Vol. 21 No. 3-text

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Journal of the
Volume 21, No. 3 January 1988

ISSN 0311-8150

Registered by Australia Post Publication No. NBH0790THE NEW SOUTH WALES FIELD ORNITHOLOGISTS CLUB
PATRON A.R. McGill, O.A.M.
P.E. Roberts
F. Brown
N. McKelvie
D. Siems
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:
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Manuscripts should be sent to the Editor at. Dept. of Ornithology, Australian Museum, 6-8
College Street, Sydney 2000.Volume 21, No. 3 January 1988
Hancock & Elliott (1978) had no information about incubation or feeding and fledging of the young
of the Pacific Heron Ardea pacifica. After Campbell’s (1900) and North’s (1913) descriptions of nests
and eggs, can find no publication of original observations of the breeding habits and routine of
the species, and indeed very few references of any sort to the general behaviour of the birds, except
regarding distribution and occurrence. The following observations, made near Moruya, NSW, in
1986-87, fill some gaps in knowledge.
Since 1984, have known a small heronry of 5-10 nests at Kerta HSD on the Prince’s Highway
about 4 km south of Moruya but do not know how long it has been active. All nests were in a large
isolated dead tree about 20 m from the shore of a large dam, standing in about 1.5 m of water when
the dam was full; in 1987 by the time the young fledged the dam had practically dried out. The nests
were between about one and six metres above high-water level, on roughly horizontal forks or twists
of branches and in upright or sloping forks, not nearer to one another than about one metre and
in the periphery of the tree. could not inspect nests at any time but could get clear views of nearly
all of them from about 40 m, using x8 binoculars or a x27 telescope, so that rarely had difficulty
in following the activities of individuals or pairs. The lowest nests were at eye -level but could not
see their contents till some time after hatching. watched on 18 occasions at all times of day between
21 November and 18 February for periods of 30 to 120 minutes.
In 1984 there was another heronry of 3-4 nests in large live eucalyptus trees by the roadside
to South Heads, roughly 2 km east of Moruya. It was not near standing water but was only about
100 m from a shallow marshy valley. The nests were much higher (+20 m) than those at Kerta and
also well away from the centres of the trees.62 Australian Birds 21(3)
During my first watches in November-December most nests or nest -sites were occupied by a single
bird, which I assumed was the male. He stood on the nest or nearby, preening or fussing about with
sticks. At intervals he displayed in this way. From a normal stance (A in Figure 1) he brought his
body to a position roughly horizontal, threw his head back until it almost touched his back and raised
his beak skywards (B); he then stretched his head to the full length of his neck (C) and pumped it
up and down three or four times in about a minute at the same time as he bent his knees and gave
an emphatic “oomph” call; also he erected the plumes on the lower neck and breast during this
performance. He then relaxed, drooped his wings slightly and, perhaps after a short pause, arched
his head and neck forwards and downwards under his breast and seemed to run his beak down
the primaries or leading edges of the wings in an apparently preening movement (D). He usually
repeated the performance several times in a few minutes before reverting to normal preening or
building activities. This display was similar to the Stretch -display of the Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
as described by Verwey (1930), Baerends & van der Cingel (1962), Cramp (1977) and others.
While watched, there were few occasions when such solitary males were approached by other
birds, potential mates or not, and if that did happen, failed to note any aggressive display or greeting
ceremony. Nevertheless, suppose that the birds had some actions in such circumstances that are
analogous to the Forward-, Aggressive Upright- and Snap -displays described by the above authors
for A. cinerea.
For the most part a solitary male at an incipient nest stood on or near the structure for long
periods, preening, displaying or fiddling about with nesting material. Every now and then he flew
out and circled round the tree silently with measured, deeply flapping wingbeats and with neck
extended fully or partially in a Circle -flight (Cramp 1977 for A. cinerea); he then either returned to
the nest or went to the shore of the dam, selected a twig after several trials and returned to the nest
with it. It may have been tentative building behaviour of this sort that McCulloch (1967) described,
though seemingly late in the season (May). Solitary birds also dropped down from perches or from
nests and daintily picked up twigs from the water while in flight, or filched them from nearby
unattended nests.
When pairing had taken place and two birds were at the nest, the female (proved once by
copulation) stood on or near the nest all the time, fussing about with the structure or preening, while
the male was perched nearby and usually higher. At intervals the male flew off to the shore of the
dam or to large trees 100-150 m away, selected a twig, brought it back and gave it to the female,
which added it to the nest with “tremble -shove” movements, typical of building herons.
saw copulation only once; unfortunately the performance was partly obscured by intervening
birds. The female was on the nest with body horizontal and perhaps she crouched somewhat. The
male moved up to her, without ceremony as far as could see, stepped onto her back and, spreading
and waving his wings, copulated; the performance lasted no more than half a minute. He then
stepped off, walked up a branch, still waving his wings and took up a normal stance about a metre
from the nest. He then hopped to another branch, purloined a twig from a neighbouring nest, flew
out and round to his own nest and presented it carefully to the female. Meanwhile the female stayed
on the nest, ruffling her feathers and preening.January 1988 63
Figure 1. Display of (presumed) male Pacific Heron at nest. For explanation see text64 Australian Birds 21(3)
could not observe directly the laying routine, clutch size or incubation period. However, in two nests
the adults began to incubate between 26 November and 8 December and young hatched between
27 December and 6 January. Reasonably, then, one may say that the incubation period is probably
about 28-30 days, seeing that the eggs will almost surely have been laid at intervals of 48 hours,
that the clutch size is normally 3-4 and that incubation will start with the first egg and hatching be
asynchronic. Probably both sexes incubate, but in spite of about nine hours’ watch at various times
of day from 05:45 to 17:00 hrs (EST) when some nests (1-4) were certainly in the incubation stage
did not see change -over or relief at any of them. During this stage it was surprising how little activity
of any sort there was at the heronry.
Young were probably about a week old or less when first visible. At that stage, two nests had two
young and two had three. One of the broods of three was reduced to two 9-12 days later; on the
ninth day the two larger siblings had attacked, pecked and driven the smallest to the edge of the
nest, preventing it from being fed. In addition there was one large young on a fifth nest when started
to watch. All these young birds fledged; between 7 and 18 February all but one had left the heronry
and gathered in a sort of creche on rocks by the remaining water of the dam, 100-150 m distant.
At first the young appeared to be covered in long greyish white down. They were brooded for
long periods, if not continuously. The attendant adult did not leave the nest, though it stood up,
preened and shook its feathers, and sometimes remained standing for quite a long time. Perhaps
was witnessing the transition by the adults from brood to guard stage. About 9 days after first sighting
the young, they had well -feathered, dark -coloured wings with down still on their heads and necks,
appeared about half-grown and spent most of their time standing, stepping about and occasionally
“bitterning”. saw them first clambering out of the nest onto branches when about three-quarters
grown, fully feathered and probably about three weeks old.
Both adults fed the young by incomplete regurgitation. did not see complete regurgitation
of food onto the floor of the nest, as is apparently normal for the Grey Heron (Cramp 1977). The young,
after the brood stage, often kept up a continuous chittering rasping call or, if silent, always started
it as soon as a parent or even another bird at a nearby nest flew in. When the adult reached the nest,
the young intensified their calling and began to jab upwards vigorously to catch the adult’s beak.
The adult usually at first held its head and beak up out of their reach but eventually a young bird
was able to catch it well up near the gape and feeding took place. Both or all three chicks were usually
fed during each bout.
