Vol. 14 No. 4-text

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Journal of the
Vol. 14, No. 4 June, 1980

ISSN 0311-8150

Registered for Posting as a Periodical Category BTHE N.S.W. FIELD ORNITHOLOGISTS CLUB
E. Hoskin
The object of the Club is to promote the study and conservation of Australian
birds and the habitats they occupy.
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Manuscripts should be sent to the Editor at:
P.O. Box 39, Coonabarabran. 2857Vol. 14, No. 4 June, 1980
Despite comments by McGill (1960a) that he found the Turquoise Parrot
Neophema pulchella in certain areas of northern New South Wales to be common
although more local than general, and mentioned its occurence near Sydney and
elsewhere, the prevailing consensus of opinion i.e. Condon (1975) is to consider
that its status is “rare and endangered”. Indeed in the most recent issue of the
“Red Data Book for Endangered Fauna” as prepared by the International Union of
Nature and Natural Resources (I.U.C.N.) this parrot is still listed as “endangered”.
The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the Turquoise Parrot is
“uncommon” but not “endangered” in New SouthWales. It can be found
throughout the tablelands and slopes regions of the State with an extension down
the Hunter Valley to Newcastle and then south to the Cumberland Plain and the
Shoalhaven Valley.
On the accompanying map (Fig. I), the localities where Turquoise Parrots
have been recorded since 1960 are indicated together with a broad delineation
indicating where the birds can be expected to occur. Details for each locality, with
references, are set out below and are grouped according to the State’s climatic
districts. (Note the following abbreviations viz SF, NP and NR refer to State
Forest, National Parks and Nature Reserves respectively.)
Kyogle – Recorded by N. Schrader (pers. comm.) at Afterlee, 18 km west of
Kyogle during the period 1964-67 in open dry woodland. No subsequent
Gloucester – Recorded by Wheeler (1974) for the Gloucester District.58 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (14) 4
Kooragang Island – Small flock of three recorded November 1972 (Rogers 1973).
Maitland – Cessnock – Pairs or small flocks recorded at Neath, Maitland,
Singleton, Buckitty and West Wallsend (Morris 1975). P. Bourke (pers.
comm.) advises that birds are still present in these localities, particularly in

the Dungog Paterson Seaham triangle and at Lower Belford.

Putty Recorded near Putty in 1965 by Forshaw (1969) and at a location 20 km
north on 10 January, 1976 (Rogers 1977). In addition a number of observers
have recorded the species along the length of the Putty Road between Colo

and Bulga on many occasions.

Pokolbin Regularly recorded by Bourke (pers. comm.).
Widden Valley – Regularly observed, the only recent published record
however is by Rogers (1974).

Sandy Hollow – Flock of three at Sandy Hollow on 30 May 1971 (Rogers) 1972).

Cumberland Plain – Since 1962 Sydney bird observers have reported large
numbers of Turquoise Parrots on the fringes of Sydney’s northern suburbs,
particularly in the Hills District. At times large flocks in excess of 50 birds
have been recorded at the one locality at Annangrove. Smaller flocks are
regularly sighted in the Dural – Glenorie – Kenthurst area. This information
has been well documented in publications of the N.S.W. Field Ornithologists
Club and was first mentioned in recent times by Chisholm (1962) although
known much earlier. In addition, observations are regularly made of small
numbers of birds at Scheyville, at Sackville along the Hawkesbury River and
at Maralya; elsewhere in the Hawkesbury River Valley at Springwood,
Kurrajong, Agnes Banks, and Mountain Lagoon. In fact, wherever, there are
timbered rocky hillsides breaking out into lightly timbered valleys, the
Turquoise Parrots thrive. The present land -use pattern of small hobby farms
containing remnant vegetation in the hillier sections seems to favour this
Cowan – Wheeler (1974) records an observation inthe Ku-ring-gai Chase

NP, whilst the bird is recorded inthe 1977 Ku-ring-gai chase NP bird list as

“Rare no recent record”. The bird is also listed in the booklet “Introduction
to the Sir Edward Hallstrom Nature Reserve” published by the Fauna
Protection Panel c. 1964. The Sir Edward Hallstrom NR is now enclosed

within the Muogomarra NR.

Holdsworthy Lieut. Col. S.G. Lane (pers. comm.) advises that during Army
manoeuvers in the Holdsworthy Rifle Range and Reserve, Turquoise Parrots
were observed on a number of occasions during the 1960’s. He has not
been back since so has no knowledge if the birds are still present. Entry is
forbidden to non -army personnel.

  • Camden Appin Elsewhere on the Cumberland Plain in the upper reaches and
    tributaries of the Nepean River, they have been recorded at Camden and
    Appin in the timbered hillsides of these areas, (Rogers 1974). At Wilton and
    near the Cordeaux Dam in the Sydney Water Board catchment area there
    are also recent records (Gibson 1977). Observed at Werombi by McGill
    (pers. comm.) in March, 1975.


Nowra District Since 1974 there have been records for Brundee (Rogers 1975),
and nesting south-west of Nowra in 1977 (Rogers and Lindsey 1978), and
also at Tomerong.\


Tenterfield One male west of Tenterfield May 1973 (Rogers 1974) and two at

Silent Grove, 20 km west on 18 December 1978. (Lindsey 1979).

Emmaville One 19 December 1978 (Rogers 1979).

Gibraltar Range Recorded by Wheeler (1974).

Inverell District Recorded as resident in savannah woodland by Hunt (1959) and
confirmed at localities such as Gwydir Park, Fraser Creek and Gilgai by
Baldwin (1975).


Mudgee District Reported from Munghorn Gap NR between Cooyal and Wollar
since 1952 but regularly since 1965, a number have been banded at this
locality. Observations have been made in several localities in and adjacent
to this 8000 ha NR.
Bathurst- Recent observations in the Hill End, Sofala, Ilford and Bathurst areas by
Bourke (pers. comm.) in 1978 confirm his observation of 1924/25 for the
same areas. Since 1961 Bourke has also recorded them for Duramana,

Eglinton and near Blayney.

Orange District Heron (1973a) records an observation at Borenore in 1955 and
there are recent observations at Mookerawa 11 June and Long Point 3
September 1978, both localities along the Macquarie River north-east of
Orange (Lindsey 1979). C. Pratten (pers. comm.) advises that the birds have
been seen again at Borenore on several occasions in 1979.
Murga – Eugowra – Murga is mentioned by Heron (1973) without any dates, whilst
near Eugowra, the other side of the timbered ranges frcm Murga in July
1974, flocks of between 40-50 were observed (Rogers 1975). Since 1977 N.
Schrader and J. Brooke (pers. comm.) have both found them in the Nangar
Range near Murga and Nangar Range SF east of Eugowra, and Mandagery

SF north of Murga.

Bumbaldry Between Cowra and Grenfell the road crosses the Conimbla Ranges
that run north to include the Murga area. Near Bumbaldry, Turquoise parrots
were observed since 1961 by Bourke (pers. comm.) and in October 1977
(Rogers and Lindsey 1978).
Gooloogong – West of Cowra along the Lachlan River, observations were made
in April 1971 (Rogers 1972).
Cowra – Some of the above areas may be included in the Cowra District where
Wheeler (1974) records Turquoise Parrots. This record was based on
observations by Bourke at nearby Koorawatha, Canowindra, Cucumgilliga

and near Boorowa.

Wellington Reported by Wheeler (1974) for District. Observed in the nearby
Catombal Ranges and in particular the Mt. Arthur Reserve in August 1972
(A. M. Fox pers. comm.), by A. K. Morris in September 1978, and by Brooke
(pers. comm.) in March 1979.
Cooma District – The only recent record for the Southern Tablelands relates to an
observation of 40+ at Numeralla near Cooma in March 1977 (Rogers and
Lindsey 1978).


Grenfell Resident in the Warranderry and Warrumba Ranges between Grenfell
and Gooloogong; in the Nangar Hills; and in adjacent areas. First published
records appeared about 1972 (Rogers 1973) and have been regularly
reported since3
Weddin Range – Small flocks, up to nine birds first recorded in September i yip
(Rogers 1973) particularly in Weddin Mountains NP and the adjoining Bimbi

SF (Rogers 1975). Regular sightings are made in these localities.

Bethungra Three recorded on 24 January 1975 (Rogers 1976).

Caragabal Observed in the Pullabooka SF north-east of Caragabal in 1980

by N. Schrader (pers. comm.).

Marsden Flock of seven in myall area west of Marsden in April 1980 by Bourke

(pers. comm.).

Temora Since the establishment of the Ingalba NR about 1971, Turquoise
Parrots have been recorded within the Reserve and on adjacent lands and
there are numerous references.
The Rock – In the Rock NR Turquoise Parrots have been known for some time –
published records however only relate to April – June, 1977 when small
flocks were reported (Rogers and Lindsey 1978). Also recorded c. 20 km to

the east of Livingstone SF (Hutton et al 1980) since 1978.

