Vol. 20 No. 1-text

PDF version available here: Vol. 20 No. 1

Journal of the
Vol. 20, No. 1 October, 1985

ISSN 0311-8150

Registered by Australia Post Publication No. NBH0790THE N.S.W. FIELD ORNITHOLOGISTS CLUB
PATRON A.R. McGill, O.A.M.
D. Turner
The object of the Club is to promote the study and conservation of Australian birds and the
habitats they occupy.
Annual subscription rates of the Club (due 1st July each year) are:
Adult Member $15.00
Junior Member (up to 17 yrs) $ 5.00
All members receive a quarterly newsletter and a copy of the quarterly journal “Australian
Birds”. The price of the journal is $3.50 plus postage per issue to non-members. Club badges
are available to club members at $1.40 or $1.70 if posted. The Club holds a meeting and a field
excursion each month.
All correspondence should be addressed to the Hon. Secretary and all membership fees should
be sent to the Hon. Treasurer at: P.O. Box C436, Clarence Street, Sydney, N.S.W. 2000.
Manuscripts should be sent to the Editor at: Dept. of Ornithology, Australian Museum, 6-8
College Street, Sydney 2000.MAMMA
Volume 20, No 1 October, 1985
Fish is usually regarded as the sole diet of pelicans, although some standard references also
include crustaceans. Cambridge’s report (1983) of an Australian Pelican Pe/ecanus conspic-
illatus attacking and apparently eating a young Grey Teal Anasgibberifrons has prompted us to
record our own observations of unusual pedation by pelicans; in this discussion we also bring
together some related reports gathered from the literature.
Heavy rain in 1973-74 produced flooding in inland Australia, particularly around Lake Eyre,
and Australian Pelicans and other waterbirds bred profusely (Serventy 1976). The birds were
forced from the region as the floodwaters subsequently receded, and pelicans appeared in
unusual numbers in many parts of eastern and southern Australia. At Mildura in Victoria the
influx was first noted in March 1978, and by May 110 pelicans were being fed fish daily on the
river front near the local wharf, attracting considerable public attention. Many of these birds
were so weak that they were easily captured by hand, and others were found dead or dying.
Some were found to weigh as little as 1.8 kilograms and dissection of corpses showed that the
birds had died from starvation. We took advantage of their ease of capture to band as many as
During the regular feeding sessions at the wharf, large numbers of adult Silver GullsLarus
novaehollandiae also gathered to scavenge the fish scraps, and we witnessed a number of2 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 20 (1)
attacks by pelicans on the gulls. On one occasion we saw pelicans capture and eat five adult
Silver Gulls. One of us (CS) attended four days of banding and on each day pelicans were
observed to capture and devour gulls. The pelicans caught the gulls simply, by a “surprise
lunge”, but had difficulty in getting the prey into a swallowing position. The wings of the gull
often became draped over either side of the pelican’s bill near the gape (cf Lowe & Lowe 1976),
preventing the gull from entering the throat. The pelican repeatedly tossed its prey between the
open mandibles of its bill in its attempts to control the flapping wings of the gull and to orient the
prey head -first down its throat. Once the wings were enclosed within the bill the gull was soon
swallowed and very few escaped, but several others escaped during the preliminary tossing
process. Often, a pelican would carry a struggling gull down to the riverbank, enter the water
and drown or immobilize the gull before manipulating it to the swallowing position. Upon
swallowing a gull on land, the pelican waddled down to the water’s edge, drank, then rejoined
the other pelicans on the bank.
On one of these occasions an onlooker told us that the remains of four Silver Gulls had been
found in a dead pelican. CS has also found the bony bill plates of two Silver Gulls in a pelican
found dead at Lake Hawthorn, Mildura, Victoria. We also received or have traced various other
reports (some indefinite) of pelicans taking or trying to take unusual food, in addition to a young
Grey Teal (Cambridge 1983) and young Silver Gulls (Lowe & Lowe 1976) already mentioned.
Carruthers (1969), in a short note on co-operative fishing by Australian Pelicans, cites a report
by the caretaker at Lake Moondarra near Mount lsa of this species herding and taking Grey Teal
ducklings. At Murray Bridge, South Australia, pelicans were fed scraps of meat supplied by a
local meat processor. A report in a local newspaper, the Murray Valley Standard for 15 June
1978 states that: “The pelicans will eat pies, vegetable scraps and even mushrooms and
toadstools from riverside lawns”. Another report, in the Sunraysia Daily for 21 Au-gu st 1978,
relates how – aa p elican came every day to a house in Gol Gol, NSW, where it was fed or rather
limited to loaf of bread and one pint of milk each day. Clift (1978) reports an incident in
which a small dog was apparently taken by a pelican from a pier at Lakes Entrance, Victoria. In a
similar incident near Murray Bridge a pelican apparently seized and ate a small Chihuahua dog
(Murray Valley Standard, 16 August 1983), though subsequent efforts to verify the report
proved unsuccessful.
Mr Murray McMahon, Lockmaster at Lock 7 on the Murray River, told us that, on or about 2
June 1983, he and his assistant saw a pelican make deliberate attempts to drown a Laughing
Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae. The kookaburra was retrieved from the water and placed on
the lawn but, badly battered, it died a short time later. Pelicans were numerous on the lock at
the time, and were probably feeding on Bony Bream Fluvia/osa richardsoni that had died and
come to the surface following cold weather and frosts. The presence of these fish might also
have enticed the kookaburra to enter the lock, where its ability to escape may have been
A photograph of pelicans feeding on the remains of a Darter Anhinga melanogaster is
published in Walker (1981). Serventy, Serventy & Warham (1971) mention a report of an
Australian Pelican killing a Black Swan Cygnus atratus which interfered with its fishing; theyOCTOBER 1985 3
also state that the pelican’s diet includes ducklings, but no details are given.
Overseas, other species of pelican have been reported to eat meat. In North America, a
captive White Pelican P. erythrorhynchus took 3.4 kg of meat at a meal (Maynard in Bent 1964).
At the Galapagos Islands, Brown Pelicans P. occidenta/is on several occasions were seen to
pick up the bodies of large birds that had been skinned for collection; one immature pelican had
the bodies of two Galapagos Hawks Buteo galapagoensis in its pouch but could not swallow or
fly away with them (Gifford in Bent 1964). In Chile, Johnson (1965) reports waterfowl taking
alarm at the approach of Brown Pelicans, which might indicate that the ducks recognise the
pelican as a potential predator. An incident is related to us by S. Marchant, while in Ecuador in
1956 or 1957 at the time of the El Nino current which periodically displaces the Humboldt
Current causing widespread death and starvation among the seabirds of that coast: his small
daughter, aged 3-4, was bathing in a tidal inlet and a probably ailing Brown Pelican was sitting
on rocks nearby. After about an hour the pelican jumped down onto the water, grabbed the child
by her arm and apparently tried to manipulate her into a swallowing position but was quickly
driven off by her mother, who clouted the bird’s head with a book.
It is plain from the reports assembled here that in some circumstances pelicans of several
species will take meat and various other sorts of food besides fish. Perhaps this occurs only
when the birds are starving or otherwise ailing (e.g. at Mildura in 1978; in Ecuador) but this
aspect of the observed occurrences has not been usually recorded in detail and needs checking.
We wish to thank Mrs P. Craton, Chief Librarian, Public Library Murray Bridge, Tony Butcher of
the Murray Valley Standard, Library Staff of Carnegie Library, Mildura, Murray McMahon, S.
Marchant and many others who assisted us in our enquiries regarding unusual food items of
Bent, A.C. 1964. Life Histories of North American petrels and pelicans and their allies. Dover Reprints, New
Cambridge, B. 1983. An observation of a pelican attacking and apparently eating a young Grey Teal. Aust.
Birds 17: 74
Carruthers, R.K. 1969. Co-operative fish drives. Emu 68: 280-282
Clift, N. 1983. A one -act play. Sunraysia Bird Obs. Cl. Newsletter No. 1. 11
Johnson, A.W. 1965. The birds of Chile and adjacent regions of Argentina, Bolivia and Peru, vol 1. Platt
Establicimientos Graficos S.A., Buenos Aires
Lowe, V.T. & T.G. Lowe. 1976. Pelicans feeding on feather. Aust. Bird Watcher 6: 169-170
Readers Digest, 1976. Complete book of Australian Birds. Reader’s Digest Services Pty Ltd, Sydney
Serventy, D.L., V. Serventy & J. Warham 1971. The handbook of Australian seabirds. Reed, Sydney
Serventy, V. 1976. Lake Eyre. Wildlife in Australia 13: 9
Walker 1981 Today tonight’s Queensland. Rigby. Adelaide
Jeff Campbell, c/o Farmilo, P.M.B. 17. Meringur Vic 3496
Chris Sonter, 72 San Mateo Avenue, Mildura Vic 35004 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 20 (1)
carried out observations on the breeding biology of the White -throated Warbler Gerygone
olivacea at Hornsby Heights, New South Wales, during the years 1973-1975. The study area is
in a well -vegetated suburban environment lying along a relatively narrow ridge of Hawkesbury

Sandstone. Native vegetation includes various species of wattles, eucalypts (including stringy

bark, box, bloodwood and scribbly gum), angophoras and casuarinas; most gardens also
included banksias, grevilleas, melaleucas and other native plants. Of exotic plants, jacarandas,
camelias and a large gordonia were particularly frequented by the warblers; of native
vegetation, young stringbarks were favoured.
The White -throated Warbler is migratory in the study area, usually arriving about mid –
September. Arrival dates between 1973 and 1980 ranged from 12 to 29 September, and for the
three years 1973-1975 of the study were 15, 29 and 19 September respectively. In each year,
arrival was announced by persistent singing of a lone bird, presumably the male, which
continued until pair formation. In 1973 a second bird appeared the following day but in 1974 the
delay was two days and in 1975, eight days. The pair bond appears to be established after a very
short display period. The male follows the female about, singing persistently; also noted a
display consisting of rapid circular flights (usually of about 60 cm diameter) around the perched
female. never witnessed copulation.