During the guard stage or if an adult happened to be brooding the young, there was little
ceremony when the relieving bird came in. The brooding bird quickly stood up; both birds then faced
each other or stood partly alongside each other with bodies horizontal, stretched up their heads
and necks, keeping the head horizontal, erected the feathers of the neck and gave one or two raucous
cackles, a performance apparently somewhat like the Forward -display or even the Arch -neck Upright –
display of A. cinerea as described by Verwey (1930) and Cramp (1977). The attendant quickly left;
the relief promptly stepped in and soon began to feed the young.January 1988 65
All except one young must have taken their first flight between 7 and 18 February when three
of the four nests were empty. Thus, having hatched about 1 January, they were probably 6-7 weeks
old when fledged. Perhaps they returned to the nest to be fed there by the parents for some days
after departure. While watched on 18 February, as an adult came to feed the one unfledged bird,
a young bird from the creche flew in and settled on another nest but no adult came to attend it. Also
the full-grown young bird, which was already large when began to watch, was perching in the
treetop, flying round and occasionally returning to its nest, though did not see it being fed there.
When fully grown and at about the time of fledging young birds were quite easily distinguished
from adults; their heads and necks were a distinct chalky white, not the creamy white of adults, and
the streak of dark feathers down the centre line of throat and neck was more prominent than in adults.
The so-called display described by Bell et al. (1977) in which a bird with “a spotted neck” flew about
after one with “a pure white neck” sounds like a juvenile pursuing an adult, perhaps to be fed, but
the observation cannot be evaluated because it was not dated.
Though my observations were seriously incomplete, they suggest that the general breeding
behaviour of A. pacifica is similar to that of other members of the genus. Building performance, circle –
flights, stretch -display, parental care and development of the young match those of A. cinerea. Closer
study would no doubt show further similarities in behaviour that missed and, if photography were
used at the same time, better details would appear than
am grateful to Dr G.F. van Tets for criticizing a first draft of this note and to Mr F. Knight for
providing the drawings.
Baerends, G.P. & N.A. van der Cingel. 1962. On the phylo-genetic origin of the snap display in the
Common Heron (Ardea cinerea L.). Symp. zool. Soc. Lond. 8: 7-24
Bell, B., T. Fagetter & T. Sinclair. 1977. Display by the White -necked Heron (Ardea pacifica). Bird Obs.
no. 546: 42
Campbell, A.J. 1900. Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds. Sheffield: privately
Cramp, S. (Ed.). Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The Birds of the
Western Palearctic. Oxford: OUP
Hancock, J., & H. Elliott. 1978. The Herons of the World. London: London Editions
McCulloch, E.M. 1967. Behaviour of White -necked Heron. Emu 67: 22
North, A.J. 1913. Nests and Eggs of Birds found breeding in Australia and Tasmania. Spec. Cat. 1, Aust.
Mus. Sydney
Verwey, J. 1930. Die Paarungsbiologie des Fischreihers. Zool. Jb. (Abt. Zool.) 48: 1-120
S. Marchant, PO Box 123, Moruya NSW 253766 Australian Birds 21(3)
The Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos nests only sporadically in the central coast
region (counties of Northumberland, Cumberland and Camden) of New South Wales, despite the
abundance of non -breeding birds at all times of the year. The first nesting colony on record in the
Sydney area was found at Centennial Park in January 1934, while the second, of about eight nests,
was found 13 years later at the same place (Keast & D’Ombrain 1948). Another 16 years elapsed
until the third recorded occurrence, when two pairs bred at Campbelltown in March 1963. The species
is known to have bred in the Sydney area every year since then except 1971, 1972, 1973, and 1975:
the largest colony, of 100 nests, was at Kurnell in 1970 (Keith Hindwood Bird Recording Service per
E.S. Hoskin, in litt.). Both Hindwood & McGill (1958) and Morris (1975) have also recorded casual
breeding in the Counties of Cumberland and Northumberland.
found a small breeding colony of Little Pied Cormorants at Bellambi Lagoon, near
Wollongong, NSW (34022’S 150055’E), which produced six juveniles between October 1984 and
March 1985 (during which period visited the colony 17 times) and an unsuccessful attempt at
breeding during November- December 1985 (four visits). These are the first described breeding
attempts in the County of Camden (Gibson 1977).
Bellambi Lagoon is about 320 m long and 100 m wide. Freshwater influx is from a small creek, while
efflux to the sea is via a channel about 280 m long. Water depth (maximum one metre) and salinity
are variable depending on rainfall and depth of a sandbar at the ocean -estuary junction. A cycleway
skirts the entire western bank about five metres from the water’s edge on one side, and a similar
distance from rear fences of residential development on the other. The entire eastern (seaward) bank
is lined with mature Casuarina glauca trees close to the water and Leptospermum lavaegatum,
Eucalyptus robusta, Banksia integrifolia and dense undergrowth away from it. This plant community
extends from the lagoon to a series of tall sand dunes, which gently fall away to the nearby ocean.
All nests found were in the same tree, a live Casuarina glauca, 12 m tall, growing from the
water’s edge on the eastern bank and leaning over the water. Being located at the narrower (and
deeper) southern end of the lagoon, it was separated from the cycleway on the western bank by
only 60 m of water. The nests were all located in forks of branches about two metres from their
During most visits, small numbers of Little Black Cormorants Phalacrocorax sulcirostris
(max 7) were seen roosting in either the nest tree or adjacent casuarinas, but they did not attempt
to breed.
Each nest was constructed of twigs and leaves arranged to form a platform, which tapered conically
towards a base wedged into the supporting branches.
The colony of four nests found in the second season (November -December 1985) failed to
produce young because the eggs were destroyed. On the visit immediately preceding eggJanuary 1988 67
destruction, nest A had four eggs which were being incubated, nest B was almost completely built,
nest C was about one-third constructed, and construction of nest D had just begun. When found
the colony deserted, some four days later, nest A was undamaged but without the eggs, nest B was
unchanged, nest C appeared completely constructed but with an ill-defined saucer, while nest D
appeared about one-half constructed. This assessment of the stages of construction of nests C and
D seems reasonable because Little Pied Cormorants studied at Lakes Brewster and Cargelligo
between 1975 and 1978 took about seven days to completely construct a nest (Miller 1976, 1980).
The dimensions of completed nests A, B, and C, were taken in situ: nests A and B had overall
diameters of 30 cm, overall depths of 18 cm, saucer diameters of 18 cm and saucer depths of 5 cm.
Nest C was oval -shaped on top, with a depth of 33 cm.
After taking measurements, removed these three nests and dissected them. They contained
193, 235, and 161 pieces respectively, which averaged 300 mm in length and 4 mm in width at the
thicker end. The largest pieces were 650 mm x 8 mm, the smallest 200 mm x 3 mm. In nest C, the
newest, the 161 pieces could easily be recognised as Leptospermum lavaegatum (140 pieces),
Casuarina glauca (12) and Eucalyptus robusta (9). In nests A and B, only half of the pieces could
be identified with certainty, these comprising the same three plant species in about the same
proportions. All of this material could have been gathered from the adjacent vegetation.
oct 1.1 NOV DEC JAN FEB Mar
27 1.1 16
1 I 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 I 1 I 1
NEST 1 2N 2N V 2F 2F * ii V S S S S S 0
NEST 3 SS S S S 2N V 0
NEST 4 S S V V 0
NEST 5 0 S V V D
NY EO SU TN G T RIN E E 2F 1J 1J 2J 1J 1.1 2J 11 2J
NEST TREE 1J 1J 21 1J 1J 21

  • Both fledglings flew when disturbed.
    Adult standing over (protecting?) but not sitting.