Albury Known for some time around Lavington, north of Albury, the most recent
observation relating to the Black Range area (the Bird Observer 1980 No.
578). To the north-west at Gerogery near Tabletop NP breeding was
reported in 1969 (The Bird Observer 1972 No. 483) and observations again
made of 22 birds in May 1971 (Rogers 1972).
Wallangra – Observed in the Masterna Range both at Wallangra, one on 27

November 1978 and one, 16 km north-west, on 14 May 1978 (Rogers 1979).

Bingara Approximately 36 taken illegally in traps in the District and the
offenders successfully prosecuted by NPWS rangers (Rogers 1974).
Barraba – Four immatures 14 km E of east of Barraba on 15 April 1978 (Rogers


Mt. Kaputar NP Recorded on the lower slopes and open forest areas of this
National Park since the Park was dedicated (AKM pers. obs.). Recorded by
Wheeler (1974).


Warrumbungle NP Recorded in the Warrumbungle NP since its establishment in
1954 and observed throughout the year. Most usual localities being along
the Wambelong and Tonderbrine Creek systems. Regularly recorded by

Rogers (1973) and Wheeler (1974).

Bidden Known to have occurred here since the late 1940’s by R. Bourke (pers.
comm.) and still present.


Narrabri District Recorded during 1978 along Eula and Bullawa Creeks which
rise in the Nandewar Ranges and flow south-west to the Namoi River. The
area is continuous with the Mt. Kaputar NP (AKM pers. comm. and Lindsey
1979). Also known to occur in the Waa Gorge-Terregee SF area (NPWS Mt.

Kaputar Bird List 1972) to the north of Narrabri.

Pilliga Scrub Recorded by Alec Chisholm breeding in the Pilliga Scrub, exact
location not known (Chisholm 1970). Since my move to Coonabarabran in
1974 and subsequent responsibilities for the 85,000 ha Pilliga NR the
species has been found to be quite common on the NR, and the adjoining
Pilliga East and West Pilliga SFs. Observed along Borah Creek, near Rocky
Glen, Yaminbah Creek, Baradine Creek, Mallallee Creek, Tunmallallee
Creek and Kerringal Creek where permanent waterholes are found. The
Pilliga Scrub is located not far south of the Namoi River and the adjacent
southern slopes of the Nandewar Ranges, and extends to the Warrumbungle
Ranges.June 1980 63
Baradine – Recorded in Yarrigan SF between Baradine and the Warrumbungle
NP and between Baradine and Bugaldie in the Wittenbra SF area.
Gilgandra – Recent observations include Bearbung in 1973 (A. 0. McCutcheon
pers. comm.) and 1975, P. Patrick (pers. comm.) and at Yalcogrin SF in
November 1979 (P. Patrick pers. comm.). Observed occasionally at “Benda”
14 km west of Gilgandra along the Marthaguy Creek, last occasion in 1973
(A. 0. McCutcheon pers. comm.). Recorded by Wheeler (1974), for
Gilgandra District.
Goonoo Forest – The large 68,000 ha Goonoo SF east of Balladoran and
Eumungerie is a known location for Turquoise Parrots. However the last
published record was in 1952 when K. A. Hindwood recorded one at No. 1
Bore (Heron 1973b). have heard of observations since but none has been
published. The recorI d of one bird at Balladoran on 21 September 1968
reported in the Bird Observer No. 483 (1972) may refer to the Forest.
Ballimore – Small numbers have been reported for a number of years along the
Taibragar River near Ballimore. In a personal observation during April 1979
observed two birds in the same locality. This are is close to the
I s outh-western end of the Goonoo Forest. P. Bourke (pers. comm.) has
recorded them between Ballimore – Dunedoo – Uarbry, whilst J. Brooke has
recorded the bird at nearby Elong Elong in March 1980.
Hervey Ranges – There are several unpublished records in the Dubbo – Peak Hill
area. Neville Schrader (pers. comm.) has advised that in the past six years
he has found it reasonable common from Tomingley in the north to Alectown
in the south, throughout the length of the Ranges.
Curembenya Ranges – In 1973 two were recorded 30 km east of Parkes on 21
May (Rogers 1974). Mentioned in the Curembenya NR Birdlist (Anon),
whilst N. Schrader (pers. comm.) says that it is resident in reasonable
numbers throughout the Range.
Back Yamma – Known to be resident and to breed in this area between Parkes
and Eugowra – including the Back Yamma SF (Rogers 1975, N. Schrader
pers. comm., J. Brooke pers. comm.)
Condobolin – Recorded by M. Van Eck. (J. Brooke pers. comm.) in the Murda SF

  • Mt. Tilga area to the north-east of Condobolin, in August 1978.
    Trundle – Observed 4 km north of Trundle in December 1979 by M. Van Eck (J.
    Brooke pers. comm.).
    Rankin Springs – Recorded regularly in the area by P. Bourke (pers. comm.) the
    last occasion being April 1980. This area is the northern end of the
    Cocoparra Range.
    Griffith District – First reported by Frith and Tilt (1952) in the Cocoparra Ranges,
    and the birds have been recorded regularly since then both in the
    Cocoparra NP and NR. They were subsequently recorded by Wheeler
    (1974) however in the birdlist for the Reserves published by the N.S.W.
    National parks and Wildlife Service in 1974 it is stated that there are “no
    recent records”.
    Rand – Recorded by Bourke (pers. comm.) for the seven years he resided there
    prior to 1961.


Mount Hope First recorded at Round Hill NR in September 1969 and on 15
September 1971 when a pair was seen mating and feeding. One male was
again sighted on 5 October (Rogers 1973, NPWS 1976). There do not
appear to be any subsequent sightings.64


Nymagee Pair found breeding in woodland adjacent to rocky hills in December

1970 (Miller 1971).

