Vol. 27 No. 1-text

Vol. 27 No. 1
Journal of the
Volume 27, Number September 1993
The object of the Club is to promote the study and conservation of Australian birds and
the habitats they occupy.
President Peter Davie
Vice -President Stuart Fairbairn
Secretary Robin Hill
Treasurer Bob Powell
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Australian Birds is published quarterly. Original articles and short notes on
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Editor Peter Roberts
Production Stuart Fairbairn
Please address manuscripts to the editor at:
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ISSN 0311-8150
Printed by Drummoyne Printing, 56 Thompson Street, Drummoyne. 811888AUSTRALIAN
Volume 27 No. I September1993
With the completion of Volume 26 the Club has reluctantly accepted
the retirement of its long serving editor, Alan Morris.
Alan has performed this duty since 1989 (Volume 23 Number 1), but
he had served an earlier term (Volumes 7 to 16), making an impressive total of 14 years
in the position. When he first became Editor the journal Birds (as it was then known) was
more like the Club’s present Newsletter. With a combination of wisdom, vision,
diplomacy and hard work Alan has built it up to the stage where it is highly respected by
the ornithological community.
The Field Ornithologists Club takes this opportunity to express its
appreciation of the work Alan has done, not only as Editor but as a regular contributor
of learned articles to Australian Birds. We look forward to many further such contributions,
and wish him well in his new venture in producing the Club’s annual Bird Reports.
Australian Birds Vol. 27 No. 1 Page 1PELICANS OF THE FORSTER/TUNCURRY AREA
23 Murray Ave, Forster, NSW 2428
There has been a significant increase in the number of Australian Pelicans (Pelecanus conspicillatus)
over the past 7 years and this has been attributed primarily to the presence of a large, constant food
supply from fisherman. There are no grounds for culling. If the birds are considered to be causing
economic difficulties for fishermen then feeding should stop.
In 1985 there were reports that fishermen were going to Pelican Island to kill Australian
Pelicans and/or to smash eggs.
As the island is part of Booti Booti National Park culling of birds, if necessary, should
be carried out under strict guidelines from NPWS. Overseas and Australian fishermen
have long been associated with the destruction of pelican eggs and young (Allen 1935,
Condon 1941, Chapman 1963, Schaller 1964).
The Forster/Tuncurry survey was planned to determine if the fishermen in the Wallis
Lake area had any justification for their reported actions. To achieve this a survey was
proposed that had three main aims:
(i) to study food eaten by the birds,
(ii) to examine how they obtained it, and
(iii) to assess the number of birds in the area.
Nine sites in the Wallis Lake and Forsterffuncurry on the mid -north coast of New South
Wales were monitored (Fig. 1).
Counts of Australian Pelicans were carried out between 23 February 1989 and 20
February 1990. Counts were usually held on a day in the third week of each month
beginning at 0900 hours.
Page 2Surveys were also carried out by Graeme Brown during the period 18 April 1984 to 9
November 1985. These surveys were only held on Pelican Island and consisted of counts
of nests, eggs, young and adults.
Feeding habits were determined by asking professional and amateur fishermen and any
other persons seen feeding pelicans. Each person was asked what items were eaten or not
eaten by the birds. Where there were differing opinions about a food item responses were
classified doubtful, as were observations of pelicans ‘playing’ with food but not actually
swallowing it.
Food habits
Australian pelicans fed in the waters of Wallis Lake adjacent to Pelican Island, near the
mangroves in the south east, and occasionally at other locations. Their fishing was
restricted to the shallow areas around the fringe of the lake and the more northerly islands
that have sea -grass beds or shallows around them. They also took food from or near
fishermen, and were given food by tourists.
Foods obtained naturally were probably best represented in the nesting colony where
they had been regurgitated. These included yellow -finned bream Acanthopagrus australis,
garfish Hemiramphus spp., long torn Tylosurus spp., eastern fortesque Centropogon
australis and lake prawns (greasybacks Metapenaaus ensis).
Prawns were gathered by running seagrass through the bill and wiping the prawns off (K.
Chapman pers. comm.). This action was also recorded by R. Brinkworth in a drain in
Tuncurry but it was not determined what the bird was catching. Brinkworth reported that
on many occasions pelicans ignored the presence of large quantities of whitebait near the
Pelicans also obtained food by harassing other birds such as cormorants Phalacrocoraz
spp. that had caught fish to make them regurgitate (see also Marchant & Higgins 1990).
Pelicans often attempted to remove fish from nets which were being hauled by
professional fishermen. They damaged up to 10% of the catch (K. Chapman pers.
comm.). This rate of loss was considered by fishermen to be acceptable (A. Steadman
pers. comm.). As fish were removed from the nets, undersize fish were thrown back and
pelicans allegedly took these fish, depleting future breeding stock (R. Fowley pers.
comm.). This is not true; few undersize fish were caught. Typically, a bird made three
attempts to catch a fish as it passed and then gave up. Even when undersize fish were
thrown directly to the birds they seemed to show little interest, particularly in leather –
jackets. Food was also obtained when fishermen were checking their crab traps. Old baits
Australian Birds Vol. 27 No. 1 Page 3from the pots were thrown overboard and replaced and six or more pelicans were often
seen following crab boats.
Amateur fishermen also provide a food source. At fish cleaning tables and boat ramps
pelicans were fed scraps including flathead and mullet. Pelicans waited for fishermen to
return from fishing and clean their catch. The birds appeared to know the fishermen
would throw the scraps to them or into the water nearby. Many fishermen seemed to
enjoy feeding the pelicans even though some birds occasionally took fish from baskets
alongside the tables and removed pieces from the tables. Both professional and amateur
fishermen were seen deliberately feeding the pelicans to bring them in close to show
Australian pelicans were also a tourist attraction at the Wallis Lake Fisherman Co-op.
Feeding the birds was not promoted as a tourist attraction until August 1991 when twice
daily feeding was commenced. Prior to this the attraction was a by-product of an industry
and bird feeding was carried out as the need to dispose of scraps consisting of heads,
frames and guts arose. It is not known exactly which species remains were eaten and
which were rejected, but few pieces were left. By cleaning -up unwanted remains the
pelicans performed a service to the Co-op which was probably the biggest food source
for the birds.
Pelicans were regularly fed fish scraps at Paradise Marina as a tourist attraction. During
holiday periods they were fed twice a week and once a week during off-peak periods.
Pelicans in the area reportedly did not eat some potential food items including crab,
cuttlefish, squid, octopus, snake and turtle. Shark, leather -jacket, box toad and puffer
toad may be eaten when skinned or gutted but are usually rejected.
Whilst fish comprises the main food source the Australian Pelican has been recorded
taking other foods such as scraps of meat (Barnard 1927), pies, vegetable scraps,
mushrooms and toadstools (Campbell and Sonter 1985) and Chihuahua dogs (Campbell
and Sonter 1985 and F. Millington pers. comm.). Attempts made to get them to take bread
were unsuccessful although at Lake Barrine (Queensland) Pelicans did eat bread (pers.
observation). These birds were probably supplementing their diets, as fish in the deep
lake may have been difficult to catch. Campbell and Sonter (1985) gave details of a
pelican that was fed a loaf of bread a day.
