Vol. 29 No. 3-text

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Journal of the
The object of the Club is to promote the study and conservation of Australian birds and
the habitats they occupy.
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Australian Birds is published quarterly.Original articles and short notes on
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Editor Peter Roberts
Production Stuart Fairbairn
Cover Pictures Front: Adult Square -tailed Kite Photo: Graeme Chapman
Back: Sacred Kingfisher Photo: Peter Roberts
Please address manuscripts to the Editor at:
33 Carlyle Rd, LINDFIELD NSW 2070
ISSN 0311-8150
Printed by The Village Scribe, 56 Thompson Street, Drummoyne 2047AUSTRALIAN
Volume 29 No.3 March 1996
D. G. GOSPER, 1309 Nimbin Road, LISMORE 2480
C. R. GOSPER, 29 Gellatly Avenue, FIGTREE 2525
This paper examines the seasonal status of kingfishers Todiramphus spp. in the northern rivers
region of NSW through assessment of data on abundance and distribution in the Richmond
River district. Findings are discussed in the context of reported movement patterns in eastern
Australia. In particular, current understanding of the seasonal status of the Forest Kingfisher is
The seasonal status of Kingfishers Todiramphus spp. in eastern Australia is
incompletely known (Blakers et al. 1984, Schodde and Tidemann 1986, Strahan 1994).
Most are considered to undertake some form of migratory movement, but available
information remains largely anecdotal. Three species, the Forest Kingfisher T macleayii,
the Red -backed Kingfisher T. pyrrhopygia and the Sacred Kingfisher T sanctus occur in
the Richmond River district (Gosper 1986). The Collared Kingfisher T. chloris is not
considered here due to it not being recorded from the study area.
In the Richmond River district of northern NSW Forest Kingfishers are restricted
to low-lying country (<200 m above sea level), inhabiting swamp woodland and swamp
sclerophyll forest edges (Melaleuca/Eucalyptus/Lophostemon associations); in more open
Australian Birds Vol.29 No.3 33situations the margins of semi -permanent swamps where scattered timber remains; and
also occasionally open areas on the lower floodplain. The localised distribution of this
species appears strongly linked to the proximity of water (D.G. Gosper unpub. data).
Red- backed Kingfishers have been recorded as occasional visitors to open farming
areas only.
Sacred Kingfishers occupy a variety of forest, woodland, scrub, wetland and human
modified habitats at all altitudes across the district, with the exceptions of rainforest and
low heath (Gosper 1981, 1992 and unpub. data).
Monthly censusing of birds at sites in the Richmond River district has been on-
going since 1973 (see Gosper 1992 for methods and reports published to date arising
from this work). Specific habitats sampled systematically include a range of wetland and
forest types. Surveys sample all months and comprise approximately 24 to 36 monthly
counts at each site. The following sites are referred to in the text: Stratheden (152° 57’E,
28° 47’S), Tatham Site A (153° 12’E, 28° 57’S), Tatham Site B (153° 10’E, 28° 57’S),
Clovass (153° 07’E, 28° 52’S).
Records of Todiramphus spp. have been extracted from all surveys, together with
records from casual surveys throughout the district accumulated over the same period.
Records were analysed to determine:
(i) seasonal changes in relative abundance to indicate annual movement
(ii) longer term occurrence over two or three years at specific sites to indicate
sedentary or nomadic behaviour
(iii) associated seasonal changes in habitat and/or local distribution
To examine seasonal habitat usage by the Sacred Kingfisher, data from all sites
were pooled and divided into two broad habitat groupings; Habitat 1, for the purposes of
this paper being defined as ‘littoral’ habitats, comprising tidal flats, mangroves, beaches
and open areas near water; and Habitat 2, defined as ‘terrestrial’ habitats, including dry
and wet sclerophyll forests, swamp sclerophyll forests, woodlands, scrub, agricultural
and urban areas.
Chi -squared tests examined seasonal changes in relative abundance of the
Todiramphus spp., and differential seasonal habitat use by the Sacred Kingfisher.
34 D.G & C.R. Gosper: Kingfishers March 1996Figure 1. Mean number of birds per census per
calendar month. Sites: Sacred Kingfisher
(surveys=112) – Royal Camp, Myrtle (Gosper 1992),
Clovass, Tatham (B): Forest Kingfisher (surveys=127)

  • Stratheden, Tatham (A) (Gosper 1981), Clovass,
    Tatham (B).
    co II-
    Forest Kingfisher
    a u) 3
    0 Kingfisher
    < Z o < Cf) LL Month Figure 2. Distribution by month of records (n=243) of Sacred Kingfishers in the Richmond River district. Habitat 1 – Tidal flats, mangroves, beaches, open areas near water. Habitat 2 – Forests, woodlands and other terrestrial habitats. 45 40 35 30 Habitat 1 25 20 Habitat 2 15 Total 10 5 cn 0 z Li- 2 Month Australian Birds Vol.29 No.3 35RESULTS Forest Kingfisher Forest Kingfishers were present in the Richmond River district in all months, with records being evenly spread throughout the year. Monthly measures of relative abundance at four regularly surveyed sites near Casino indicate year-round presence (Figure 1). The number of birds recorded per census did not differ significantly between months of the year at these sites (X2 =16.5, 11DF, P>0.1). The data thus show no seasonally related
    trends indicating movement into or out of the Richmond River area.
    Forest Kingfishers were continuously present at some sites over several years.
    During monthly surveys of semi -permanent swamps at Stratheden and Tatham (Site A)
    from 1973 to 1977 (Gosper 1981), Forest Kingfishers were recorded at one or both of
    these sites in all but three months over a 37 month period. At Clovass and Tatham (Site
    B) Forest Kingfishers went unrecorded for no more than two consecutive months at either
    site. At Tatham (B), Forest Kingfishers were present continuously over at least 24 months
    (1989-91), if three months when the site was not visited (presence/absence not determined)
    are disregarded. G. Holmes (pers. comm.) recorded Forest Kingfishers as continuously
    present (breeding annually) over several years at ‘Glen Isle’, near Kyogle, in the early
    Red -backed Kingfisher
    Single birds recorded May 1972, June -July 1973, June -July 1974 (same site as
    1973), August 1979, August 1982 and May 1991. Extreme dates were May 6 and August
  1. Additional records for northern NSW include single birds at Alumny Creek near
    Grafton in July -August 1963, and Bellingen 1964. All instances involved birds perched
    on utility lines.
    Sacred Kingfisher
    Records of Sacred Kingfishers encompassed all calender months, but with birds
    being present at most sites for only part of the year. Monthly distribution of records (all
    sources, n=243) indicated substantially higher overall reporting rates in spring and summer
    than in other seasons (Figure 2). Similarly, at four regularly surveyed forest sites near
    Casino, significantly different numbers of Sacred Kingfishers were recorded between
    different months of the year (X2 = 174.64, 11DF, P<0.001). Figure 1 illustrates the distinct pattern of Sacred Kingfisher abundance at these sites, with the species present through spring and summer, numbers declining in autumn, and absent completely in winter. 36 D.G & C.R. Gosper: Kingfishers March 1996Analysis of records by habitat shows that all ‘winter’ records (from late March to early August) occurred in open habitats on the coast and floodplain (mainly estuarine tidal flats and fringing mangroves, less often beaches and cleared country near water including treeless swamps – hereafter referred to as ‘littoral’ habitats). In these habitats the number of Sacred Kingfisher records per month did not differ significantly (X2 = 8.387, IlDF, P>0.25) (Figure 2), suggesting a sedentary population. During surveys of
    the Richmond River estuary from December 1972 to January 1974 Sacred Kingfishers
    were present in all months, appearing more numerous from February to September when
    conspicuous on open tidal flats (Gosper 1981).
