Vol. 3 No. 3-text

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Price 25c. Published by the Gould League Birdwatchers.
Vol. 3. No.3 1st Novembero:/68.
Hon,ecrets and Editor: L.COURTNEY HAINES.
10 Loquat Valley Road, Bayview.
Observations Committee: K.A. HINDWOOD and A.R. McGILL.
Field -day rQanisers: P.E. ROBERTS.
26 Bayview Street, Mt. Kuring-gal, (47-9240) & G.1IBLEY
Art Adviser: E.S. HOSKIN.
Photographic Adviser: NORMAN CHAFFER.
Assistant SecretaLy: R. COOKE,
r.:gAMILIqIANNING” bx.13lizk
A remarkable instance of delayed breed:i.rg by a bird-sp,cies —
more or less the equivalent of family -planning in bromanit — came
to notice recently. 2nd when, quite by chance, I mentioryd the
matter to S.G. (Bill) Lane of Sydney, he proved to be, apparent
the one man in this country who had dincuasod such a subjet in
The Lane item (which I Lhold rot have forgotten) appeared :In
“The Emu” in -956 (vo1.56,p4229). It related to the Brown Thoma-
bill In three different instances members of this species were
recorded as having, in 1955 had a lapse of (1) at least 27 days,
;2), 35 days, and (3) 10 days between completion of the nest and
the laying of eggs. No abnormal weather conditions prevailed at
the time and thus the reason for the delay remained obscure.
In my case (1968) the species concerned was the White -eared
Honeyeater. At Kuring-gai Chase on July 10 John Ramsay and I found
a nest of this enterprising bird virtually completed. We, in fact,
assisted to round off the lining process by presenting the builder
with scraps of cotton -wool; and we looked for results soon cfter-
wards. Yet, to our astonishment, it was not until September 5BIRDS – 18 – November 1, 1968.
that eggs, obviously quite fresh, were observed in the nest, so
that the lapse between nest- completion and egg -laying was approx-
imately 57 days.
We ascribed this long holdup to food -shortage created by dry
conditions, and the same cause we surmised, was responsible for
the disappearance of the eggs (by predation?) a few days later.-
-WhIteears, however, are capricious housekeepers, and you never
can tell how a particular pair will behave. Thus, under normal
conditions in the same area two years earlier, one of these birds
(which we named Susie) resolutely plucked hair from our heads at
an early stage, but on a later occasion, when again building, she
treated us with a fine disdain and had to be, as it were, forcibly
fed with nest- lining material.
A.H. CHISHOLM, Sydney.

Although the name Mooruk (or Moruk) does not rate a mention in
Australian glossaries, it may well have been a household word in
the Sydney of the 1850s. The inhabitants opening their Sydney
Morning Herald on 1st September, 1857 would have seen the follow-

ing advertisement on the first page:

ttr MORUK.
“Important discovery in Natural History, a gigantic Bird, from
the South Sea Islands: WILCOX and Co., Hunter- .Street, have just
added to their Zoological Exhibition the first specimen of this
extraordinary bird ever viewed by civilized man. It is now to
be seen alive, together with the Orang Outang, the cheetah or
Hunting Leopard, Emu, &c. &c.
“Admission — adults, ls.; children, half-price.”
A shorter advertisement to this effect appeared in subsequent
issues of the Herald. The Mooruk, a species of Cassowary (Casu-
arius bennetti) had been brought alive to Sydney from New Britain
in August 1857: “The bird is very tame and familiar, and, when
in a good humour, frequently dances about its place of confinement.”
George French Angas made careful drawings of it for Dr. George
Bennett who purchased the Mooruk and sent the drawings and the
live bird as a present for the. Zoological Society of London. After
a sea voyage of 80 days, the bird “made its appearance between the
Ostriches and the Apteryx” in the London zoo and Gould named the
species in Bennett’s honour. Other examples were kept as pets by
Dr. Bennett in Sydney, where “one or both of them would walk into- 19 November 1, 1968.
the kitchen, and while one was dodging under the tables and chairs,
the other would leap up on the table, keeping the cook in a state
of excitement 11
In his book, A Gallop to the Antipodes (1858), John Shaw wrongly
referred to Angas as “the discoverer of the bird Moruk”. But the.
Mooruk and indeed cassowaries in general seem prone to error and
confusion in their treatment by bird men, if a mere ex -ichthyologist
may say so. One American ichthyologist even described and figured a
cassowary as catching fishes on its spine -like wing -feathers!
Wilfred Powell, in his Wanderings in a Wild Country (1884) calls
the New Britain cassowary the “morroop” and shows that i’us claws
were used as spearheads. The Mooruk has been well featured of course
in ornithological literature but has also made its debut in fiction
(W.H.G. Kingston, The South Sea Whaler, 1882,p.329):
“Shure, now, if we had thought of throwing a noose over its head,
We might have caught the baste; and it would have given us as many
dinners as a good-sized sheep!” exclaimed a mundane character.
“Not for five hundred pounds would I have allowed it to be kill-
ed!” cried the doctor. “If we could have taken it to England, it
would have been of inestimable value, and would have made ample
amends for all the dangers and hardships we have gone throagh.11
260 years before Sydney saw its Mooruk, a living cassowary was
brought from Ceram in the Moluccas to Eurcpe by Dutch trad3rs in
1597, coming to the Emperor Rudolf TT of Hapsburg. A Belgian nat-
uralist, Charles de l’Escluse (or Clusius) studied the cassowary
at the Viennese court and his illustration of it has been reproduced
by Herbert Wendt, Out of Noah’s Ark, 1959, p.81.
Two accounts of the New Holland or Australian cassowary, which I
have not been able to trace in Sydney, are: (1) Harrison’s in The
Medical Times and Gazette 13, 182+5-46,p.4..80 and (2) Rolleston,
Medical Times and Gazette 2, 1873,p.16. These references, neither
of which is in Whittell, are quoted from Tovell & Gandevia (Refer-
ences to Australia in British Medical Journals prior to 1880), pub-
lished in Melbourne in 1961. The former paper my refer to the Emu,
because our mainland cassowary was not discovered until 1848 by the
Kennedy expedition. An historical account of the latter bird was
given by North (Rec.Austr.Mus. 10, 1913), supplemented by Somerville
(The Emu 24.9, 1950, p.212+).
Most of the books consulted for this note are in my own library,.-1,k11.1111M-
BIRDS November 1, 1968.
but I have to acknowledge, with thanks, the resource& of the Mit-
chell Library, Sydney, allowing access to newspapers, and various
books and papers.
C.P. WHITLEY, Sydney.