The results of the surveys are presented in Graph 1(1988-1991 survey), Graph 2 (1984-
1985 survey) and Table 1. An average of 345 birds vas recorded on Pelican Island during
the 88-91 survey and 249 during the 84-85 survey. This is a 38.5% increase. During the
Page 4 TURNER : Pelicans of the Forster-Tuncurry Areasame periods average nest numbers were 127 and 78, an increase of 62.8%. Brown did
not count birds in other areas around Wallis Lake, therefore no comparison of results can
be made. From the two graphs a nurnt-z of points can be drawn:

  1. The size of the population is very variable. This is mostly caused by the weather.
    The island is a very low-lying sand bank that is subjected to tides and flooding. During
    periods of dry weather or low rainfall the island has areas that remain above water.
    However, if more than 100 mm of rain fell in the catchment area of Wallis Lake in 3 days
    or less, the rise in the water level was often sufficient to flood the island. Also during
    periods of high rainfall there were often strong south to south-westerly winds creating
    waves that broke over any part of the island that remained above water level. When
    flooding occurred nests were washed off the island complete with any ‘pink’ young, most
    immature birds were swept away and loafing areas for birds were submerged. Thus
    numbers of birds on the island were dramatically reduced. During bad weather fishing
    boats were unable to put to sea and therefore there were no scraps available for the birds
    around the usual feeding locations. Birds often left the area during these periods,
    presumably to find food, and this also reduced the population.
  2. There is no direct relationship between the number of nests and the number of
    birds on Pelican Island. During the periods of increasing numbers of nests the number
    of birds appears to rise proportionally but following a flood the ratio of birds to nests is
    highly unpredictable.
  3. The birds were quick to nest again as soon as the island was above water level
    following a flood.
    Graph 2 shows the results of Brown’s survey. Details were collated from RAOU
    nest records and after consultation with Brown (pers. comm.). There are several
    significant differences between Brown’s results and the more recent survey:
  4. The number of nests was much lower. Reasons for this include :-
    (i) the island was well vegetated with trees, shrubs and ground cover during his
    survey, leaving less space available for nesting,
    (ii) there were fewer birds.
  5. The number of birds was less variable but much lower than more recently.
    Both the graphs show the effects of flooding of the island with high losses of nests
    at frequent but irregular intervals. The higher nest numbers now can be accounted for by
    the increase in birds and the total loss of vegetation from the island. Vegetation has been
    killed by the birds’ droppings and by trampling.
    Australian Birds Vol. 27 No. 1 Page 5Table shows details of counts made in other areas.
    Graph 3 shows the relationship between the number of birds on Pelican Island and
    in other areas. From this graph it can be seen that when there were high numbers of birds
    on Pelican Island, and a high number of nests, there were fewer birds in other areas. As
    bird and nest numbers dropped, more birds were seen elsewhere.
    On average, 120 pelicans were seen in the other areas. Combined with the average of 345
    birds seen on Pelican Island, this allowed an estimate of 465 in the whole area.
    As the pelicans in the Forsterffuncurry area will eat species of fish caught commercially
    in the area they are potentially in competition with the fishing industry. However, this
    statement needs qualification. The birds appear to be poor hunters and rely on handouts
    rather than catching their own food. This is supported by the professional fishermen who
    consider that the birds cannot survive without being fed. While the birds seem to rely on
    handouts it is apparent that they would not die if handouts were stopped. It was shown
    that in times of poor food supply the birds left the area and returned when the food became
    available again. It is accepted that some birds remained in the area at all times but these
    must have been capable of obtaining sufficient food to survive or they too would have
    Pelicans have always been in the area (pers. comm. 22/2/89 from Nancy Robison, aged
    78) but were only seen further up the river systems until the Co-op was built in 1946. An
    Aboriginal woman, an old long-time resident of Forster, said that she could always
    remember pelicans in the Yahoo/Pelican Island area from when she was a keen
    fisherman; however, they used to come and go. She could not recall seeing them nesting
    in the area (A. Schubert pers. comm.). Professional fishermen confirm the situation (R.
    Bramble pers. comm.) that the birds used to leave during winter time, but they have
    become permanent residents since they started to breed here.
    With the change in status from being a regular visitor to the area to a breeding resident
    and with the obvious increase in numbers it is understandable that professional fishermen
    might be ‘anti -pelican’. The fishing industry is helping to support the large number of
    pelicans in the area and the constant supply of food is possibly the stimulus for the birds
    to breed all year round.
    There is no case for culling pelicans on Pelican Island. Although pelicans eat species that
    are fished commercially, and numbers of birds have increased significantly, there has
    been no reduction in the quantity of fish taken from the lake (pers. comm. B. Vercoe,
    Page 6 TURNER Pelicans of the Forster-Tuncurry Area
    :Fisheries Inspector, Forster/Tuncurry 1989 and a letter from R. Bowen, professional
    fisherman, Wallis Lake, published in the Great Lakes Advocate, 15 May 1991).
    The increase in the number of pelicans is probably related to the varied and constant
    sources of food available to the birds. If numbers are to be contained, disposal of scrap
    foods and feeding of the pelicans should be avoided where possible in areas where
    pelicans are not a tourist attraction
    Many people helped in this study; Mary Nixon, Roylene Brinkworth and Ian Fletcher
    counted birds throughout the Forster/Tuncurry area and asked many people numerous
    questions, Wyn Rowen-Jones of NP&WS helped set up the survey, Bret Vercoe and his
    staff at Forster/Tuncurry Fisheries office identified fish species, Alan Morris, Geoffrey
    Smith, Mary Nixon and Tony Rose reviewed a draft document, and staff of Booti Booti
    State Recreation Area helped maintain the boat as well as giving assistance during the
    survey. Special thanks also go to Graeme Brown for allowing me to use the information
    that he had gathered. My greatest thanks must go to Tony Rose and Rex Moss who helped
    to count on Pelican Island.
    Allen, P.R. 1935, ‘Notes on Some Bird Colonies on the Gulf Coast’, Auk, Vol. 52, 1935,
    pp. 198-200.
    Barnard, H.G. 1927, ‘Effects of Droughts on Bird -life in Central Queensland’, Emu, vol.
    27, pp. 35-37.
    Campbell, J. & Sonter, C. 1985, ‘Unusual Food items of Pelicans’, Aust. Birds, Vol. 20,
    pp. 1-3
    Chapman, F.R.H. 1963, ‘The pelican in South Australia’, SouthAustralian Ornithologist,
    Vol. 24, pp. 6-13.
    Condon, H.T. 1941, ‘Young Pelicans’, Emu, Vol. 41, pp. 92-93.
    Marchant, S. & Higgins, P. 1990, Handbook of Austn.New Zealand andAntarctic Birds,
    Vol. 1, OUP, Melbourne.