    In contrast, for terrestrial habitats significantly more Sacred Kingfisher records fell
    over the spring and summer months (X2 = 173.78, 11DF, P<<0.001) (Figure 2). Sacred
    Kingfishers were present annually in such forest and woodland habitats from late
    September to January or early February (the breeding season), but absent in winter (April –
    Morris et a/. (1981), Blakers et al. (1984), Schodde and Tidemann (1986) and
    Strahan (1994) describe the Forest Kingfisher as a partial or complete migrant in the
    southern part of its range (northern NSW and southern Queensland). All birds from the
    interior (i.e. west of the coastal plain) reportedly depart in autumn and return in spring
    (Baldwin 1975, Storr 1984). However migratory movements by a significant portion of
    the coastal population are not indicated by the data presented here. Forest Kingfishers
    are present in the northern rivers region of NSW, probably as far south as the Macleay
    River district (see Bird Reports 1974 and 1993) throughout the year, with little fluctuation
    in numbers. Continuous presence over several years at some sites indicates sedentary
    behaviour. Presumed breeding pairs may remain in favourable localities over extended
    periods, disappearing only when conditions cause the habitat to become unsuitable, for
    example the local drying up of water under or close to preferred swamp woodland. The
    periodic appearance of birds in more open areas and at sites not occupied during the
    breeding season points to some level of nomadism or post breeding dispersal. Whether
    these movements constitute mainly local or more general nomadic responses remains
    unclear. It also remains to be determined whether the northward migration across Torres
    Strait of immature Forest Kingfishers in March -May (Draffan et al. 1983) involves birds
    from coastal northern NSW
    Red -backed Kingfishers are scarce winter visitors to the north coast of NSW In
    addition to the records listed here, the annual NSW Bird Reports from 1971 to 1993
    contain a further 6 observations (mostly from the Richmond River district). All records
    Australian Birds Vol.29 No.3 37fall in the period March to August. Schodde and Tidemann (1986) regard this species as
    a summer migrant in the south-east inland, moving to northern Australia after breeding.
    Blakers et al. (1984) suggest that associated with this overall northward winter movement
    is a movement toward the coast in eastern Queensland. Winter records on the north coast
    of NSW provide some evidence to support this suggested pattern of movement.
    The data suggest complete migration by the Sacred Kingfisher to terrestrial habitats
    in northern NSW, arriving in late September and early October and leaving these habitats
    after breeding by mid- February. Arrival and departure periods are of short duration and
    well defined. This pattern of occurrence appears to agree with current perceptions of
    movements in south-eastern Australia (Schodde & Tidemann 1986, Strahan 1994).
    However the status of birds that utilise littoral habitats remains less clear, with
    Sacred Kingfishers present at these sites throughout the year. Pairs that breed in mangroves,
    south at least to the Hunter River estuary (Gosper 1981), are assumed to be part of the
    summer migratory breeding population. Those birds present on estuaries, and less
    frequently nearby beaches and open areas near water from March to August are of unknown
    origin (and age), but are generally assumed to be over -wintering birds (Blakers et al.
    1984), presumably from the summer breeding range in south-eastern Australia. Small
    numbers of Sacred Kingfishers ‘winter’ in mangroves and adjacent tidal habitats south as
    far as Westenport Bay in Victoria, and occasionally on the coast of Tasmania (Blakers et
    a/. 1984, McCulloch 1992).
    Several explanations for the differences in Sacred Kingfisher movements between
    terrestrial and littoral habitats warrant consideration. If the birds present in littoral habitats
    during winter form part of the predominantly summer migratory population that breeds
    in forests and woodlands in south-eastern Australia, such wintering behaviour suggests a
    marked and abrupt change in habitat and diet. It also requires an annual migratory
    movement by a portion of the population from terrestrial to estuarine habitats (at similar
    latitudes?), at the same time as the bulk of the population migrates to northern Australia
    and beyond. Age related segregation of the population may also occur (see Draffan
    1983), but given the relatively small number of individuals involved in wintering these
    would not appear to represent a substantial part of either the adult or immature population
    from south-eastern Australia. Strahan (1994) states that migrating birds are regularly
    seen along the coast during the northern migration but provides no basis for this assertion.
    Alternatively, Sacred Kingfishers present in littoral habitats over the winter months
    may be the same individuals (and/or their offspring) that breed in these habitats over
    summer. These birds, isolated by habitat (and with a more constant food supply,
    particularly crustaceans), may constitute a sedentary portion of the population. Sedentary
    38 D.G & C.R. Gosper: Kingfishers March 1996Sacred Kingfisher populations occur in New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and perhaps
    northern Australia (Blakers et al. 1984, Schodde & Tidemann 1986). The data collected
    in this study, however, were not sufficient to indicate whether this situation prevails in
    littoral habitats in northern NSW
    We thank Glenn Holmes and Tony Saunders for comments on a draft of the
    manuscript. E. Waldron, E. Cardow, W. Bennett and B. Mull provided access to their
    Baldwin, M. 1975, ‘Birds of Inverell district, NSW’, Emu 75:113-120.
    Bird Reports, NSW Annual for 1971 to 1993, Aust. Birds, 1972-95, Vols. 6-23.
    Blakers, M., Davies, S.J.J.F., & Reilly, P.N. 1984, Atlas of Australian Birds, M.U.P.,
    Draffan, R.D.W., Garnett, S.T., & Malone, G.J. 1983, ‘Birds of Torres Strait: an annotated list
    and biogeographical analysis’, Emu 83:207-234.
    Gosper, D.G. 1981, ‘Survey of birds on floodplain-estuarine wetlands on the Hunter and
    Richmond Rivers in northern NSW, Corella 5:1-18.
    Gosper, D.G. 1986, ‘Birds of the Richmond River district, NSW, 1. Distribution’, Corella 10: 1-
    Gosper, D.G. 1992, ‘Forest bird communities of the Richmond River district, New South
    Wales’, Corella 16: 78-88.
    McCulloch, E. 1992, ‘Sacred Kingfisher’, The Bird Observer No. 721.
    Morris, A.K., McGill, A.R., & Holmes, G. 1981, Handlist of birds in New South Wales, NSW
    FOC, Sydney.
    Schodde, R. & Tidemann, S.C. (eds) 1986, Complete Book of Australian Birds, Reader’s Digest,
    Strahan, R. (ed.) 1994, Cuckoos, Nightbirds and Kingfishers of Australia, Angus and Robertson,
    Storr, G. 1984, ‘Revised list of Queensland birds’, Rec. West. Aust. Mus., Supp. 19.
    About the Author:
    Carl Gosper is a post -graduate student at the University of Wollongong where he is
    studying the impact of bitou bush control on birds and native vegetation. Carl’s
    interests include the interaction between birds and bird -dispersed introduced plants,
    and conservation issues
    Australian Birds Vol.29 No.3 39OBSERVATIONS ON THE SQUARE- TAILED KITE
    STEVEN EVISON, 371 Illaroo Road, NORTH NOWRA 2541
    The Square -tailed Kite Lophoictinia isura, listed in New South Wales on Schedule
    2 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 as vulnerable, is predominantly a
    bird of open forests and woodlands from the coast to the inland slopes of the Dividing
    Range; farther inland it is virtually restricted to riparian eucalypt woodland (Debus et al.
    1993). The ecological requirements for the Square -tailed Kite are, in general terms,
    reasonably well known: ‘it is dependent on eucalypt open forest and woodland, and on
    passerines (particularly honeyeaters) that nest in the foliage canopy’ (Debus et al. 1993).