    0 Nest partly formed. Two adults on it either courting or constructing.
    Figure 1. Chart summarising activities at a small breeding colony of Little Pied Cormorants at Bellambi
    Lagoon, NSW, showing status at each visit between 27 October 1984 and 16 March 1985. S = adult
    sitting, laying, incubating or brooding; V = nest vacant; D = nest disappeared; N = nestling almost
    completely black; F = dependent fledgling; J = independent juvenile. Each column of symbols
    represents one visit to the site68 Australian Birds 21(3)
    Figure summarises activities at the colony between October 1984 and March 1985. The incubation
    period is about 25 days (Miller 1976, 1980). I am not aware of published records of fledging or post –
    fledging dependency periods, nor was able to derive such periods from analysis of RAOU nest
    record cards. could not age the nestlings, nor could be certain that nestlings were in their natal
    I I
    nests because they are adept climbers using both head and feet (Keast & D’Ombrain 1948) and
    therefore could move from one nest to another within the colony.
    During the two breeding seasons observed the colonies for a total of 570 minutes. Incubation
    appeared to be very constant. watched five changeovers between partners and never were the eggs
    exposed for more than 20 seconds. Usually the incoming bird stood on top of the nest platform before
    the brooding bird arose. The relieved bird did not fly away before the newcomer arrived as inferred
    by Serventy et al. (1971).
    often saw birds standing on incomplete nests during courtship and construction, behaviour which
    must tend to compact the twigs and make the platform robust. On one occasion, a sitting bird was
    relieved by its partner as if brooding on a completed nest but eggs had not been laid.
    The occasional presence of fresh green leaves on nests with eggs indicated that they were
    being renovated with new material during incubation. also sometimes saw adults manipulating
    twigs and sticks around the rim of the nest while incubating. did not see any fresh material on any
    nest that contained dependent nestlings. Assuming that fresh material is brought to the nest to keep
    it in good repair, and not for some other reason, perhaps this behaviour ceases as the young grow
    because, by this stage, the nests are substantial structures and the increased excreta binds the
    materials sufficiently until the nestlings fledge.
    On 27 February 1986 all nests were vacant and observed adult refusal to feed fledged juveniles.
    During the watch, when the nest tree contained eight adults and three juveniles, noticed an adult
    approaching via the entrance channel which had been used extensively as a flyway to bring food
    to the young. Immediately after it landed in the nest tree, two of the juveniles alighted and landed
    next to it. These juveniles simultaneously pecked at its bill and apparently begged for food, but the
    adult soon flew away without disgorging. It circled and returned to land on another branch of the
    nest tree, when the same two juveniles flew to meet it and repeated the same begging routine. The
    adult flew again without disgorging, this time landing in a tree some 50 m away without being further
    approached. interpret this activity as weaning.
    wish to thank Dr G.F. van Tets and Mr E.S. Hoskin for their helpful advice and encouragement during
    the project and their comments on the final draft. The Keith Hindwood Bird Recording Service and
    E.S. Hoskin provided the information on past breeding records in the Sydney area.January 1988 69
    Gibson, J. D. 1977. Birds of the County of Camden. Aust. Birds 11: 41-80
    Hindwood, K.A. & A.R. McGill. 1958. The birds of Sydney (County of Cumberland, New South Wales).
    Royal Zool. Soc. NSW: Sydney
    Keast, J.A. & A.F. D’Ombrain. 1948. Notes on the Little Pied Cormorant. Proc. Royal Zool. Soc. NSW,
    1947-48: 30-35
    Miller, B. 1976. Breeding biology of cormorants in inland New South Wales. unpubl. Ph.D. thesis,
    University of Sydney
    Miller, B. 1980. Ecology of the Little Black Cormorant, Phalacrocorax sulcirostris, and Little Pied
    Cormorant, P. melanoleucos, in inland New South Wales. II. Proximate control of reproduction. Aust.
    Wildl. Res. 7: 85-101
    Morris, A.K. 1975. The birds of Gosford, Wyong and Newcastle (County of Northumberland). Aust. Birds 9:
    Serventy, D.L., V. Serventy & J. Warham. 1971. The handbook of Australian seabirds. Reed & Reed:
    London and Wellington
    K.A. Wood, 7 Eastern Avenue, Mangerton NSW 2500
    REMARKS ON THE TYPE -LOCALITY OF Cacatoes sanguinea ashbyi MATHEWS, 1912
    When Mathews described C. s. ashbyi as a new subspecies of the Little Corella in 1912, he gave
    the type -locality as New South Wales but later changed this to Yanco, New South Wales (1927:317).
    Whereas the subsequent ascription of this taxon to the subspecies Cacatua s. gymnopis appears
    unexceptionable (Schodde et al. 1979; taxonomy modified by Ford 1985), the identification of its
    type -locality remains unsatisfactory. Schodde et al. gave the type -locality as Yanco Glen, north of
    Broken Hill, New South Wales; they gave no reasons for this, though they may have followed
    Greenway (1978) and corrected his locality (Yanco Glen, south-central New South Wales) with
    information found in any standard Australian gazetteer. Such a change warrants further examination.
    Condon (1968; 1975) referred to the type as “believed to have come from Yanco Station,
    interior of Queensland”. Macdonald (1971) could not find any reference to a Yanco Station in
    Queensland and could only find a North Yancho HS in south central Queensland, but there is a Yanco
    Station in Queensland at 28044’S 141051’E though it is no longer known by this name. In the 1930s
    the stations of Naryilco and Yanco were merged, with Yanco Station becoming Naryilco Station and
    the original Naryilco Station becoming Old Naryilco (D. Larkins in prep.). Yanco Station is well within
    the present and previous range of C. sanguinea as given by Ford (1985).
    Condon, who was curator of birds at the South Australian Museum when he wrote his Handlist
    in 1968, would have known of Yanco Station, Queensland through several specimens of other species
    collected by W. Macgillivray during January 1917 and now held by the South Australian Museum
    (pers. obs.). However, he was wrong in believing Yanco Station to have been the type -locality of C.
    s. ashbyi.
    The holotype of Cacatoes sanguinea ashbyi is now held in the American Museum of Natural
    History (AMNH) with the registration number 619807 (Greenway 1978). On the original label is
    written: “488 Cacatua gymnopis Scl.; Bare -eyed Cockatoo; Yanco Glen, N.S.W.; 6/7/06; [male].”.
    On the reverse side is stamped: “Edwin Ashby”. It also bears the Mathews’ tag number 999 (M.
    LeCroy, in lift.).70 Australian Birds 21(3)
    Yanco Glen does not appear in the card index of Australian localities in the AMNH, but Yanco
    Station does. If Condon contacted the AMNH for information on this specimen, Yanco Station would
    have been one of the localities of which he would have been informed and the only one within the
    range of C. sanguinea. Although noting that the holotype came from Yanco Glen, Greenway (1978)
    referred to the locality as being in “south-central New South Wales”, having presumably inferred
    that the type -locality was near the town of Yanco in the Riverina district of New South Wales, which
    is also in the card index of the AMNH (M. LeCroy in lift.).
    Yanco Glen is however in the far west of New South Wales, at 31043’S 141035’E, some 30
    kilometres NNE of Broken Hill on Yancowinna Creek. Mathews (1916: 200) quoted Ashby as having
    seen C. sanguinea “in the ranges just beyond Stevens [sic] Creek, near Broken Hill”. Stephens
    Creek is between Yanco Glen and Broken Hill on the Silver City Highway. Later in the same work,
    in correspondence from W. Macgillivray, it is also noted that Mathews had specimens from Yanco
    Glen (p. 209).