    Schaller, G.B. 1964, ‘Breeding behaviour of the White Pelican at Yellowstone Lake,
    Wyoming’, Condor, vol. 66, pp. 3-23.
    Australian Birds Vol. 27 No. 1 Page 7152°30′ E
    -32°15′ S
    0 2
    1 1 I
    Location of Pelican counting sites
    1 – Tuncurry, Point Rd 6 – Pelican Island
    2 – Wallis Lake Fishermens Co-op 7 – Wallis Lake
    3 – Forster Reserve Camping Area 8 – Islands
    4 – Breckenridge Channel 9 – Coomba Park
    5 – Green Point
    Page 8 TURNER : Pelicans of the Forster-Tuncurry AreaGRAPH 1
    Monthly Counts, Pelicans and Nests
    Pelican Is., September 88 to April 91
    1 400
    Z 300
    GRAPH 2 Counts of Pelicans and Nests
    Pelican Is., April 84 to January 85
    : 150
    Nests Birds
    Australian Birds Vol. 27 No. 1 Page 9Pelican Counts



1 400 6’111i’llil
Z –
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Pelican Is Other Areas
TABLE 1 Pelican Counts: Wallis Lake and other areas.
AREA:* 7 5 9 8 4 1 3 2 Total Avge
Feb -89 11 24 6 13 54 13
Mar -89 28 42 14 49 133 33
Apr -89 21 34 0 15 40 21 6 48 185 23
May -89 26 0 0 0 9 43 17 33 128 16
Jun -89 24 0 35 45 32 36 0 33 205 26
Jul -89 31 0 5 1 26 23 5 45 136 17
Aug -89 4 1 0 0 21 29 4 59 8
Sep -89 25 0 45 70 23
Oct- 89 14 9 0 3 26 48 13 50 163 20
Nov -89 0 7 9 39 10 40 105 17
Dec -89 11 0 2 33 18 17 15 3 99 12
Jan -90 55 16 0 0 22 23 15 21 152 19
Feb -90 16 8 0 0 25 6 10 1 66 8
Avge 20 7 5 14 24 27 8 35
*AREAS: refer to map
Page 10 TURNER : Pelicans of the Forster-Tuncurry AreaKOOKABURRAS: EXTENSION OF RANGE
Peter Roberts, 33 Carlyle Rd, Lindfield 2070
At an overnight camping stop beside Cooper Creek, six km east of Windorah,
Qld, a birdwatching party on a Bert Bolton tour observed Laughing Kookaburras Dacelo
novaeguineae inhabiting river redgums growing along the creek banks. Kookaburras
were heard calling shortly before sunset on 7 October 1992 and two birds flew through
the campsite next morning.
The Kookaburra is widely distributed in eastern and south-eastern Australia (and
introduced to Tasmania and Western Australia) but has been regarded as absent from
south-west Queensland; Pizzey in A Field Guide to the Birds ofAustralia 1980, describes
the Queensland distribution as ‘inland to Longreach-Cunnamulla-Eulo’, and The Atlas
of Australian Birds 1984 shows it extending to the upper catchment of the Paroo. This
record extends the known distribution by 200 km.
Kookaburras from the Paroo River would be unlikely to venture across a wide
expanse of grasslands and acacia scrub to reach Cooper Creek. However they have been
reported from Longreach on the Thomson River and on the headwaters of the Barcoo
River. It seems plausible that they might have colonised Windorah by way of these rivers
which both drain into the Cooper.
Stuart Fairbairn, 145 Darling Point Rd, Darling Point 2027
On 10 July 1993 while walking along Lady Carrington Drive (Royal National
Park, Sydney) in company with Elisabeth Karplus, about midday at Burrowa Brook, we
heard two Superb Lyrebirds Menura novaehollandiae calling loudly. We climbed down
towards the Hacking River and saw one male bird with his tail in the display position over
his head, calling loudly and making short jumps towards another male bird. The latter
did not have his tail in display but he continued to move towards the displaying bird.
When they were about a metre apart the displaying bird folded his tail and both ran off
into the undergrowth. Shortly afterwards we saw both birds flying up into trees. They
continued to gain height as they moved to cross the road. As we arrived back on the road
we saw the birds now some 10 metres up a eucalypt with one chasing the other about the
tree. One bird then took off followed by the other, and both flew directly overhead back
into the bush on the river side of the roa-d.a T hey flew with their feet held forward and their
tails with the lyre feathers spread out beautiful sight which somehow reminded us
of Archaeopteryx or perhaps a Frill -necked Lizard in full flight. We assumed it was a
territorial dispute.
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW),
cl- CSIRO, PO Box 84, Lyneham, ACT 2602
Many waterbirds build nests of leaves and sticks in River Red Gums Eucalyptus camaldulensis.
In a study of waterbirdn ests in Red Gums on the Murrumbidgee River, most species in the families
Anhingidae, Phalacrocoracidae, Ardeidae and Plataleidae nested in trees near open water. A total
of 81 trees containing one or more nests of 8 species was surveyed. Nests were generally in trees
which were inundated for four to eight months, at wetlands that retained water in their central
basins for more than eight months.
Waterbirds in the families Anhingidae (darters), Phalacrocoracidae (cormorants), Ardeidae
(herons and egrets) and Plataleidae (ibises and spoonbills) build nests of leaves and sticks
in trees in and near wetlands. The specific characteristics of the nest trees of these
waterbirds are not well understood (see Marchant & Higgins 1990). This paper describes
some of the characteristics of River Red Gums used by waterbirds nesting at wetlands
along the middle section of the Murrumbidgee River.
Twelve wetlands along the Murrumbidgee River between Wagga Wagga and Hay Weir
(Figure 1) were surveyed for nests of waterbirds approximately every six weeks between
July 1991 and January 1992. The types of wetlands and their water regimes are
summarised in Table 1. The wetlands were flooded during the survey period, and were
accessible by all-weather road and small boat. The only trees present were live or dead
River Red Gums.
Nest trees were identified by the presence of nests with eggs or nestlings, or by adult birds
attending nests. Trees with one or more nests were marked with flagging tape, colour
coded for species. The actual nests were not marked. The characteristics of the nest trees
were measured after the young fledged, to avoid disturbing breeding adults and their
young. The characteristics were recorded once for each tree in which individual species
of waterbird nested, regardless of how many nests of that species were in the one tree.
Page 12Three trees in which single nests were initially established and then deserted were
included in the survey. Characteristics of trees not used by nesting waterbirds were not
measured in this preliminary study.
The data from all the sites were combined to increase sample sizes. The results do not
necessarily show the total number of trees used by nesting waterbirds at the wetlands
during the study period, because not all nests of Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
were marked at Tombullen Storage, and some nest trees (including three trees used by
White-faced Heron Ardea novaehollandiae) could not be found later for measuring.