    The species is a specialist predator of the canopy, taking small birds, their eggs and nestlings
    (Debus & Czechura 1989, Marchant & Higgins 1993).
    Various estimates of the species’ home range have been summarised in Garnett
    (1992); these vary from 4850 to 70,000 ha. In south-eastern Australia it is a spring –
    summer seasonal breeding migrant, wintering in the tropics (Marchant & Higgins 1993)
    A pair of Square -tailed Kites at Nowra NSW nested during spring 1994. This pair
    was recorded at various sites in Nowra over the summer of 1994-95 and based on these
    observations the habitat at the nest site is described and home range calculated.
    A pair of nesting Square- tailed Kites was detected on 8 October 1994 in Bangalee
    Reserve, north-west of Nowra (34° 51’S, 150° 31’E). The reserve’is jointly managed by
    the Shoalhaven City Council and the Department of Land and Water Conservation, borders
    the northern edge of the Shoalhaven River, has an altitude ranging from sea level to 120
    m (Australian Height Datum) and covers an area of 127 ha.
    The reserve has a complex mosaic of forest types which includes closed forest
    (rainforest), moist eucalypt forest, dry eucalypt forest, woodland, riparian casuarina forest,
    40 March 1996native and exotic grasslands. The vegetation is partially a result of the previous agricultural
    land use and is influenced by the Shoalhaven River sandstone escarpment. The area was
    selectively logged but has old -growth forest which possesses many hollow -bearing trees.
    A sandstone ridge runs through the reserve where the Square -tailed Kites were
    detected. The following tree species occur in this area: grey gum Eucalyptus punctata,
    spotted gum E. maculata, bangalay E. botryoides/E. saligna cross, blue -leaved stringybark
    E. agglomerata, narrow -leaved ironbark E. crebra, red bloodwood Cogmbia gummifera,
    rough -barked apple Angophora floribunda and turpentine Syncarpia glomulifera.
    The birds were observed at approximately 30 m from the nest from a concealed
    position. The pair made an ee-e-ee call at the nest, which was positioned in a fork of a
    blue -leaved stringybark approximately 20 m above the ground. One bird sat on the nest
    while the other made several short flights which ended in the bird returning to the sitting
    Kite. The bird on the nest had ruffled feathers.
    Table 1. Locations and dates where Square -tailed Kites
    were observed
    Date Location Habitat Observer No. of Birds
    8/10/94 Bangalee Reserve Sclerophyll S. Evison 2
    11-18/11/94 Flat Rock Dam Sclerophyll A. & J. Watson 2
    4/12/94 Bangalee Reserve Sclerophyll G. Daly
    3/2/95 Falls Creek area Grasslands G. Daly
    5/2/95 Bomaderry Urban area B. Virtue
    10/2/95 Illaroo Road Urban area G. Daly 2
    17/2/95 Bomaderry Urban area M. Murphy 2
    19/2/95 Flat Rock Dam Sclerophyll S. Evison
    1995 Illaroo Road Sclerophyll S. Evison
    1995 Illaroo Road Sclerophyll S. Evison 2
    On 6 November 1994 strong winds dislodged the nest, and egg fragments and
    associated nest material were subsequently located under the nest tree. However, one
    bird was observed at the defunct nest site on 4 December 1994 and they were observed in
    the Shoalhaven district over four months by various persons (Table 1). During this time
    the birds ranged over an area of approximately 30,000 ha.
    Australian Birds Vol.29 No.3 41Most observations were within ten kilometres of the defunct nest in open sclerophyll
    forest that bordered farmland or urban areas. On 10 February 1995 the pair was observed
    circling over urban areas of north Nowra. They spiralled upward and after a period of a
    few minutes glided southward and disappeared over the city of Nowra.
    The Square -tailed Kite is rare but does breed on the south coast of New South
    Wales as indicated by our observations and Eades (1995) who reported an adult pair with
    a juvenile at Merimbula.
    In the Shoalhaven this species is seasonal.
    Birds have only been detected in the city of Nowra during spring and summer of
    1994 and 1995 (pers. obs., W. Watson pers. comm.). This is in accordance with findings
    by Debus et al. (1993) that 77% of records in NSW fall in spring -summer.
    The home range of the pair of Kites was estimated as 30,000 ha over four months.
    This area is approximately half that presented by Garnett (1992) for a twelve-month
    period. No Square- tailed Kites were seen after February and it can be presumed that the
    pair left the area and probably migrated north. The home range of this species during
    nesting is expected to be small in comparison with its total range, because the species is a
    seasonal migrant (Marchant & Higgins 1993).
    Bangalee Reserve, which adjoins the northern edge of the Shoalhaven River, has a
    diverse suite of raptors. Currently seven nocturnal and nine diurnal species of birds of
    prey have been detected in the area (Daly & Murphy 1996). The area has a significant
    diversity of predatory birds which is probably related to structural diversity and age classes
    of forests adjacent to the Shoalhaven River.
    The presence of the Square -tailed Kite at Bangalee Reserve is consistent with the
    general requirement of the species, that is mature eucalypts for nesting and an assured
    food supply (Debus et al. 1993). The conservation of this species in the city will require
    the preservation of appropriate habitats, especially those associated with the Shoalhaven
    River escarpment as demonstrated by the foraging pattern of the Kites over the four –
    month period. Square- tailed Kites feed on passerine birds and hence conservation of this
    species will embrace the conservation of this group of animals.
    42 G. Daly & S Evison :Square- tailed Kite March 1996Habitat removal resulting from urban sprawl is a current threat to the Square -tailed
    Kite. The Shoalhaven City has had a rapid growth rate over the last decade (Shoalhaven
    City Council 1993) and there is a deferred proposal for rural residential subdivision north-
    west of Nowra. Habitat removal and human disturbance have adverse impacts upon
    raptors (Garnett 1992, Marchant & Higgins 1993, pers. obs.). We endorse the comment
    of Debus et al. (1993) that nests and foraging areas should be protected from clearing and
    other disturbance. The continued existence of the Square -tailed Kite at Bangalee Reserve
    relies on adequate planning at a state and local government level.
    The following people have contributed to this article: Mr M. Murphy, Mr B. Virtue
    and Messrs A. & J. & W. Watson.
    Daly, G. & Murphy, M. 1996, Fauna Audit: Select Lands, North Nowra, Shoalhaven City,
    unpublished report prepared for Landcare.
    Debus, S.J.S. & Czechura, G.V. 1989,’ The Square- tailed Kite Lophoictinia isura: a review’,
    Australian Bird Watcher 13 81-97.
    Debus, S.J.S., McAllan, I.A.W. & Morris, A.K. 1993, ‘The Square -tailed Kite Lophoictinia
    isura in New South Wales’, Aust. Birds 26 (3): 104-117.
    Eades, D.W. 1995, `Twitchers’Comer’, Wingspan 5 (1): 39-40.
    Garnett, S. 1992, Threatened and Extinct Birds of Australia, Report No. 82 RAOU, Melbourne.
    Marchant, S. & Higgins, P.J. (eds) 1993, Handbook ofA ustralian, New Zealand and Antarctic
    Birds, vol. 2, OUP, Melbourne.
    Shoalhaven City Council 1993, State of the Environment, Nowra.
    About the Authors:
    Garry Daly is a freelance fauna consultant actively engaged in research on the
    requirements of threatened animals and currently a member of the Lower Shoalhaven
    Catchment Committee and Bundanon Community Committee. Garry lives in the bush,
    grows rainforest plants and has an interest in the visual arts.
    Steven Evison is a keen natural historian who has grown up in the Shoalhaven and
    lives on a farm. Steve has a particular interest in raptors and feral animals.