    It would thus appear that C. s. ashbyi was originally collected at Yanco Glen near Broken Hill
    by Edwin Ashby, not at Yanco Station in southwest Queensland or at North Yancho HS in south
    central Queensland or the town of Yanco in the Riverina district of New South Wales, all of which
    localities have been suggested as possible alternatives (see Macdonald 1974).
    During research for this paper it was also discovered that the type -locality of Cacatua sanguinea
    gymnopis would perhaps be better placed at Depot Glen, 10 kilometres NW of Milparinka, rather
    than at Milparinka itself as stated by Macdonald (1974) and Schodde et al. (1979). In 1871, when
    describing C.s. gymnopis, Sclater gave the habitat of the form as South Australia. He also observed
    that two specimens in the British Museum (Natural History) “obtained by Sturt at Depot Creek during
    his expedition into Southern Australia, and marked Cacatua sanguinea, evidently belonged to the
    present species … The correct locality of the bird will therefore be the interior of South Australia”.
    Sturt (1849) often referred to this expedition as being entirely within South Australia and his mistake
    was repeated by later authors (e.g. Gould 1865: 437). Sturt, while referring to C. sanguinea (vol. 11,
    App.: 36) noted that “This bird … was first seen in an immense flock on the grassy plains at the bottom
    of the DepOt Creek”. Furthermore, all his specimens on this expedition were supposedly collected
    at “The Depot” rather than at Milparinka (Whittell 1954).
    Accordingly, the citation of Cacatua sanguinea gymnopis and its synonym C. s. ashbyi should
    now be:
    Cacatua sanguinea gymnopis P.L. Sclater
    Cacatua gymnopis, P. L. Sclater, 1871, Proc. zool. Soc. Lond. for 1871: 490,493. Interior of South
    Australia (restricted to the foot of Depot Glen, 10 kilometres NW of Milparinka, New South Wales
    by McAllan, 1987, Aust. Birds 21: 69-71).
    Cacatoes sanguinea ashbyi Mathews, 1912, Austral ay. Rec. 1: 36; New South Wales (restricted
    to “Yanco Glen, south-central New South Wales” by Greenway, 1978, Bull. Am. Mus. nat. Hist. 161:
    81; corrected to Yanco Glen, north of Broken Hill, New South Wales by Schodde, Smith, Mason and
    Weatherley, 1979. Bull. Brit. orn. Club 99: 128-137).January 1988 71
    thank the following: Mary LeCroy and the late Julian Ford for information concerning the holotype
    of C.s. ashbyi; Dariel Larkins for information on Yanco Station in southwestern Queensland; Murray
    and Connie Bruce for help with some references and Shane Parker for allowing me access to
    specimens in the South Australian Museum and for providing comments on an earlier draft of this
    Condon, H.T. 1968. A handlist of the birds of South Australia. Adelaide: South Australian Ornithological
    Condon, H.T. 1975. Checklist of the birds of Australia: Non -Passerines. Melbourne: RAOU
    Ford. Julian. 1985. Species limits and the phylogenetic relationships in corellas of the Cacatua pastinator
    complex. Emu 85: 163-180
    Gould, John. 1865. Handbook to the birds of Australia, vol 1. London: privately
    Greenway, J.C., Jr. 1978. Type specimens of birds in the American Museum of Natural History. Part 2. Bull.
    Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. Vol. 161:81
    Macdonald, J.D. 1974. Name of southern subspecies of Little Corella. Emu 74: 195
    Mathews, G.M. 1912. Additions and corrections to my reference list to the birds of Australia. Austral ay.
    Rec. 1:81-103
    Mathews, G.M. 1916-17. The birds of Australia, vol. VI. London: Witherby & Co
    Mathews, G.M. 1927. Systema avium Australasianarum. Part 1. London: British Ornithologists Union
    Schodde, R.; G.T. Smith; I.J. Mason and R.G. Weatherley. 1979. Relationships and speciation in the
    Australian corellas (Psittacidae). Bull. Brit. orn. Club 99: 128-137
    Sclater, P.L. 1871. Notes on rare or little-known animals now or lately living in the Society’s Gardens. Part
    2, Birds. Proc. zool. Soc. Lond. for 1871: 490,493
    Sturt, Charles. 1849. Narrative of an expedition into Central Australia, performed under the authority of Her
    Majesty’s Government, during the years 1844,5 and 6. London, 2 vols
    Whittell, H.M. 1954. The literature of Australian birds: a history and a bibliography of Australian
    ornithology. Perth: Paterson Brokensha Pty Ltd
    Ian A.W. McAllen, 46 Yeramba Street, Turramurra NSW 2074
    P. R. RAMM
    On 7 June 1985 found two adjacent bowers of a Spotted Bowerbird Chlamydera maculate near
    Benavon Shearing Sheds on Allawah Property, approximately 30 km southwest of Carinda, central
    northern New South Wales. They were only 33 cm apart, and this extraordinary proximity prompted
    me to photograph and examine them carefully. Because both were in good order, and because of
    close similarities in the choice and arrangement of ornaments in the bowers, concluded that they
    were maintained simultaneously by a single bird. Further, both bowers were cramped together under
    a dense bush in such a manner that, were they maintained by two birds, either one would have
    experienced considerable difficulty in visiting his own bower without seriously interfering with the
    activities of the other. can find no previous report in the literature concerning the simultaneous
    maintenance of two bowers by this species.
    found the bowers when my attention was drawn to a pile of more than 80 tightly arranged
    sheep vertebrae and two skeletal horns on the western edge of a large dense shrub Exocarpus
    aphyllus. Some vertebrae were hidden under the shrub but found no rib, leg or skull bones. A narrow
    animal track led past the southern side of the shrub, which was leaning over towards the north:
    following this track found a neat heap of 52+ miscellaneous spent rifle cartridges lying next to the
    eastern side of the shrub’s base.
    Both bowers were constructed on twig platforms approximately eight centimetres high sloping
    almost to ground level between them. All four bower walls were constructed of twigs, those at the
    outer faces some four millimetres in diameter, others gradually decreasing in average thickness
    inwards until reaching the inner wall faces, which were lined with fine shafts of grass.
    Display objects consisting of broken windscreen glass, miscellaneous glass pieces and
    numerous waterworn pebbles of various colours were arranged symmetrically in a dense arrow-
    head formation leading from the western bower to the eastern bower. Twenty to thirty display objects,
    mainly waterworn pebbles, were distributed on the floor on the western half of the eastern bower:
    there were no display objects on either the floor of the eastern half of the eastern or on the entire
    western bower floor. A conspicuous arrangement of 18+ can opener rings was interwoven through
    the entire southeastern quadrant of the western bower. A few can opener rings were found on all
    four bower walls, numbers were laid and hung all around the site, and a neat mound of 15-20 about
    ten centimetres in diameter was located just to the south between the two bowers. Bits of glass, spent
    shotgun shell cases, vertebrae and metallic objects were scattered all about the site. About 15 pieces
    of coloured glass, three spent cartridge shells, a red shotgun shell case, a few metallic objects and
    some pebbles were arranged eastwards outside the eastern bower.
    A fly -through was noted, close to the bowers and running through the centre of the mass of
    dense shrub canopy in a north -south direction: underneath this lay many hundreds of sheep
    At least ten well made nest -like scrapes about 2.5 cm deep and 10 cm in diameter, each lined
    with fine grass shafts, were noticed immediately to the north and south of the bowers, and a similar
    scrape was found in scrub some little distance south of the bower site. Their origin and function is
    unknown but, situated so close to the bowers, their presence may not have been coincidental.