Broken Hill Reported breeding on Marrapina Station by G. Beruldsen (1969)
although originally cited as being Scarlet -chested Parrots N. splendens,
subsequently stated (in litt.) that he was certain that the birds were pulchella.
The purpose of highlighting these records is to demonstrate that rather than
“small and discrete” populations as claimed by some authors, the Turquoise
Parrot has a widespread distribution, particularly along the slopes and tablelands
of the State with substantial populations in the Hunter Valley spreading north to
Gloucester and south to the Cumberland Plain and Upper Nepean Valley. The
only isolated populations appear to be those in the lower Shoalhaven Valley,
possibly a relic of the Cumberland Plain population, and those near Cooma.
However as there are isolated reports of Elegant Parrots N. elegans yet
non -proven in the Kosciusko NP it is possible that the birds observed may well
have been Turquoise Parrots thus connecting the Cooma populations with those
of the Upper Murray Region.
In many regions, there are continuous areas of forested range and woodland
i.e. from Barraba through the Nandewar Ranges to the Pilliga Scrub –
Warrumbungle Range – Bidden Forests – Goonoo Forests, allowing the
populations considerable opportunity to mix and interbreed. Similar corridors
can be seen from the Wollemi/Putty regions through to the Goonoo Forest. In the
area bounded by Dubbo – Forbes – Temora – Cowra – Bathurst – Hill End –
Wellington – Dubbo the populations may be quite substantial and no doubt
connects with the Eumungerie – Ballimore – Dunedoo area, thus connecting the
whole of north -central N.S.W.
Figure II shows observations and breeding records as provided for the
Australia Bird Atlas 1.1.1977 -29.11.1979.
The habitat occupied by the Turquoise Parrot on the tablelands and slopes of
New South Wales, where the bulk of the population is located, could generally be
described as “pine/box woodland”. Invariably there are some tree species
always present, the pines being White Cypress Pine Callitris columellaris and
Black Cypress Pine C. endlicherii, and the Eucalypts, White Box Eucalyptus
albens Yellow box E. melliodora, Narrow -leafed Ironbark E. crebra Mugga
Ironbark E. sideroxylon, Blakeley’s Red Gum E. blakeleyii and Narrow -leafed Box
E. woollsiana. The following sample habitats where have observed Turquoise
Parrots on a regular basis are as follows: I
Bullawa Creek, Mt. Kaputar NP along the creek flats where the banks are lined
with River Red Gum E. camaldulenis, and there is permanent water. Rocky
outcrops nearby are covered with Black Cypress pine, White Box on the
slopes, a good undergrowth of acacias and a grassy forest floor, 460 ma.s.l.
There are plenty of ringbarked and dead trees on the adjacent grazing
Wambelong Creek Area, Warrumbungle NP. Permanent water -hole in
Wambelong Creek, lined with Casuarina cunninghamiana and some River
Red Gum. Close by to rocky outcrops covered in Black Cypress Pine,
Narrow -leafed Ironbark, and Brown Bloodwood E. trachy-phloira. Open
grassy flats on alluvium occur along the Creek and are covered in Acacia
deanii, Blakely’s Redgum, Yellow Box and White Cypress Pine. White Box
on nearby hill slopes. Dead trees abound as relics of former grazing days.
460 m a.s.l.65
June 1980
Borah Creek, Pilliga NR. Permanent waterholes on an otherwise sandy creek
lined with some RiverRed Gum. Alluvial flats covered mainly in Yellow Box
and Rough -barked Apple Angophora floribunda and some White Cypress
Pine, but relatively open. Rocky ridges and outcrops occur at a distance of c
100-200 m and are covered in dense stands of Black Cypress Pine,
Narrow -leafed Ironbark and Brown Bloodwood. 400 m a.s.l.
Munghorn Gap NR. Permanent waterholes at the base of the sandstone
escarpment. Black Cypress Pine, Red stringybark E. macrorhyncha and
Large -fruited Grey Gum E. canaliculata on sandstone ridges and open
woodland of Yellow Box and Rough -barked Apple on valley floor. Dead
trees at the edge of the adjoining grazing and pastoral areas. 610 m a.s.l.
Berida, Gilgandra. Near permanent waterholes in the Marthaguy Creek, which is
lined with River Redgum. On adjacent sandy ridges, White Cypress Pine
regrowth and Narrow -leafed Box occur making an open woodland. Dead
trees along the watercourse 270 m a.s.l.
Curembenya NR, near Beargamil Dam. Permanent waterholes in creeks. Birds
occur in open woodland of White Box/Yellow Box near more rocky outcrops
covered with Narrow -leafed Ironbark and Black Cypress Pine. 520 m a.s.l.
Ingalba Nature Reserve. Open woodland of White Cypress Pine, Yellow Box and
White Box merging into poorer soils where ironbarks and mallees line the
ridges. Water available at stock dams adjacent to and within the Reserve.
Ring -barked and dead timber in adjoining paddocks. 365 m a.s.l.
The Rock NR. Birds usually observed in Yellow Box woodland and or the lower
slopes of the Rock. 360m a.s.l.
In my experience the birds have always been found feeding in open forest
and grassy glades in woodland close to a creek that contains permanent
waterholes. The open forests of Yellow Box, White Box and Blakeley’s Redgum
appear to be particularly favoured.
In the Pilliga/Warrumbungle area the birds appear to feed on the seeds of
Wire Grass Aristida sp. but they also feed regularly in patches of the introduced
noxious weed Blue Heliotrope Heliotreopium amplexicaule. The flowering and
seeding heads of Variable Grounsel Senecio lautus are also eaten. Many of the
areas where Turquoise Parrots now occur as resident species were former sheep
grazing leases i.e. Warrumbungle NP, Mt. Kaputar NP etc. and the elimination of
sheep grazing from the woodlands of these parks and reserves has possibly
caused the increase in the Turquoise Parrot populations in recent years. This is
one good reason for not permitting the grazing of domestic stock in such areas
that have been set aside for nature conservation purposes.
From the information outlined the apparent preferred habitat is woodland,
typically with numerous dead trees, adjacent to permanent water and
adjoining forested hills.
Standard reference texts give a somewhat confusing picture of the status of
the Turquoise Parrot in New South Wales. Whilst most authorities mention a very
great decline and possible almost extinction in the early part of this century,
Hindwood (in McGill 1960a) considers that lack of observers in the normal range
of the bird was one reason why the bird may have been thought to be less
common than now believed. A review of current reference texts indicates the
confusion that surrounds the present status of this bird is as follows:
McGill (1960b) states “rather rare, scattered populations occur in lightly
timbered country over most of the state except the southern parts and the far
west; Eastman and Hunt (1966) state “comparatively rare” and give a
distribution in the form of a narrow band running north-west from Sydney to66 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (14) 4
the Queensland border. Forshaw (1969) says that they are still rare but not
endangered, but no longer is there a continuous distribution between
Queensland and Victoria.
Based on the information presented in this paper, it can be seen that the
Turquoise Parrot occurs widely throughout the tablelands and slopes of the State
with an extension down to the Hunter Valley which extends along the coastal strip
north to Gloucester and south to Nowra. Contrary to what Forshaw and Cooper
(loc. cit) have said there does appear to be a continuous north -south distribution
from Victoria to Queensland.
From the present information Morris, McGill and Holmes (1980) have made
the status of this bird “Uncommon” indicating that the population in New South
Wales falls between the range of 1000-10,000 birds. We believe that the
population is near the upper limit of that range and possibly the bird could
therefore be classed as moderately common. Certainly the species is not “rare”
or “endangered”.
Turquoise Parrots are commonly kept as aviary birds because they are quiet,
easy to keep and they mix well with other small parrots and finches. Based on a
survey of 75 registered aviaries in my area, it was found that 26% contained
Turquoise Parrots, a total of 132 birds. Most aviculturists were successful at
breeding these parrots. In view of the large number that are aviary bred, it is
considered that the birds are not under undue pressure from bird trappers as
some of the other parrots that are more difficult to breed.
From the information presented in the first section of this paper it can be
seen, that resident populations occur in a number of large National Parks, Nature
Reserves and State Forests and that populations therefore cannot be considered
“threatened”. It can also be seen from the map that populations are fairly
continuous and not “local and discrete”. Certainly the Turquoise Parrot is present
in much timbered private land as well as State owned forests and reserves where
the terrain and land use is unlikely to alter to the detriment of the bird in the near
Set out below is a list of conservation areas where the birds are known to
occur. Where the size of any area exceeds 5000 ha considered by some
ecologists to be of a size sufficient to maintain viable populations of wildlife,
these have been indicated this (). The State Forests of the Western Slopes and Plains have been established for ironbark and White Cypress Pine production. The better stands of Cypress Pine are subject to “timber stand improvement” management techniques which incorporate the thinning of young pines and the reduction of competing eucalypts and acacias, but present management techniques ensure that 10-12 eucalyptus are left per hectare. As the ring -barked eucalypts provide nesting sites for Turquoise Parrots and the more open effect in the forest provides better grasscover, attractive to them, this practice is not seen to be detrimental to the parrots. It is stressed however, that no more than 30-35% of forests in areas in question are managed in this way, and even so only a small proportion of the forest is suitable for this management technique. NATIONAL PARKS Cocoparra, Gibraltar Range, Ku-ring-gai Chase, Mt. Kaputar, Warrumbungle,
Weddin Mountains, Wollemi.June 1980 67
Curembenya, Coolbaggie, Ingalba, Munghorn Gap, Pilliga, The Rock, Round
Hill, Table Top, and Muogomarra. STATE FORESTS Bidden, Bimbi, Back Yamma, Bunbury, Goonoo, Hervey Range, Livingstone, Mandagery, Murda, Nangar, Pilliga East, Pilliga West, Terreghee, Warraderry, Wandawandong Creek, Yancogrin, Yarrigan.
The assistance of the following people who have both provided details of
their observations of Turquoise Parrots and who commented on the draftis
acknowledged: J. Brook, P. Bourke, M. Cochrane, N. Schrader and A. R.
McGill. The map was prepared by J. D. Gibson and his assistance on this and on
previous occasions is greatly appreciated. The assistance of the staff of the Atlas
of Australia Birds Office in providing the information for Figure II is acknowledged
with appreciation.
Baldwin, M. 1975. Birds of the Inverell District. Emu 75, 116.
Beruldsen, G. 1968. Birds of Marapina Station. Aust. Bird Watcher 3:201.
Chisholm, A. 1967. Range of the Turquoise Parrot. Emu 67, 83.
Chisholm, A. 1970. Young birds that demonstrate. Birds (J. NSW Fld, Ornith. Club) 6, 19.
Condon, H. T. 1975. of Australia, Part 1, R.A.O.U.
Eastman, J. & J. Hunt, 1966. The Parrots of Australia. Sydney; Angus and Robertson Ltd.
Forshaw, Joseph M. 1969. Australian Parrots. Melbourne: Landsdowne Press Pty. Ltd.
Forshaw, Joseph M. & William T. Cooper, 1973. Parrots of the World. 2nd. Edit. Melbourne:
Landsdowne Editions.
Heron, S. J. 1973(a). Birds of the Orange District. Emu 73, 1-8.
Heron, S. J. 1973(b). Birds of the Goonoo State Forest, N.S.W. Emu 73, 119-123.
Hunt, Alex C. 1959. The Turquoise Parrot. Emu 59, 147.
Hutton, K., R. E. Sharrock & M. I. Cochrane, 1980. Birds in ana around Wagga Wagga. The Wagga
Wagga Wildlife and Conservation Society.
Lindsey, T. 1979. N.S.W. Birds Report for 1978. Aust. Birds 14, 1-24.
McDonald, J. D. 1973. Birds of Australia. Sydney. A. H. & A. W. Reed.
McGill, A. R. 1960(a). Parrots of the Genus Neophema in New South Wales. Emu 60, 39-46.
McGill, A. R. 1960(b). A Handlist of the Birds of New South Wales, Sydney: Fauna Protection Panel.
Miller, R. 1971. Observations of Nesting Turquoise Parrots (Neophema pulchella) near Nymagee,
N S.W. Birds 6, 4.
Morris, A. K. 1975. The Birds of the Gosford, Wyong and Newcastle (Countyof Northumberland) Aust.
Birds 9, 37-76.
Morris, A. K., A. R. McGill and N. G. Holmes, 1980. (in press). Handlist of Birds in New South Wales.
Dubbo: Macquarie Publications.
Rogers, A. E. F., 1972. N.S.W. Bird Report for 1971. Birds 6, 89.
Rogers, A. E. F., 1973. N.S.W. Bird Report for 1972. Birds 7, 101.
Rogers, A. E. F., 1974. N.S.W. Bird Report for 1973. Birds 8, 111.