    S.J.S. DEBUS
    Zoology Department, University of New England, ARMIDALE 2351
    A pair of Square -tailed Kites Lophoictinia isura was observed over four days
    during the nest -building phase near Grafton, New South Wales, in late October
  2. The nest was on a mistletoe atop a spindly, near -vertical fork high in a
    spotted gum Eucalyptus henryi in “pole” regrowth forest of that species. Details of
    the Kites’ routines, building behaviour, displays, voice and foraging are presented.
    The breeding attempt was abandoned, for unknown reasons. A potential threat is
    gradual attrition of the pair’s foraging and breeding habitat by urban expansion.
    The site of this nest suggests that the Kite is more flexible in its nesting
    requirements, with a wider tolerance of site characteristics, than formerly believed,
    and that selective logging may not limit its range of potential nest sites in wood –
    production forests.
    Knowledge of the general biology and behaviour of the Square -tailed Kite
    Lophoictinia isura (summarised by Marchant & Higgins 1993) has been derived from
    fragmentary or casual observations, with as yet no complete account of an entire breeding
    cycle, despite the number of nests reported on. This is partly because nests found early in
    the cycle have failed, or nests were observed for only part of a cycle. Opportunities have
    also been lost where a successful nest was found, but systematic observations were not
    conducted or insufficient detail was recorded and published.
    Such a situation is regrettable in southern Australia, where the Kite is considered
    threatened (e.g. Garnett 1993), and where sound conservation and management need to
    be based on adequate data. For instance, the North Coast of New South Wales may be an
    important region for the Kite (Debus et al. 1993), but is subject to further clearing for
    agriculture and urbanisation and to other land- use conflicts such as intensive harvesting
    of native hardwood forests. The single previously known Square -tailed Kite nest on the
    North Coast, at Clarenza near Grafton, received only the bald statements (in Morris &
    Burton 1993 and Debus et aL 1993) “pair nesting… August 1991” and “pair bred spring
    1991″, with no detailed account or useful data having been published despite the
    significance of the event.
    44 March 1996I describe another nesting attempt of the Square -tailed Kite on the NSW North
    Coast, also near Grafton though not the Clarenza pair (i.e. different pair/territory). The
    attempt was unsuccessful, not proceeding beyond the building stage. Nevertheless, I
    present the results of a watch because the Kite’s nest -building phase is poorly known, and
    I include details of hitherto unreported behaviour and other aspects of ecology. I also
    present a casual observation of foraging behaviour, obtained on the NSW North-west
    Slopes. Finally, I draw some management conclusions from these observations.
    The nest was in the Clarence Valley near Grafton (locality withheld). It was reported
    to G.P. Clancy in early October 1995, and he inspected the site on 15 October to confirm
    the birds’ identity and activity. (It is noted that the birds were reported to Clancy, by an
    amateur observer, as “Little Eagles” [Hieraaetus morphnoides], illustrating the propensity
    for Square- tailed Kites to go unrecognised on the coast.) I observed the nest on 21 October
    for 4 hours (1415-1815 h), 22 October for 5 hours (0540-1040 h, with checks at 1130 and
    1200 h), 28 October for 5 hours (0530-1030 h), and 29 October for half an hour (1110-
    1140 h). Clancy also visited the site on 29 October, for about 15 minutes (0830-0850 h).
    Observations were conducted from an unconcealed position on the ground 50-70 m from
    the the nest, using 8×30 binoculars. The landholders (who must remain anonymous)
    monitored the nest between Clancy’s visit and my final visit, and to January 1996, the
    nest being within 70 m of their residence. On 21 October I searched the ground beneath
    the nest (unsuccessfully) for pellets and prey remains.
    I determined the sex of the birds (both in adult plumage) from their positions
    when copulating and subsequently by relative size and plumage, the smaller male having
    a gap in the inner primaries of one wing whereas the female had a slight gap (moult?) in
    her central rectrices.
    The nest patch was about 300 x 400 m or c. 12 ha of large -leaved spotted gum
    Eucalyptus henryi regrowth forest to c. 25-30 m tall, with some eastern grey box E.
    moluccana, ironbark (possibly E. siderophloia) and forest red gum E. tereticornis, the
    last particularly on the eastern edge. Canopy cover, as projected on the ground, was
    about 70%. The understorey was sparse, consisting of occasional eucalypt saplings and
    wattle Acacia sp. (<5% canopy cover). In the area of forest south of the Kites’ nest (c. 100 m away), there had been some recent thinning of trees (selective logging to c. 50% canopy retention) near a house that was being built. Australian Birds Vol.29 No.3 45The nest was 60-70 m from a house on the eastern side, at the end of a residential estate, and 200-400 m from houses on the western, south-western and north-eastern sides, so that it was almost surrounded by rural -residential allotments. There was a cleared paddock to the north, and extensive bushland (mostly E. henryi open forest) to the south and west beyond the houses: c. 100 ha of forest adjoining the nest patch; c. 500 ha of somewhat fragmented forest in the north-west to south-west quadrant within a 4 km radius of the nest; and some thousands of hectares of forest beyond to the west and south-west. The Kites’ nest patch was rich in birds, with 29 small species (i.e. potential prey, including six honeyeaters) noticed casually over the four brief visits although none was seen to be breeding. It is likely that the larger area of almost contiguous forest, in which the Kites appeared to do most of their foraging (see below), was similarly rich in prey. The nest tree, off centre about 100 m from the eastern and southern boundaries and in a slight gully, was a 30 m spotted gum “pole” of c. 30 cm diameter at breast height. The nest, a small, scant and loose platform, was less than 5 m from the top of the tree and situated on a clump of partly dead drooping mistletoe (probably Amyema sp.) atop a near – vertical fork, the spindly branches of which were only c. 5 cm thick. The nest diameter was slightly less than the Kite’s total length (c. 50 cm), and about half as deep as it was broad; it resembled a loose Little Eagle nest. The nest had reportedly been active for about a fortnight before Clancy inspected it, and the birds had been noticed in the vicinity for about six weeks before that. About five years earlier, a pair of Kites occupied a similar nest in a similar position (top of a tall Spotted Gum) c. 60 m to the east, on the edge of the (then) new housing estate. That nest was directly above a house being built; the birds continued to frequent the nest during that season (outcome unknown), but Kites were not noticed over ensuing years until the 1995 attempt (as reported by the landholder). The pair’s nearest known neighbouring conspecifics were the Clarenza pair 13 km away and a third pair c. 8 km away, the latter also 13 km from the Clarenza pair (from G. Clancy’s records analysed by Debus et al. 1993). However, these three points of a triangle are separated by the city of Grafton and it is possible that neighbouring nests in the Clarence Valley are closer in continuous habitat. ROUTINES 15.10.95. During a brief inspection of the site at about 1600 h, one Kite arrived at the nest and there presented a lizard to the other adult, which begged and called in a juvenile -like manner (G. Clancy pers. comm.). This was the only occasion on which the birds were seen with food or evidence of having fed. To 21 October the landholders had noticed the Kites active around the nest, with calling, before 0800 h in the mornings and after 1600 h in the afternoons/evenings, though this may have reflected the informants’ rather than the Kites’ routines. 