PIRACY BY WOOD -SWALLOW. It is common for Frigate -birds, Skuas,
Fulmars and other sea- birds to practice food -piracy. The habit has
also been noted in some passerine birds and presumably in such
cases, it is largely a matter of opportunity. Meinertzhagen gives
(Pirates and Predators 1959,1).12) instances, among others, of
starlings robbing blackbirds of worms, blackbirds stealing snails
from thrushes, and shrikes bullying rollers until they gave up
their prey.
At Forster, John Hobbs saw a Drongo harassing Blackfaced
Cuckoo -Shrikes until they dropped their insect food which was then
quickly snapped up in the air by the Drongo. Recently, in western
N.S.W., I was watching an Eastern Whiteface feeding on the ground:
it soon captured a fairly large grub, the size of which caused the
bird to pause before swallowing its prey. A White -browed Wood –
Swallow that was perched nearby then flew down, rested momentarily
beside the Whiteface, snatched the grub from its bill and flew
quickly away with its prize.
HINIWOOD, Lindfield,

Opposite the C. of E. rectory in Mona Vale, is a farm owned by
Taronga Zoo and running through the farm are several reedy water
channels in which Reedwarblers nest each year. During the spring
and summer the birds frequently visit the extensive rectory garden
where they feed amidst the scrubbery in company with Silvereyes,
Blue Wrens, Bulbuls and the local House Sparrows.
The Tailor -bird occurs on the farm and also in marshy vacant
blocks of land and I have observed that both the Reedwarbler and
the Tailor- bird are crepuscular in their habits.
It is pleasant to listen to the singing of the Tailor -birds
accompanying the quick movements of the moth- hunting Reedwarblers
until dusk turns to night.

In my article “Some Notes on the Little Grassbird” Vol.iy No.
of “BIRDS”, I mention that I had not heared the species call at
night. Since the above was published, I have, on a number ofBIRDS – 21 – November 1-, 1968.
occasions late at night, heard the sad call-notes of the Little
Grassbird emanating from a pond overgrown withsedges and rushes
some little distance from my house here at Bayview.
The bird in this particular pond is silent during the earlier
part of the evening but from 11p.m., and into the small hours of
the morning, it calls almost continuously and on one occasion it
gave its call every nine seconds for an hour!

