant that reached the
Botany Bay mangroves in 1982 may be the precursor to a more permanent colonization. No
doubt the Mangrove Warbler’s southwards extension over the past 40-50 years has followed
the pattern of one “pioneer” that found a mate over the next few years and established a very
small colony – either by an urge to explore further south or a small population explosion.
However, its preferred habitat becomes more isolated and less extensive south of Sydney.

Cayley, N.W. 1931. What bird is that? (first edition). Sydney: Angus Et Robertson.

Hindwood, K.A. 1946. The Mangrove Warbler extension in range. Emu 45: 311-314.

& A.R. McGill, 1956. The Mangrove Warbler extension in range. Emu 56: 145-146.
Keast, J.A. 1944. A winter list from the Tweed River district, N.S.W., with remarks on some nomadic
species. Emu 43: 177-187.
Lindsey, T.R. (ed.) 1979. New South Wales bird report for 1978. Aust. Birds 14: 1-22.

  1. New South Wales bird report for 1982. Aust. Birds 1 7: 1-26.
    Rogers, A.E.F. (ed.) 1972. New South Wales bird report for 1971. Birds 6: 77-99.
    Weatherill, W.E. 1908. Description of a new Pseudogerygone from south-east Queensland. Qld
    Naturalist 1: 74-75.
  2. Description of a new Pseudogerygone from south-east Queensland. Emu 9: 26-28.
    A.R. McGill, 95 Nuwarra Road, Moorebank, NSW, 2170.36 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (18) 2
    There is doubt about the role of the sexes of the Cicadabird Coracina tenuirostris in
    building the nest. Campbell (1900) stated that both birds of a pair ‘aided in the construction’
    and recorded that once both were seen ‘pulling the nest (robbed) to pieces’. Marchant (1978,
    1979) implied and suggested that probably the male alone builds.
    At Moruya, in open forest of Spotted Gums Eucalyptus maculata and Grey Ironbarks E.
    paniculata, on 22 January 1984 found the birds starting to build. The nest, little of which could
    then be seen, was about 20 m high in a simple sloping fork of a rather small branch near the
    centre of a large Ironbark. Between 09:40 and 09:50 the male visited the site three times after
    collecting material (?lichen, bark) from the rough branches of the nesting tree. The female
    appeared briefly once, more than 30 m from the nest. On 23 January, during a watch from 06:00
    to 07:30, the male first came to the tree at 07:07 and sang and called briefly from near the site;
    at 07:29 he returned to the nest with material; saw no sign of the female. Between 09:20 and
    11:00 he came to the nest ten times, building each time in the characteristic manner of cuckoo –
    shrikes by wiping his bill, often agape, round the supporting branches and rim of the nest. The
    nest by the end of this watch seemed substantial. The female was seen only once in the vicinity,
    feeding among leaves and branches at mid -levels in the forest, from 09:27 to 09:35, but did not
    come within 25 m of the nest. saw no activity at the site or nearby during watches in the
    evening of 23 January and in the mornings of 24, 25, 27 and 28 January, totalling almost nine
    hours, and so concluded that this nesting attempt had been abandoned.
    Coupled with my observations of building in 1975 (op. cit.), this makes it likely that the
    male Cicadabird, if he does not do all the building (and perhaps select the site) does most of it.
    This contrasts with behaviour in other species of Coracina, e.g. Black -faced Cuckoo -shrike C.
    novaehol/andiae, in which both members of a pair build (pers. obs.).
    Campbell, A.J. 1900. Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds. Sheffield: privately.
    Marchant, S. 1978. Nuptial behaviour in the genus Coracina (Campephagidae). Bull. Br. Orn. Club 98:
  3. Nesting of the Cicadabird Coracina tenuirostris. Ibis 121: 80-84.
    S. Marchant, PO Box 123, Moruya, NSW 2537NOTICE TO CONTRIBUTORS
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    Finch, B.W. and M.D. Bruce 1974 The Status of the Blue Petrel in Australian Waters
    Aust. Birds 9, 32-35
  16. Acknowledgements to other individuals should include Christian names or initials.Vol. 18, No. 2 March, 1984
    Smith, L., Garden plants attractive to birds 17
    D. Larkins Et
    J. Pegler
    McGill, Arnold The southward extension of range in the Mangrove Warbler … 33

Marchant, S. Nest -building by the Cicadabird Coracina tenuirostris 36

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