46 S.J.S. Debus: Square- tailed Kite March 1996They spent the next 20 minutes interacting on the nest: peering into it, preening, billing, allopreening and attempted mating (twice, on the second attempt mounting for about a minute). Neither had brought food or nest material, and there was no indication of egg(s) or chick(s) in the nest. At 1750 h the male then the female hopped to a branch beside and slightly below the nest, amid subdued chittering and squealing. The female sidled up to him and they billed and allopreened for c. 10 minutes, until she hopped to the next branch and preened. At 1808 h she plucked a spray of leaves from beside her, moved it between bill and feet then dropped it. At 1815 h (20 minutes after sunset) both were roosting on their respective perches in the nest tree. 22.10.95, 0540-1040 h. At 0540 h (just after sunrise) both Kites were on the nest, allopreening (including reciprocal allopreening), then over the next 45 minutes they collected sticks and green sprays and added them to the nest. At 0625 h the male made an unsuccessful hunting foray near the nest (see below) then departed to the north-west, followed by the female. They were absent for over an hour, until both (male at 0738 h, female at 0748 h) briefly circled over the nest before departing again: the male at great height to the south, the female over the treetops to the west. At 0918 h the male flew past the nest at treetop height, yelping, circled, then landed to the south in the logged forest beside the building site. At 0924 h the female arrived from the west, circling at treetop height over the nest, road and houses, while mobbed by a Noisy Friarbird Philemon corniculatus then by a group of Galahs Cacatua roseicapilla. She landed in the nest tree, yelping, was unseated by two Friarbirds, then circled with the male; both landed on the nest with squealing and chittering. At 0931 h the male mounted her, squealing, for <30 seconds then he left and circled before departing in a low glide to the north-west. The female then spent 15 minutes on the nest: arranging sticks, turning around, bill -digging, and shuffling and sitting in the nest. At 0947 h she circled below the tree canopy and over houses and the road, soaring with her legs lowered briefly when she was over an open space. At 0957 h she was harassed by a Black Falcon Falco subniger and a Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrhocephalus, and the male Kite arrived to defend her (see below). The pair of Kites then soared and were lost to view, the male at a great height during a display flight (see below). They were not seen again to 1040 h, nor during checks at 1130 h and 1200 h. 28.10.95, 0530-1030 h. Over the five hours from 0530 h the male twice soared over the nest briefly, at around 0800 h and 0920 h. On the first occasion he departed low to the north-west from whence he had come, and on the second occasion he spiralled in tight circles to a great height above the nest before being lost to view in a long glide to the south-west. There was no sign of the female on that morning nor, according to the landholder, on that afternoon or on the following morning. Australian Birds Vol.29 No.3 47tight circles to a great height above the nest before being lost to view in a long glide to the south-west. There was no sign of the female on that morning nor, according to the landholder, on that afternoon or on the following morning. 29.10.95, 0835-0850 h and 1110-1140 h. There was no sign of either Kite over 15 minutes in mid morning (G. Clancy pers. comm.), half an hour in late morning nor, according to the landholder, thereafter to 9 November. Subsequently, they were seen singly until early January but only flying over, not at the nest, with no further sign of breeding (landholder’s information, per G. Clancy). It appeared, therefore, that the nest had been abandoned for unknown reasons without proceeding beyond the building stage. At the time of my observations, the nest seemed almost complete. BUILDING BEHAVIOUR On the morning of 22 October, over 45 minutes from 0540 h, both sexes collected sticks and green sprays and added them to the nest. The method used to collect sticks was a steep glide to land heavily on a dead stick in the tree canopy and break it off with the bird’s weight and momentum, then continue flying with the stick held in the feet. Sticks were c. 1 cm thick and as long as the Kite (c. 50 cm). The male carried a stick directly to the nest, whereas the female often landed on a perch and juggled the stick between bill and feet before dropping (rejecting?) it or carrying it to the nest in her feet. The method used to collect greenery was to fly and cling, flapping, in the foliage canopy in order to wrench off a spray with the feet, then carry it thus to the nest. Sites of stick collection included the top of the old nest tree above the house. The female added three sticks to the nest but dropped or rejected a further three, and failed to break off another. Her seven collecting forays (= a rate of 9.3 per hour during active building time) resulted in a rate of four sticks added per hour of building activity. The male’s single attempt at stick collection resulted in a rate of 1.3 sticks added per hour of building activity. On the female’s single attempt to collect greenery she failed to pluck or retain the spray, resulting in a rate of 1.3 collecting forays per hour of building activity but no sprays added to the nest. The male collected one spray of leaves but failed to pluck or retain three others; his four collecting forays (=5.3 per hour) resulted in 1.3 sprays added per hour of building activity. Combining the efforts of both sexes, there were 10.7 stick- collecting forays per hour of building activity, of which 5.3 sticks per hour were added to the nest, and 6.7 greenery -collecting forays per hour, of which 1.3 sprays per hour were added to the nest. On arrival at the nest with material, the Kite manipulated it into place with the bill. Usually there was only one bird on the nest at a time, but on one occasion the female was 48 S.J.S. Debus: Square -tailed Kite March 1996still on the nest, having just added a stick, when the male arrived with greenery. They remained on the nest together for 8 minutes, the male standing while the female sat in the nest, facing each other; they allopreened, and he moved about on the rim while she fussed on the nest and eventually stood up before both left to collect more material. The female called incessantly (soft squeal) while on the nest or on nearby perches, and the male called on arrival at the nest (subdued chitter and throaty rattle; see below). CALLS Calls heard from the Kites were generally as previously described (see Debus et al. 1992, Marchant & Higgins 1993). While around the nest, the female frequently uttered the subdued ee-ee-ee… squeal. The male also uttered this call when mounting the female, and during a display flight (see below). When arriving at the nest, the male uttered a rich version of the chitter in short bursts at about one -second intervals, almost a bubbling or chortling effect; this call sometimes took on a throaty quality and became a low rattle. The yelps heard from both sexes were the hoarse eep. TERRITORIAL DEFENCE AND AERIAL DISPLAY The Kites seemed aware of any “new” or unusual human activity near the nest although out of sight of the observer, for instance by flying over from an unseen position to the north-west to inspect the site when the observer first arrived. They seemed completely oblivious to, and undisturbed by, familiar, routine human activity in the vicinity, and readily flew low over houses. When on the nest, they ignored humans 50 m away and continued to build, collecting sticks from trees sometimes <20 m away from the observer. A pair of Pacific Bazas Aviceda subcristata displaying and moving through the Kites’ nesting territory on two observation days, including landing in the Kites’ old nest tree 60 m from the active nest, was ignored. Similarly, there was no interaction with a pair of Collared Sparrowhawks nesting about 150 m to the east. On 22 October, at around 0955 h, the female Kite was soaring up in the nest area when she was attacked vigorously by a Black Falcon. A female Collared Sparrowhawk (yearling?, appparently not the adult nesting neighbour) also harassed her briefly. The male Kite appeared overhead and stooped at the Falcon, which then departed while the female Kite continued soaring and drifted away. The male Kite then soared up in spirals to a great height over the nesting area, to perhaps 1000 m, and commenced an aerial Australian Birds Vol.29 No.3 49though not as striking as the undulations, flash -pattern and calling of a displaying Little Eagle. The Kite was then lost to view in a long glide, at great height, to the south-west. Other soaring flights over the nest site and surrounds by both Kites, alone or together, and leg -lowering by the soaring female, were probably also displays of ownership. FORAGING BEHAVIOUR After adding material to the nest and retiring to a tree perch on the morning of 22 October, the male Kite glided over the treetops then dropped in a spiral, between the tree crowns, at a small bird perched low in the canopy; it flushed and escaped, and he followed it unhurriedly through the trees for perhaps 30 m before departing to the north-west. Otherwise, the Kites appeared to do most of their foraging well away from the nest, in the extensive bushland to the south and west. Presumably, they were hunting during their long absences (e.g. 60-90 minutes on the morning of 22 October) from the nest. On the North-west Slopes ofNSW, between Emmaville and Inverell on 8 November 1995 at 0930 h, an adult Kite was observed as it foraged by circling low over the woodland canopy. A Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala was giving alarm calls as the Kite approached its nest, from which were heard the squeaks of a nestling. The nest was situated in the crown of a eucalypt. The Kite circled below the woodland canopy, around the nest tree, then landed on the nest, took a nestling in its bill, transferred it to its foot in flight, and departed under intense attack from the Miner. The nestling was small and unfeathered. Another nestling was still squeaking in the nest as the Kite left the vicinity, carrying the prey out of sight