FLAME ROBIN: A pair seen on farmland near Baker6 Lagoon, 11161imondo
HOODED ROBIN: A pair found nesting near fringe of forest, Wirrimbirra
Reserve, 7.1.1968. Four observed feeding along road-
side near Luddenham. Three seen by roadside at Green-
dale, 7.10.1968.
ROSE ROBIN: The following observations were recorded along Quarry
Creek, Northmead: two males 2.4.1968; one male and three
females, 20.4.1968; two males and two females, 21.4.1968;
two males and one female1.12.5.1968; one male 13.5.1964
two males 19.5.1968. One male recorded at Shaws Greek,
Yarramundi, 10.6.1968; one male seen at Caddies Park,
Cattai, 16.6.1968; one female seen in open forest at
Scheyville, 23.6.1968. ROSE ROBINS seen in Lake Parra.
matta Reserve as follows: one male 11.7:068; one male
and one female 16.7.1968;. one female, 23.7.i968; one
male and one female, 24.7.1968; two females, 25.7.1968;
and one female 29.7.1968.
SCARLET ROBIN: Two males and one female observed in open forest,
Wirrimbirra Reserve, 7.1.1968; one male and one
female at Murphy’s Glen, Blue Mountains, 24.2.1904
one male and one female in open forest, Lucas Heights
4.5.1968; one male and one female seen in bushland
clearing, Oberon, 10.6.1968.
RED-CAPPED ROBIN: Two males seen on roadside fence at Greendale,

  • * *DS
  • 22 November 1, 1968.
    Mrs. Ramsey of Dural, N.S.L, reports that the Bush Curlew
    has been sighted in the northern section of the Glenorie District.
    Two eggs were also found and identified as belonging to this
    species. The Bush Curlew is a rare bird, particularly within the
    County of Cumberland (Sydney District).
  • *
    Enthusiastic members of the Club, Mr. & Mrs. Rice, and Miss
    Lucy Newson, had the pleasure of observing on one of the ponds
    in Centennial Park, two newly -hatched Musk Ducks which had taken
    refuge on their mother’s back.
    Mr. Reg Fordham, who recently returned from the 1968 Gould
    League Camp -out at Jerildie, N.S.W., has sent me a list of the
    birds recorded. In view of the fact that “Gould League Notes
    is no longer being published a report on the camp -out will appear
    in a future issue of “BIRDS”.

Mr. Alan Catford, Convenor, Bush Fire Sub -Committee, National
Parks Association of New South Wales, has asked that the follow-
ing circular be published.
Readers of “BIRDS” who feel that they can assist in bush fire
control should contact Mr. Catford. His address is: 21 Kingsford
Avenue, South Turramurra, N.S.W. 2074.
VOLUNTEERS are badly needed, to fight fires in National and State
Parks, Nature Reserves, and other natural bushland, both near
Sydney and beyond. The National Parks Association of N.S.W. is
conducting a drive to recruit these, and place them at the dis-
posal of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, or other auth-
orities concerned with bushfires.
We want YOUR name on the list, as one who intends helping when he
or she can. (This does not carry an obligation to attend fires.)
In the event of a bushfire at which our help is needed, key mem-
bers of the organization will be notified. These will set in
motion a contacting system which is designed to alert largeBIRDS – 23 – November 1, 1968.
numbers of volunteers quickly. -The member list will be divided in
into north and south of Sydney Harbour and the Blue Mountains, and
those living in the region of a fire will usually be phoned first.
Transport, rendezvous etc, are arranged then.
Fire fighting is hard work, and volunteers should be in good health
and reasonable fitness. Those who cannot or do not wish to fight
fires directly can be of valuable service in the Support Force.
This body backs up fire fighters by preparing food and drink,
providing first aid, transport etc. These members may also care
to volunteer for patrolling.

  • EDITOR –

Sunday, November 2). Hawkesbury Swamps.
Leader: E.S. Hoskin (88 2900)
Meet at Wilberforce, overlooking the reedy swamp next to the
township, at 10 a.m. First step will be to inspect Buolillis
Lagoon, which usually supports an interesting variety of vater-
birds. Next step will depend upon the prevailing weather condit-
ions and whether any rain has fallen in the district, but Mr.
Hoskin has a plan to fit almost all conditions.
Saturday, December 7. Lion Island, Pitt –
Leader: S.G. Lane.
Lion Island is a Nature Reserve, and the party is restricted
to 30 members – places will be allotted in order of receipt of
applications. It will be necessary to transfer from a ferry to
a small dinghy, thence to the beach in water at least knee-deep,
so baggage must be kept to an amount than can be carried in one
Once ashore, there should be Little Penguins with eggs and
young, and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters sitting on eggs. Possibly the
rare Sooty Shearwater will be seen too. Mr. Lane will demonstrate3-2k1 -24 – November 1, 1968.
banding techniques on these seabirds.
Fare will be $2.50 per person, to be forwarded to the Treas-
urer (10 Loquat Valley Road, Bayview. 210+) with application to
attend. Meet at the Palm Beach Ferry wharf, 1017 Barrenjoey
on the Pittwater side of Palm Beach, at 8.45 a.m.; we return to
the wharf between 4.30 and 5 p.m. In the event of strong south-
erly winds, please check before leaving home with Peter Roberts
(47 9240).