Apart from Rufous Night Heron Nycticorax caledonicus all species of waterbird nested
in three or more trees. Data from the one tree in which this species nested were not
All waterbirds except Great Cormorant shared two or more nest trees with one or more
other species (Table 2). Darter Anhinga melanogaster, Little Black Cormorant
Phalacrocorax sulcirostris, Little Pied Cormorant P. melanoleucos, Pacific Heron
Ardea pacifica, Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia, and Yellow -billed Spoonbill P.flavipes
nested in the same trees as several other species, whereas Sacred Ibis Theskiornis
aethiopica nested with one other species only (Table 2). Apart from Great Cormorant,
the waterbirds always or virtually always nested in live trees (Table 3). All of the Great
Cormorant nests were in dead River Red Gums.
Waterbirds bred at seven of the 12 wetlands surveyed (plus two nests of White-faced
Heron in one tree at Uri Lagoon) (Table 4). All of the nest trees of Darters, Great
Cormorants, Little Black Cormorants, Pacific Herons, Royal Spoonbills, Yellow -billed
Spoonbills and Sacred Ibis were at permanent or semi -permanent wetlands (Tables 1, 3,
4). Little Pied Cormorants nested at temporary as well as at permanent or semi-
permanent wetlands (Table 3). Nest trees of Great Cormorants stood in permanent or
semi -permanent water (inundated for more than eight months), but most of the other
species nested in trees that were inundated temporarily, i.e. for four to eight months
(Table 3). Apart from the two trees which contained one successful and one deserted
Darter nest no nest trees were over ephemeral water (remaining for less than four months,
Table 3).
Most nest trees were close (550 m) to open water (Table 5). The exceptions were three
nest trees of Great Cormorant (100 m, 150 m and 200 m from open water), one tree used
by Pacific Heron (150 m), one tree used by Darter (200 m) and one tree used by Yellow –
billed Spoonbill (60 m). Pacific Heron and Yellow -billed Spoonbill built their nests in
larger trees than the other species did (Table 5).
Australian Birds Vol. 27 No. 1 Page 13DISCUSSION
Great Cormorants nested in dead trees in permanently or semi -permanently flooded
wetlands. Most nest trees of Darters, Little Black Cormorants, Pacific Herons, Royal
Spoonbills, Yellow -billed Spoonbills, and Sacred Ibis were in live trees over temporary
water, at wetlands that contained semi -permanent or permanent water. Little Pied
Cormorants nested in live trees over temporary water at temporarily or permanently
flooded wetlands. McGrath (1992) found that dead River Red Gums were used as nest
sites by Darters, Great Cormorants, Pacific Herons, occasionally by Little Pied and Little
Black Cormorants, but not by spoonbills or ibises. The use of dead trees as nest sites for
waterbirds will be explored in a later paper, incorporating historical data from Tombullen
Storage (Briggs, Hodgson and Ewin 1994).
All the waterbirds except Great Cormorants tended to nest on the edge of the Red Gum
patches, near open water. We hypothesise that this is because open water in River Red
Gum wetlands is characteristic of areas with extended durations of flooding. Areas of
open water do not contain trees because River Red Gums cannot tolerate long periods of
inundation (Dexter 1967). Many species of waterbirds desert their nests if water recedes
from the base of their nesting tree (Maher 1988, 1990, Marchant and Higgins 1990,
McGrath 1992). We suggest that waterbirds build their nests in trees that are near open
water because the lack of trees in such areas indicates that inundation is likely to last long
enough (> 4 months) for young to fledge.
Great Cormorants seem to prefer to nest over water that is relatively permanent We
propose that this is why Great Cormorants generally nest in dead River Red Gums, rather
than because they have a preference for nesting in dead trees per se. The main breeding
colonies of Great Cormorants in New South Wales are in artificially inundated wetlands
that are now permanent (see Marchant and Higgins 1990). Maher (1990) found that Great
Cormorants generally nested over deeper water (>0.6 m) than other waterbirds (>0.3 m;
but see McGrath 1992). Deep water remains longer in wetlands than shallow water.
Irrigation, with its effect of permanently flooding many wetlands in south-eastern
Australia (Briggs 1990), may have increased the number of breeding sites available to
Great Cormorants, and hence increased their abundance.
The deserted nest of the Darter was built in a tree from which the water receded within
a few weeks of laying, before the young could hatch and fledge. The two other deserted
nests, of Sacred Ibis, were built at Boggy Creek in trees which remained flooded for more
than four months. Other waterbirds, including Sacred Ibis, nested successfully at Boggy
In the surveyed wetlands that were not used by nesting waterbirds in 1991/92 either water
receded from the River Red Gums less than four months after flooding (Bulls Run
Page 14 BRIGGS et al : River Red Gum nestingSwamp, Sunshower, Uri and Webbs Lagoons), or they did not contain inundated live or
dead Red Gums (Gogeldrie Weir). There were a few flooded dead River Red Gums at
Gogeldrie Weir but these had either lost most (or all) of their branches, were next to a
well -used road, or were standing in watcr that rose and fell rapidly (metres in hours). The
extensive growth of Spikerush Eleocharis sp.in Bulls Run Swamp may have also
discouraged use by breeding birds.
The data are insufficient to draw firm conclusions about preferences of nesting waterbirds
for trees of specific heights. Anecdotal and written evidence (e.g. Maher 1990, McGrath
1992) and the results from this study suggest that species do have preferences but the
details remain unclear. Ascertaining such preferences would require a more detailed
In summary, most waterbirds nested at wetlands that were flooded semi -permanently, in
trees near open water that were inundated for at least four months, i.e. long enough for
the young to fledge. More precise details of the nesting requirements of waterbirds await
further investigations which should obtain more data from a wider variety of wetlands.
The study sites should be chosen to cover a wide combination of water regimes and tree
Future studies should: (i) measure the characteristics of trees that are not used by nesting
waterbirds, as well as the characteristics of those that are (see Edwards and Collopy
1988); (ii) record the heights of the nests as well as of the trees; (iii) record the number
of nests of individual species in each tree so that intra-specific associations can be
determined; (iv) record the distances from each nest tree to other nest trees used by the
same and other species of waterbirds, in order to investigate coloniality; (v) ascertain
whether waterbirds nest in inundated Red Gums at wetlands that flood temporarily, but
do not contain emergent aquatic plants (waterbirds use such wetlands for nesting
elsewhere (Maher 1990)); (vi) further investigate the extent to which waterbirds nest in
River Red Gums that are flooded temporarily at wetlands whose basins are also flooded
temporarily; and (vii) include more wetlands, especially wetlands where larger numbers
of waterbirds breed.
This last recommendation may be difficult to implement because access to such wetlands
can be difficult when conditions are wet.
This study was funded by the Natural Resource Management Strategy, the Australian
Geographic Society, and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW). Robert
Newton, Jeanine Randell and Robert Hesterman helped mark the nest trees, often under
very difficult conditions. We thank the Forestry Commission of NSW, Department of
Australian Birds Vol. 27 No. 1 Page 15Water Resources and private landholders for allowing us to work on their land. The paper
was improved by comments from Kim Lowe and Phil Maher. Accommodation was
provided at ‘The Homestead’ by the Ryan family. Facilities were provided by the
Division of Wildlife and Ecology, CSIRO. We are grateful to the above people and
Briggs, S. 1990, Waterbirds’, in The Murray (eds. N. Mackay and D. Eastburn), Murray
Darling Basin Commission, Canberra, pp. 337-344.