beyond trees to the south. The adult Miner returned 5 minutes later to the squeaking nestling, and peered into the nest. It appeared that the Kite had located the nest initially by the nestlings’ calls. DISCUSSION The limited observations herein generally agree with previous information on the behaviour of the Square -tailed Kite early in its breeding cycle (cf. Debus et al. 1992, Marchant & Higgins 1993). They also slightly extend knowledge of the Kite’s nest – building, display and foraging behaviour, and vocal repertoire. The pair’s breeding activity was atypically late in the season, with building in late October, whereas at similar latitudes in eastern Australia building usually takes place in July -September with eggs August – November and nestlings September -December (Debus & Czechura 1989, Marchant & Higgins 1993). The pair’s nest -building behaviour was as previously described (see Debus & Czechura 1989, Marchant & Higgins 1993), with the rate of stick addition lower than that recorded by Johnston (1983: 13.3 sticks added per hour of active building time). so S.J.S. Debus: Square -tailed Kite March 1996Higgins 1993). The pair’s nest -building behaviour was as previously described (see Debus & Czechura 1989, Marchant & Higgins 1993), with the rate of stick addition lower than that recorded by Johnston (1983: 13.3 sticks added per hour of active building time). Clancy’ s observation (herein) implies courtship or supplementary feeding of the female in the pre -laying phase in this species, as occurs in most raptors (e.g. Newton 1979). The observations herein, of inter- pair distances and foraging areas, support the impression of low breeding density and large home ranges in this species (e.g. Marchant & Higgins 1993). The pair near Grafton was willing to attempt nesting in highly disturbed surroundings; such confiding behaviour towards humans is typical for the species (e.g. Debus & Czechura 1989, Debus et al. 1992), and indeed the Kite may benefit from increased populations of large honeyeaters in such areas. The cause of failure of the nest cannot be attributed to immediate human activity, because the disturbance (logging, house construction) had taken place well before the nest watch; the birds persisted with building and showed no reaction to human presence. Toward nest completion, the birds just seemed to lose interest and abandon the attempt. The late and ultimately abandoned breeding attempt may have been related to poor food supply (cf. Newton 1979), a function possibly of depressed passerine breeding populations after several years of drought, although the 1995 season and breeding effort by local passerines were not particularly poor (G. Clancy pers. comm.). Human impacts may also be implicated, in the form of gradual erosion of the Kites’ foraging habitat by clearing and urban expansion nearby and within several kilometres. Furthermore, it is not certain whether the pair’s nesting attempt was the only one for the season or a second one after earlier failure or disturbance. On the basis of previous descriptions of nest sites, the Square -tailed Kite’s nesting requirements have been characterised as a stout horizontal or sloping limb or fork in a mature eucalypt (e.g. Debus & Czechura 1989, Marchant & Higgins 1993). The nest in this study did not conform to that characterisation, being instead on a mistletoe on a spindly, near -vertical fork in a “pole” regrowth tree. Such a fmding, and the pair’s apparent tolerance of selective logging nearby, have implications for assessment of the potential impacts of forestry on the Kite. Sustained -yield (i.e. selective) logging may leave potential nest sites in tall regrowth forest, with the Kites able to rebuild annually if necessary; the need to rebuild appears not to constrain breeding in that season (e.g. Debus & Czechura 1989 and references therein). The main impact on the Kite in wood -production forests may therefore relate to loss of active nests or disturbance <100 m therefrom. Management to mitigate impacts, therefore, should concentrate on protecting active nests by disturbance – free buffer zones of at least 100 m radius for the duration of that nesting event, or by confining nearby disturbance to the Kite’s non -breeding season. The Kite’s display behaviour may assist in finding active nests. Australian Birds Vol.29 No.3 51Timber harvesting in managed forests may be a minor threat to the Kite in comparison with habitat loss (i.e. clearing). In rural areas, particularly those subject to urban expansion, management will need to include preservation of the Kite’s foraging habitat, namely passerine -rich open forest and woodland. It may be significant that of the documented Square -tailed Kite nesting events in NSW, two in state forests were successful (Johnston 1983, Schulz 1983) whereas three on an urban/rural interface, in the zone of expanding rural -residential estates, failed (Debus et al. 1992, Daly & Evison 1996, this study). This study represents a further glimpse of one phase of the Square -tailed Kite’s breeding cycle. All such piecemeal accounts, taken together, provide a reasonably comprehensive composite picture of the Kite’s life history, but they are unsatisfying for conservation and management purposes. What remains to be achieved is a complete account of at least one succesful breeding cycle from territory establishment, courtship and building to fledging and independence of the young, with quantification of the various aspects including prey types and feeding rates. To that end, any opportunity in the form of an active nest should be seized and used to the full. Furthermore, data are needed on breeding densities (i.e. nearest -neighbour distances) and how the Kites are using components of the landscape. The need for a comprehensive database derived from detailed study, for management purposes, is becoming the more urgent now that the Square -tailed Kite’s global conservation status has been revised from Rare (Garnett 1993) to Vulnerable (Collar et al. 1994). ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Thanks are due to Greg Clancy for recognising and seizing a valuable opportunity, thereby initiating this study, and for his information and other Kite records. Thanks are also due to the landholders for initially reporting the nesting event, for their information, and for permitting the observations from their property. Their neighbour, on whose land the nest was, also permitted the observations. These kind people must remain anonymous in order to protect the birds, and their respective properties, from disturbance. The observations near Emmaville were obtained during a faunal survey commissioned by TransGrid through University Partnerships, with co-operation from local landholders. The Zoology Department, University of New England, supported these studies logistically. Greg Clancy, Dr Hugh Ford, Rod Kavanagh and two referees commented helpfully on a draft of this note. 52 S.J.S. Debus: Square -tailed Kite March 1996REFERENCES Collar, N.J., Crosby, M.J. & Stattersfield, A.J. 1994, Birds to Watch 2. The World List of Threatened Birds, BirdLife International, Cambridge. Daly, G. & Evison, S. 1996, ‘Observations on the Square- tailed Kite in the Shoalhaven District’, Aust. Birds 29(3), 40-43. Debus, S.J.S. & Czechura, G.V. 1989, ‘The Square -tailed Kite Lophoictinia isura: a review’, Aust. Bird Watcher 13, 81-97. Debus, S.J.S., Earle, R.D., Millard, G.J. & Parker, C.R. 1992, ‘Breeding behaviour of a pair of Square -tailed Kites’, Aust. Birds 26, 1-13. Debus, S.J.S., McAllan, I.A.W. & Morris, A.K. 1993. ‘The Square -tailed Kite Lophoictinia isura in New South Wales’, Aust. Birds 26, 104-117. Garnett, S. (ed.) 1993, Threatened and Extinct Birds of Australia, rev. edn., Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union, Melbourne. Johnston, D. 1983, ‘Nesting of the Square -tailed Kite in the Baradine area’, Aust. Birds 17, 35- 37. Marchant, S. & Higgins, P.J. (eds) 1993, Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, vol. 2, Oxford University Press, Melbourne. Morris, A.K. & Burton, A. 1993, ‘1991 New South Wales annual bird report’, Aust. Birds 27, 29-76. Newton, I. 1979, Population Ecology of Raptors, Poyser, Berkhamsted. Schulz, M. 1983, ‘Nesting of the Square -tailed Kite in south-eastern New South Wales’, Aust. Birds 18, 6-8. About the Author: Stephen Debus is employed as a research officer in the Zoology Department, University of New England. He gained his MSc on large forest owls in 1995 and is working on publishing the key thesis chapters. Australian Birds Vol.29 No.3 53NEST RE -USE BY THE CRESTED PIGEON D. G. GOSPER 1309 Nimbin Road, LISMORE 2480 Crested Pigeons Ocyphaps lophotes may nest at any time of year and breed continuously for several months rearing a number of broods (Schodde & Tidemann 1986). R. J. Martin, who studied banded birds at Gerogery in southern New South Wales (Frith 1982), reported pairs making as many as seven nesting attempts in eight months. The high rate of nest failure recorded (>50%), which included up to four consecutive
    unsuccessful attempts by some pairs, probably contribute to re -nesting at short intervals
    (cf. Zann 1944). Martin also noted that some pairs laid successive clutches in the same
    nest but no details were given.
