Vol. 2 No. 3-text

PDF version available here: Vol. 2 No. 3

Price 10c. Published by the Gould League EIrdwatchers.
Vol. 2, No. 3. 1st November, 1967.
Patron: ALEC H. CHISHOLM 0.B.E.,
Hon. Secretary and Editor: L. COURTNEY HAINES.
10 Loquat Valley Road, Bayview.
Observations Committee: HINDWOOD and A.R. McGILL.
Field-da Organiser: P.E. ROBERTS
26 Bayview Street, Mt.Kuring -gai.(47 -921+0)
Art Adviser: E.S. HOSKIN.
Photographic Adviser: NORMAN CHAFFER.
Assistant Secretary: R. COOKE.
The recent note in BIRDS (vol.2,no.2,September,1967,p.20) about
a White -eared Honeyeater that sought nesting material from the
head of Mrs. Barbara Brown prompted me to refer to my records of
honeyeaters known to practice this strange habit.
In some instances the nesting material may be taken from the
body of a dead animal lying in the bush, or from a pelt hung over
a fence to dry. At times a nesting honeyeater will remove fibres
from a blanket hanging on a clothes line, or strands from a hempen
rope or: perhaps, fibres from an unwanted mattress thoughtlessly
thrown into the bush. Mostly, though, the birds seek hair and fur
from living animals, hair from man, or wool from the clothes he
is wearing.
then kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and possums are present in a
locality a plentiful supply of nesting material is readily avail-
able -to the birds. However, in areas where settlement and other- 22 –
human activities have reduced the numbers of native mammals man,
and domestic and feral beasts such as horses, cows, pigs, goats,
dogs and deer, may be placed under tribute by questing honeyeaters
of several species.
The habit is particularly strong in the White -eared Honeyeater,
being practiced only by the female of that species. Some amusing
incidents are known of these birds fearlessly attempting to re-
move hair from human heads (it should be emphasized that the
birds are honeyeaters, not woodpeckers, and that they are seeking
nesting material) or of their efforts to pull wool from jumpers
or coats and, in at least one instance, strands from the socks
of a naturalist (Roscoe Gannon) lazing in a quiet spot. Dogs
accompanying their masters on bush rambles have been known to
become uneasy and even alarmed when the honeyeaters attempt to
perch on their heads or backs.
The Black -chinned Honeyeater is especially partial to white
hair and will take iffrom a white patch on a horse, a cow, or a
goat, even if it means clinging upside down to the belly of one
of these animals. A bird of this species, in its search for fur,
is said to have pestered a partly white cat so much that puss
“often cried out with rage”. Of course the cat could have solved
its problem by eating the bird.
It is of interest to note that the Tufted Titmouse (Parus bi-
color) of North America is not content with picking hair or fur
from dead animals, but is bold enough to collect the needed nest-
ing material from living animals including squirrels, woodchucks
and man himself.
The following list deals with the five species of Australian
honeyeaters known by me to collect nesting material from living
White reaped Honeyeater; from Koala, horse, cow.
Brown -headed Honeyeater; from horse, cow, possum (in a
hollow limb), man (and his clothes).
Fuscous Honeyeater; from horse, cow.
Black -chinned Honeyeater; from horse, cow, goat, cat.
White -eared Honeyeater; from man (and his clothes), dog,
cow, horse, wallaby, goat, pig, koala, Introduced
12.9.1967.- 23 –
Members arrived at Pitt Town Lagoon on Sunday Morning, Sept.
24th, for the field -day led by Mr. E. Hoskin.
Twenty-six species of birds were noted on the Lagoon: White
and Straw -necked Ibis were in considerable numbers, but only two
Glossy Ibis were seen. Two Jacana4 and four Blue winged Shovell-
ers were also observed.
A Marsh Crake was noted by David Sawyer who waded into the
lagoon, where he found three Little Grebes’ nests and several
White -headed Stilts’ nests – all nests contained eggs.
Other species recorded at Pitt Town were Royal and Yellow –
billed Spoonbills, White -fronted and Pacific Herons, White Egret,
Spur -winged Plover, Black Duck, Black Swan, Pelican and Pipit.
Several Pelicans gave.a fine display of formation flying.
A faded yellow neck -band from a Black Swan was found by Mr.
Scotchmer. The band will be sent to the Bird Banders’ Assin. A
Swan with a yellow neck -band was also seen.
At mid -day the party moved to Scheyville seeing on route the
Rufous Whistler, White -throated Warbler, Pallid Cuckoo, Little
Thornbill and the Black -chinned Honeyeater. At Scheyville 29
species were observed, including the Ghough, Speckled Warbler,
Yellow -tailed Thornbill, Golden -bronze Cuckoo and the Jacky
A most enjoyable and interesting day was had by all and our
sincere thanks are expressed to our Leader, Mr. E. Hoskin.

Twenty-five members attended the excursion led by Athol Cole –
mane. Fifty species were recorded, including the Pallid, Golden –
bronze, Narrow -billed Bronze and Fan -tailed Cuckoos. A nesting
Brown Warbler was examined with interest.
At the Reserve and Scout’s Camp a Yellow Robin was nesting
and the White -throated Warbler both heard and seen. Birds seen
at the Quarry were Reed Warblers and Rufous Whistlers, both in
good voice, the Spotted Pardalote and a Sacred Kingfisher breed-
ing in a termites’ cluster.
A list of the birds of the area, prepared by Mr. Colemane,was much appreciated by members. The list contained 95 species.
Thank you Mr. Colemane for a pleasant and interesting outing.

Saturday, November 19, 1967. Rooty Hill. Leader Mr. E. Wood.
The Shale area to the west of Sydney is very interesting bird
country, and Mr. Wood is expected to have a good variety of nests
ready for members to inspect.
Meet at 10 a.m. on the Richmond Road, 6 tenths of a mile west
of Rooty Hill Road (Gregory’s map H.5 C). The party will probably
move to another locality at lunch time.
Saturday. December 9, 1667. Dharug National Park, Leader Mr. G.
Dharug is one of our most recent National Parks, with some mag-
nificent scenery and fine rain -forest patches. Meet at 10 a.m.
at the bridge over Mangrove Creek, which can be reached either
by way of Wisemans Ferry and Spencer, or from the Pacific Highway
through Calga, Central Mangrove and Mangrove Mountain. From the
bridge the party will move a few miles up Mangrove Creek on the
western side, past Screech Owl Creek.
If any member feels that one day is not long enough, arrange-
ments can be made to camp on the Saturday night. Please contact
Mr. Dibley first; Telephone No. 57-6298.
Public Transport is not available to either the above areas.
Peter Roberts will try and help those without cars. His Telephone
No. is 47-9240.

On October L. at Mount Kuring-gai I watched a male Mistletoe –
bird perched on a vertical stem one foot from the ground, imit-
ating the calls of at least 10 species of birds; Spotted Para –
alote, Rufous Whistler, Wagtail, Grey Fantial, Brown -headed and
vihite-cheeked Honeyeaters, Bul-Bul, Heath Wren, and White -throat –
ed Tree -Creeper. The calls were uttered at regular intervals of
about one second with a sligh pause between (unlike most mimics,
which manage to weave them together into a fluent song), and were
intarpersed with his own calls. .”.-jith each call he turned his head
alternately from right to left, and the whole performance had a
rather mechanical air about it. PETER ROBERTS, Mt.Kuring-gai.