Briggs, S.V., Hodgson, P.F. & Ewin, P. 1994, ‘Changes in populations of waterbirds on
a wetland following water storage’, Wetlands (Aust.) 13 in press.
Dexter, B.D. 1967, ‘Flooding and regeneration of Rivei Red Gum Eucalyptus
camaldulensis Dehn’, Victorian Forestry Commission Bulletin No. 20.
Edwards, T.C. & Collopy, M.W. 1988, ‘Nest tree preference of Ospreys in northcentral
Florida’, J. Wildl. Manage. 52: pp. 103-107.
Llewellyn, L.C. 1983, ‘Movement of cormorants in south-eastern Australia and the
influence of floods on breeding’, Aust. Wildl. Res., 10: pp. 149-168.
Maher, P. 1988, Historical records on colonial nesting waterbirds in Moira Lake and
Gulpa Creek wetland complexes, Report to Department of Water Resources, Sydney.
Maher, P. 1990, Bird survey of the Lachlan/Murrumbidgee confluence wetlands, Report
to National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sydney.
Marchant, S. & Higgins, P. (eds) 1990, Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and
Antarctic Birds, Vol. 1 (Ratites to Ducks), Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
McGrath, M.J.L. 1992, Waterbird study of the lower Lachlan and Murrumbidgee valley
wetlands in 1990/91, Report to the Department of Water Resources, Sydney.
Thornton, S A. & Briggs, S.V. 1993, ‘A survey of hydrological changes to wetlands of
the Murrumbidgee River’, Wetlands Aust. (in press).
Page 16 BRIGGS et al River Red Gum nesting
:Table 1. Characteristics of Study Wetlands
Wetland Landform Source of Water Degree of Inundated
waterl regime2 control of live/dead
water level3 trees
Bulls Run Depression Local and Temporary No control Live, over
Swamp river sedge
Boggy Creek Flooded creek Local Temporary No control Live
Dixons Dam Flooded creek River Permanent Medium Live, dead
Gogeldrie Weir Billabong and River Permanent Heavy Few dead
Tombullen Water storage River Permanent Heavy Dead
Cuba Lagoon Billabong River Permanent Medium Live, dead
Sunshower Billabong River Temporary Slight Live
Uri Lagoon Billabong River Temporary No control Live
Wowong Billabong River Permanent No control Live
Yarradda Billabong River Permanent Slight Live
Webbs Lagoon Billabong River Permanent Medium Live
McKennas Billabong River Temporary Slight Live
1 Local run-off or Murrumbidgee River
2 Basin of wetland flooded for 4-8 months (Temporary) or >8 months (Permanent)
3 For further details of categories, see Thornton and Briggs (1993)
Australian Birds Vol. 27 No. 1 Page 17Table 2. Number of nest trees shared with other species of waterbirds.
Figures are not available for nest trees which were shared intraspecifically. Data include
deserted nests. The total number of nest trees surveyed was 81′.
Number of nest trees
Species Not shared Shared with Shared with Total’
with other one other >1 other
species species species
Darter 12 LPC 9 LBC + LPC 1 24
(Dt) LPC + RS 1
LPC + RS + YbS 1
Great Cormorant (GC) 16 0 0 16
Little Black 7 LPC 1 Dt + LPC 1 10
Cormorant (LBC) PH + YbS 1
Little Pied 15 Dt 9 Dt + RS 1 29
Cormorant (LPC) LBC 1 Dt + RS + YbS 1
SI 2
Pacific Heron (PH) 1 YbS 4 LBC + YBS 1 6
Royal Spoonbill 1 0 Dt + LPC 1 3
(RS) Dt + LPC + YbS 1
Yellow -billed 3 PH 4 Dt + LPC + RS 1 9
Spoonbill (YbS) LBC + PH 1
Sacred Ibis (SI) 5 LPC 22 0 7
Total 60 32 12 104
‘Trees used by >1 species are counted >1 times
2 Plus one tree shared with Rufous Night Heron
Page 18Table 3. Percentage of nests in live River Red Gums; ratio of nest trees over ephemeral (E),
temporary (T) and permanent water (P); and ratios of nest trees at wetlands containing
ephemeral, temporary and permanent water.
Mean distance±s.e. (m) of nest trees to open water (>50 x 50 m in area) at the
time of nesting.
Mean height± s.e. (m).
Diameter at breast height s.e. (m) of nest trees.
Nest tree Wetland Distance to
Species n % live E:T:P’ E:T:P’ open water Height DBH
Darter 23 96 4:93:4 0:0:100 17±10 18±1 78±8
Great Cormorant 16 0 0:0:100 0:0:100 37±15 18±2 74±6
Little Black
Cormorant 10 100 0:100:0 0:0:100 5±2 19±2 72±4
Little Pied
Cormorant 29 100 0:100:0 0:32:68 7±2 16±2 58±11
Pacific Heron 6 83 0:67:33 0:0:100 44±22 28±3 158±16
Royal Spoonbill 3 100 0:100:0 0:0:100 0 21±1 81±15
Yellow -billed
Spoonbill 9 100 0:89:11 0:0:100 31±8 25±3 138±19
Sacred Ibis 5 100 0:100:0 0:20:80 14±9 21±5 72±22
Deserted nests2 3 100 33:67:0 0:67:33 17±9 19±5 68±3
‘ Duration of flooding: ephemeral = less than 4 months; temporary = 4-8 months; semi -permanent
and permanent = greater than 8 months.
Two nests of Sacred Ibis, one of Darter.
Australian Birds Vol. 27 No. 1 Page 19Table 4. Species of waterbird that nested (N) in each wetland.
Dt, Darter; GC, Great Cormorant; LBC, Little Black Cormorant; LPC, Little Pied Cormorant;
PH, Pacific Heron; WfH, White-faced Heron; RNH, Rufous Night Heron; SI, Sacred Ibis; RS,
Royal Spoonbill; YbS, Yellow -billed Spoonbill.
Bulls Run Swamp – – – – –
Boggy Creek – N – N
Dixon Dam N N N N – N –
Gogelarie Weir – – – – – –
Tombullen Storage N N – N N – N N
Cuba (Gooragool) N N N N N – – N
Sunshower Lagoon – –
Uri Lagoon – – N
Wowong Lagoon N N N – N
Yarradda Lagoon N N N – N N N N
Webbs Lagoon –
McKennas Lagoon – N N –
‘ Nest trees not measured.