The pair selected the nest -site and began construction several days after the appearance of the
second bird: for each year of the study these intervals were of five, six and six days respectively.
Nests were located in a 6 m high stringybark (1973), in a 7 m high scribbly gum (1974), and in a
2.5 m high weigla bush (1975), and were situated respectively at heights of 3.0 m, 2.5 m, and
1.8 m above the ground. The trunk diameter of both trees (at breast height) was less than 16 cm,
but the weigla bush consisted of numerous canes each up to 1.5 cm in diameter. In every case,
the nest was hidden amongst outer foliage on slender branches; noted no association with
wasps or small black ants although Chisolm (1959) commented that these associations are
common. In 1975, a second breeding attempt was made at an above -ground height of
approximately 1.9 metres in a 3 -metre camelia bush, but the attempt was abandoned before the
nest was complete.OCTOBER 1985 5
Construction lasted only 3-4 days in each of the first two years, but the 1975 pair took about
six days to complete their first nest. These periods are considerably less than those usually
reported (e.g. Reader’s Digest 1976). They more closely accord with those reported by
Donaghey (1962) but are still less than his stated periods. During nest -building one bird, the
presumed male, sang persistently from a perch on a prominent branch of the next tree (or one
nearby) while the other did the construction work. The singing bird invariably adopted an
upright stance wit-h the tail slightly fanned.- A lthough my birds were not marked, felt sure that
the other partner the presumed female built the nest entirely alone; Gill (1982) found that
nest -construction was undertaken only by the female in his study of the related Grey Warbler G.
igata in New Zealand.
Nests were constructed of strips of stringy -bark (in lengths up to 13 cm) and wool (obtained
from three sheep in the area but also included spider web, vacuum cleaner waste, pieces of
cotton, a few short casuarina branchlets, and vegetable cases of an unidentified insect larvae.
Wool was used to anchor the nest to the branch from which it was suspended and, together
with strips of stringybark, formed the framework of the nest. The tail piece was formed by
bringing together the hanging strips with wool and cobwebs. Other material was then worked
into all parts of the nest, the bird working alternately from inside and outside. The entrance and
its overhang were added upon completion of the main structure, and finally the inside was lined
with wool.
Both the 1973 and 1975 pairs ignored their nest for a period after completing it and before the
first egg was laid. In 1973 this period lasted seven days and in 1975, five days. So little attention
was paid to the nest at this time that on both occasions I assumed that the birds had abandoned
their breeding attempt. Donaghey (op. cit.) makes no mention of this behaviour but Gill (1982)
reported it in the Grey Warbler. The clutch consisted of three eggs in all cases. The eggs were
laid at intervals of about 48 hours, which agrees with the laying interval reported for the Grey
Warbler by Gill (op. cit.); this interval seems characteristic of a number of small temperate
Australian passerine birds (Thomas 1974).
Incubation, which began on completion of the clutch, was easily verified during the day
because the sitting bird’s bill and throat, at least, could always be seen. later made three
inspections at night, and found the bird sitting on each occasion; once purposely flushed the
sitting bird and on rechecking two hours later, found that the bird had returned.
I anticipated hatching from about the 14th day of incubation. In order to minimize
disturbarice, I regularly checked the nests only twice daily (between 07:30 and 08:45 hrs and
between 17:00 and 18:30 hrs), but on weekends and occasionally around noon on weekdays
made some additional observations. I did not mark the eggs, and I assumed that the eggs
hatched in the order laid. Basing my calculations on the mid -point between consecutive visits,
found that the incubation period ranged between 15 days 20 hours and 21 days 14 hours, with aI
mean of approximately 18 days 17 hours. These periods are significantly greater than those6 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 20 1
usually reported in the literature, including those given by Donaghey (15-16 days): they are
more closely in accord with Gill’s findings for the Grey Warbler and with Marchant’s for the
Brown Warbler G. mouki (Marchant 1980).
Pin -feathers became apparent eight days after the first nestling had hatched. The shortest
period in which a nestling left the nest was 13 days 10:45 hours (from the time of the first
inspection at which all eggs had hatched). This bird, from the 1975 nest, flew out just as was
about to inspect the nestlings. It landed on the ground some six metres away and made no
further attempt to fly. returned it to the nest.
The young of the 1973 nest left the nest on the seventeenth day after the last egg had
hatched (except for one nestling which had disappeared when the nest was examined on the
evening of the eighth day), while two young of the 1975 nest left it permanently 14 days 10 hrs
after the last egg had hatched. The remaining bird departed 1 day 16 hrs later. The early
departure of the first two young can perhaps be explained by my disturbance. That this
departure was premature is suggested by the fact that the 1973 brood remained in the nest
longer than the 1975 brood. Donaghey’s fledgeling periods (15-16 days) are comparable to
mine and these data suggest that published fledgeling periods (of about 10 days, cf Reader’s
Digest 1976) are significantly understated. A range of 14.5 to 18 days would seem more
probable, as found by Gill (op. cit.) for the Grey Warbler.
The young appeared to be reliant on the parents for some time after they had left the nest, with
continual association being observed for periods of 32 days, 30 days and 27 days respectively.
Observation of the 1975 brood, however, ceased after 27 days. Initially, the young perched on a
small branch waiting for the parents to come to them with food, or followed the parents about,
begging continually. However, from soon after fledging they were also seen to attempt, and
sometimes succeed in, the capture of insects flying past their perch. During this post -fledging
period the young kept in close contact with each other, and parental feeding apparently
continued throughout the period. Close observation of the 1975 fledgelings on the 25th day out
of the nest showed that they were still not adept in feeding. For example, one young bird was
successful in catching an insect on only one occasion out of four attempts while another
succeeded twice in seven attempts. At the same time, observation of the parents suggested that
they were at least three times more efficient (e.g. four and seven successes from five and nine
attempts respectively).
On 30 November 1975 (i.e. when approximately 27 days old) the plumages of the three young
birds of that season were noted: bill dull grey, gape orange -yellow; crown and upperparts
similar to adult but slightly darker olive -grey; underparts a much paler yellow than the parents,OCTOBER, 1985
lacking white throat; sides of face very light yellow, extending in front of, above and behind the
eye, making this area quite distinct from that of the parents which is grey, faintly tinged olive.
They also lack the adults’ white spot near the base of the upper mandible. Iris mid to light brown;
tail distinctly shorter but showing the white tips characteristic of adults.
I studied three nests of the White -throated Warbler in the years 1973-1975 at Hornsby, a
suburb of Sydney, NSW. Here the species is migratory, arriving in mid -September. The male
apparently arrives first, the female 1-8 days later. Nest construction begins a few days
afterwards and takes 3-6 days; the nest is then ignored for 4-7 days before the first egg is laid.
My data indicate an incubation period of 16-21 days and a fledging period of 14-17 days; these
periods differ significantly from much standard literature but are more nearly comparable to
those reported for the related Grey Warbler of New Zealand. Young seem at least partially
dependant on the parents for about 30 days after leaving the nest.
Donaghey, R.H. 1962. The White -throated Warbler of Blue Gum Creek, Chatswood, NSW. Aust. Bird
Watcher 1: 228-233
Chisholm, A.H. 1959. The history of anting. Emu 59: 101-130
Gill, B.J. 1982. Breeding of the Grey Warbler Gerygone igata at Kaikoura, New Zealand. Ibis 124: 123-147
Marchant, S. 1980. Incubation and nestling periods of some Australian birds. Corella 4: 30-33
Readers’ Digest. 1976. Reader’s Digest complete book of Australian birds. Reader’s Digest Services Pty Ltd:
Thomas, D.G. 1974. Some problems associated with the avifauna. In Williams, W.D. (ed.). Biogeography
and Ecology in Tasmania. Jung: The Hague
R.M. Cooper, 2 Rofe Crescent, Hornsby NSW 2077
present address: 132 Huon Creek Road, Wodonga Vic 36908 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 20 (1)
The Barn Owl Tyto a/ba occurs over the whole of Australia (Slater 1970; Frith 1976) and at least
one authority describes its status as common (MacDonald 1973), although others note that it is
scarce in Tasmania and the arid centre (Pizzey 1980; Schodde & Mason 1980). However the
results of the recent RAOU Atlas survey (Blakers, Davies & Reilly 1984) cast doubt on these
generalizations. Certainly in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA) the Barn Owl has been
listed as very rare, recorded only as occasional specimens found dead (McKeown 1923;
Hindwood 1940). Breeding was not reported in the vicinity of Narrandera-Jerilderie in the Atlas
survey although there is a record of a successful nest on Yanco Creek in November 1913
(Barratt 1916). The RAOU Nest Records Scheme contains no records from the region to the end
of 1984 (M. Clarke pers. comm.) In a two-year study based on monthly counts of animal traffic
casualties between Canberra and Lake Cowal, somewhat to the east of our study area, Vestjens
(1973) found only 28 Barn Owls.
Our observations in the Riverina and Southwest Slopes of NSW between July 1976 and
July 1984 support the Atlas data. Within this period, one of us (KH) has seen only five Barn Owls
alive and three dead on the roadsides (over an estimated 200 000 km driven). -It was therefore
surprising to- co unt from the car while travelling at about 100 kph, 44 dead owls apparently all
Barn Owls between Leeton and Conargo, a distance of 210 km, on the morning of 6
December 1984. All but one were between Jerilderie and a point 30 km south of Narrandera
along the Newell Highway. The exception was two kilometres east of Conargo on the Jerilderie
road. Fortunately, on the return journey the same day along the same route it was possible to
stop and check all owls for leg bands and to make sure there were no Grass Owls Tyto
/ongimembris among them. On reaching Narrandera 102 dead owls had been examined, of
which 101 were Barn Owls and one was a Boobook Owl Ninox novaesee/andiae. Of the Barn
Owls, 60 were fresh enough to be attractive to insects or their larvae. The other 40 were still
well feathered and easily recognised as Barn Owls but were dry and no longer attractive to
insects. There were no leg bands nor Grass Owls. Up to 13 dead owls were found in a kilometre
of road, but the pattern of distribution was not even.