    TABLE 1:Record of nest use by Crested Pigeons
    Date Stage Result
    15/8/91 Brooding (young) 29/8 – 2 fledged
    26/9/91 Brooding 29/11 – 2 fledged
    8/11/91 Brooding unknown
    2/3/92 Brooding 7/4 – 2 fledged
    16/6/92 Brooding 19/7 – 2 fledged
    18/8/92 Brooding unknown
    16/11/92 Brooding 26/11 – failed (small nestlings dead under tree)
    1/9/93 Brooding unknown
    12/6/94 Brooding 26/7 – 2 fledged
    ?/8/94 Brooding 5/10 – failed (broken egg with large embryo on
    5/10/94 Brooding 10/11 – 2 fledged
    In mid -August 1991 Crested Pigeons were found brooding young in a nest in a
    densely branched willow bottlebrush Callistemon salignas in the grounds of Goolmangar
    Primary School near Lismore in northern NSW. The nest was built at a height of 4.5 m in
    an upright fork against the north-eastern side of the main trunk. Two young were fledged
    on 27 August, and by 26 September the nest was being used again. Subsequently the nest
    was checked periodically and a basic diary of activities kept (Table 1).
    54 March 1996-
    Over a period of 40 months (August 1991 November 1994) the nest was used
    11 times. Two nestings failed, one late in incubation and the other soon after hatching;
    the results of three nestings were unknown (i.e. outcome not noted); whilst six nestings
    were successful with each fledging two young. In August 1995 brooding had begun on a
    new nest in the same tree.
    As the adult birds were unmarked they could not be recognised individually.
    However it appears likely that one or both members of the pair were the same throughout.
    Only one pair frequented the immediate vicinity, the nearest other Crested Pigeons
    regularly encountered being around a dairy and farm house about a kilometre away.
    Repeated use of the same nest for multiple nestings over several years is unexpected,
    particularly when the nest of this species is typically a relatively frail platform of sticks.
    In this case the nest was rebuilt once during the observation period in exactly the same
    position, after the first structure (not in use at he time) was dislodged during a storm.
    Otherwise the nest appeared to be given only a minor refurbishment before re -use. The
    nest platform was still in place at the time a new nest was built.
    It is also noteworthy that the neat was re -used after nesting failures, including the
    loss of eggs late in incubation, and nestlings. Whether failures were the result of predation
    or other disturbances is unclear.
    Frith, H. J. 1982, Pigeons and Doves of Australia, Rigby, Adelaide.
    Schodde R. & Tidemann, S. C. (eds) 1986, Complete Book of Australian Birds (2nd Edn),
    Readers Digest Services, Sydney.
    Zann, R. 1994, ‘Reproduction in a Zebra Finch colony in south-eastern Australia: the
    significance of monogamy, precocial breeding and multiple broods in a highly mobile
    species’, Emu 94, 285-299.
    About the Author:
    Dennis Gosper is a teacher and principal whose interest in birds began as a student
    through involvement in the Gould League. Dennis has contributed some 30 papers and
    notes to ornithological journals since 1961, mostly arising from long-term surveys of
    birds and habitats in northern NSW.
    Australian Birds Vol.29 No.3 55COMMON MYNAS AND HONEY BEES.
    6 Yeramba Road, DOLANS BAY 2259
    On 2 November 1995 I was asked by my neighbour, because I am a beekeeper, to
    remove a swarm of bees from branches about five m up in a cedar tree at Dolans Bay.
    While observing the swarm I noticed that some bees were flying up into a hole in
    the trunk of a nearby swamp mahogany Eucalyptus robustus about 15 m from the ground.
    The hole looked to be 8-10 cm in diameter and I am certain that the swarm was checking
    out the hole and interior in preparation for moving in next day.
    Outside the hole and about one metre away sat two Common Mynas Acridotheres
    tristis. As fast as the bees came up, the Mynas just as quickly flew at the hole and
    grabbed them as the bees hovered to and fro inspecting the hole. Sometimes the Mynas
    carried the bees back to where they were perching and scraped their bills an the bark to
    complete the killing of the bee, but mostly they dropped the bees after biting them. I was
    present for 20 minutes at the site and the Mynas were busy the whole time.
    As far as I am aware the bees did not have a nest inside but they were interested in
    the site. Regardless of their motive, the Mynas certainly discouraged the bees.
    When I returned next day and removed the swarm to a more appropriate location
    it was noted that the birds were not present, and on a visit two weeks later there was still
    no sign of the birds.
    56 March 1996BOOK REVIEW
    Field Guide to the Birds of Australia
    Ken Simpson (editor) and Nicholas Day (illustrator)
    Fifth Edition, 400 pp., 155 x 225 mm, published by Penguin Books, Australia, 1996. Recom-
    mended price $35.00.
    This publication continues the high standard of the previous editions. The book
    has a limp plastic cover, hopefully tough enough to withstand the battering to which field
    guides are usually subjected, and for the first time has been printed in Australia.