Rogers, A. E. F., 1975. N.S.W. BirdReport for 1974. Aust. Birds 9, 89.
Rogers, A. E. F., 1976. N.S.W. BirdReport for 1975 Aust. Birds 10, 56.
Rogers, A. E. F. 1977. N.S.W. Bird Report for 1976. Aust. Birds 11, 95.
Rogers, A. E. F. & T. Lindsey, 1978. Bird Report for 1977. Aust. Birds 13, 13.
Wheeler, W. Roy, 1974. Birds and where to find them, New South Wales, Sydney Jacaranda Press.
ALAN K. MORRIS, P.O. Box 39 Coonabarabran. N.S.W. 2857.68
On two occasions, 15-16 December 1979 and 13-14 January 1980, during
the period when the population of migratory palaearctic waders should have
been fairly stable (i.e. no in -transit flocks), the species, population and distribution
of waders in northern Port Stephens, New South Wales, were recorded. The area
examined ranged eastward from Karuah to the coastal headland of Yacaaba. An
excursion was made on the Myall River by boat as far upstream as
Monkey -jacket, approximately 4 km north of Tea Gardens. The oyster lease areas
of Limestone and west Corrie Island were also studied from the boat. All the
surveys were undertaken on the ebb tide when all the wader species should have
been feeding.
Table shows the census results for waders in all the localities visited, for
which see I the accompanying map (Figure I). The appropriate dates are also
included. Carrington seemed to be near the western limit of wader movement in
the survey area, and was only visited on a reconnaisance trip 26 October 1979.
Sooty Oystercatchers were also recorded then at Barnes Rocks near Winda
Woppa. Altogether, 16 wader species were encountered, of which three (Sooty
Oystercatcher, Haemotopus fuliginosus, Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles,
Red -capped Plover Charadrius ruficapillus) are breeding residents in Australia.
The remaining 13 species are palaearctic migrants. Assuming that no birds were
double counted, the total wader number in the northern Port Stephens area at the
time of the census amounted to 978. This figure approximates the wader
population for Botany Bay, although the composition of the species differs.
(N.S.W.F.O.C. Botany Bay Wader Survey 1976-8, unpublished data).
Recher (1966) considered that wader diversity was dependent upon variation
in the type of substrate in the intertidal zone. Thus, since this survey showed
marked habitat preferences on the part of some species, there follows a brief
description of the substrates of the areas visited and their corresponding wader
(a) Sandy Beach (Subject to small wave action)
Jimmy’s Beach at Hawks Nest, and the eastern side of Corrie Island fit this
description. No waders were observed at either locality.
(b) Sand Bank (Protected from wave action)
Winda Woppa, the Corrie Island sandsplit, Orungall Point, and the western end of
Lower Pindimar, all fit this classification. In estuaries, sandy areas protected from
wave action support a larger and more diversified population of invertebrate
fauna than neaby wave -washed shores (Day 1959). It seems possible that the
distribution and variety of waders in this habitat mirrors this quality of their prey.
All the small Plovers, the Lesser Golden Plovers Pluvialis dominica, Red -necked
Stints Calidris ruficollis, were only found on this type of substrate, which also
provided the greatest variety of wader species, although the population was not
No. 46 Supplement to AUSTRALIAN BIRDS JUNE 1980
ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION – Family $9.00; Single (City i.e. County of Cumberland)
$8.00; Single (Country) $7.00; Junior (17 years and under) $5.00.
Membership fees include subscriptions to the quarterly Journal “Australian Birds”
and to this Newsletter. Subscriptions are due on 1st July each year.
Club Badges and Car Stickers are available.
-President: Mr J. J. Francis
Hon. Secretary: Miss J. Pegler Ph: 771 618”)
90 Picnic Point Rd, Picnic Point, 2213
Hon. Treasurer: Mr N. Russill Ph: 533 121
75 Bonds Rd, Peakhurst, 2210
Activities Officer: Mrs E. Lisser Ph: 46 2275
29 Terrace Road, Killara, 2071
Conservation Officer: Mrs D. Larkins Ph: 44 5478
225 Kissing Point Rd, Turramurra, 2074
Newsletter Editor: Mrs L. Smith Ph: 427 2418
84 Arabella St, Longueville, 2066
FROM: Mr W. J. L. Brooke, Orange.
TO: The Editor, “Australian Birds”
“I find it a great disappointment that a champion of amateur ornithology
such as ‘Australian Birds’ should deem it necessary to submit to academic
pressure by adopting the recent R.A.O.U. ‘Recommended English Names for
Australian Birds’ (e.g. ‘Aust. Birds’ 14 pp 3-21).
I have yet to be convinced by the protagonists of the new names that there
is any justification for them. Why should an English name (which was probably
bestowed by the Old World in any case) be changed simply because it is
currently considered in error on taxonomic grounds, despite common acceptance
within Australia? It will only have to be changed again with the next taxonomic
revision. The whole purpose of the Linnaean system of scientific names is to
provide standardization above the variety of vernacular names. The Taxonomists
have proved they cannot agree on the Latin names – why let them bring like chaos
to the English ones?
An ugly trend is already emerging with the substitution of the Linnaean
generic name for the English name in the case of Hylacola and Cisticola. Now
we see an attempt to replace perfectly adequate and accepted names with
monstrosities such as Origma, Calamanthus and Gerygone (a name lacking any
semblance of euphony, which few know and none can pronounce).
I concede that at times it may be necessary to decide which of the vernacular
names in use within a country is the most preferable for use in publications;
or that some standardization may be desirable for esoteric oceanic wanderers
or intercontinental migrants; but to change the name of an endemic species or
group solely because there is no link at family level with other similarly
(and probably equally arbitrarily) named birds is simply being ridiculous”.2.
FROM: Mr A. K. Morris, Editor “Australian Birds”.
“I would like to think that the thoughts expressed by Mr Brooke are in fact
the attitude that most people, including myself, have towards the ‘Recommended
English Names for Australian Birds’. Whilst recognising that some of the new
names are a welcome and/or necessary adjustment to bring them into line with
international usage other new made-up names are only to be deplored.
Following the publication of H. Condon’s Checklist Part 1 and R. Schoddets
‘Interim List of Australian Songbirds’ in which the use of many new names
caused some furore, the Royal Australian Ornithologists Union, in 1976,
invited people to make submissions on the English (or common) names. Our
Patron, Mr A. R. McGill, was a member of the Common Names Committee established
by the R.A.O:U. Our Club, therefore, set up a committee to review all the
names and make recommendations to the R.A.O.U. However where the F.O.C. and
everyone else were caught out was that the recommendations made were based on
the names used in the two publications aforementioned, and no one had any idea
the the Committee would come up with new names of its own, which is what
happened. Mr McGill advises that even though he Was on the R.A.O.U. Committee
many submissions by the other groups were not circulated to him, and he was not
allowed to comment on many of the new names proposed.
The result was that when the R.A.O.U. Committee presented its list of names
it included many new names that no-one was aware were to be changed, and for
which no public comment was ever received. At the same tame we were told that
this was the final list and no correspondence would be entered into. Whilst
it is recognised that it is hard to obtain agreement on common names, the fact
that the R.A.O.U. Committee introduced new names and refused to consider any
comment upon them turned everyone sour. As a result the R.A.O.U. is now held
in contempt by many people.
As Editor of the Journal, I am somewhat at a loss to know which name list to
follow. When the new N.S.W. Handlist is published it will be editorial policy
that the names used in the Journal should follow the Handlist. In the meantime
people have been allowed to use whatever names they prefer because the F.O.C.
has no policy as to what names should be used. The Club for example has never
defined its policy on the use of such names as Thick -knees and Origma.
In the new Handlist (prepared by A,K.Morris, A.R.McGiJl and G.Holmes) the
R.A.O.U. List of Recommended Names has been followed except where
(a) the F.O.C. has recommended otherwise;
(b) where recent changes and amendments have been made or are in the
process of being changed i.e. separating Crimson and Yellow Rosellas,
separating Funereal and White-tailed Black Cockatoos;
(c) where the authors know that there is widespread disapproval of
certain names, e.g. we have retained Heathwren, Rock Warbler)
Warbler (for Gerygone) Fieldwren etc. (Mind you, Cisticola has
gained widespread support in Australia and overseas and the alternate
name of Fantail Warbler is now hardly used at all. I regret to say
that it is one of the new names retained by us).
The new Handlist of Birds of N.S.W. has now been rewritten and has been
submitted to the printer for a new quote. An announcement concerning its sale
can be expected soon”.
FROM; Judith Russill, Peakhurst.
The State Forests of the Bellangry area, are barely an hour’s drive from
Port Macquarie and prove a most interesting bird watching area, with 60,000 ha
to explore.
The Wilson River Primitive Reserve, is our favourite spot. The clear mountain
stream is surrounded by rainforest, with many good walking trails leading off
the picnic area. Some of the birds seen included the Black -faced Monarch,
Monarcha melanopsis, Spectacled Monarch, Monarcha trivirgatus, feeding young,
Pale -yellow Robin, Tregellasia capito, White -headed Pigeon, Columba leucomela,
Grey Goshawk, Accipiter novae-hollandiae.If time permits, the Wilson River Rod rrir17(` inOp to uobrrLtIci
anotner nice picnic area and swimming spot.”
Note: I would ce very happy to receive details oi otner “Places r)f
members may have found on holidays or know of for inclusion in the Newslettpl.
It is a great help for Birdwatchers on holidays to be able to go immediatei
to good birding areas and not have to waste precious time searching for them.
Welcome to the following new Members: –
Miss M. Mason, Bel.field Mrs M. Baccharini, Strathfield
Mr T.F. Murphy, Lindfield Mr R. McCarthy, Hornshy
Dr Mrs E. Andrews, Homebush Ms E. Radford, Parramatta North
MrF ).N. Chambers, Mona Vale Mr I. Robinson, Ararmon
Mrs W. Alliston, Manly Miss M. D. Stringer, North Ride
Mr W. E. Thompson, Mona Vale Miss Bridges, Armidale
BEGINNERS FIELD DAY – 15 Mar 80 – Long Reef
Because of the petrol strike we wondered if there would be any starters but
187 peoplo were there. However about 147 oC them turned out to be geology
students, who from time time invaded the reef, and perhaps had some effect on
the birds.
It was a perfect, sunny, windless day. I was reminded of my first outing witll
the club. It was then cold, and I heard a female behind me remark “I thought
it world Le hot today, and I put on anti -sun. Now I wish I was wearing mere’L.
My hopes were dashed. She was wearing more than anti -sun.
Tide was too high yet for reef, so the approximately 40 of us wanderea acre::s
the golf course. Had close view of Richard’s Pipit, and saw Nankeen Kestrei
and Brown Goshawk. One ornithologer had difficulty identifying a golf ball in
flight. Ernie told her it was not an eagle, but a birdie.
Then to the reef. Dotterels, Mongolian and Double -banded; Stints; Eastern
Golden Plover; Ruddy Turnstone (I thought for a moment that Ernie had lost hi.s
self control); Sooty Oystercatchers – more than a score – some of which we
approached very closely; Grey -tailed Tattler; Whimbrel; a close view of a Reef
Heron; Gannets; Shearwatets (Short -tailed said Ernie); a Skua; plus the
expected assortment of other birds.
A rank beginner, I said. You need sight, hearing AND smell to be a good bird –
watcher! One olfactorilly acute member led us straight to a somewhat nidorous
Gannet that had been washed up. Immature. Asked why it had died, Ernie
hazarded that it could have hit a rock diving, and broken its neck, but if you
looked into its eyes you could see that it had died of a broken heart. And
thence to a washed up Fairy Penguin!
After the reef and lunch we went to several other areas, ending up in Kuringai
N.P. where Ernie called up and conversed with, inter alia, several Honeyeaters
New Holland, White-cheeked, White -eared and Tawny -crowned. The last approached
us closely, and, long and melodiously, and with significant variants on its
normal call, duetted with Ernie.
My list for the day had 43 species, 40 sighted, and 3 heard, excluding the
golf ball, and the Skua, which I did not see, and also the exotics. Thank you
Ernie for a very interesting and instructive day.