Coincidentally, about 20 dead Barn Owls had been seen on 27 November 1984 between
Darlington Point and the Carrathool turnoff while one of us (J8) was driving along the Sturt
Highway at normal speed (about 100 kph). As a result of the discrepancy between the
observations from the car at speed compared with closer observations at slow speed in the
Jerilderie-Narrandera area it was decided to drive along the Sturt Highway from Darlington
Point on 16 December 1984. Dead owls were abundant along both sides of the road. BetweenOCTOBER. 1985 9
Darlington Point and the Carrathool turnoff, a distance of only 60 km, 215 dead Barn Owls were
examined. As with the owls observed between Jerilderie and Narrandera the distribution
pattern was uneven; the maximum density was 18 owls per kilometre.
Other observations of unusual numbers of Barn Owls in the same area have since come to
light. Between Darlington Point and Carrathool six Barn Owls were observed in the headlights
of a car on 23 September 1984 and on the return journey on 27 September, seven Barn Owls
were seen. On the night of 28 September 1984 another five Barn Owls as well as a Boobook
Owl were seen on Bill Ryan’s property “The Homestead” situated 25 km west of the Darlington
Point turnoff along the Sturt Highway (K.A. Wood pers. comm.)
There had been much calling of Barn Owls on the property between September 1984 and
January 1985 and there were exceptional numbers of dead Barn Owls along the Sturt Highway
adjacent to the property in October, November and December 1984. Between 16 and 25
December 1984, Bill Ryan (pers. comm.) found three emaciated Barn Owls dying in paddocks
with nothing in their crops, and he commented that he had never before seen so many Barn
Owls in 43 years on his property. Furthermore, in the Leeton area more nesting Barn Owls were
recorded in 1984 than ever before. Cec Eckley, who has lived in Leeton for over 50 years and has
taken a keen interest in the local wildlife for as long as he can remember, agrees that Barn Owls
are generally rare and irregular in the MIA. However he does recall “about 30 or so” in a timber
area at Midgeon Park about 15 km east of Leeton around 1945.
Between 1982 and 1984 a pair nested in a hollow box tree near Leeton. Three young were
raised in 1982 and 1983. In 1984 there were three young again in August, and in mid November
another five young were found in the same hollow. A further two nests were known in that year
in the same area. Also in 1984, another two nests were found near Binya, 30 km north of
Leeton. All nests were in hollow box trees. The number of nests found between 1982 and 1984
is considered exceptional.
Although there is evidence to suggest that Barn Owls have been scarce in the Riverina and
Southwest Slopes they are, in Australia, essentially irruptive nomads, which gather
opportunistically where plagues of native or introduced rodents occur. They are known to breed
while conditions are good and then disperse when the food supply fails. The rise and fall in
regional populations can be dramatic and when the food supply collapses high mortality in Barn
Owls is well documented. Up to 50 per cent or more of the peak population may perish when the
food supply fails (Schodde & Mason 1980).
Barn Owls in Australia are highly selective predators and they eat primarily small ground
mammals about the size of a mouse (Morton 1975; Morton, Happold, Lee & MacM illen 1977;
Morton & Martin 1979). Of 20 pellets collected from Bill Ryan’s property in December 1984 and
January 1985, 19 contained only House Mouse Mus muscu/us remains. The remains of one
mouse was found in one pellet, two mice in five pellets, three mice in eight pellets, four mice in
four pellets and five mice in one pellet. The other pellet contained remains that were probably
those of a Rabbit Oryctolagus cuciculus.10 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 20111
Barn Owls seldom prey on rabbits. It is worth noting that the highest density of dead Barn
Owls between Jerilderie and Narrandera was in an area where flattened carcases of rabbits
were abundant on the road, and in the early morning young rabbits with myxamatosis were
seen in numbers sitting at the edge of the road. It is not unreasonable to speculate that as the
preferred prey diminished rapidly in number, starving Barn Owls may have been attracted to
young rabbits or even carrion. However there was no evidence of myxamatosis in rabbits along
the Darlington Point to Carrathool road, and the concentration of dead owls there was even
The NSW Department of Agriculture mouse trapping records from Yanco during the 1984
mouse plague dropped from 20 mice per 90 traps per fortnight in July to four in September and
none in November, indicating a dramatic drop in mouse numbers over that period. An
alternative estimate of relative numbers of mice can be obtained from local Pastures Protection
Board figures for Bromadiolone usage (Bromadiolone is the recommended agent for control of
mice during plagues in NSW). According to records of the Narrandera Pastures Protection
Board, use of this poison dropped from 125-135 litres per week in July to around five litres per
week in September, with about 20 litres per week in October and none in November. These
figures suggest that mouse numbers dropped dramatically in August and were very low by early
November 1984.
The circumstancial evidence presented here suggests that the exceptional number of dead
Barn Owls observed in the Riverina during the spring of 1984 were the result of a massive build
up of mouse numbers, with a consequent increase in predatory Barn Owls, followed by a rapid
decline in mouse numbers in late winter and spring of 1984 and consequent starvation of owls.
Large numbers of owls hunted over roads where there is no vegetation to obscure mice, but
many were killed by the large volumes of fast traffic on the highways. As far as we can
ascertain, mortality of this magnitude has not been recorded previously in Australia or
We are grateful to Mike Clarke, Cec Eckley, Bill Ryan and Kevin Wood for their time and effort in
providing information utilized in the preparation of this paper. Terry Korn of the NSW
Department of Agriculture regional office at Dubbo provided records of mice trapped at Yanco
and Bromadiolone usage of regional Pastures Protection Boards.
Barrett, C. 1916. Bird Life on Yanko Creek (NSW). Emu 16:15-23
Blakers, M., S.J.J.F. Davies, & P.N. Reilly. 1984. The atlas of Australian birds. Melbourne University Press:
Frith, H.J. (ed.) 1976. Complete book of Australian birds. Reader’s Digest Services Pty. Ltd.: Sydney
Hindwood, K.A. 1940. Birds of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, NSW. Emu 39.219-232
MacDonald, J.M. 1973. Birds of Australia. A.H. & A.W. Reed: Sydney
McKeown, K. 1923. List of the birds of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Areas. Emu 23:42-48OCTOBER, 1985
Morton, S.R., M. Happold, A.K. Lee & R.E. MacMillen. 1977. The diet of the Barn Owl, Tyto a/ba in south
western Queensland. Aust. Wild!. Res. 4:91-97
Pizzey, G. 1980. A field guide to the birds of Australia. Collins: Sydney
Schodde, R. & I.J. Mason. 1980. Nocturnal birds of Australia. Landsdowne: Melbourne
Slater, P. 1970. A field guide to Australian birds. Volume I (Non passerines). Rigby Limited: Sydney
Vestjens, W.J.M. 1973. Wildlife mortality on a road in New South Wales. Emu 73:107-112
Keith Hutton, 49 Karri Road, Leeton NSW 2705
John Brickhill, P.O. Box 1049, Griffith NSW 2680
The Little Raven Corvus mellori has been recorded over a large part of New South Wales
excluding the North Coast and Northern Tablelands regions (e.g. Morris, McGill & Holmes
1981; Blakers et al. 1984). There were a number of reports of this species from the Northern
Tablelands and North Coast during the RAOU Atlas of Australian Birds project, but none of the
unusual record forms and other written descriptions that have examined were convincing.
Rowley (1967) reported a specimen from Lismore, NSW, but he excluded it from his subsequent
definitive work on the genus Corvus (Rowley 1970). Despite this anomaly, the locality was cited
by Morris, McGill & Holmes (/oc. cit.) without comment. This note reviews the occurrence of the
Little Raven in the north-east of the State, and questions the identity of the Lismore specimen.
Presently known northerly and easterly range limits of the Little Raven are the lower Horton
River near Bingara (Debus 1980a), Gilgai near Inverell (Smith et al. 1984), Armidale, The Flags
near Nowendoc (pers. obs.), Tamworth and Barrington Tops (Debus 1980a). Only the last-
named is a breeding locality, the others representing the extremes of post -breeding nomadism
so far recorded (see Figure 1). A flock of 50+ birds at Armidale in June 1984 followed the
breaking of a severe drought; they may have reflected a massive post -drought breeding effort in
1983, and consequently more extensive nomadism than is usual in winter. In six years of
almost continuous residence there, my only other record is of two birds at the same locality in
June 1985. However the presence of a flock at The Flags in April 1985 raises the possibility that
the 140+ Forest Ravens C. tasmanicus at Riamukka c 15 km to the south-east (Cooper in Debus
1980a) may have been Little Ravens instead. The same applies to a large, soaring flock (Debus
1980b) in autumn at Walcha Road, thought at the time to be Forest Ravens because Rowley
(1970) stated that the Little Raven does not occur on the Northern Tablelands. Subtle dialectic12 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 20 (1)
differences in their calls suggested that the Armidale Little Ravens were from the inland, and
that the birds at The Flags were from the Barrington Tops population. Little and Forest Ravens
are difficult to differentiate in the field, and further observations are clearly needed to determine
the extent of the Little Raven’s occurrence in the southern and western parts of the Northern
Since 1977, have visited various parts of the coast between the Hunter and Clarence
valleys in most years, sometimes several times per year. In this time have never detected the
Little Raven on the coastal plain, although have taken particular note of all corvids
encountered. The CSIRO corvid survey in the 1960s did not locate it on the North Coast either
(Rowley 1970).
Rowley’s diagnosis of the Little Raven was based on his own field studies in inland southern
Australia, and on his reclassification of existing specimens in the Museum of Victoria and the
Australian Museum; Lismore was given as one of the range limits of the Little Raven on the
basis of these museum specimens (Rowley 1967). Efforts were made to locate and examine the
Lismore specimen, but the relevant museum data could not be located. (I Rowley in /itt. 29 Sept.
1984) and a museum number could therefore not be traced. Enquiries revealed that there are
no likely contenders in the Museum of Victoria (B. Gillies in /itt. 13 Dec. 1984), the CSIRO
collection (G. Chapman in /itt. 22 Oct. 1984) nor the Queensland Museum (G. Gzechura in /itt.