Page 20 BRIGGS et al River Red Gum nesting

  • 34°30′
    Wowong LEETON
    Yarradda Ur Gogeldrie
    Boggy Creek
    0 20
    Dixons Bulls Run
    Map Showing River Red Gum Sites
    Dariel Larkins, 225 Kissing Point Rd, Turramurra 2074
    For the past 20 years Rainbow Lorikeets Trichoglossus haematodus visiting my
    garden have been fed on chopped fruit or, more often, on a brown -sugar and water
    mixture with a few drops of Pentavite added. I was recently enjoying morning tea on the
    terrace with a visiting birdwatcher while lorikeets were feeding at a dish approximately
    six m away. My visitor went into the house and emerged with a slice of toast and honey.
    He had hardly sat down when the lorikeets abandoned their feeding tray and flew across
    to land on the visitor’s head. They had caught the scent of the honey and preferred it to
    the sugar mixture.
    The NSW Department of Agriculture advises that spores of bee diseases can be
    carried in honey. Spores of American Brood Disease persist for 40 years; European
    Brood Disease persists for two years, and Chinese Brood Disease for 15 years, this only
    recently discovered in NSW. Infected hives are burnt. Because bees are attracted to
    honey it is illegal to feed it to birds, owing to the risk of spreading brood disease.
    Jack Wheeler, in The Care of Sick, Injured and Orphaned Native Birds and
    Animals, states that lorikeets should not be fed white sugar mixture unless a few drops
    of Pentavite are added.
    Australian Birds Vol. 27 No. 1 Page 21FURTHER NOTES ON OWLS FROM THE DIARIES OF E.L. HYEM
    S.J.S. DEBUS
    Zoology Department, University of New England, Armidale 2351
    The late E.L. Hyem (1979) presented some behavioural notes on the large forest owls of
    the upper Manning River, north-west of Gloucester, New South Wales: the Powerful
    Owl Ninox strenua, Sooty Owl Tyto tenebricosa and Masked Owl Tyto novaehollandiae.
    Hyem’s observation diaries were retained by his friend, Mr Brian Crisp (consulting
    surveyor, Taree, NSW), and the contents kindly made available to me during my surveys
    of these species. It became apparent that the diaries contained some additional information
    worth publishing, as well as a measure of Hyem’s observation effort. In particular, the
    diaries contain notes on the owls’ calling behaviour (e.g. in relation to weather) and
    response to disturbance of various kinds, which may be of relevance to survey and
    conservation of these species.
    In this paper, I have summarised or paraphrased Hyem’ s notes and simply reported what
    he observed. I have left my own interpretation to the Discussion. I have used ‘territory’
    in the usual sense of a defended ‘core’ area of the home range, around the nest. Hyem
    concentrated his observations around known or suspected nest sites.
    Over the 20 years 1958-1978, Hyem spent about 900 evenings (totalling at least 1800
    hours) observing owls. Usually he spent about two hours from dusk in an owl territory,
    but he occasionally camped all night in a nesting territory to record pre -dawn behaviour
    (Sooty Owl 24 nights, Masked Owl nine nights, Powerful Owl three nights; also three
    nights in an area with both Tyto species). From September 1959 to December 1975 he
    spent several evenings of virtually every month in the field; thereafter his effort declined
    to a few evenings per year. He concentrated on Sooty and Masked Owls (c. 300 evenings/
    600 hrs on Sooty; 170 evenings/340 hrs on Masked; plus 380 evenings/760 hrs in
    territories containing both species), but also spent 57 evenings/c. 100 hrs on Powerful
    Owls. He also noted 15 evenings on which Powerful Owls were heard calling while he
    was observing the Tyto species. He rotated between Sooty Owl pairs at five major and
    five secondary sites; Masked Owl pairs at four major sites and one secondary site; and
    Powerful Owl pairs at two major sites and one secondary site, with incidental records at
    two other sites. He was out in all weather conditions (calm to strong wind, fine to rain)
    but usually abandoned a watch if it was raining or a storm broke.
    Page 22Hyem listed his Sooty Owl sites as Carter’s Top, Copeland, Drewitt, Gallagher’s, Wattle
    Gap (major sites), Kangaroo Creek, Logger’s Camp, Lynch’s Brush, Nebek (?) Creek
    and Woondooma (minor sites). Masked Owl sites were Carter’s Top, Drewitt, Gallagher’s,
    Woondooma (major sites) and Wattle Gap (minor). Powerful Owl sites were Drewitt,
    Kangaroo Top (major sites), Copeland, Tucker’s Creek and Wattle Gap (minor/
    incidental). Although some local names may be difficult to locate, they are given here
    in case ornithologists can visit the sites in future, in order to ascertain the continued
    presence of the owls. A few of these sites between Mt Myra and the Manning River may
    be on or near the western boundary of Woko National Park, therefore continued
    monitoring of some owl territories may be possible.
    Calling behaviour
    Hyem found that Sooty Owls were often active while it was still light, between sunset
    and dark, and also at dawn. They were most vocal early in the evening, sometimes pre-
    dawn, and occasionally through the night; they often gave a single scream only. He
    observed the pattern described by Beruldsen (1986) of screaming from the roost at dusk,
    then patrolling their territory and giving single screams at intervals from different
    perches. Hyem noted that the owls were sometimes vocal one night and silent the next.
    The amount and start time of calling varied; they were often silent. He found that the
    owls called, or could be induced to call, in every month of the year. Conversely, there
    were some periods of weeks or months of silence.
    Adult Sooty Owls occasionally uttered a deep Barn Owl (Tyto alba) type of screech. In
    answer to whistled imitations the adults sometimes screamed instead of, or as well as,
    the more usual trilling reponse; their response varied in intensity, and they sometimes did
    not answer. Their reponse to imitation or playback sometimes took some (unspecified)
    length of time. Dependent juveniles sometimes approached and gave the rasping begging
    call in answer to whistled imitations.
    At Hyem’ s sites, rain -showers were frequent in the evenings. Sooty Owls were active and
    called in drizzle and fog, and sometimes in light rain. However, they were silent during
    wind and heavy rain.
    Aspects of breeding
    Hyem found that Sooty Owls generally did not desert the nest readily. They flushed if
    the nest tree was climbed for inspection, but continued to use the hollows in the pre-
    laying period, and usually during the incubation period (even if infertile eggs were
    removed). However, there was one case where nest inspection resulted in desertion of
    the eggs. Nestlings examined in the hollow subsequently fledged successfully (two
    Australian Birds Vol. 27 No. Page 23
    1broods inspected). One juvenile was dependent on its parents for about three months after
    Effect of habitat disturbance
    At one site (Carter’s Top), Hyem was able to monitor the response of a pair of Sooty Owls
    to progressive habitat modification. Unfortunately he did not specify the size of the areas
    (absolute, or as a proportion of that remaining) of eucalypt forest and gully rainforest
    involved. However, a small proportion of the total forest area was cleared and there is
    much habitat remaining (B. Crisp pers. comm.). In the first half of 1968 most of the
    hardwood at the site had been felled for timber, but in July the owls were still roosting
    in the rainforest gully. In January 1969 they were active (calling) on a hardwood spur that
    had been heavily logged and burnt. In August 1969 some of the rainforest had been felled,
    but the owls were in the remnant. In November 1970 they bred successfully, raising a
    fledgling. In August 1972 the adults were still roosting in the rainforest remnant, and in
    August- December 1973 were still in the territory. However, no owls were recorded from
    1974 to 1977 and Hyem concluded that they had deserted the area. It was not mentioned
    in Hyem’s notes or previous paper, but he noticed a marked decline in the native small –
    mammal population (including arboreal species) at around the time the owls disappeared
    (B. Crisp pers. comm.).