Paul Sharp4

A crowd of 82+ attended, the venue, Shoplands Road, Annangrove. Considering
the drought conditions which depleted the bird populations, several species
were observed. A large gaggle of Maned Geese beside a farm dam was a welcome
sight. The water of Cattai Creek attracted several species, among these the
most interesting were Brown and White -throated Treecreepers, several King
Parrots, Banded Finches, Peaceful Doves and Rose Robins; an Azure Kingfisher
was seen but eluded most of the party. A Ring-tailed Possum in a tree was an
unusual sight for many.
Lunch was taken at Marayla Park where a flock of White -winged Choughs and Red-
rumped Parrots were observed.
At Scheyville, experience in bush -lore told Ern Hoskin our leader, that
possibly a Frogmouth was being molested by several scolding Fuscous Honeyeaters.
On investigation, two Frogmouths were revealed sitting in a gum in the sun, less
than a metre apart at an easy viewing distance. This was the highlight of the
day for many.
On behalf of everyone present, I wish to thank Ern for another enjoyable day.
Folowing are dates of field days and trips arranged by the Illawarra Bird
Observers Club. Members are welcome to join with the I.B.O.C. and details are
available from Laurie Williams, Wollongong 29 6637.
Saturday, 26 Jul 80 – Boat trip
Sunday, 17 Aug 80 – Bird Banding, Appin
Saturday, 13 Sep 80 – Lake Bathurst
4-5-6 Oct 80 – Condies Shoalhaven, Nowra
25 and 26 Oct 80 – Inglebar State Forest, Mallee Country, Temora.
Saturday, 15 Nov 80 – Five Islands
Saturday, 6 Dec 80 – Scout Camp.
“A SAFARI TO EAST AFRICA” – Departure 27 August 1980.
National Bank Travel has arranged a trip to East Africa during the period of
the migration of the herds. We go to the Amboseli Masai Game Reserve dominated
by Mt Kilimanjaro, to Masai Mara Game Reserve, Lake Nakuru (flamingoes) Lake
Navasha in the Rift Valley. To Tsavo National Park, Mombasa, Nairobi, Malindi.
Jack Hyett will lead this safari.
Full details from Mrs Helen Ferguson, National Bank Travel Tours Dept (Special
Interest), 50 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne Vic. 3000.
Tom Poynton, Centennial Park, writes “We all know that one talks about ‘a
pride of lions’ or’a flock of sheep’ or ‘a swarm of bees’ et c. But what should
be used when talking about some of the different species of birds?
The following list of bird collectives was given to me by a friend, G. Young,
who used Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable as a source book: –
Birds – a flock, flight, congregation, volery
Bitterns – a sedge or siege
Choughs – a chattering
Coots – a covert
Cranes – a herd, sedge or siege
Crows – a murder
Curlews – a herd
Geese (in flight) – a skein
Geese (on ground) – a gaggle
Ducks (in flight) – a team
Goldfinches – a charm
Grouse (1 brood) – a covey (several broods) – a pack
Hawks – a cast
Herons – a sedge or siege
To be continued.
(c) Muddy -Sand Areas
This substrate type was found on the foreshore of Lower Pindimar. There was a
good covering of eelgrass Zostera sp. over the entire intertidal zone, with some
mangroves Avicennia marina near the high tide mark. A dense grove of the latter
separated Lower Pindimar from Orungall Point. Oyster leases extended along the
whole shore. More than half the wader population encountered in the survey used
Lower Pindimar as a feeding ground, it being particularly favoured by Grey -tailed
Tattlers Tringa brevipes; and Bar -tailed Godwils Limosa lapponica. A reasonable
proportion of the widely dispersed Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis
also fed here.
(d) Sandy -Mud Areas
This type of substrate appeared to occur as small sandy intrusions or banks
super -imposed upon larger muddy expanses. Thus: parts of Corrie
Island/Limestone and tidal banks in the Myall River (at Tea Gardens, the entrance
to Swan Bay, and south of Monkeyjacket). Usually these sandy -mud areas had
some eelgrass growth. In fact, the limit of this growth upstream coincided with the
distribution of the waders (Weate 1975). Eastern Curlews were the principal
feeding species associated with Bar- tailed Godwits upstream.
(e) Muddy Areas
The corridor between western Corrie Island and Cutfeet Island, Swan Bay, and
the bank south of the bridge near Tea Gardens were all described by Weate (ibid)
as having a muddy substrate. Unfortunately views from the boat of the first two
areas were not satisfactory; the expanse of mud and the surrounding mangroves
made an accurate survey difficult. No waders were observed at either site.
Similarly at Tea Gardens – there were no sightings on the four occasions it was
passed. The shore of Wobbegong Bay however was easily accessible, and the
paucity of wader population was noteworthy, particularly in comparison with
neighbouring Lower Pindimar. Nevertheless, other large water birds –
White-faced Herons Ardea novaehollandiae, Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopica,
and Egret sp. were quite common.
Many species, particularly the birds of the sand banks, roosted at their
feeding ground. It was merely a case of their moving up beyond the high tide
mark. The Grey -tailed Tattlers flew to the mangrove forest between Lower
Pindimar and Orungall Point where they rested on and under the trees. Those

larger waders that fed in Port Stephens – Eastern Curlews and Bar -tailed Godwits

flew to the Corrie Island sandsplit. Those Eastern Curlews that fed in the river
quite probably roosted in the mangroves of Swan Bay. When other water birds
are taken into account, Australian Pelicans Pelecanus conspicillatus, cormorant
sp., tern sp., the most important roost area is the sandsplit.
Even though the tidal flats of northern Port Stephens only cover
approximately 400 ha, of which little more than half seemed to be suitable
for waders, the population density of medium to large size species was quite
high. When the population is compared is compared with that of Westernport Bay
(Loyn 1978) and Botany Bay, this estuary seemed to be especially productive for