11 Feb. 1985). There are also no Little Raven specimens from Lismore in Victoria (Museum of
Victoria: B. Gillies in /itt. 15 May 1985), which rules out the possibility of an error of provenance.
searched the corvid collection of the Australian Museum for specimens from Lismore, but
found none labelled Corvus mellori However, there is an old specimen which may be the
problem bird as it is the only Lismore specimen in the relevant collection. This specimen,
according to museum records, is an immature (irides brown) female, collected by Bennett and
Adam on 9 October. The year is obliterated but the specimen was registered (as AM 0.22787) in
January 1915, noted “ex Old Collection”. It was collected at Gordons Camp, between Grafton
and Lismore in the Richmond River district. AM 0.22787 is named Corvus australis on its
original tag, Corvus coronoides in the specimen register, and Corvus cecilae on its new (white)
tag. An adult with white feather bases, it is clearly a Torresian Crow C. orru. As pointed out by
Rowley (1967, 1970) the-re was much early confusion over nomenclature: coronoides or
austra/is, crow or raven which was which? The “coronoides” label, well -feathered inter-
ramal area and short throat hackles could understandably mislead one into thinking that the
specimen was the “new” raven, particularly if it was examined before the diagnostic characters
and distribution of all Australian corvids were fully investigated. Corvus mellori was diagnosed
in 1965 and a description published by February 1967 (Rowley 1967); the Australia -wide field
and museum survey which clarified the diagnosis of all the corvids was conducted during
1966-1968 (Rowley 1970), and the results excluded Lismore from locality records of the Little
Raven. This suggests that the specimen in question was reclassified (as Corvus orru) in the light
of the wider survey, but have been unable to confirm this.
Imone aqi Aq paieotput st
aiowsti spiopai butpooiq aleotput saJenbs paw; pue spiooai ILLEtts aleatput saienbs Pa1111 flees
suoueniesqo teuosiad pue (1786 /e Ja LIMS ‘selVd PilEIMSN ak-111e086 L)snqaci ui eiep woi;
paildwoo uane8 aLolo uounquistp 6utmot4s ‘satem qinos AnaN walsea qiioN L ain61
o CSl 0 ZSI. 0 LS1- o OSL 06V1- 08t71-
ei q86, d39OtiO14 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 2011)
It appears that the Lismore Little Raven is based on a case of mistaken identity. have been
unable to trace any specimens or acceptable sight records of the Little Raven in the area. A
further complication results from captive birds: crows were popular pets earlier this century (G.
Chapman in lid.), which makes such single records suspect. suggest that there are insufficient
grounds for accepting the Lismore record of the Little Raven. The common breeding species in
the general region is the Torresian Crow (pers. obs.)
As anticipated (Debus 1980a), eventually found Little Ravens and Forest Ravens together
(at The Flags: see above) which enabled direct comparison of species that can be difficult to
distinguish in the field. Several Forest Ravens were in the general area and at least one was
giving territorial advertisement calls. A nomadic flock of c 10 Little Ravens were feeding on the
ground, then flying about and landing in trees, meanwhile giving their characteristic rapid,
clipped calls. In flight the Little Ravens appeared smaller and more agile, with rapid wing beats
and more back -swept, tapered wings. Their calls were deep but less so than those of the Forest
Raven; they were also flatter and lacked the rich tonal quality of the Forest Raven’s calls. By
contrast, the Forest Ravens looked larger and more laboured in flight and their calls were slower
and more powerful and far -carrying, with a more pronounced guttural or “gargling” effect in
each note.
I thank Dr I. Rowley and Mr G. Chapman for their comments and assistance. To them, and to Ms
B. Gillies (Museum of Victoria) and Mr G. Czechura (Queensland Museum), am grateful for
their attempts to locate Corvus specimens from Lismore. thank Messrs. W.E. Boles for access
to the Australian Museum collection, T.R. Lindsey for critical comments on earlier drafts and I.
McAllan for obtaining details on specimen AM 0.22787. am indebted to Dick Cooper for data
from the NSW Bird Atlas.
Blakers, M. S.J.J.F. Davies & P. Reilly. 1984. The atlas of Australian birds. Melbourne University Press:
Debus, S.J.S. 1980a. Little and Forest Ravens in New South Wales. Aust. Birds 15: 7-12.
Debus, S.J.S. 1980b. Notes on the Australian corvids. Aust. Bird Watcher 8: 194-198.
Morris, A.K., A.R. McGill & G. Holmes. 1981. Handlist of birds in New South Wales. NSW Field
Ornithologists Club: Sydney.
Rowley, I. 1967. A fourth species of Australian corvid. Emu 66: 191-210.
Rowley, I. 1970. The genus Corvus (Ayes: Corvidae) in Australia. CSIRO Wildl. Res. 15: 27-71.
Smith, L., D. Larkins & J. Pegler. 1984. Garden plants attractive to birds. Aust. Birds 18: 17-32.
Stephen J.S. Debus, PO Box 1015, Armidale, NSW 2350.OCTOBER. 1985 15
Editor’s note: Mr Marchant has submitted a series of short notes on the breeding of various
passerines. These papers are all related, being compiled from a common viewpoint and based
on studies conducted on a single study site, yet in sum present a text too long for comfort in a
single issue of Australian Birds. The notes pertaining to each species will therefore be
individually titled (for convenience of reference), and published as separate papers over the next
several issues. In order to conserve space, the following introductory remarks will not be
repeated, but should be read as referring to the entire series.
The species involved are: Black -faced Cuckoo -shrike Coracina novaehollandiae, Cicadabird C.
tenuirostris, Jacky Winter Microeca leucophaea, Crested Shrike -tit Falcunculus frontatus,
Black -faced Monarch Monarcha malanopsis, White-naped Hone yeater Melithreptus lunatus,
and Dusky Woodswallow Artamus cyanopterus.
Although professional studies of the breeding behaviour of passerines in Australia are steadily
increasing, all that seems to have been published on many species is a description of nests and
eggs. A.J. Campbell (1900, Nests and eggs of Australian birds, Sheffield: privately) and A.J.
North (1904. Nests and eggs of birds found breeding in Australia and Tasmania. Spec. Cat. 1.
Aust. Museum: Sydney) laid down a firm foundation in this respect, sometimes with mention of
parental care and behaviour. Their results have been widely copied since then, without much or
any addition. Lack of first-hand observations since their time is no-t surprising because many of
the species that nest in woodland and forest do so inaccessibly so much so indeed that for
some species we may never get quantitative data on clutch -size, breeding success and similar
matters of interest.
Since 1975 but mostly in 1984,Ihave been able to watch fairly systematically at the nests
of seven species whose breeding activities have been poorly recorded or are normally difficult to
observe, and my observations are reported in the series of papers that follows. Almost all my
work has been in about 10 hectares of degraded open woodland at Ma ulbrooks Road, Moruya,
NSW (35°56’S 150°06’E). Supplementary data have been collected in the Mogo State Forest
alongside my own property and thank the Forestry Commission of NSW for permission to work
there. Some additional information has been taken from cards in the RAOU Nest Record
Scheme, which M. Clarke kindly supplied; relevant cards are identified by number/year, eg
(1/65), as officially designated. Times of day are adjusted to Eastern Standard Time.
S. Marchant, PO Box 123, Moruya NSW 253716 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 20 (1)

Gooders (1970) said that both parents co-operate fully in all stages of breeding of the Black

faced Cuckoo -shrike Coracina novaehollandiae but can find no other reference to parental
care and the role of the sexes. Tubb (1941) gave an account of building by this species and that is
the only record of first-hand observation of breeding behaviour in Australia that know. Since
1976 have watched six nests as opportunities arose near Moruya, NSW.
As Tubb described, both adults build, coming to the nest separately or together, but am not
persuaded by his reasoning that he was able to distinguish the sexes any more than could. If
the pair came to the site together, one bird waited quietly while the other built, until taking its
turn at the nest, but on occasion it nudged its mate aside and replaced it on the nest. Bits of bark,
small twigs, lichen and cobwebs, usually gathered near the ground, were brought and worked
into the structure as the bird sat on the nest; it spent much time wiping its bill round the edge of
the nest and round the supporting branches, clearly at times applying cobwebs. However, it was
not always plain that it had brought cobwebs and often it wiped its partly -open beak on nest or
branch, when it might have been applying saliva. Campbell (1900) and Marchant (1979) have
suggested that saliva may be used in construction of nests by this species but could get no
certain evidence that this was so, a matter that can be decided perhaps only by careful
inspection of completed nests. However did notice that, when the birds brought twigs, they
held them right at the back of the gape and not towards the tip of the bill as most birds do;
perhaps the birds salivate on the material as they carry it. Sharland’s (1973) suggestion that the
birds maintain a store of cobweb near the nest and use it when they run out of cobwebs that
they bring on visits cannot be taken seriously when one cannot inspect nests or sites closely.
At one of my nests the birds laid the first material on 20 October and were still building on
27 October (12 visits in an hour’s watch) when I inspected the nest for the first time with a
mirror and was surprised to find that it had two eggs. Evidently the female is liable to, and may
always, lay before the nest is complete, which must make estimates of the length of the
incubation period uncertain unless one can see into the nest. Though it is not uncommon for
many species of birds to add material to nests after starting to lay, these cuckoo -shrikes were
building more assiduously at such a late stage than one would expect.
three nests confirmed that both birds incubated. One bird usually left as the other
approached, silently or with a soft purring call, so that the nest was unoccupied for only a few
“for introductory remarks see Aust. Birds 20 15, 1985OCTOBER, 1985 17
moments. One nest watched methodically, mostly towards the end of the incubation period;
out of 373 minutes of observation, one or other bird was on the nest for 332 minutes. Some
shifts lasted only a minute or two but most were quite long, up to 49 minutes, and during my
whole watch I recorded only twelve definite change-overs.
As best I could judge in this nest, the clutch was complete on 31 October or 1 November.
Thus the incubation period was probably between 21 and 23 days, which is supported by
evidence from other species of Coracina (Marchant 1979) and by another nest at Moruya in
which the clutch was probably complete on 5-6 December and hatched on 28-29 December.