    The grass stalks lining the bowers showed no obvious signs of having been painted by the
    bird, and seemed to be the normal colour of dried grass, but close inspection could not be made
    due to the shrub canopy. However, several small sections of thin branches to the west of the western
    bower were covered with a fine greyish material. These areas were inspected closely, but the surface
    deposit was not of lichen, spider -silk or any other natural material could identify, and suspect that
    I I
    it may have been applied by the bird.
    thank Norma Maxwell and A.R. McGill for their encouragement and advise with this report; Mr McGill
    read an earlier draft and made many valuable comments.

P.R. Ramm, 6 Yeramba Avenue, Caringbah NSW 222974 Australian Birds 21(3)

The Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea and Gang -Gang Callocephalon fimbriatum are both known
to hybridize rarely with other species of cockatoo but there is no record of interbreeding between
these two species, either in captivity or in the wild (Forshaw. 1981. Australian Parrots. 2nd ed.
(revised) Lansdowne Editions: Sydney). Differences in habitat and distribution must effectively
prevent this possibility among wild populations; however, as described herein, such a hybrid cross
has occurred in an artificial situation, that is, between a wild Gang -Gang and a Little Corella that
was either an aviary escapee or the offspring from a nearby feral flock.
Since May 1983, a male Little Corella and female Gang -Gang, obviously paired, had been
visiting the Appleton’s backyard birdstand in Winmalee, in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales.
The area is situated among lightly timbered woodland ridges intersected by deep gullies. On 29
February 1985, the pair arrived at the feeder with a large grey chick which was nicknamed the
Gangrella. In the course of subsequent daily visits, it was possible for Ann and Mark Appleton to
record a range of physical and behavioural traits of the hybrid bird. Photographs of the chick and
its parents were taken and copies are held by the Appleton’s and in the Ornithology Section at the
Australian Museum.
The Gangrella displayed characteristics indicative of its mixed parentage. Its overall colour was dove
grey with the feathers having paler grey edges but lacking the coloured margins of the female Gang –
Gang. The outer feathers of the crest were khaki, the inner feathers light grey. There was dark grey
speckling at the tips of the tail. Feathers around the top of the beak were russett brown while the
beak itself and the legs were grey. The shape of the Gangrella was that of a corella, though chubbier,
with a similar short rounded crest. As it grew, the chick developed a corella-like patch of bare orbital
skin, which started as light blue and gradually darkened over an eight week period. Below this there
was a fine pink line.
As with its appearance, the Gangrella’s vocabulary combined elements derived from both parents.
In flight, the chick had a harsh screeching cry similar to that of the Gang -Gang. Another phrase like
the Gang -Gang’s was a growling note when slightly troubled. When lunging at other birds on the
feeding stand, the Gangrella would give a short, high-pitched bark, like the Corella. While feeding
it uttered a soft note “rolf? rolf?”, but if begging the Little Corella for access to food, it produced
an extremely loud, non-stop rasping rattle. When preparing to leave the feeding station, it made
a series of curious chuckling sounds which came close to a warble before ending on a querying pitch.


The family- e stablished a general schedul-e of visitation to the feeding station: 07-:3 0 hrs chick;
11:00 hrs mother and chick; 14:00 hrs father and chick; 15:00 hrs onwards all three birds.
The behaviour of the Gangrella varied depending on which of its parents were present.January 1988 75
When feeding alone the chick was fairly amicable with other birds. It preferred to clear the
stand of all other birds at first, stalking around for a short time; however, once concentrating on the
food, other birds could feed also so long as they maintained a certain distance. In particular, when
alone the Gangrella ignored the bickering of Crimson Rosellas Platycercus elegans, which were
also frequent visitors to the feeder.
While with the father (Little Corella), the young bird behaved much more aggressively, taking
on the Corella’s arrogance, strutting and raising its crest. Usually when the male was feeding, the
Gangrella was required to make three approaches before being allowed join him. The chick would
perch on the edge of the stand at the furthest point from its father and commence the loud rattle
described earlier, while bobbing its head meekly all the while. One of these rattles was timed at 100
seconds. Eventually the Little Corella would charge the chick, head -butting it off the stand. This
sequence would be repeated twice more, then on the fourth occasion, the chick would fly directly
in to the food without the prelimiary rattling or bobbing, and the adult would permit it to feed. This
display did not occur often and never while the Gang -Gang was present. Like its father, the chick
was quite fearless of all types of birds with the exception of Laughing Kookaburras Dacelo
novaeguineae (also like the Corella) which were treated with great circumspection.
When the mother was feeding, the chick was more docile, though never quite as placid as
the Gang -Gang. It would invariably manoeuvre between the observer and the female, an action never
taken with the Corella. The chick seemed very protective of the Gang -Gang at all times, chasing
off other birds in the Corella’s absence and flying to the same branch as the mother. In contrast to
when feeding alone, it would at these times drive off squabbling Crimson Rosellas.
During feeding by all three birds, the Corella was the chief aggressor with some assistance
from the Gangrella. The Gang -Gang generally ignored all proceedings and just fed.
The young bird would demand fresh supplies of feed (sunflower seeds seemed to be the only
variety taken by the birds) and water by rocking from side to side, squawking softly and raising the
crest at the supplier in a manner similar to that of the Sulphur -crested Cockatoos Cacatua galerita.
On occasion the parents would wait in a tree until the seed had been replenished and then fly down
to join the chick.
Oddly, the Gangrella, unlike its parents and most other local birds, did not tuck its legs up during
flight after height had been established. Despite the unusual appearance resulting from this
behaviour, the flight was powerful and controlled.
Since its initial appearance the Gangrella had visited the food stand on a daily basis. On 15
July 1985 it did not appear nor has it been seen since although its parents continued to feed in the
yard. Whether it died, had reached a degree of independence that it was forced out by the parents
or left for some other cause is not known. Although the Little Corella and Gang -Gang have returned
since and nested again in January 1987, no new chicks have accompanied them.
As of the final revision of the manuscript in late July 1987, the Gang -gang was suspected of
sitting on eggs. The male Corella came to the feeder every day at morning and dusk, aggressively
repelling all other birds, including the normally feared kookaburras. He fed furiously to the point
of gluttony and then returned in a direct line to the nesting site. It appeared that he did not share
in the incubation, but concentrated on gathering food and crop -feeding the sitting female during
this period.
In addition to the Gang -gang’s mate, there were two other Little Corellas which have visited
the feed stand, however, unlike it they are shy and strictly seasonal visitors. This species is not the76 Australian Birds 21(3)
only presumed feral or escaped cage bird in the area that has found its way to the Appleton’s
backyard: a short time after the initial appearance of the Gangrella, a Long -billed Corella Cacatua
tenuirostris arrived at the feed stand and subsequently came every day until leaving with the Sulphur –
crested Cockatoos in September 1985. It returned with them in January 1986 but was not present
more than a month.
Under normal circumstances, the Little Corella and Gang -Gang would not meet in the wild
because of their widely separated distributions and dissimilar habitat preferences. The Little Corella
has shown that it is capable of surviving, and even breeding, in areas which bear little resemblance
to its normal environment: populations are established at several localities in the Sydney district
(e.g. McGrath’s Hill, near Windsor; Audley in the Royal National Park) and individuals have appeared
in other locations over extended periods, such as the Appleton’s backyard. These may have arisen
from releases at certain points, dispersion from established flocks, or both.
Even if the two species were to somehow come together in the wild, pre -mating factors (voice,
courtship behaviour, etc.) should prevent pairing, but in artifical situations, such as a cage or that
described here, these barriers can break down. Under natural conditions, this breakdown is usually
restricted to areas where the chances of finding a mate of the same species are low, such as at the
boundary of the distribution. Here the urge to pair may overcome the contrary factors.