    Calling behaviour
    Hyem found that adults were silent on some nights, but at other times typically gave
    single, well -spaced screeches; they sometimes called before dawn; and were vocal
    around the nest. They called in every month of the year, but sometimes were not heard
    for weeks or months if only one visit per month was made to a territory. They sometimes
    answered a Sooty Owl’s scream or a whistled imitation of a Sooty Owl, and responded
    to imitations of their calls or to a rabbit whistle; in one case an owl arrived silently almost
    immediately, and gave a soft chattering response five minutes later. They were not heard
    on windy or rainy nights. Hyem described the male Masked Owl’s chattering courtship
    call as not shrill, in this respect unlike that of the Barn Owl.
    Aspects of breeding
    In courtship (in June), a male circling in the air was keeping pace with the female which
    was changing perches below and screeching. This suggests that supposed co-operative
    hunting, as assumed by the Messrs Dancocks (in Schodde & Mason 1980), was courtship
    behaviour. Similar circling and chattering flights by males were observed also in
    February (twice), March, April (twice), May (twice) and August. On one occasion there
    were two dependent juveniles still in the territory, and on another occasion the
    performance lasted 20 minutes (both February).
    Page 24 DEBUS Owls from the Hyem Diaries
    :A female Masked Owl was flushed in daylight from two hatchlings and two eggs when
    the nest was inspected, but she returned an hour later, still in daylight. In the presence of
    two noisy fledglings, an adult responded to a human intruder by screeching loudly and
    continuously. In three separate cases, dependent juveniles were seen to be fed by their
    parents for one, two and three months after fledging.
    Effect of habitat disturbance
    A pair of Masked Owls also inhabited the Sooty Owl site affected by clearing and
    logging, discussed above (Carter’s Top). After hardwood logging (apparently virtual
    clearfelling) in March 1968 Masked Owls persisted until September 1973, with no
    evidence of breeding, but there was no sign of Masked Owls from 1974 to 77 and Hyem
    concluded that they, too, had deserted the area. In a different territory (Wattle Gap,
    watched since 1967) a pair of Masked Owls started breeding activity in April 1970, soon
    after a logging road was put in; egg -laying was not confirmed. In May the nest was
    deserted after logging occurred ‘nearby’ (distance from nest tree not specified), but it was
    not certain that this was the cause of abandonment. In June 1972 the owls were still in
    their territory, but there was no information on the scale of habitat modification. Again,
    it was minor in relation to the total forest area, and an observed decline in the native small –
    mammal population coincided with the owls’ desertion (see Sooty Owl account, above).
    There is little to add to Hyem’s original paper. He noted these owls calling when it was
    still quite light, between sunset and dark, and also between dawn and sunrise. He heard
    the owls hooting spontaneously in every month of the year except July (when no specific
    observations on Powerful Owls were conducted). In May, a female called all night. The
    owls were not heard when there was a strong wind.
    One pair nested (in May) 1.6 km from the site where they were first found roosting the
    previous October, perhaps suggesting a seasonal shift in site use within their territory.
    When incubation was advanced, a female was uncharacteristically reluctant to leave the
    hollow when the tree was climbed. She sat tight and had to be pushed aside for the eggs
    to be inspected – unusual behaviour in this species, which is normally sensitive to nest
    disturbance (even human presence near the tree) and prone to desert eggs (Hollands
    Hyem spent sufficient time in the field, spanning all months of many years, for some
    conclusions to be drawn confidently from his notes. Regarding owl surveys, the
    following points can be made.
    Australian Birds Vol. 27 No. 1 Page 251. Surveys could be conducted in all or any months.
  1. The first half of the night (particularly from sunset) and around dawn are the most
    suitable times, especially if the purpose is to locate roosts or nests from spontaneous
    (unelicited) calls.
  2. In order to determine owl presence at a site, repeat surveys may be needed; silence does
    not necessarily mean absence.
  3. Nights of wind or rain should be avoided.
  4. Good imitations are as successful at eliciting a response as tape playback.
  5. An observer should wait some minutes (perhaps 10?) for a delayed response, before
    leaving a survey site.
    These conclusions concur with those of Kavanagh & Peake (1993). I would add that call-
    up should be used sparingly and only as a bona fide research or survey tool, as breeding
    owls may be adversely affected by over -use of broadcast of conspecifics’ calls.
    Concerning the study of breeding owls of uncommon species, it is apparent that these
    owls are sensitive to nest inspection during the egg phase (also Hollands 1991). As the
    critical aspect of productivity (recruitment) is the number of young fledged per territorial
    pair, nest hollows need not be inspected until late in the nestling period (when young can
    thermoregulate and defend themselves in the parents’ absence); prey remains and pellets
    can be collected after young have fledged. Large forest Tyto species have long post-
    fledging dependence periods; juveniles apparently require several months in which to
    develop sufficient hunting skills for capture of arboreal and terrestrial forest mammals.
    Hyem’s notes suggest some tentative conclusions on the conservation of forest owls in
    a rich area with a mosaic of forest types and high owl densities. Sooty Owls bred
    successfully two years after a substantial proportion of their habitat had been heavily
    logged; they may have used the heavily logged/burnt forest to some extent; and they
    persisted for at least four years after logging. This suggests some resilience of the owls
    to nest and habitat disturbance, and low initial impact of partial logging. However,
    reasons for the eventual desertion must be sought. Hyem attributed the owls’ desertion
    to a drastic decline in native mammals (possums etc.) rather than to habitat loss (B. Crisp
    pers. comm.), but he could not account for the mammals’ decline. One would intuitively
    suspect that a decline in habitat quality is implicated, particularly as the logging occurred
    on private property before the institution of the environmental safeguards practised in
    state forests of today. Furthermore, part of the forest was clearfelled. Increased edge –
    effects from adjoining pastoral land may have had consequences for the native mammals
    in remaining forest, particularly if remaining habitat was fragmented.
    Hyem’s notes suggest that the owls can tolerate a degree of habitat modification, but
    there is a threshold of disturbance beyond which their home ranges will no longer support
    them and they are forced to leave. This may be caused by prey shortage rather than loss
    Page 26 DEBUS Owls from the Hyem Diaries
    :of roost/nest sites, particularly if the disturbance reduces the total area of foraging
    habitat. Disturbance may affect mammal prey through removal of cover and food
    resources; initially they may be more vulnerable to owls, enabling the owls to persist
    temporarily but ultimately decline. Some habitat modification (e.g. selective logging)
    may be tolerated if buffers of undisturbed habitat are retained around owl nest -trees.