The brood was of two in the single nest that was successful. I assume that they hatched on 22
November: they left the nest, hopping out onto nearby branches, between 07:00 and 12:00 hrs
on 18 December. This gives a nestling period of about 26 days which compares fairly well with
that of the Cicadabird C. tenuirostris (28 days, Marchant 1979). Both adults fed the chicks and in
all I noted 48 feeding visits in 637 minutes of watch. The average rate was about once every 13
minutes, but from the fourth to the thirteenth day it was about once every 6-8 minutes; before
and after, 15-30. The adults rarely called when approaching or leaving the nest. They
swallowed faecal sacs except at the end of the period when saw them carrying them away
three times, even swooping down to catch a sac that had fallen over the side of the nest before it
reached the ground. In the last few days of the period I recorded that they brought cicadas to the
young and once a huge cossid moth. The nest had vanished on 20 December, but saw one
young bird, high in an Angophora tree 20 m from the nest, still being fed by its parents on 24
December. This was my last sighting of these adults or young in the area of the nest.
Campbell, A.J. 1900. Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds. Sheffield: privately
Gooders, J. 1970. Birds of the World, 6 (7): 1871. London: IPC.
Marchant, S. 1979. Nesting of the Cicadabird Coracina tenuirostris. Ibis 121: 80-84.
Sharland, M. 1973. Cuckoo -shrike has web “store”. Bird Obs. 498: 5.
Tubb, J.A. 1941. Nesting notes on the Black -faced Cuckoo -Shrike. Emu 41: 160-162.
S. Marchant, Box 123, Moruya, NSW 2537.18 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 20 (1)
Marchant’s (1979) evidence for saying that only the female Cicadabird Coracina tenuirostris
incubates was weak but seems to be the only previous reference to this aspect of breeding by
the species. On 7 December 1984 I found a nest, probably just when incubation started, at
about 18 m in the fork of a horizontal branch of a Yellow Stringybark Eucalyptus muellerana
near Moruya, NSW. From then until 23 December watched the nest in spells of 15 to 100
minutes at all times of day, for a total of 1,110 minutes. Only the female incubated, for 830
minutes in stints lasting as long as 70 minutes, and was away from the nest for periods ranging
from 6 to 35 minutes (ay. 14, n = 20). The egg probably hatched between 29 and 31 December,
giving an incubation period that agrees well with Marchant’s previous estimate (22 days).
Throughout my watches the male was rarely near the nest or rarely even seen; he could be
heard calling occasionally at least 100 m from the nest but was probably near enough to see
what was happening because he arrived quickly to attack Black -faced Cuckoo -shrikes Coracina
novaehollandiae and Leaden Flycatchers Myiagra rubecula when they came near the nest. At
10:00 hrs on 17 December he came within a metre of the nest and remained nearby after the
female left but neither fed her nor settled on the nest. Thus have no doubt that the male does
not share incubation with the female, as perhaps implied by North (1904), and does not feed her
on the nest, as Campbell (1900) stated; in fact, he plays no part during incubation except in
guard duties. The young bird in this nest disappeared on 19-20 January and, though large, was
probably destroyed because the nestling period described by Marchant (1979) was 28 days and
because did not again see or hear the parents near the nest site.
Campbell, A.J. 1900. Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds. Sheffield: privately.
Marchant, S. 1979. Nesting of the Cicadabird Coracina tenuirostris. Ibis 121: 80-84.
North, A.J. 1904. Nests and Eggs of Birds found breeding in Australia and Tasmania. Spec. Cat 1. Aust.
Mus. Sydney.
S. Marchant, Box 123, Moruya, NSW 2537.
Some attention has been paid to the breeding habits of Shrike -tits Falcunculus frontatus,
beyond the simple matter of nests and eggs. Campbell (1900), Chishold (1915, 1966), North
(1904) and Beruldsen (1965) gave general accounts that concentrated on the habit of biting off
leaves round the nest. My own observations at Moruya, NSW, of one pair, supplemented by
casual observations at one or two nests in most years since 1975, differ in important respects
from these accounts.
*for introductory remarks see Aust. Birds 20:15, 1985OCTOBER 1985 19
In 1984 my pair started to build their first nest on 5 October but abandoned it on or about 18
October without laying.They then started another nest about 160 m away on 22 October but
abandoned it too by 26 October They started another before 30 October about 200 m away from
their second attempt but only about 50 m from the first. This nest was completed about 8
November; incubation had certainly started on 10 November and young were being fed for the
first time probably on 25 November and certainly on 27 November. They (2) fledged between
07:00 and 14:00 hrs on 12 December. All nests were inaccessible in the topmost twigs of
sapling Forest Red Gums Eucalyptus tereticornis 12-1 5m high.
Only Pizzey (1980) has described the whistle -call adequately and accurately (“mournful mellow
drawn-out whistle, uttered singly but usually four or more times, becoming louder’; other
descriptions can be positively misleading. At all times it was a clue by which the nest could be
found easily (Chisholm 1915); if one could locate the calling male and follow him, it was only a
matter of minutes before he led the female to the nest or went to it to relieve her.
The call is a series of one to nine whistles given with intervals of about one second between
each note and a pause of 10-15 seconds between each series. The first notes (1-4) are uttered
sotto voce and the rest of a long series much more loudly. During building of the first nest,
counted calling, always between 08:30 and 11.45 hrs, as follows:
Date Count Average per minute
(mins) Series Individual calls
9 Oct. 10 2.2 11.7
10 ” 87 1.5 6.2
11 ” 55 1.1 4.9
12 ” 38 0.9 3.0
14 ” 60 1.7 3.6
60 0.8
After 12 October calling was mostly sotto voce. Evidently the incidence of calling fell off sharply
during building, both in the number of series given and in the length of each series. Chisholm
(1915) said that both sexes gave this call but during the breeding cycle of my birds did not
associate it satisfactorily with the female. During building the male called persistently but the
female perhaps never; during incubation heard it only when the male was off the nest and in
the distance; during the nestling period, heard it only when the male was away from the nest or
when he came into the nesting tree, though the female may have given it occasionally very
softly. There seems to be a seasonal difference in the use of this call, if Chisholm’s observations
were correct.
In contrast, the other call of the s-p ecies conversational gruff scolding phrase ‘grt-t-tut’
(Pizzey’s 1960 ‘knock -at -the -door’) was certainly given by both sexes but predominantly by
the female and particularly when she approached and left the nest throughout the nesting
The site was probably selected by the male; at other nests and at the three attempts in 1984
saw him lead the female to the site that was eventually selected and hang about it, spreading,
quivering and waving his wings till the female joined him. He took no part in building but, when
the female had assembled the first small lump of material, he went to the spot after the female
had gone and fiddled about with what material was there. As the nest grew, he either stayed in
the tree, whistling persistently while the female was away, or if he also left the tree, returned,
usually in advance of the female, led her to the nest, waited while she built and then went to the
nest without material and inspected it. Chisholm (1915), who apparently watched building
carefully, asserted that the male brings some material and builds. At the first attempt in 1984
the male spent nearly all his time in the nesting tree and was greatly exercised in driving off
honeyeaters (Yellow -faced Lichenstomus chrysops, Fuscous L. fuscus, Yellow -tufted L
melanops and White-naped Melithreptus lunatus). In spite of his efforts, the White-naped
Honeyeaters began to rob material from the nest on 13 October and a pair building about 10 m
away became so persistent in their depredations by 15-16 October that assumed that they
caused the Shrike -tits to abandon the nest. Chisholm (1915) has a brief reference to a similar
occurrence and Card 3/78 in the Nest Record Scheme (R Noske at Wollombi, NSW) records
similar depredation by White-naped Honeyeaters, which suggests that they may be a
widespread menace to nesting Shrike -tits. During the height of the male’s defence noticed
twice that he made a curious dashing -swooping flight of four or five turns from side to side of
the tree -top, not in pursuit of invaders, that reminded me of the ‘pendulum’ displays of some
species of hummingbirds Trochilidae.
Both male and female nipped off leaves (pace most previous authors), and did not do so only
locally over a small area just above the nest. At all nests watched the leaves were bitten off
apparently at random throughout the crown of the tree within about two metres of the nest
Occasionally a growing tip with two or three leaves was removed, but usually only fully
developed single leaves were plucked. examined some of these just after they fell; less than
five of twenty or so appeared to have been bitten through the petiole; the rest seemed to have
been wrenched off the stem at the base of the petiole. counted falling leaves at the first 1984
Date Watch (mins) No of leaves
5 Oct. 100 ‘positive shower of leaves’
6 ” 120 155
7 – 180 86
8 ” 120 22
9 – 90 9
10 ” 120 6
11 ” 60 30
14 ” 60 6OCTOBER, 1985 21
At the second attempt of 984 noted that the male plucked 45 leaves and the female 48 during
1 I
an hour’s watch on 25 October; at the third, in 90 minutes on 30 October the male plucked 28,
the female 39. Activity of this nature declined sharply after the first 2-3 days of building; yet at
the successful nest saw both birds occasionally pluck leaves till three days after the young had
On a rough estimate derived from the figures above, the pair would probably not have removed
more than about 2000 leaves while building. Such a number would have been less than 10% of
these borne by the crown of the tree in which the first nest was built and would not be expected
to lower wind -resistance, suggested as a reason for the habit by Chisholm (1915, 1966). The
nesting tree of the third attempt was smaller than the first with a modest crown, where a loss of
2000 leaves might have reduced it substantially. Even so, doubt whether the matter has
anything to do with wind -resistance because it can readily be seen that slender gum trees
almost devoid of leaves are violently blown about by any fresh breeze.
My birds did not concentrate their efforts on the twigs above, and in which, the nest was
placed; so, there was no question of retarding growth locally to prevent distortion of the nest, as
suggested by Beruldsen (1 965).
Both adults incubated. The incubation period could be estimated only roughly as between 15
and 19 days. During 8.5 hours’ watch at various times of day from 10 to 20 November the male
was on for exactly 35% and the female for 65% of the time. Change-overs were virtually
instantaneous and the nest was not uncovered for more than a few moments, at most a minute
or so. Sometimes the sitting bird was reluctant to leave and the relief seemed to shoulder it
aside before replacing it. The male sat for stints of six to at least 25 minutes and the female for
five to at least 45 minutes.