Ann and Mark Appleton, 7 Halcyon Avenue, Winmalee NSW 2777
Walter Boles, Australian Museum, College St., Sydney NSW 2000
The Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus is a regular summer visitor to coastal areas of northern
Australia, but is rare in New South Wales. Only 13 occurrences have been recorded in the Sydney
area up to 1984 (E.S. Hoskin, pers. comm.). Further, according to Blakers et al. (1984. The Atlas
of Australian birds. RAOU and Melbourne Univ. Press) the Oriental Cuckoo “is usually solitary, less
often in parties of up to five birds. Of 15 Field Atlas records with details, only one was of two birds
together”. This note reports a series of sightings in March-April 1984 that are unusual because:
1 Frequent sightings were made by experienced observers at a single location over a period of
about a month.
2 Several individual cuckoos were present during the period.
3 An ideal “hide” was available for observation.
4 One of the birds died, and was retrieved almost immediately and given to the Australian
The cuckoos were observed in the grounds of the CSIRO Radiophysics Laboratory, which
occupies a five hectare site bounded by Pembroke Street, Vimiera Road and unoccupied land along
Terrys Creek in Epping, a suburb of Sydney, NSW. Along the northern side of the northwestern wing
of the building a line of Melaleuca armillaris was planted in 1969. These are now large mature trees
which press against the wall. Beyond them, extending to Pembroke Street, there is a 20-metre tract
of undisturbed bushland. Fan -tailed Cuckoos Cuculus pyrrhophanus are very common for most of
the year in this area.January 1988 77
On 15 March 1984 one of us (KB), who occupies an office in the middle of that wing of the
building, observed just outside his window a bird that appeared to be an Oriental Cuckoo. As he
had to leave immediately for Mildura this was not confirmed until his return on 27 March 1984, when
the bird was seen by a colleague. Mr E. Hoskin who lives nearby was contacted and he confirmed
the sighting. During the following 18 days many experienced observers were able to watch the bird
or birds from both inside and outside the building. The last sighting, of a single adult bird, was
apparently that of Mr J.J. Francis on 14 April 1984.
Several observers reported both an adult and an immature cuckoo. In particular, A. McBride
and A. Dampney on 8 April, and B. Howie on 10 April, closely studied an individual with bright rufous
on the back, wings and tail, barred and blotched with brown; barring on the abdomen extended up
to the beak, and the bird had a yellow eyering. However, as described below, an immature Oriental
Cuckoo later died, and on examination was found to have only a trace of buff on the upper back
and some frontal buff feathering. It clearly was not the immature bird seen by the observers on 8
and 10 April, so that at least three birds must have been present during early April.
On 11 April, six observers had been watching for an hour from inside the office without seeing
any Oriental Cuckoos. Finally, at 09:30 hrs, one flew into the M. armillaris outside the window. Its
upperparts were brownish -grey, the breast and abdomen white, strongly barred brown -black. The
bird sat still for two minutes then flew off.
About 20 minutes later an immature Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus flew to a wire just
outside the window with a piece of red meat. It wedged this in a fork of the melaleuca and tore off
and ate small pieces. At 10:30 hrs we decided to go outside as we had not sighted the Oriental Cuckoo
again. A bird which we presumed was the cuckoo made about five swift, short falcon -like dashes
between the building and nearby tall trees, keeping in cover all the time. It then flew away.
Five minutes later we found the barely cool body of an Oriental Cuckoo, neck torn and partly
eaten, almost under our observation window. It was not possible to see the place from inside the
room. It appeared to be the same bird we had been watching at 09:30 hrs, and we assumed this
was the source of the flesh the Grey Butcherbird had been eating at the time we disturbed it by moving
As soon as the bird was found the following notes were recorded: upperparts brownish -grey
with a trace of buff on the upper back and some frontal buff feathering. Face and throat pale grey,
breast and abdomen white strongly barred brown -black. Undertail coverts white with dark brown
spots, vent area pale buff. Tail dark grey with large white spots, tipped white. Eye -ring bright yellow,
pupil black, iris bright yellow. Feet and legs bright yellow, with dark grey to black claws. Upper
mandible dark grey to black, lower mandible pale green merging to pale yellow at base.
The bird is now specimen number 0.58025 at the Australian Museum, where Ian McAllan
examined it and provided the following additional details: the cuckoo was a female and had not bred,
as its oviduct was thin and straight and its ovary was very small; there was no sign of moult; and
it had heavy subcutaneal abdominal fat, indicating that it was ready to migrate.
During the period of observations at Epping, the Oriental Cuckoos were most commonly seen
feeding on sawfly larvae in the M. armillaris trees. However B. Howie also reported one hopping
around the base of a tall eucalypt eating caterpillars from the bark.
We would like to thank Mr E.S. Hoskin for his comments on an earlier draft of this note.
R. & K. Bigg, 12 Wills Avenue, Castle Hill NSW 215478 Australian Birds 21(3)
Though once fairly common, the Bush Stone -curlew Burhinus grallarius is now rare in the region
of Sydney, New South Wales. It is still seen occasionally but, according to Blakers et al. (1984, The
Atlas of Australian birds. RAOU: Melbourne), the species was not recorded during the RAOU Field
Atlas project in the one -degree block (34/151) in which Sydney lies. Local breeding records are very
few: the files of the Keith Hi ndwood Bird Recording Service mention nesting at Beecroft in 1908,
Rouse Hill in 1939, Kellyville in 1943, Liverpool and Prestons in 1949, Doonside in 1952, Glenorie
in 1968, and a pair that regularly nested on the Avalon Peninsula during the 1970s (E.S. Hoskin,
pers. comm.)
On 28 November 1984 L. Smith, C. and T. Bonser, B. and M. Brown and myself were in the
Glossodia area, NSW, when I saw a Bush Stone -curlew crouched low on the ground 75 m away
in a fenced paddock of open woodland and short grass. The nearest house was about half a kilometre
On closer approach the bird rose and moved slowly and stealthily away. A second stone -curlew,
which had been under a nearby shrub, also moved off unobtrusively. Both birds were silent. In a small
scrape in the leaf litter were two eggs. Not wishing to disturb the birds any longer, we left after noting
that the stone -curlew returned to the nest within five minutes.
On 5 December we found the Bush Stone -curlew was still sitting on two eggs, its mate close
by. Photographs of nest and birds were taken. Again the bird returned to the nest within five minutes.
Our subsequent observations may be summarised as follows: 14 December, adult on nest, sitting
low with wings spread; 17 December (10:30 hrs), both birds close to nest; 17 December (11:30 hrs),
two eggs in nest were warm (this was a very hot day); 22 December, no sign of adults, eggs or
On the following day, 23 December, B. and M. Brown talked to the owners of the paddock and
were given permission to search. They found the adult birds at the far end of the paddock, but could
not locate the chicks. The area was next revisited on 16 January 1985, when six observers searched
the paddock for an hour but did not find any stone -curlews.
Robin Bigg, 12 Wills Avenue, Castle Hill NSW 2154January 1988 79
From 11 to 22 October 1986 my wife, Pauline, and I travelled by canoe from Hay to Balranald along
the Murrumbidgee River. The journey of about 280 kilometres took 83 hours 30 minutes of paddling.
A count was kept of those birds seen or heard over and along the river.
Of the 57 species seen by Guppy (1974, Birds 8:85-88) on a similar journey through this area
we saw 50 and added another 44 species. The birds recorded by Guppy that we did not see were:
Little Egret, Brown Goshawk, Australian Hobby, Black -fronted Plover, Japanese Snipe, Dollarbird
and Crimson Chat.