Grey -tailed Tattlers, Eastern Curlews and Bar -tailed Godwits. However the

smaller species Red -necked Stints, Curlew Sandpipers Calidris ferruginea,
Sharp -tailed Sandpipers c. acuminata, – which Loyn (ibid) described as requiring
long feeding times, were notably few in number or absent. Due to the brevity of
this survey, no observations were made regarding duration of exposure of the
tidal flats. Probably the protected and banks are the first uncovered, but thisJune 1980 71
26/10/79 14/1/80 13/1/80 13/1/80 14/1/80 16/12/79 14/1/80 16/12/79 15/12/79
SPECIES Lower Orungall Wobbegong Limestone- Corrie Is. Winda Myall
Carrington Bundabah Pindimar Point Bay W.Corrie Is. Sandspit Woppa River

Oystercatcher 2

Lapwing 2 2 8 4

Golden Plover 17 50

Plover 53 26 20

Large Sand
Plover 3 3

Red -capped

Plover 15 9 5 3

Curlew -7 -1 36 – 4 23 40 -2 3-6
Whimbrel 15 2 1 1

Grey -tailed
Tattler – – 23-5 – – 1 -0 – –


Bar -tailed
Godwit – – 200 – – 2 -3 3-1 1 -5
Knot 1 2

Sharp -tailed
Sandpiper 4

Red -necked
Stint 7 13 44
Total No.
of Birds 7 511 83 14 34 156 116 56
Total No.
of Species 1 1 8 7 3 3 7 9 472 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (14) 4
habitat forms only a small proportion of the total intertidal area. Day et al. (1954),
referring to invertebrate fauna, stated that “The richest parts of an estuary are the
banks of muddy -sand in the lower reaches near the mouth”. This survey seems to
indicate that this statement can be extended to avifauna.
This survey has shown the importance of even small estuaries in maintaining
reasonable populations of waders. It will be shown by future surveys along the
coast if this species composition and distribution, are typical of undisturbed
estuaries. It may be found that habitat suitable for the smaller waders is quite
scarce along the N.S.W. coast.
Day, J. H. 1959. The biology of Langeboon Lagoon: a study of the effect of shelter from wave action.
Trans. Roy. Soc Sth. Africa. 35, 475-547.
Day, J. H., Millard H. R. H. & G. J. Brockhuysen, 1954. The ecology of South African Estuaries, Part IV.
The St. Lucia System. Trans. Roy. Soc. Sth. Africa 34, 129-156.
Loyn, R. H. 1978. A survey of birds in Westernport Bay, Victoria, 1973-4. Emu 78, 11-19.
Recher, H. F. 1966. Some aspects of the ecology of migrant shorebirds. Ecology 47, 393-407.
Weate, P. 1975. A study of the wetlands of the Myall River. Operculum 4, 105-113.
J. PEGLER, 90 Picnic Point Road, Picnic Point. N.S.W. 2213.
Scientific names of species not mentioned in the text but included in Table are:
Mongolian Plover Charadrius mongolus, Large Sand Plover C. leschenaultii,
Greenshank Tringa nebularia, Terek Sandpiper T. terek, Knot Calidris canutus,
Sanderling C. alba.
In studying birds in the field, it is sometimes hard to decide whether their
behaviour is voluntary or involuntary. Behaviour in this paper is interpreted as
involuntary, being the result of genetically based responses to factors in the
environment. An example of learning by experience is included. These
responses may develop into a chain of behaviour that is beneficial to the species.
Shading appears to be a good example of this (Baldwin 1980).
Merle Baldwin (loc. cit.) followed an earlier paper in which Larkins (1979)
discussed observations of shading by a nesting Grey Butcherbird CracticusJune 1980 73
torquatus, with some thoughtful comments on this subject, but it should be noted
that neither Larkins or Morse Nice (1943) assumed shading by adults was a
voluntary action.
To clarify this point, the complete reference from Morse Nice, quoting
Charles, is:
‘That this behaviour is not necessarily released by the sight of the discomfort
of the young, but may be a direct response to the sun as shown by an
observation by Charles (1909) on American Robins [Turdus migratorius] nesting
on a window sill.
“The sun shone directly upon the nest for about an hour each day, during
which time the female brooded in striking attitude. At one time when the young
had been weighed in a bowl and the bowl had been placed upon the sill close to
the nest preparatory to returning the nestlings, the mother appeared and brooded
for some time upon the empty nest, utterly indifferent to the presence of the
young in the bowl.” ‘
Morse Nice deduced from Charles that shading may have been a response
to sunlight. Larkins suggested contributing factors in shading behaviour and
suggested humidity as one. It is fairly obvious that attachment to the nest, as it
affects brooding behaviour, is another.
Ian McAllan (pers. comm.) observed shading in Willy Wagtails Rhipidura
leucophrys about 16 km south of Merriwa, N.S.W. on 1-3 December 1979, but he
was not able to determine whether both parents shaded. The nest was built on a
rafter under a sloping corrugated iron roof lined with masonite, where the
temperature was 42’C. The nest was in shade when the observations were made.
Initially two eggs were shaded, but a nestling hatched by 3 December, and the
periods of shading intervened between periods of brooding, although this
behaviour was not necessarily alternate. It is not known whether the brood
survived as McAllan did not stay after 3 December.
During observations of nesting behaviour by Grey Butcherbirds in 1972
(Larkins loc. cit), food was brought to the nest by the adults for two to three days
after the nestlings died and while at least one body was still in the nest. The
female was brooding at 04.30 hours EST on 11 November, but half an hour later
struggled to remove a dead bird from the nest, flying with it to a wedge in a fork of
a small tree. Here, because of the nestlings size, she secured the dead young
only after some difficulty. She returned to the nest to remove other unidentified
materials, and then tore food from the dead nestling, softened it by pulling the
flesh through another wedge, and then ate it. She then took a leg complete with
claw from a third wedge. The size of the claw indicated the source of this food
again was the dead brood. The claw was then detached from the leg and juggled
in the bill before being swallowed by the parent. Two dead chicks were used as
food this way.
During this time the male Butcherbird was waiting on the nest edge with food
for the young. Finally, in the absence of nestlings, the food was presented to the
female when she flew to the nest and begged. This food appeared to be flesh
from the nestlings.
On 23 October, a Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala was tangled in a
nylon line stretching between two mature Blackbutts Eucalyptus pilularis at about
17 m. had not noticed the nylon before, and previous to this incident nothing in
the birdI s’ behavious had suggested its presence. The trapped bird was caught by74 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (14) 4
one wing and in struggling to escape only became more tangled. While hanging
upside down it was attacked by other Noisy Miners and lost many feathers. Apart
from the noisy flying attacks, there were many distress calls from the trapped
bird. The male Grey Butcherbird perched nearby and watched, but made no
attempt to attack the struggling Noisy Miner in any way. It then flew in and took
the thread in its beak and while fluttering, tugged at the line. But this did not break
and the bird very soon lost interest. Numerous Noisy Miners came and watched
the trapped bird. Finally Greg Larkins, at some risk, shinned up a nearby sapling
Blackbutt, and hooked the nylon thread with a forked stick, drawing it close
enough to release the bird. After the rescue the line sprang back to its original
On 3 November the male Butcherbird used a horizontal cleft near the end of
a dead limb 15 cm – 20 cm diameter as a wedge for a cicada. Twice on
rewedging, the insect fell through the wedge into the hollow of the limb. At the first
loss the bird flew around the branch, climbed over it, and inspected the splits at
the end, looking for the lost food. Finally it went to the end of the spout and
walked into the hollow, reappearing with the cicada. This again fell through into
the hollow on rewedging. This time the Butcherbird went straight to the end of the
branch and into the cavity. It came out with the food, which was then put back in
the wedge without loss. The softened food was then taken to the nest where it
was received and eaten by the brooding female.
Baldwin thought that shading behaviour is a conflict between the discomfort
of ambient heat and the genetic conditioning which causes a bird to brood for a
certain period. This is an interesting explanation, and one which is supported by
McAllan’s observation, when initially the shaded nest contained only eggs, and
sunshine was not a factor when the observations were made, although there was
sunlight nearby. The Willy Wagtail in this case was receiving no stimulus from
nestlings when shading was first noticed.
Humidity, as well as heat, may contribute to the discomfort of both the
shading bird and the brood. While birds must evaporate water to keep cool, they
do not have sweat glands and only a small amount of water passes through the
skin. This cannot be increased in heat stress. Evaporation is then increased by
panting (Landsborough-Thomson 1964), and this was observed in both adult and
nestling Butcherbirds under discussion. Heat stress becomes severe as humidity
increases because less water is evaporated than when it is dry.
The observation by Charles indicates that the presence of the nest influences
the brooding urge. Indeed, in that example it seemed to be more important than
the stimulus of nestlings.
In my observations of Grey Butcherbirds, the parents did not “know” the
nestlings were dead, and brooded and brought food to nest for up to three days
after losing the brood. Without the contributing …stimulus from the young, this
behaviour eventually stopped.
It is normal in Grey Butcherbirds for the male to feed the female at the nest
during incubation and brooding (Hindwood 1967). This appears to be a
continuation of courtship behaviour, when the female begs and is fed by the
male, and results in the female being maintained during the long hours she
spends on the nest. It is probable that feeding of the female at the nest after loss
of a brood would result in a resurgence of courtship behaviour and another clutch
being laid. This could be the case earlier in the season, but timing would be a
relevant factor as it is very unlikely that brood loss late in the year would be
followed by another clutch because of the gradual disappearance of the male
breeding song. In the study territory this phased out in early November.June 1980 75
If we believe that Grey Butcherbirds recognize their young, use of the dead
chicks as food must be regarded as callous. However, if we deduce that the birds
do not “know” their own brood, the utilisation of this as a food source then
becomes a contribution to the success of the species.
If, after loss of young, the breeding song is still uttered at first light, and the
female is fed by the partner at the nest with items intended for the dead brood, it
appears that another clutch would then be laid. Again, such a chain of behaviour
is beneficial to the survival of the species.
It would be easy to interpret the Grey Butcherbird’s interest in the nylon line
as an attempt to rescue the trapped Noisy Miner, as this was the only time any of
the birds in the area paid any attention to the thread. However, the “rescue”
attempts did not last long, and it is more likely the Butcherbird’s efforts arose from
innate curiosity similar to that urge which causes fledglings to peck at objects
prior to becoming self-sufficient in food searching (Kikkawa and Thorne 1971).
The search for a retrieval of food lost in a hollow limb is evidence for the
element of learning by experience in bird behaviour. The bird in this case did not
“know” the food had fallen through the wedge into the hollow, but carried of a
systematic search (Kikkawa and Thorne p166). It quickly learnt where to find food
after the second loss.
The search for explanations for bird behaviour becomes very complex, and
since we cannot ask birds why they behave as they do, some questions may
never be completely answered. We might reflect on the motivations for our own
behaviour, and remember the words of Konrad Lorenz (1957):
`You think humanize the animal? Perhaps you do not know that what we are
wont to call “hI u man weakness” is, in reality, nearly always a pre -human factor
and one which we have in common with the higher animals? Believe me, I am not
mistakenly assigning human properties to animals: on the contrary, am showing
you what an enormous animal inheritance remains in man, to this day.’
Baldwin, M. 1980. Some Thoughts on Shading. Aust Birds 14, 53.
Charles, F. L. 1909. Some Observations on Robin Nests. Trans Ill. State Academy Sc 2, 27-31
Hindwood, K. A. 1967. Notes on the Grey Butcherbird. Aust. Bird Watcher 3:2, 40-42.
Kikkawa, J. and M. J. Thorne 1971. The Behaviour of Animals. Jacaranda Press: Brisbane P158-166
Landsborough-Thomson, A. 1964 Ed. A New Dictionary of Birds. p362. B.O.U.: London
Larkins, D. 1979. Shading and Sunning in the Grey Butcherbird. Aust. Birds 13, 43-46.
Lorenz, K. 1957. King Solomon’s Ring. Pan Edition: London. p170.
Morse Nice, M. 1943. Transactions of the Linnean Society of New York VI: Studies in the Life History of
the Song Sparrow 11, p229.
DARIEL LARKINS, 225 Kissing Point Road, Turramurra, N.S.W. 2074.76 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (14) 4
The nesting of a group of Laughing Kookaburras Dacelo novaeguinea in a
hollow of a Blackbutt Eucalyptus pilularis in my backyard during two successive
years allowed close observation of the birds’ behaviour and comparison with the
findings by Veronica Parry (1970 Kookaburra: Lansdowne).
Courtship feeding this season was first noticed on September 1979. A quite
unexpected aspect of this behaviour is that it is not the hen who takes the
initiative. The hen, to whom a long wriggling worm had been offered by holding it
close to her beak, was by no means anxious to accept the morsel and it was only
after the third inducement that she grabbed the worm in the middle, flew to the
next tree where she gobbled it up in one swinging toss of the head. This courtship
feeding extends right through the incubation period and even to the days when
the young chicks have hatched and are still sheltered by the brooding adult.
Perhaps it would be more appropriate to call the feeding action at this later stage
“sustenance feeding” or “support feeding”.