The nestling period could be estimated only as 15-17 days. Both adults brooded almost as
assiduously as they had incubated, so that the nest was hardly ever unattended by at least one,
until the young were 5-7 days old. The male apparently stopped brooding on about the eighth
day; the female continued to do so occasionally for another two or three days. In eight hours of
watching throughout the period recorded 90-100 visits but could not be sure that the young
were fed each time; when I could see that they were, I noted 45 feeds by the male and 35 by the
female. The sexes probably share duties about equally, coming to the nest alternately. When
doing so, the male usually landed 2-3 m below the nest and quickly hopped up to it, whereas the
female rarely landed more than a metre below the nest. During visits both birds tended to
spread their tails from time to time, something that had not noticed during incubation. Because
did not see the adults fly away with faecal sacs until the young were about 14 days old,
assumed that they normally swallowed them.
Throughout my watches there were no strong winds except on 25 November, probably just
before the eggs hatched, when gusty winds of Force 4-5 blew the tree about so that the vertical22 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 20 (1)
axis of the nest was displaced through almost 90°. During these gusts an adult was always on
the nest and no change-overs took place. Clearly, the assiduous incubation and brooding of
small young is necessary to prevent the loss of the contents of nests in such circumstances.
At least one young bird had moved 150 m into some rather thicker trees than where the
nest had been by 14 December and was still there being fed by its parents on 16 December, four
days after fledging. The birds then disappeared. Until then the young bird had been quite easy to
locate because the male whistled when bringing it food.
Beruldsen, G. 1965. Nesting behaviour of the Eastern Shrike -tit. Aust. Bird Watcher 2: 172-175.
Campbell, A.J. 1900. Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds. Sheffield: privately.
C-h-is-ho-lm , A.H. 1915. Notes on the Yellow -bellied Shrike -Tit Falcunculus frontatus. Emu 15: 78-85.

  1. Various bird notes. Aust. Bird Watcher 2: 207-210.
    North, A.J. 1904. Nests and Eggs of Birds found breeding in Australia and Tasmania. Spec. Cat. 1 Aust.
    Mus. Sydney.
    Pizzey, G. 1980. A Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Sydney: Collins.
    S. Marchant, Box 123, Moruya, NSW 2537.
    Sedgwick (1950) gave an account of some behaviour of the Jacky Winter Microeca leucophaea
    while breeding but can find nothing else regarding parental care in the species. Campbell
    (1900) and North (1904) give little information beyond description of nests and eggs. In the
    1984 breeding season I watched the activities of a pair at Moruya, NSW.
    The first nest was started on 25 September in a horizontal fork on a branch of a dead acacia at
    about five metres above ground. It was abandoned, unfinished, by 29 September, partly
    because wind had damaged it and partly because honeyeaters had pestered the building
    female. After a short attempt to build again nearby, a second nest was started on 2 October on a
    drooping stem of a dead Tick Bush Kunzea ambigua, 4.5 m high, and was ready for eggs on 12
    and 13 October. The first egg was laid by 08:00 hrs on 14 October and the second at 10:08 hrs
    on 15 October. One egg disappeared between 26 and 29 October and the second, in which the
    embryo died, was incubated till 5 November. The next attempt was at about 18 m in the top of a
    dead acacia and was soon abandoned. The third nest, at 6 m high on a precarious curved top of a
    dead Black Wattle Acacia mearnsii; was started on 12 November. The first egg was laid after
    *for introductory remarks see Aust. Birds 20:15, 1985OCTOBER 1985 23
    06:15 hrs on 18 November and the second at 10:25 hrs on 19 November. Only one egg hatched
    between 15:30 hrs on 4 December and 14:00 hrs on 6 December; the chick was lost and the
    nest pulled out on the night of 11-12 December.
    The territory was ill-defined, no doubt because there were no neighbouring pairs. Only one bird
    sang and I took it to be the male. He wandered about over an area of at least two hectares (much
    larger than Sedgwick’s supposed area), singing from bare and exposed perches and in aerial
    song -flights (Boehm 1956). While the third nest was being built, a third bird, probably a male,
    came into the area for about two days. The male of the pair chased it persistently, often edging
    up to it on a perch but with no special display.
    The other bird, the assumed female, was less prominent and for the most part did not
    consort with the male, except when they came together to chase away honeyeaters, which
    continually pestered them near the nest, often coming to inspect it closely, or when she was fed
    by the male. I did not see allopreening or other behaviour that might maintain the pair -bond. The
    female alone built, collecting material on or near the ground from distances up to 50 m from the
    site. Sedgwick’s account is contradictory in this respect. My incomplete observation of the
    laying routine (above) suggests that it may be at intervals of about 26 hours.
    The incubation period in the third nest was 16 days 3 hours day, which did not agree too well
    with that given by Marchant (1 7d 6h; 1980). Some incubation probably occurs as soon as the
    first egg is laid: at the second nest on the day the first egg was laid the female sat in spells of 0.7
    to 7.9 minutes for a total of 45 minutes out of a 60 -minute watch between 09:15 and 10:15 hrs.
    If the first egg was the only one to hatch in the third nest, the calculation may be an
    Only the female incubated. At the second nest, during watches totalling 513 minutes
    throughout the period she sat for 58% of the time but the daily variation was large: from 21% on
    24 October, when it was clear, sunny and warm (25°C), to 86% on 20 October, when it was
    overcast, very dull and cooler (20°C). She sat for stints that ranged from about 30 seconds to
    14.5 minutes (ay. 3.0 n = 87) and these also varied in average from 1.10 min on 24 October to
    3.50 on 20 October; indeed, on 24 October she was apparently mostly standing over the eggs
    and sheltering them rather than incubating them properly. did not watch incubation at the
    third nest systematically but could note, while watching other birds nearby, that the female was
    on and off the nest constantly in short spells throughout the incubation period.
    When off the nest the female fed herself, perched on dead prominent branches and
    preened. Occasionally rather than regularly the male came to feed her on the nest or came to
    the nest with food before she returned, which she did almost at once and took the food. noted
    only 13 such feeds by the male in all my 513 minutes of watching.24 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 20 (1)
    When first seen and probably about one day old, the nestling appeared naked, dark blackish or
    brownish and, two days later, still appeared blackish all over without down. During watches on
    7-10 December, totalling 200 minutes, the female brooded for 60% of the time in short stints, as
    during incubation. She did not always bring food to the chick when returning to the nest and fed
    it directly at most twelve times. The male however, brought food 23 times: feeding the female on
    the nest 10 times (and twice she quivered her wings as he approached); feeding the chick
    directly seven times; and giving the food to the female who passed it on to the chick six times. In
    general, the performance is reminiscent of that of Eastern Yellow Robins Eopsaltria australis
    when they have young (Marchant in press) except that females in that species spend longer on
    the nest.
    Boehm, E.F. 1956. Aerial singing of Jacky Winter. Emu 56: 210.
    Campbell, A.J. 1900. Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds. Sheffield: privately.
    M-a-rc-ha-n t, S. 1980. Incubation and nestling periods of some Australian birds. Corella 4: 30-32.
    In press. Breeding of the Eastern Yellow Robin Eopsaltria australis. In Birds of Eucalypt Forests and
    Woodlands: Ecology, Conservation and Management. J.A. Keast & H.F. Recher (Eds).
    North, A.J. 1904. Nests and Eggs of Birds found breeding in Australia and Tasmania. Spec. Cat. 1 Aust.
    M us. Sydney.
    Sedgwick, E.H. 1950. Breeding of the Brown Flycatcher. W.A. Nat. 2: 93.
    S. Marchant, Box 123, Moruya, NSW 2537.
    J. WAUGH
    From 7 October to 10 October 1984 I travelled with J. Cook by canoe from Narrandera to
    Darlington Point along the Murrumbidgee River. The journey of about 90 kilometres took 21
    hours of paddling. A count was kept of those birds seen over or along the river.
    Of the 57 species seen by Guppy (1974, Birds 8:85-88) on a similar journey through this
    area in November 1972 we saw 48 and added another 21 species. Of the birds recorded by
    Guppy, we did not see: Little Black Cormorant, Little Egret, Wandering Whistling -duck, Black
    Swan, Whistling Kite, Australian Hobby, Black -fronted Plover, Shrike -tit and Superb Fairy –
    wren. Two species, the Yellow -billed Spoonbill and the Maned Duck, were observed breeding.
    The habitat has been described elsewhere (Waugh 1981, Aust. Birds 15:44-46). On this
    occasion the river was muddy and running a banker, which may have accounted for the few
    sightings of Rufous Night Herons and Rainbow Bee -eaters, and the absence of Black -frontedOCTOBER, 1985 25
    Plovers. Compared with previous counts there was a surprising absence of Whistling Kites and
    a notable decrease in the numbers of Sulphur -crested Cockatoos, Welcome Swallows and Fairy
    Martins. Galahs, Yellow Rosellas, Grey Shrike -thrushes and Tree Martins were much more
    In Table the common and scientific names follow the number given in Morris, McGill &
    Holmes 1981 (Handlist of Birds in New South Wales, NSWFOC: Sydney). The next column
    shows whether the bird was recorded by Guppy in 1972, the next the number of entries for each
    species, and the last the total number of each species recorded during the trip.
    TABLE 1. Bird species recorded along the Murrumbidgee River between Narrandera and
    Darlington Point 7-10 October 1984.