Species observed breeding were: Pacific Heron, White-faced Heron, Yellow -billed Spoonbill,
Maned Duck, Black Kite, Galah, Tawny Frogmouth, Sacred Kingfisher, Welcome Swallow, Tree
Martin, Fairy Martin, Willie -wagtail, Noisy Miner, Striated Pardalote, Common Starling, White -winged
Chough, Magpielark and Australian Magpie.
The river had been running a banker and was dropping so that the extensive swamps below
Redbank Weir were discharging into the river. No gravelly or sandy beaches were seen.
In Table 1 the common and scientific names follow Morris, McGill & Holmes (1981. Handlist
of birds in New South Wales. Sydney: NSWFOC). The penultimate column shows whether the bird
was recorded by Guppy in 1972, and the last the total of each species recorded during our trip.
TABLE 1. Bird species recorded along the Murrumbidgee River between Hay and Balranald 11-22
October 1986
No. Species 1972 total
1 Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae 1
54 Australian Pelican Pelecanus conspicillatus 91
59 Darter Anhinga melanogaster 46
61 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 99
62 Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax varius 2
63 Little Black Cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris 55
64 Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos 49
68 Pacific Heron Ardea pacifica 38
69 White-faced Heron Ardea novaehollandiae 63
71 Great Egret Egretta alba 48
76 Rufous Night Heron Nycticorax caledonicus 464
81 Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus 1
82 Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopica 23
83 Straw -necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis 618
84 Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia 1
85 Yellow -billed Spoonbill Platalea flavipes 83
89 Black Swan Cygnus atratus 11
92 Australian Shelduck Tadorna tadornoides 4
94 Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa 408
96 Grey Teal Anas gibberifrons 21680 Australian Birds 21(3)
102 Maned Duck Chenonetta jubata 460
111 Black Kite Milvus migrans 22
115 Whistling Kite Haliaster sphenurus 89
120 White -bellied Sea -eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster
121 Wedge-tailed Eagle Aquila audax 12
122 Little Eagle Hieraaetus morphnoides 9
125 Black Falcon Falco subniger
126 Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus 10
129 Brown Falcon Falco berigora
130 Australian Kestrel Falco cenchroides 12
150 Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa 20
151 Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio 8
152 Eurasian Coot Fulica atra 16
153 Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles 2
175 Black -winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus 3
219 Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
245 Peaceful Dove Geopelia placida 67
249 Common Bronzewing Phaps chalcoptera 15
252 Crested Pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes 11
259 Galah Cacatua roseicapilla 2241
261 Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea 61
263 Sulphur -crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita 45
274 Cockatiel Nymphicus hollandicus
280 Yellow Rosella Platycercus flaveolus 416
284 Red-rumped Parrot Psephotus haematonotus 14
287 Bluebonnet Northiella haematogaster 2
296 Fan -tailed Cuckoo Cuculus pyrrhophanus 11
298 Horsfield’s Bronze -cuckoo Chrysococcyx basalis 34
299 Golden Bronze -cuckoo Chrysococcyx lucidus plagosus
305 Southern Boobook Ninox novaeseelandiae 7
311 Tawny Frogmouth Podargus strigoides 19
320 Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae 195
323 Sacred Kingfisher Halcyon sancta 528
325 Rainbow Bee -eater Merops ornatus 36
334 Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena 442
335 Tree Martin Cecropis nigricans 1553
336 Fairy Martin Cecropis ariel 41
340 Black -faced Cuckooshrike Coracina novaehollandiae 57
345 White -winged Triller Lalage sueurii 62
358 Jacky -winter Microeca leucophaea 3
365 Rufous Whistler Pachycephala rufiventris 47
367 Grey Shrike -thrush Colluricincla harmonica 434
374 Restless Flycatcher Myiagra inquieta 25
377 Willie -wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys 127January 1988 81
385 Grey -crowned Babbler Pomatostomus temporalis 2
389 Clamorous Reed -warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus 121
393 Rufous Songlark Cinclorhamphus mathewsi 394
395 Superb Fairywren Malurus cyaneus 39
397 Variegated Fairywren Malurus lamberti 5
415 Weebill Smicrornis brevirostris 87
418 Western Warbler Gerygone fusca 106
419 White -throated Warbler Gerygone olivacea 11
422 Chestnut-rumped Thornbill Acanthiza uropygialis
432 Brown Treecreeper Climacteris picumnus 808
438 Little Friarbird Philemon citreogularis 352
440 Blue -faced Honeyeater Entomyzon cyanotis 17
442 Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala 159
443 Yellow -throated Miner Manorina flavigula 7
455 White -plumed Honeyeater Lichenostomus penicillatus 2885
475 Mistletoebird Dicaeum hirundinaceum 34
481 Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus 914
483 Silvereye Zosterops lateralis 2
486 House Sparrow Passer domesticus 21
499 Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris 135
501 Olive -backed Oriole Oriolus sagittatus 2
509 White -winged Chough Corcorax melanorhamphos 363
511 Magpielark Grallina cyanoleuca 284
514 White-browed Woodswallow Artamus superciliosus 2219
516 Dusky Woodswallow Artamus cyanopterus 2
518 Grey Butcherbird Cracticus torquatus 10
519 Pied Butcherbird Cracticus nigrogularis 4
520 Australian Magpie Gymnorhina tibicen 60
523 Australian Raven Corvus coronoides 259
525 Little Raven Corvus mellori 144
J. Waugh, 44 Tourmaline Avenue, Pearl Beach NSW 225682 Australian Birds 21(3)
Vaucluse House, with its surrounding gardens, is a mansion of historic importance in the inner
eastern suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales; it is maintained as a public park. A considerable
number of Pied Currawongs Strepera graculina is generally to be found at the top of the gardens
where a small stream crosses the boundary. The great attraction for these currawongs seems to
be a pretty little pool that the gardeners have recently made in the stream. One side of the pool is
formed by a steep rock face down which a small waterfall trickles into the pool beneath.
Between the rock face and the water, however, is a layer of steep mud, probably clay, which
is always dripping with water. The layer is about one metre deep. The currawongs often bathe in
the pool and then congregate along this layer or seam of damp clay. There are nearly always about
ten birds there at a time and have seen as many as twenty.
At first I assumed that they were seeking some particularly succulent larvae or insects of some
kind. But soon noticed that they were not feedi-ng but engaged in a prolonged preening session.
I then thought- th at they might have been anting I have seen currawongs anting elsewhere in the
Sydney area though wet mud is hardly the place to find ants. Then saw that they were pecking
away at choice pieces of mud which they then rubbed all over their feathers, particularly the
underparts and beneath the wings. could see quite easily the little pieces of mud at the end of
their beaks. – –
The birds look very odd while doing this like miners at a coal face and show every sign
of enjoyment and even rapture. Sometimes a bird will spend five or ten minutes on the mud and
individuals return again and again. Occasionally a bird will stop to rest or simply lie belly down on
the mud and then move to another spot and start pecking away again at some favoured place.
When finished they do not usually wash the mud off but instead fly up to trees above the little
cliffs to preen and dry off. More currawongs continually arrive to take their place.
I can offer no explanation for this behaviour, though it seems obvious that the damp clay or
some minerals it contains has some therapeutic benefit. The most plausible guess would seem to
be that the behaviour is involved in some way with the control of ectoparasites.