Prey fed to the chicks is as a whole commensurate with their age there is
no doubt that the adult birds are somehow aware of the need of their offspring for
comparatively small -sized fare. Although the kookaburra’s beak is suitable for
pounding, bashing or knocking, a large catch cannot be split up or pecked apart.
The process of dividing it is carried out in this way: a young bird wil hold on with
incredible strength to one end of, say, a lizard while the adult pulls backwards at
the other end till the body of the victin snaps and is torn apart. The reduced parts
are then eaten.
This pulling -back motion of the head is also noticeable when the nesting
chamber is prepared prior to the laying of the eggs. When the edge of a natural
hollow in a tree has to be chipped off in order to enlarge the cavity, the wood is
not chiselled out by knocking in a forward movement of the head, but is ripped
out laboriously by a forceful pulling motion.
The stimulus for the search for food lies in the begging call of the young,
which rises to a high pitch whent he parent announces his or her presence by a
gentle gurgling call. It was interesting to note later in the season that the adult
bringing food appeared totally unaware of the fact that the young birds had left
the nest on fledging. When there was no vocal response from a young bird to the

usual announcement the adult bird with the food flew over to the nest from the

habitual perch, crept into the empty chamber, pecking around at the bottom and
left without the offering. While this happened the second adult bird arrived, also
carrying food in the form of a long threadlike worm dangling from its bill. When it
saw the other bird in the hollow it waited until it had free passage. Uttering the
usual gurgling signalling call it flew over, found nobody and returned to the
perching branch, only to depart after a while to trees in the distance. It proves that
leaving the nest is determined solely by the juvenile birds themselves without
coaxing or instruction by the adults, otherwise the parentbirds would surely have
been aware of what had happened.June 1980 77
Feeding of the young by the parents outside the nest is difficult to observe in
the suburb as the territory is large and extends to other houses in the area, but it
has been observed a number of times four blocks away.
Participation of auxiliaries, i.e. outside helpers, in brooding the eggs could
not be observed; however food for the young was procured by three adults. With-
out tagging of the birds such observations could be deceptive, but at one stage
two birds were actually clinging to the rim of the nest -hollow waiting to pass on
the food they had brought, while a third bird was waiting on the opposite perching
branch also laden with food, anxiously awaiting its turn.
Protection of the very young chicks on cold nights is afforded by the parent
by brooding. When the nights are excessively warm the brooding bird would
wave its neck to and fro endlessly, probably creating a cooling draft by this
fanning. The chicks themselves are conscious of their safety to a large degree.
When turning in order to excrete, they do so in slow-motion avoiding hasty move-
ments for fear of falling out of the nest. As soon as their eyes are open they will
watch the ground closely when they are awake, stopping their chatter and
begging calls at once when they see movement on the ground or hear noises like
those coming from a motor mower.
It has been the subject of much speculation how the kookaburra learns his
laugh. cannot offer a solution to this puzzling phenomenon. But strangely
enough I the loud aggressive cry which carries so much weight in the defence of
the territory and nest seems to be innate and need not to be learned. It is used
long before the young birds have fledged. When held out a piece of meat to a
recently fledged bird which was sitting on a railinI g, the bird responded unex-
pectedly with such a blast of protest that it made quite clear that it felt threatened
by the closeness of human contact.
The young birds left the nest in 1978 on 31 December. In 1979 they had
already left the nest on 23 November.
As these lines are written (4 February 1980) the family of 5 (and perhaps an
auxiliary also?) arrive every morning to be handed their meaty breakfast. All the
young birds now eat unaided.
GRETE RICE, 8 Brisbane Avenue, Lindfield, N.S.W. 207078 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (14) 4
On 26 March 1980 at 700 hrs on the property Yarrawonga, located about 45
km south-west of Carinda, observed a small light coloured little bird swimming
in a stock dam. This bird wI as being attacked from the air. The small bird would
dive under the water for several seconds and when it emerged the attacker would
dive at the little bird again. At the time the first observation was made my attention
was so drawn to the bird being attacked that the identity of the attacker was not
noted, however, it was later identified as a Noisy Friarbird Philemon corniculata.
The smaller bird resembled a “dotterel”, but as knew that their feet were not
webbed and the chick was swimming so smoothly I o n the water at first thought
that the bird may have been some other species. At the time was unaware of the
swimming ability generally of all Wader chicks. Eventually the chick attempted to
land at the edge of the water but the Friarbird attacked again and forced it back
into the water. Finally, it swam towards where my husband was on the other side
of the water and due to his presence, the Friarbird did not attempt another attack.
The chick was easily caught by hand as it was very exhausted.
The chick was then identified as a flightless juvenile Black -fronted Plover
Charadrius melanops by its black V across the breast and eye (still speckled with
white) there was a red ring around eye, pale red bill with dark tip (very similar to
adult, except black not completed and reds
Black -fronted Plover at this dam, but there were eight to ten on adjoining stock
The chick was then released near some of these Plovers and it ran to meet
two of them. However immediately all the other Plovers converged on it an
chased it away. My husband again picked up the chick from under a bush where
it had hidden and let it go again where there were no other Plovers in sight. It
commenced to feed straight away and soon we had lost sight of it around the
muddy margin of a dam.
Noisy Friarbirds are well known as quarrelsome and pugnacious birds that
will drive all other bird species away from their food sources particularly when
feeding on nectar at trees heavily in flower. The two stock dams were fairly full of
water and were lined with sapling River Red Gums. The Friarbird flew out of one
of these trees repeatedly to attack the plover, up to 30 m distance. No concentra-
tion of Noisy Friarbirds were in the area generally so it was possibly only for
drinking purposes that the Friarbird was near the pond. The aggression shown
towards a bird that could hardly be considered a competitor for the same food
supply seems somewhat unusual. Whilst watching the Friarbird attacking the
Plover, in a very aggressive and persistent manner, was under the impression
that it had the intention of killing the Plover for food.