    No. Species 1972 Entries Total
    59 Darter Anhinga melanogaster 5 6
    61 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 46 76
    62 Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax varius 1 1
    64 Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos 2 2
    68 Pacific Heron Ardea pacifica 4 4
    69 White-faced Heron Ardea novaehollandiae 16 19
    71 Great Egret Egretta alba 2 2
    76 Rufous Night Heron Nycticorax caledonicus 10 22
    82 Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopica 7 19
    83 Straw -necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis 9 67
    85 Yellow -billed Spoonbill P/ata/ea flavipes 8 10
    92 Australian Shelduck Tadorna tadornoides 1 2
    94 Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa 59 98
    96 Grey Teal Anas gibberifrons 24 40
    102 Maned Duck Chenonetta jubata 102 279
    116 Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus 3 4
    117 Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrhocepha/us
    1 1
    112 Little Eagle Hieraaetus morphnoides
    1 1
    126 Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
    1 1
    130 Australian Kestrel Falco cenchroides 3 3
    150 Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa 5 5
    161 Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles 1 1
    242 Feral Pigeon Columba /ivia 26
    245 Peaceful Dove Geopelia placida 14 15
    252 Crested Pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes 2 2
    259 Galah Cacatua roseicapilla 232 612
    261 Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea 1 2
    263 Sulphur -crested Cockatoo Cacatua ga/erita 70 147
    272 Superb Parrot Polytelis swainsonii 9 18
    274 Cockatiel Nymphicus hollandicus 4 12
    280 Yellow Rosella Platycercus f/aveo/us 99 166
    281 Eastern Rosella Platycercus eximius 1 126 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 20 (1)
    284 Red-rumped Parrot Psephotus haematonotus 26 49
    294 Pallid Cuckoo Cuculus pallidus 21 21
    298 Horsfield’s Bronze- Cuckoo Chrysococcyx basalis 14 14
    299 Golden Bronze -Cuckoo Chrysococcyx lucidus plagosus
    1 1
    305 Southern Boobook Ninox novaeseelandiae 2 2
    320 Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae 36 42
    323 Sacred Kingfisher Halcyon sancta 55 60
    325 Rainbow Bee -eater Merops ornatus 3 5
    326 Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis 20 22
    334 Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena 44 69
    335 Tree Martin Cecropis nigricans 75 396
    336 Fairy Martin Cecropis ariel 4 52
    340 Black -faced Cuckoo -shrike Coracina novaehollandiae 42 57
    349 Blackbird Turdus merula
    1 1
    365 Rufous Whistler Pachycepha/a rufiventris 6 6
    367 Grey Shrike -thrush Colluricincla harmonica 143 152
    376 Grey Fantail Rhipidura fuliginosa 7 7
    377 Willie -wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys 19 23
    389 Clamorous Reed -Warbler Acrocepha/us stentoreus 2 4
    393 Rufous Songlark Cinclorhampus mathewsi 37 39
    394 Brown Songlark Cinclorhampus cruralis
    1 1
    415 Weebill Smicrornis brevirostris 1 5
    432 Brown Treecreeper Climacteris picumnus 3 5
    438 Little Friarbird Philemon citreogu/aris 49 59
    442 Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala 3 4
    455 White -plumed Honeyeater Lichenostomus penicillatus 49 64
    475 Mistletoebird Dicaeum hirundinaceum 2 2
    481 Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus 91 93
    486 House Sparrow Passer domesticus 2 9
    499 Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris 26 52
    501 Olive -backed Oriole Oriolus sagittatus 3 3
    509 White -winged Chough Corcorax melanorhamphos 16 95
    511 Magpie -lark Grail/na cyano/euca 64 78
    519 Pied Butcherbird Cracticus nigrogularis 1 2
    520 Australian Magpie Gymnornina tibicen 45 58
    523 Australian Raven Corvus coronoides 69 106
    525 Little Raven Corvus mellori 10 64
    John W. Waugh, 44 Tourmaline Avenue, Pearl Beach, NSW 2256OCTOBER, 1985 27
    This note describes a display given by an adult Pale -yellow Robin Tregellasia capito. The robin
    was observed in warm temperate rainforest in Werrikimbe National Park (31°48′ S, 152°30′ E),
    NSW, at approximately 17:00 hr on 24 November 1984.
    When we first noticed the bird it was sitting on a nest about 2.5 m above the ground in a
    sapling. The bird remained motionless for one minute while we were only three metres away.
    However, when we moved closer, the bird fluttered to the ground several metres from the nest
    site. Crouching low and holding one wing partly outstretched, the bird tumbled and clumsily
    flapped the half -open wing as it moved away from both us and the nest site. The display lasted
    two to three minutes and it was only when we moved closer to the bird, and away from the nest,
    that the robin ceased the display and flew into the mid -storey of the forest. No call was heard
    during the display. Another robin was seen nearby at the start of the display but it quickly
    retreated into the canopy. We examined the nest but it contained no eggs or chicks, nor was
    there any indication of fledgelings nearby. Since lining was present and the nest appeared
    completed we can only presume that the robin was preparing to lay and our appearance
    disturbed the bird and triggered the display. When visited the next day the nest seemed
    abandoned with no birds or eggs present.
    The robin’s behaviour might best be described as a cross between an “orthodox” injury
    feigning display (i.e. the wing flapping), and a “rodent -run” display (i.e. the crouching run and
    tumbling)(Chisholm 1960). Distraction displays are employed by a wide variety of birds in an
    attempt to protect eggs or young from predators (Armstrong 1947; Eibl-Eibesfeldt 1970).
    Distraction displays have been recorded for some other robin species in Australia.
    Behaviour similar to that which we describe has also been noted for the Dusky Robin
    Melanodryas vittata (Stuart Dove 1910), Hooded Robin M. cucullata Chisholm 1960; Hall 1974),
    White -breasted Robin Eopsaltria georgiana (Serventy & Whittell 1976) and Eastern Yellow
    Robin E. australis (Chisholm 1960). In most cases the displaying birds were females attending
    nestlings. Distraction displays do not appear to have been recorded for any robins of the genus
    Petroica, although several species have been studied while breeding (Chisholm 1960; Huddy
    1979; Fleming 1980). Further investigation is needed to determine whether these robins
    definitely lack such a behaviour.
    Armstrong, E.A. 1947. Bird Display and Behaviour. Lindsay Drummond London.
    Chisholm, A.H. 1960. Remarks on robins. Emu 60:221-236.
    Eibl-Eibesfeldt, I. 1970. Ethology The Biology of Behaviour. Holt, Rhinehart and Winston New York.
    Fleming, P. 1980. The comparative ecology of four sympatric robins. Honours thesis, University of New
    England Armidale28 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 2011)
    Hall, B.P. 1974. Birds of the Harold Hall Australian Expeditions 1962-70. British Museum (Natural History).
    Huddy, L. 1979. Social behaviour and feeding ecology of Scarlet Robins (Petroica multicolor). Honours
    thesis, University of New England Armidale.
    Serventy, D.L. & H.M. Whittell. 1976. Birds of Western Australia. University of Western Australia Press
    Perth. (3rd Edition).
    Stuart Dove, H. 1910. The Dusky Robin (Petroica vittata) [sic]. Emu 10:127-131.
    David C. McFarland & Raymond C. Nias. Department of Zoology, University of New England,
    Armidale, NSW 2351.
    S.J.S. DEBUS
    Recent standard works, e.g. Reader’s Digest (1976, Complete Book of Australian Birds,
    Reader’s Digest Services: Sydney) list the food of the Black -faced Cuckoo -shrike Coracina
    novaehol/andiae and White -bellied Cuckoo -shrike C. papuensis as insects, fruit and seeds,
    taken from the tree canopy and also from the ground in the case of the Black -faced Cuckoo –
    shrike. Both species are known to inhabit urban parks and gardens (mainly in northern
    Australia in the case of the White -bellied Cuckoo -shrike), but have found no reference to them
    scavenging for human food scraps or to the White -bellied Cuckoo -shrike feeding on the ground.
    During the winter of 1984 (late July – early August)at Armidale on the Northern Tablelands
    of New South Wales, frequently observed Black -faced Cuckoo -shrikes picking up food scraps
    from a school playground. Observations were haphazard, being determined by the school
    teaching timetable, but it appeared that there was a definite pattern to the cuckoo -shrikes’
    foraging behaviour. After the lunch break was over, and particularly after school had finished
    for the day at 15:30 hrs and the playground was deserted, groups of cuckoo -shrikes arrived and
    settled in trees or on the tall, cylindrical wire guards surrounding tree saplings. From these
    vantage points they flew down to the lawns to pick up scraps, which often appeared to be pieces
    of bread or pie crusts, and returned to their perches. They seldom stayed long on the ground,
    and only occasionally made a shuffling hop or two. This foraging behaviour seemed to be closely
    linked to the time of maximum food availability and minimum disturbance, with the implication
    that the birds were accustomed to exploiting this food source regularly.
    On one occasion after school at the beginning of August, saw similar behaviour involving
    a White -bellied Cuckoo -shrike. A dark morph, the bird perched on a tree guard, swooped rapidly
    to the ground to seize a food scrap and, almost without pausing, returned to its original perch. It
    seemed more wary than the Black -faced Cuckoo -shrikesOCTOBER 1985 29
    It may be significant that noticed this scavenging behaviour in the cooler months when
    insect prey is scarce in such a climate. However, circumstances dictated that was more
    frequently present to observe the birds in winter, and it is not clear whether there is a seasonal
    bias in their foraging behaviour. Black -faced Cuckoo -shrikes are present all year round in the
    Armidale district and breed in large urban trees in summer, and have not noticed any seasonal
    fluctuations other than the above apparent attraction to school environs in winter. These
    observations at least illustrate that these two cuckoo -shrikes are among the native birds
    adapting to an existence commensal with modern man.
    Stephen J.S. Debus, PO Box 1015, Armidale NSW 2350
    Severe drought conditions prevailed over much of the North-west Plain region (and elsewhere
    in New South Wales) in 1979. Early in 1980, freak rains fell in the region, in an area bounded
    approximately by Coonabarabran, Coonamble and Gulargambone. Stock was brought in from
    great distances for adjistment, but drought conditions soon returned and persisted until early
  2. These rains may also have attracted many birds into the region from the arid interior. In
    any event, a wide variety of bird species came to a small water hole in the sandy bed of Baradine
    Creek in the Pilliga State Forest (310 00’S 140° 10’E) some 12 kilometres south-east of
    Baradine. This water hole was apparently the only source of available water for many
    kilometres, and I set up a hide nearby to observe and photograph visitors. I visited the site
    frequently in March and April 1980, and less regularly from September to October 1982. On
    one occasion I observed the water hole completely surrounded by honeyeaters, and at another
    time watched eight species drinking at once. In all, a total of 66 species were recorded either at
    the water hole or in the immediate vicinity. These included 17 species of honeyeater, two of
    which were new for the Pilliga area.