John Douglas Pringle, 8/105A Darling Point Road, Darling Point NSW 2027
The northern limit of distribution of the Gang -gang Cockatoo Callocephalon fimbriatum is recorded
by Blakers etal. (1984 The Atlas of Australian birds. RAOU & Melbourne- U niversity Press: Melbourne)
in the one degree squares at 32°S latitude and 150° to 152°E longitude that is, in the general vicinity
of Barrington Tops. Morris, McGill & Holmes (1981. Handlist of birds in New South Wales. NSWFOC:
Sydney) mention Lake Macquarie, Ellerston and Munghorn Gap as the usual northern limits; there
is also a sighting of a pair of these birds at Ebor in November 1967 by Graeme Chapman (Forshaw
& Cooper. 1981. Australian parrots. 2nd (revised) ed. Lansdowne: Melbourne).January 1988 83
On 21 March 1987 while banding birds in the Regional Botanical Gardens (under construction)
at Coffs Harbour with Brian Tynan, Ty Cook and my wife, the distinctive call of the Gang -gang
Cockatoo was heard. The bird came into sight between the trees almost above us, circled around
and alighted in a tall eucalypt nearby; an adult male, it remained long enough for us to see clearly
its red head and crest. It then flew off in a northeasterly direction.
Subsequently, on 15 April 1987, Alan Leishman heard and saw a Gang -gang Cockatoo flying
over my home at Moonee, nine kilometres north of Coffs Harbour.
These observations appear to be the most northerly on record, and the first in the Northern
Rivers Region. If there is a population in the mountains near Ebor, which is some 1500 m above sea
level, it is possible that one or more birds might move east occasionally during the cooler months
(Coffs Harbour is about 75 km ENE by E of Ebor). It is also possible that the bird may have been
an aviary escapee but its behaviour did not indicate this in any way.
S.G. Lane, Fairview Road, Moonee via Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
OBITUARY: Robin Bigg (1923-1985)
The news that Robin Bigg had died on 28 June 1985 while holidaying in the People’s Republic of
China was received with great regret by members of the NSW Field Ornithologists Club. Robin and
her husband Keith had been on a combined working lecture tour and bird -watching holiday. At the
time, they were on their way to the famous Blue Lake in Qinghai Province in Western China, when
their vehicle was involved in a road accident. Robin died the following day as a result of the injuries
she sustained, while Keith’s were minor and he soon recovered. Robin was cremated in China and
a memorial service was subsequently held at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Castle Hill, at which many
of our members were present to pay their respects to Keith and their children.
Robin was a foundation member of the NSWFOC. She had always supported the activities
of the club, being a regular organizer and leader of club outings, and was someone who could be
relied upon by editors to write up the outings afterwards. Robin was well known to overseas visitors,
as she was a willing hostess to those people who contacted the club for a day’s birding. She was
also a competent birdwatcher who contributed extensively to the records of the FOC Annual Bird
Report and the RAOU Bird Atlas. Two articles attesting to her interest and knowledge in ornithology
had been published recently in our journal: “Oriental plovers near Newcastle” (Aust. Birds 15: 54)
and “Black-naped Tern at Fingal Beach, Tweed Heads” (Aust. Birds 19: 10).
In 1979 Robin extended her interests and involvement in ornithology by becoming one of the
foundation members of our sister club, the Cumberland Bird Observers Club, serving at the time
of her death as Treasurer and Committee member. Robin will be remembered as a good friend,
someone who enjoyed the company of other birders of whatever status or experience. She is missed
not only by her closer friends but by all those bird watchers who knew her. The club extends its
deepest sympathies to Keith, and her children, Ian, Judy, Penny and Alison, in their tragic loss.
Alan K. Morris84 Australian Birds 21(31
OBITUARY: Michael Stanley Reid Sharland (1899-1987)
One of Australia’s best-known ornithologists and conservationists in the person of Mike Sharland
passed away, on 11 February 1987, after a relatively short period as an inmate of St Anne’s Nursing
Home, Hobart, following a heart attack. He was 88. Born on 14 June 1899, educated at the
Campbelltown Grammar School in Tasmania, he worked for most of his life as a journalist with the
Tasmanian Mercury, Sydney Morning Herald (1927-1944), Melbourne Argus and for a time with
Reuters in London. He served also on the Tasmanian Animals and Birds Protection Board and was
Superintendent of Scenic Reserves of the Lands Department in Hobart. He was a Fellow of the Royal
Zoological Society of New South Wales, President of the Tasmanian Field Naturalists Club
(1945-1946), President of the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union (1946-1947) and an honorary
Life Member of the Bird Observers Association of Tasmania, as well as serving through other
offical capacities.
He published fourteen books dealing with ornithology, history and railways, each being well
illustrated with his own photographs. His Birds of Tasmania has run into several editions, whilst others
of ornithological interest included Birds of the Sun (1967) and a Territory of Birds (1964). He could
be described as a pioneer nature photographer, his ornithological achievements dating back to 1922
when his first contribution to The Emu was a short illustrated note concerning the egg of a Pallid
Cuckoo in the nest of an Australian Pipit, a rare happening.
However, his nature column, published under his pen -name Peregrinus, published weekly
in the Tasmanian Mercury for 60 years without a break, even whilst serving in the Royal Australian
Air Force during the 1939-1945 Great War, may well be a record difficult to surpass. His photographic
records were recently donated to the National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife at the
Australian Museum, Sydney, following a visit to his home by Messrs Ted Carthew and John Disney.
have lost a close personal friend, as we corresponded regularly over many years, and well
remember some treasured outings together when he lived in Sydney. To Mrs Iris Sharland, also in
St Anne’s Nursing Home, their son Roger and daughter Elizabeth, we extend our sincere sympathy.
Contributors are requested to observe the following points when submitting articles and notes
for publication.

  1. Species, names, and the order in which they occur are to be in accordance with” Handlist
    of Birds in New South Wales”. A.K. Morris, A R. McGill and G. Holmes 1981 Dubbo:
  2. Articles or notes should be typewritten if possible and submitted in duplicate. Double
    spacing is required.
  3. Margins of not less than 25mm width at the left hand side and top, with similar or slightly
    smaller at the right hand side of pages.
  4. No underlinings and no abbreviations except as shown in the examples.
  5. Photographs should be glossy finish and not too small.
  6. The Style Manual, Commonwealth Government Printing Office, Canberra (1966) and
    subsequent editions will be the guide for this Journal.
  7. Diagrams should be on plain white paper drawn with india ink Any lettering is to be
    ‘professional style’ or lightly pencilled.
  8. Dates must be written “1 January 1975” except in tables and figures where they may be
  9. The 24-hour clock will be used, times being written 06:30, 18:30 for 6.30 a.m. and
    6.30 p.m. respectively.
  10. Mr, Mrs, Dr are not followed by a full stop.
  11. In text, numbers one to ten are spelt numbers of five figures or more should be grouped in
    threes and spaced by a thin gap. Commas should not be used as thousands markers.
  12. References to other articles should be shown in the text-‘…B.W. Finch and M.D. Bruce
    (1974) stated…’ and under heading
    Finch, B.W. and M.D. Bruce 1974 The Status of the Blue Petrel in Australian Waters
    Aust Birds 9, 32-35
  13. Acknowledgements to other individuals should include Christian names or initials.Volume 21, No. 3 January 1988
    61 NESTING BEHAVIOUR OF THE PACIFIC HERON Ardea pacifica S. Marchant
    69 REMARKS ON THE TYPE -LOCALITY OF Cacatoes sanguinea ashbyi
    MATHEWS, 1912 Ian A.W. McAllan
    Ann & Mark Appleton and Walter Boles
    Keith Bigg
    Douglas Pringle
    S.G. Lane
    83 OBITUARY: Robin Bigg (1923-1985)

84 OBITUARY: Michael Stanley Reid Sharland (1899-1987)

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