NEUZA SMITH, 209 Maitland St., Narrabri, N.S.W. 2390June 1980 79

Ella Kathleen Pratt of Reserve Creek, Murwillumbah, New South Wales, died
suddenly on 11 February 1980 of a brain haemorrhage, in her forty-ninth year.
Ella had a life-long interest in and a deep knowledge of nature, particularly birds,
and the breeding of cattle. Her sister, Eva, and brothers Sid, Alf, and Phillip feel
that the foundation of her nature interest was laid before her birth, when her
father, the late Hugh Fraser Pratt, left uncleared about 4 ha of rainforest for the
children to play in. This pocket of scrub now cared for by Mrs. Kathleen Pratt and
family is very rich in things that grow, walk, crawl, hop and fly. Before her teens,
Ella was recording the yearly return of the Dollarbirds Eurystomus orientalis,
Red-tailed Black Cockatoos Calyptorhynchus magnificus, and Swifts.
The demise of the publication “Wildlife” about 1954 created the urge for her
to join the Royal Australian Ornithologists’ Union, and soon already well-informed
about the birds of north-eastern N.S.W., she broadened this knowledge at RAOU
campouts. She travelled to most parts of Australia and to New Guinea. In addition
Ella was a member of the N.S.W. Field Ornithologists Club, Bird Observers’ Club,
Queensland Ornighological Society, Ornithological Society of New Zealand, and
the Australian Bird Study Association. She contributed notes and articles to the
journals and newsletters of each society. A mentor who encouraged her interest
in birds and recording their habits was Mr. J. S. Robertson of Brisbane, and her
annual notes in the 0.0.S. Newsletter about migratory birds in her area were an
outcome of his counselling. Ella was also an enthusiastic, licensed bird -bander,
joining the C.S.I.R.O. bird -banding scheme about 1964.
Mr. W. Roy Wheeler has written, “Ella was a most generous and helpful
person and loved her birds. We had been corresponding for nearly 30 years. In
1960 she went to New Guinea with us in the RAOU party. have kept all her
letters with bird notes, in particular Swift records, which compiled for twenty
years and she always topped the list with as many as 150 records in a year, and
her Swifts were in most cases the first for the season”.
Recently published articles by Ella included “The Growth of a Cattle Egret
Colony” 1979 Notornis 26, 353-356, “The White-rumped Swiftlet in New South
Wales”, 1979 Aust. Birds 12, 68 and the “Red-tailed Cockatoo in north-eastern
N.S.W.” 1979 Aust. Birds 14, 36.
When compiling the bird list for Mount Warning State Park and the immediate
environs for “Birds and Where to Find them” New South Wales (1974 W.
RoyWheeler, Jacaranda Press) Ella assisted National Parks and Wildlife Service
Ranger Ken Ayers and myself in this task.
My wife Gwen and considered Ella the nonpareil of female birdwatchers and
found it stimulating to answer her calls to view a Grey Swiftlet Collacalia
spodiopygia, or a White -eared Flycatcher Monarcha leucotis, at the family’s farm;
to find a Noisy Pitta’s Pitta versicolor nest in the patch of scrub; or a Leaf -tail
Gecko on a Blue Fig Tree.
In August -September 1979 Ella helped Gwen and with out task of organising
outings for the annual N.S.W. Gould League Bird Study Camp at Wollumbin
Wildlife Refuge near Mount Warning. Naturally, one excursion was to the Pratt
farm at Reserve Creek.
These examples of bird -findings and helpfulness were typical of Ella and
have been re-inforced in many lettersof appreciation received by her family from
friends including both amateur ana professional ornithologists.
MILTON TRUDGEON, 48 Bruxner Crescent, Goonellabah N.S.W. 248080 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS (14) 4
AUSTRALIAN BIRDS AND THEIR YOUNG Paintings by Gladys Y. O’Grady with text by Terence
Lindsey 1979. Cassell Australia. Pp 282, Col pll 74. 300 x 220 mm. $A24.95.
It is indeed a pleasure to be reviewing a book to which one of our members, Terence Lindsey, has
made a major contribution. This is an important publication since it provides an outlet for the first time
for the paintings of Miss O’Grady.
The title is a slight misnomer since less than half the plates depict young birds, however, the great
majority portray some aspect of the breeding cycle in terms of nuptial plumages, nests and eggs. The
great value of the paintings is that they reflect the artist’s impressions from life and are refreshingly
original. In the introduction the artist paints a fascinating pen -picture of her life and the various phases
of her progression as an artist. Certainly differing styles are evident in the paintings and it is interesting
to compare the techniques used in the White-cheeked and Blue -faced Honeyeater plates with the
more sophisticated methods used with the Egrets and the Finches.
One cannot but admire her mastery of portraying birds in action rather than posed and she seldon
fails to catch their “jizz”. Her pair of Figbirds are an excellent example with the female stretching
forward and the male looking over his shoulder, yet both look completely natural. Many other plates
e.g. the Red -brown and Chestnut-brested Finches and the Cisticolas are simply packed with action
and life. What a pity one of the poorest plates, a mournful Pelican was chosen to open the book.
Several plates are of ornithological value since they illustrate poorly known juvenile plumages.
Notable among these are the series on the Brown Quail and the Black -faced Cuckoo -Shrike. It is also
the plates showing young birds which have the greatest visual appeal and Miss O’Grady’s offerings of
fledgling Boobooks, Tawny Frogmouths and others are simply delightful. Only a small number of
plates was not to my choice and in some of these was biased by the backgrounds rather than the
birds e.g. the Red -backed Quail.
The plates are complemented by a page of text on each species. These accounts by Terence
Lindsey are nicely balanced with accurate detail for the ornithologist yet sufficiently varied to hold the
interest of the general reader. Most open with a summary of the species’ distribution and finish with a
description of the nesting cycle. In between there is a wealth of information on a wide range of subjects
such as plumage variations, habitat requirements, food preferences etc. In some accounts the author
takes the opportunity of discussing more general topics, e.g. almost half the text on the Blue -faced
Honeyeater relates to the famous Watling drawings, however, believe this trend enhances rather than
detracts from their interest.
There are pleasantly few mistakes. The range of the Plumed Egret wrongly includes southern
Europe, one of the few major differences between this species and the Little Egret, also the eggs are
described as pale sea -green whereas in the plate they appear blue. The Black Duck is clearly less
than half life size. In a few instances the author’s choice of words left me non-plussed. He describes
the Tawny Frogmouth’s feet as being “almost useless”, the Shrike -tits as occurring in three widely
separated and “mutually” osolated populations and he occasionally lapses into tautology as with the
Scarlet Honeyeater where the range is described as seldom common “far inland from the coast”.
However these points are rather trivial and do not detract from a fine effort.
The layout of the book is most attractive. The paintings all appear on the right hand side as does
the text. In debit this means that one quarter of the pages are blank and a further quarter carry only a
brief caption. Whether a less wasteful format and lower price would have been justified in a work of this
nature is debateable. The book is printed on good quality paper and is solidly bound. In terms of
bookshelf storage its dimensions can only be described as diabolical. However, if in doubt, my
recommendation is to buy a new bookcase, this is one not to be missed.
The editor draws to your attention two errors in the last issue of Australian
Birds Vol. 14 No. 3 March, 1980 viz, all the pages with the exception of the first
page show “Vol. 15 (3)” instead of “Vol. 14 (3)” in the top right corner. The other
error is one of omission in that credit was not given to J. D. Gibson of Thirroul for
drawing the map on page 48. The editor apologies for any inconvenience
Morris, A. K. The status and distribution of the Turquoise Parrot in New
South Wales 57
Pegler, J. A Wader survey of the northern shores of Port Stephens
and the lower Myall River 68
Larkins, D. Shading and evidence for other involuntary behaviour in
Grey Butcherbirds 72
Rice, G. Some notes on the nesting of the Laughing Kookaburra 76
Smith, N. Noisy Friarbird attacks a Black -fronted Plover chick 78
Obituary – Ella Pratt 79
Book Review – A. E. F. Rogers 80
Registered for Posting as a Periodical -Category B
Printed by R. V. B. 7RINTERS 38 Silyerwater Road. Ldcombe, 2141