    In April 1 980 the water hole consisted of a small depression in the creek bed about one
    metre across, which had been created by kangaroos scratching in the sand; many of these visit
    this area in dry times to obtain water in this fashion. Later, in 1982, the water hole had to be dug
    by hand as the water was further below the surface of the sand.
    The two new species for the Pilliga forest were the Grey -fronted Honeyeater Licheno-
    stomus plumulus and the Black Honeyeater Certhionyx niger. The former was recorded in
    March 1980 when I photographed a bird drinking with three other species of honeyeater
    (Brown -headed Honeyeater Melithreptes brevirostris, White- naped Honeyeater M lunatus and
    White -eared Honeyeater Lichenostomus leucotis). The presence of the Grey -fronted Honey-30 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 2011)
    eater in this group was overlooked until Andrew Henley, a natural history photographer from
    Canberra, obtained an excellent colour slide of two Grey -fronted Honeyeaters drinking at the
    water hole in October 1982, prompting a re-examination of the earlier photographs. The bird
    was identified by its streaked breast, black above yellow tuft on the side of the head, and
    yellowish fore- crown; A.R. McGill examined the photographs and confirmed the identification.
    As these are the only two records of the species in this area, it would seem probable that they
    moved into the area because of drought conditions. Morris, McGill & Holmes (1981. Handlist of
    birds in NSW, NSWFOC: Sydney) record its most eastern point of distribution as Nymagee and
    West Wya long.
    At the same time (October 1982) and place, Andrew Henley also obtained a colour
    photograph of an adult male Black Honeyeater. It was not seen again. This unusual eastern
    occurrence was also probably drought -induced, but it has been recorded in a number of other
    eastern localities. According to Morris, McGill & Holmes (loc. cit.) the species has been
    observed at Newcastle, and was also recorded nesting on the Central Coast in 1900 and 1977,
    and near Munghorn Gap in 1982 (Lindsey 1984. Aust. Birds 18: 37-69).
    David Johnston, Lachlan, Baradine NSW 2396
    John Gould and the Birds of Australia, edited by C.F.H. Jenkins and published by the Gould League of
    Western Australia, Perth. 132 pp, 1983, $9.95
    The paintings and writings of John James Audubon did much to pioneer and popularize the
    study of birds in North America in the mid -nineteenth century, and John Gould may be
    considered his contemporary in Australia. Yet, while Audubon Societies now flourish over most
    of the United States of America, Gould Leagues in Australia have hardly developed to the
    corresponding level of importance to which they might have aspired. Victoria, in 1909, was the
    first State in Australia to form a Gould League of Bird Lovers. I doubt if any society ever began
    with such an array of distinguished officers, with ten patrons (including the Governor, the
    Premier and the Director of Education as well as many distinguished ornithologists of that time),
    the Prime Minister of Australia as President, and eight Vice-presidents, all notable figures. New
    South Wales commenced in 1910 and Queensland in 1914; other States followed, each under
    the auspices of the respective State Department of Education.
    In this book Clee Jenkins gives an interesting resume of the life of John Gould
    (acknowledging considerable assistance to the 1938 Gould Supplement of The Emu, published
    to celebrate the centenary of Gould’s arrival in Australia) together with a history of the activitiesOCTOBER, 1985 31
    of the Gould League in Western Australia. There is a section, unfortunately brief, dealing with
    Gould Leagues in other States. More than half of the two pages concerning the League in New
    South Wales relates to the- lif e of Neville W. Cayley, whose What Bird is That?- a very popular
    field guide for fifty years was sponsored by the League. The NSW annual journal Gould
    League Notes is mentioned by name, but some additional information would have been
    valuable, as it continued from 1935 to 1967, totalling 33 issues containing a significant amount
    of valuable data. The work of such stalwarts as David Leithhead (still active in his 80s) and the
    late J.E. Roberts over this long period could have been acknowledged. The last-mentioned was
    a close friend and can vouch for the tremendous effort he gave to the society for so long as
    Secretary, Editor and Organizer. Mention might also have been made of the NSW Gould League
    publication Feathered Friends in 1935, well illustrated by Cayley and written by that State’s
    most able ornithologists. It might also have been appropriate to mention the excellent series of
    seven well -illustrated small books (1969-1973) by the Victoria League writers dealing with the
    birds of south-eastern Australia. Although recognize that the book focuses its attention on the
    Western Australian League, nevertheless felt that, to be useful, the section on other State
    branches might have been more substantial.
    Five appendices make up most of the second half of the book, dealing respectively with
    “Some examples of bird illustrations by Jane Seymour”; “Coloured reproductions of Certificates
    of Membership from early days” (not including NSW although a sample was surely available);
    Principle Officers and Life Members of the W.A. Branch”; “Extracts from the W.A. Journal”;
    and ending with informative notes on the Bickley Camp and Kings Park, Perth. A helpful index is
    included. Although in some states the Gould League has waxed and waned, it apparently is
    happily active in Western Australia as indicated by this attractive and helpful publication.
    Arnold McGill
    The Dubbo Region Natural History by the Dubbo Field Naturalist and Conservation Society (Organiser
    and compiler Terry J. Korn), 1984. Pp. 80, colour photos 22, black & white photos 14, many line drawings,
    diagrams and maps, 296 x 210 mm. Available from the Secretary, Dubbo Field Naturalist Society, P.O. Box
    1171, Dubbo N.S.W. 2850. Price $7.95 plus $1.55 postage.
    The primary objective of the Dubbo Field Naturalist and Conservation Society is to foster
    interest, knowledge and enjoyment in the natural history of its local area. It also aims to help
    residents and visitors understand how the Dubbo environment has been shaped and to provide
    a basis for its management in the future.
    To achieve this the Society promoted a series of lectures, presented by local experts, on
    various aspects of natural history and it is these that provide the basis for this book. There are six32 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS 20111
    main headings: Geology; Flora; Amphibians, Reptiles and Mammals; Birds; Aborigines; and
    Nature and European Impact. The treatment in all sections is detailed with sufficient “meat” for
    the specialist while still retaining interest for the general reader. The presentation is enhanced
    throughout by the inclusion of many sketches, tables, maps and line drawings. For example the
    first section contains a geological sketch map and drawings of fossils uncovered in a region
    while the chapter on Flora includes a key to the Eucalypts, Casuarinas and Acacias found
    locally. Both include suggested field trips and excursions with details of what to look for at
    various stops along the way.
    The third chapter gives a detailed treatment of the frogs, lizards, snakes, monotremes,
    marsupials, bats and rodents with considerable information on their identification, breeding
    and behaviour. Such is the detail that a full page glossary of terms is included.
    The chapter on Birds was contributed by Alan Morris, a longstanding member of our own
    society, and comprises mainly an annotated checklist of the 216 species recorded in the district.
    The highlights of the area from an ornithological viewpoint are the Goonoo State Forest and the
    Coolbaggie Nature Reserve since their stands of Casuarina and Mallee hold populations of
    several species that have limited ranges. These include the Glossy Black Cockatoo, Malleefowl,
    Yellow -tailed Pardalote and Gilbert’s Whistler. The area is also of interest to coastal bird
    watchers since a number of “inland” species, such as Mallee Ringneck, Blue Bonnet, Red –
    capped Robin, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Apostlebird, etc. can be easily observed.
    The final two chapters examine the relationship between people and the environment. The
    first traces the traditional Aboriginal culture and history in a period spanning thousands of
    years, the second looks at the environmental impact of European occupation and settlement
    commencing with the explorations by John Oxley in August 1817
    I agree wholeheartedly with the statement in the Introduction that this is a publication of
    which the members of the Dubbo Society can be proud. Residents and visitors with an interest
    in the environment will find it interesting and informative. Hopefully, it will also be an
    encouragement to similar groups to document knowledge of their own areas and so provide a
    base line for future conservation management.
    Contributors are requested to observe the following points when submitting articles and notes
    for publication.
  3. Species, names, and the order in which they occur are to be in accordance with” Handlist
    of Birds in New South Wales”. AK. Morris, A R. McGill and G. Holmes 1981 Dubbo:
  4. Articles or notes should be typewritten if possible and submitted in duplicate. Double
    spacing is required.
  5. Margins of not less than 25mm width at the left hand side and top, with similar or slightly
    smaller at the right hand side of pages.
  6. No underlinings and no abbreviations except as shown in the examples.
  7. Photographs should be glossy finish and not too small.
  8. The Style Manual, Commonwealth Government Printing Office, Canberra (1966) and
    subsequent editions will be the guide for this Journal.
  9. Diagrams should be on plain white paper drawn with india ink. Any lettering is to be
    ‘professional style’ or lightly pencilled.
  10. Dates must be written “1 January 1975” except in tables and figures where they may be
  11. The 24-hour clock will be used, times being written 06:30, 18:30 for 6.30 a.m. and
    6.30 p.m. respectively.
  12. Mr, Mrs, Dr are not followed by a full stop.
  13. In text, numbers one to ten are spelt numbers of five figures or more should be grouped in
    threes and spaced by a thin gap. Commas should not be used as thousands markers.
  14. References to other articles should be shown in the text-‘…B.W. Finch and M.D. Bruce
    (1974) stated…’ and under heading
    Finch, B.W. and M.D. Bruce 1974 The Status of the Blue Petrel in Australian Waters
    Aust Birds 9, 32-35
  15. Acknowledgements to other individuals should include Christian names or initials.Volume 20, No. October, 1985
    1 UNUSUAL FOOD ITEMS OF PELICANS Jeff Campbell and Chris Sonter
    WARBLER R.M. Cooper
    DISTRICT OF NEW SOUTH WALES Keith Hutton and John Brickhill
    Raymond C. Nias
    David Johnston
    30 JOHN GOULD AND THE BIRDS OF AUSTRALIA (edited by C.F.H. Jenkins)
    Arnold McGill

31 THE DUBBO REGION NATURAL HISTORY (compiled by Terry Korn) Alan Rogers

Registered by Australia Post Publication No. NBH0790
Printed by Drummoyne Copying, 56 Thompson Street, Drummoyne. 81 1888