    When first published in 1984, under the title The Birds of Australia', Simpson and Day featured a ten -page Key to Families, the main section of Field Information, and a comprehensive Handbook. Subsequent editions added a Rare Bird Bulletin, a feature on DNA- DNA Hybridisation and checklists for the Australian Island Territories. These features have been maaintained and updated in the new edition, and codes indicating abundance and general movement pattern for each species have been added. In this edition the common and scientific names have been altered to those used in The taxonomy and species of birds of Australia and its territories, No. 2 by L. Christidis and W. Boles. The Handbook follows the family sequence used by Christidis and Boles although not necessarily the species' sequence. However, this sequence was not used for the Key to Families and Field Information which can cause some confusion when referring between the various sections. There are several inconsistencies between this edition and the list used by Christidis and Boles such as the Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva, American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica and Eurasian Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria. Simpson has used Pluvialis dominica race fulva on p. 92 and in The Handbook on p. 327 refers to American Golden Plover as P. apricaria'. He has also continues to split the Little Wattlebird into two species, Anthochaera lunulata and A. chrysoptera. More information could have been supplied to help distinguish between difficult species such as the white-tailed black -cockatoos and the skuas. The terms larger and smaller than are almost useless for the average birdwatcher unless there is substantial size difference. The text for the white-tailed black- cockatoos states that the contact calls are different but does not describe the differences. In this edition, 19 colour plates have been replaced and two others have been modified. Generally the plates are of a very high standard but some individual Australian Birds Vol -29 No.3 57representations do not adequately show key features for easy identification. For example, the ground thrushes could have been positioned differently and pointers used to demonstrate their differences. Although the intensity of coloration or the relative size of various body parts may be criticised, such faults do not affect the usefulness of the book for identification of birds in the field. The plates for the waders, terns and raptors are particularly good and excellent for the identification of such difficult groups of birds. Curiously, there is no illustration for the Mangrove Grey Fantail. An annoyance is that the illustrations on many of the plates are not aligned with the text; for example, the Red - backed Button -quail is illustrated at the bottom of the plate but the text is at the top of the opposite page. None of the field guides on Australian birds currently available indicates which species are endemic to Australia. Considering the huge amount of other data supplied, I am surprised that Simpson has not included this information. Despite these criticisms I consider Simpson and Day is by far the best field guide currently available for the identification of Australian birds. Its high standard will assist serious researchers as well as amateur birdwatchers enjoying a quiet day's birdwatching. Allan Richards BOOK REVIEW Cuckoos, Nightjars and Kingfishers of Australia Edited by Ronald Strahan 1994, 270 pp., 200 coloured plates, 69 small maps & tables, published by Angus & Robertson, Sydney on behalf of the National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife; $85 at major booksellers. This is the ninth volume of a series about Australian birds that has been published by the National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife. Not only does it take in the cuckoos, nightjars and kingfishers, but all the remaining passerines, such as swallows, cuckoo -shrikes, pittas, lyrebirds, scrub -birds and bul-buls, not covered in previous volumes. The Index has now ceased to exist and its magnificent collection of photographs forms part of the basis of "Nature Focus", a more aggressive marketing arm within the Australian Museum. The Editor, Ronald Strahan, says that with this volume he has completed a major task and he will now return to other interesting activities! It is stated in the Introduction that the text was checked by Walter Boles of the Australian Museum and Shane Parker of the South Australian Museum, although Shane died unexpectedly just before completing the final checking. The FOC sponsored some of the photographs. 58 March 1996The book is set out in similar format to previous volumes, 'in that each of the 69 species covered has an introduction for the group, about two pages of text and two or three superb photographs for each species, plus half a page of biological summary and a distribution map. The summary provides, in a systematic way, information on food, movements, plumage, description etc. So for the cuckoo group M. and L. Brooker have provided the introduction, J. Shields wrote the text, and the Brookers are credited with the biological summaries but presumably did not prepare the maps. Alas, no one seems to have ensured that the text, summary and map are consistent! In the text for the Pallid Cuckoo, Shields writes….not dependable migrants and they
    remain throughout the year and are silent…. apparently it does not move further north
    than about 20° S’; Brooker says `….regular migrant in the south…and migrate north in
    winter; and the maps indicate that they occur all over Australia including resident status
    north of 20° S. For the Shining Bronze Cuckoo, Brooker says they occur in SE and SW
    Australia and Tasmania, migrating north to New Guinea. Unfortunately the map shows
    them occurring in Australia only on the extreme coastal fringe from Bundaberg to
    Melbourne! The maps for the Koel and Black- eared and Channel -billed Cuckoos are
    incorrect for New South Wales when checked against the RAOU Atlas.
    There are other problems; the photograph of the Fork -tailed Swift on page 125 in
    fact shows a Spine -tailed Swift; the Blue -winged Kookaburra map indicates (incorrectly)
    that it has been reported from NSW; the Red -backed Kingfisher’s distribution map does
    not show that it occurs in coastal NSW (see article by Gosper on page 33 of this issue);
    maps for the Superb Lyrebird, Barn Swallow, Skylark and Cicadabird are also wrong. To
    summarise: the book is of value for its excellent photographs, but the rest of the information
    should be regarded as not completely reliable.
    Alan Morris
    Australian Birds Vol.29 No.3 59Book Review
    Photographing Australian Birds
    Peter and Raoul Slater, Steve Parish Publishing, rrp $24.95.
    The overwhelming theme that strikes you when you open this book is that the
    photographers are so obviously in harmony with their subjects and as you start to read
    through the text the feeling of empathy with birds and nature in general is reinforced by
    this talented father and son team and makes for a very enjoyable read.
    Peter and Raoul Slater are both well known for their excellent Field Guide to
    Australian Birds and this book can only serve to enhance their deserved reputation as
    world class bird photographers.
    All of the photographs in this book display one obvious fact and that is that the
    subject is perfectly relaxed and at home in its environment and for anyone who has in any
    way attempted wildlife photography , this will confirm the level of patience, experience
    and planning that is needed to achieve these shots.
    The easy narrative style is aimed generally at the photographers with some level
    of skill and knowledge of their equipment, although an outright beginner would still gain
    a great deal of valuable information in that they describe how the shots were obtained
    without going into endless technical description and exposure charts.
    The authors give a short chapter to their favourite pictures, but my pick is a double
    end- page at the front of two Crested Pigeons in a sunshower, it’s a perfect exposure, pin
    sharp focusing and superb composition Epitomises what wildlife photography is all
    If you are at all interested in birds I suggest that you put this book on your present
    list and if you are interested in nature photography, buy it straight away.
    Grayham Bickley
    60 March 1996Advice to contributors
    Manuscripts should be typed with double spacing and wide margins at top and sides, and submitted
    initially as an original and two duplicates. Tables and figures must be in the form of reproducable
    hard copy, having due regard to the journal page size and format. If extensive re -typing or
    drafting is required publication may be delayed or prevented. Photographs should be submitted
    as glossy black and white prints of size and contrast suitable for reproduction.
    Upon acceptance, it is most helpful if the final manuscripts of substantial articles can be
    submittes in word processor format. The editor will advise details of acceptable formats.
    Contributions are considered on the understanding that they are not being offered for publication
    Authors are advised to consult a current issue of Australian Birds as a guide to style and
    punctuation, which conform in general to the Commonwealth Style Manual.
    Spelling follows the Macquarie Dictionary. In particular:
    dates are written ‘January 1990’, but may be abbreviated in tables and figures;
    the 24 hour clock is used with Eastern Standard Time, e.g.
    0630 for 6.30 am and 1830 for 6.30 pm. Daylight Saving time should
    be corrected to EST;
    in the text, single -digit numbers are spelt out; 10 000 and larger numbers are
    printed with a space (not a comma) separating the thousands;
    English names of bird species (but not group names) are written with an initial capital
    for each separate word.
    Scientific names of bird species and their classification should follow Cristidis & Boles
    1994, The Taxonomy and Species of Birds of Australia and its Territories,
    RAOU Monograph 2.
    References to books appear in the form
    Marchant, S. & Higgins,P.J.(eds) 1990, Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic
    Birds, Vol. 1, OUP, Melbourne.
    and to journals as
    Morris, A.K., Tyler, V., Tyler, M., Mannes, H.& Dalby, J.1990, ‘A Waterbird survey of the
    Parramatter River wetlands, Sydney’, Aust Birds, 23:3, pp, 44-64
    These are cited in the text as Marchant & Higgins (1990) or (Morris et al. 1990),respectively.Volume 29 No. 3 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS March 1996
    D.G.Gosper & Seasonal status of Kingfishers Todiramphus spp. in
    C.R.Gosper northern NSW 33
    G.Daly & S.Evison Observations on the Square -tailed Kite in the Shoalhaven
    District 40
    S. J. S.Debus Further observations on the Square- tailed Kite 44
    D.G.Gosper Nest re -use by the Crested Pigeon 54
    P.Ramm Common Mynas and Honey Bees 56
    Book review Field Guide to the Birds ofA ustralia, 5th ed,
    Simpson and Day 57
    Book review Cuckoos, Nightjars and Kingfishers of
    Australia Ronald Strahan.(ed) Photographic
    Index series 58
    Book review Photographing Australian Birds, Peter and
    Raoul Slater 60
    Print Post Approved PP232004/00010