    Masked Owls were apparently more severely affected, as suggested by lack of breeding,
    by clearfelling of ridge or slope eucalypt forest than were Sooty Owls. This is consistent
    with the view that the Masked Owls were using eucalypt forest for hunting, whereas the
    Sooty Owls still had some of their prime roosting, hunting and breeding habitat (gully
    rainforest) to which they could retreat. Sooty Owls remained and bred while gully
    rainforest was retained, but also left after their gully refuge was reduced in size. Hyem’s
    experience suggests two possibilities: (1) there may have been a time-lag between
    reduction of habitat quality and consequent decline in mammal and owl numbers; (2) the
    owls showed some conservatism, lingering in traditional territories of declining quality
    or patch size for some time but latterly without breeding, until prey became too scarce.
    It would be interesting to ascertain the extent of forest regeneration at the logging/
    clearing sites (Carter’s Top and Wattle Gap), and whether owls have re -occupied those
    I am most grateful to Brian Crisp for recognising the value of E.L. Hyem’s diary notes,
    for taking the trouble to copy them for me, and for permission to publish them. I thank
    Brian, and also Chris Chafer, Rod Kavanagh and Peter Roberts, for comments on a draft.
    Beruldsen, G.R. 1986, ‘Observations on the Sooty Owl Tyto tenebricosa in south-east
    Queensland’, Aust. Bird Watcher 11, 230-236.
    Hollands, D. 1991, Birds of the Night, Reed, Sydney.
    Hyem, E.L. 1979, ‘Observations on owls in the upper Manning River district, NSW’,
    Corella 3, 17-25.
    Kavanagh, R.P. & Peake, P. 1993, ‘Survey procedures for nocturnal forest birds: an
    evaluation of the variability in census results due to temporal factors, weather and
    technique’, in Olsen, P.D. (ed.), Australian Raptor Studies, Australasian Raptor
    Association, RAOU, Melbourne.
    Schodde, R. & Mason, I.J. 1980, Nocturnal Birds ofAustralia, Lansdowne, Melbourne.
    Australian Birds Vol. 27 No. 1 Page 27WELL -TRAINED COMMON MYNAS
    Dariel Larkins, 225 Kissing Point Rd, Turramurra 2074
    In The Birds of Sydney (1958), Hindwood and McGill mentioned that
    the Common Myna Acridotheres tristis frequented railway goods yards, among other
    places. Around 1940 they could be seen among the train tracks at Remington (Sydney),
    and the attraction there may have been enhanced by the proximity of the stock saleyards.
    At Chatswood railway station I have recently observed mynas strutting
    under stationary trains to forage for pickings which are perhaps uncovered by the
    movement of trains. In January 1993, when a train stopped at Killara station and the
    automatic doors opened, a Common Myna was the only ‘passenger’ to enter one carriage
    and it proceeded to clean up food scraps from the vestibule floor. The bird exited very
    promptly when the warning bell rang and was well clear of the train as the doors closed.
    Bev Morgan, 2 Maclean Street, Grafton 2461
    At 1800 hours on 1 March 1993 in my suburban yard at South Grafton I heard
    agitated calls of Silvereyes Zosterops lateralis coming from the direction of a peach tree.
    On investigation I found a Green Tree Frog Litoria caerula hanging by a hind leg from
    a branch with a Silvereye in its mouth, while two other Silvereyes were calling and flying
    around the frog. It appeared that the bird was a considerable mouthful for what I would
    have described as only a medium-sized frog, approximately 70 mm in length.It did look
    as though the bird was almost at the point where the frog could squeeze it past the tightest
    point and swallow it. The victim was still moving and the other birds remained agitated
    for some time.
    The frog was watched for over 45 minutes after the initial sighting and during this
    time it managed to get itself sitting on top of a branch with the Silvereye still being
    swallowed but with more of one of its wings visible. The other birds had left by this time.
    Eventually it became too dark to see the final outcome but I believe the frog would have
    swallowed and eaten the bird.
    The frog did not appear to be full grown as Green Tree Frogs can reach a body
    length of 100 mm (H. Cogger 1992, Reptiles and Amphibia of Australia), and looked
    nowhere near the size one would have thought to be large enough to restrain and swallow
    a Silvereye. This specimen had white spots along its side which is not uncommon for the
    Green Tree Frog. It was difficult to determine whether the Silvereye was a young bird
    but from what I could see it appeared to be an adult.
    Page 28Advice to contributors
    Manuscripts should be typed with double spacing and wide margins at top and sides,
    and submitted initially as an original and two duplicates. Tables and figures must be
    in the form of reproducible hard copy, having due regard to the journal page size
    and format. If extensive re -typing or drafting is required publication may be
    delayed or prevented. Photographs should be submitted as glossy black and white
    prints of size and contrast suitable for reproduction.
    Upon acceptance, it is most helpful if the final manuscripts of substantial articles can
    be submitted in word processor format. The editor will advise details of acceptable
    Contributions are considered on the understanding that they are not being offered for
    publication elsewhere.
    Authors are advised to consult a current issue of Australian Birds as a guide to style
    and punctuation, which conform in general to the Commonwealth Style Manual.
    Spelling follows the Macquarie Dictionary. In particular:
    dates are written ‘1 January 1990’, but may be abbreviated in
    tables and figures;
    the 24 hour clock is used with Eastern Standard Time, e.g. 06.30
    for 6.30 am and 18.30 for 6.30 pm. Daylight Saving time
    should be corrected to EST;
    in the text, single -digit numbers are spelt out; 10 000 and larger
    numbers are printed with a space (not a comma) separating
    the thousands.
    References to books appear in the form
    Marchant, S. & Higgins, P.J. (eds) 1990, Handbook of Australian, New Zealand
    and Antarctic Birds, Vol. 1, OUP, Melbourne.
    and to journals as
    Morris, A.K., Tyler, V., Tyler, M., Mannes, H. & Dalby, J. 1990, ‘A Waterbird
    survey of the Parramatta River wetlands, Sydney’, Alia Birds, 23:3, pp. 44-64.
    These are cited in the text as Marchant & Higgins (1990) or (Morris et al. 1990),
    respectively.Volume 27, No.1 AUSTRALIAN BIRDS September 1993
    Tribute to the Retiring Editor 1
    Turner, David Pelicans of the Forsterffuncurry Area 2
    Roberts, Peter Kookaburras: extension of range 11
    Fairbaim, Stuart Superb Lyrebirds in territorial dispute 11
    Briggs, S. V.,
    Thornton, S. A., Characteristics of River Red Gums Used by Nesting
    & Hodgson, P. F. Waterbirds 12
    Larkins, Dariel Rainbow Lorikeets and honey 21
    Debus, S. J. S. Further Notes on Owls from the Diaries of E. L. Hyem 22
    Larkins, Dariel Well -trained Common Mynas 28
    Morgan, Bev Frog bites bird 28
    Photographs David Turner
    Print Post Approved PP232004/00010