Vol. 31 No. 1-text

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Journal of the
Volume 31 No.1 December1997NSW FIELD ORNITHOLOGISTS CLUB Inc
The object of the Club is to promote the study and conservation of Australian birds and the
habitats they occupy.
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Original articles and short notes on birds are invited for Australian Birds, especially
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Editor Peter Roberts
Production Stuart Fairbairn
Cover Pictures
Front The Aviary, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, 1861, from The Strangers’ Guide
to Sydney, J. W. Waugh RBG Library
Back Crested Pigeon
Please address manuscripts to the Editor at:
33 Carlyle Rd, LINDFIELD 2070
ISSN 0311-8150
Printed by The Village Scribe, 56 Thompson Street, Drummoyne 2047AUSTRALIAN
Volume 31 No.1 December 1997
Royal Botanic Gardens, Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney 2000
I recently became aware of documents held by the library at the Royal Botanic Gardens,
Sydney, which provide information on the early liberation dates of a number of species of
exotic birds within the Botanic Gardens, Sydney. These documents are the Annual Reports
and Proceedings of the Acclimatisation Society of New South Wales between 1861 and
1867 (this organisation preceded the Zoological Society of NSW, which was founded in
1879). The Acclimatisation Society of NSW was formed at a Public Meeting held in the
Australian Library on the 4th November 1861 and operated at least until the late 1860s or
early 1870s. These documents are in printed and bound form and were retained within the
Royal Botanic Gardens Library, probably due to the fact that the then Director of the Botanic
Gardens, Mr Charles Moore, had been a very active member of the Acclimatisation Society
of NSW throughout its period of operation. Further information was obtained from the Annual
Reports of the Botanic Gardens and Domains and from early Sydney newspapers for the
years 1860 to 1903. Scientific names for species referred to in the text are given in Appendix
George Bennett (1860) in his Gatherings of a Naturalist in Australia provided
details of exotic birds held in private aviaries in Australia prior to 1860. He stated that:
“In Australia a commencement has been made by introducing several of the British songsters,

  • Thrushes, Blackbirds, Linnets, Larks, Goldfinches, &c., which are thriving well in the colony,
    being at present placed in extensive aviaries, in which trees are enclosed, and they may be heard in
    all their variety of song, entertaining their auditors with a delightful concert. Eventually the experiment
    will be tried of setting them at liberty, to enliven with their harmony the Australian woods and
    Australian Birds Vol 31 No.1This statement sets the scene for the deliberate liberation of exotic song birds within
    Australia in the late 1800s.
    In the 1861 Report of the Acclimatisation Society of New South Wales it was stated that:
    “The society has since its formation received the following donations: –
    Six pairs Thrushes, six pairs blackbirds, two pair of larks, from Mr. E. Wilson, Melbourne.”
    These birds were housed in aviaries within the grounds of the Botanic Gardens, Sydney
    and it was further stated in the 1861 Annual Report of Acclimation Society of NSW that
    “The kindness of the Director of the Botanic Gardens in taking charge of various animals in the
    interest of the Society has also been highly appreciated by the Council. Mr. Moore has further expressed
    his readiness to continue to give (until other places are appropriated for their reception) suitable
    accommodation and food to any animals which the Society may receive, provided they are not of
    such a nature to disturb or interfere with the existing arrangements of the Gardens; and those who
    have examined the excellent provision made for waterfowl, &c., in the recent additions to the public
    aviary, must have perfect confidence that animals placed there have every prospect of enjoying a
    high degree of health and comfort.”
    Introduced birds of a number of species were held in the aviary at the Botanic Gardens,
    Sydney, from 1860 when the aviary was erected. The aviary was built with Government
    funds to house the bird collection of Mr Alfred Denison, the brother of the then New
    South Wales Governor, Sir William Thomas Denison (Anon 1860a). The initial bird
    collection included pheasants, quail, pigeons, parrots, sparrows and finches. “Together
    with the above his Excellency Sir W. Denison has sent four blackbirds, four thrushes,
    four skylarks, and a rail from New Zealand.” (Anon 1860b). The aviary (Front Cover
    &Figs 2 & 3) was described in the press of the day (Anon 1860a, b) as:
    “The erection which is now in progress for the reception of the birds is of wood, with stone foundations.
    It is sixty-four feet in length, and fourteen feet in width, and is divided into eight compartments, for
    various descriptions of birds. The front and about one-third of the roof, as well as the divisions and
    the ends, are enclosed with wire work. A small stream of water is conducted through the several
    compartments, and each division is fitted with perches and breeding boxes.”
    “The top of the aviary rises towards the back, thus affording a succession of ridges, the elaborate
    decoration of which, together with the chaste alterations of green and white colours produce an
    extremely cheerful and pleasing effect. The crockets on the upper ridges are fleurs de lis, and the
    cornice is ornamented with a larger but equally tasteful design. At each end there is a neat finial
    surmounting ornamental projecting gables with pendants.”
    The aviary in the Botanic Gardens was located on the eastern side of the Gardens in the
    site of the current succulent garden and was substantially extended with additional cages
    and enclosures at a later date. The aviary remained in active use until its removal in 1940
    (Gilbert 1986). A Register of birds held for aviary (Botanic Gardens 1896-1940) was
    maintained by the Botanic Gardens from June 1896 to October 1940 (NSW State Archives
    AO 5/4800). This register recorded birds received and deaths in the aviary; no reference
    2 LEISHMAN : Introduced Birds December 1997to release dates for any species is given in this register although a number of donations to
    individuals, usually in exchange for other species, is given.
    FIGURE 1:The Aviary, Botanic Gardens, Sydney 1890, Showing outside enclosure
    and cages.
    Photo : RBG Library
    Considerable attention and care was given to the breeding for release of Common
    Blackbirds and Song Thrushes in the Botanic Gardens, as can be seen from the article
    which appeared in the Sydney press (Anon 1862):
    “Two small octagonal houses of a more permanent character have been erected at the extremities of
    the enclosure in front of the aviary; these are intended for the reception of a particular class of birds,
    and are being neatly thatched with rushes. In one of these enclosures two small trees have been
    covered with galvanised wire; this has been done in order to attempt to breed blackbirds and thrushes,
    a pair of each of these birds having been placed in the enclosures. If the birds breed there, the roof of
    the enclosure will be taken off as soon as the young birds are sufficiently strong to fly away, when
    both old and young birds will be allowed to escape. These birds are partly the donation of the
    Acclimatisation Society of Victoria, and partly the purchase of the Acclimatisation Society of this
    colony [NSW]. A pair of blackbirds and a pair of thrushes, have lately been turned out in the Garden.”
    Australian Birds Vol 31 No.1 3The Director of the Botanic Gardens, Mr Moore, reported to the meeting of the
    Acclimatisation Society of NSW held on the 8th February 1864 that the Blackbirds had
    nested and were now sitting. The Fourth Annual Report of the Acclimatisation Society of
    NSW for the years 1864-1865 stated that:
    “A pair of English Black -birds have built a nest in the Botanical Gardens and have young ones. The
    male escaped last December, [1864] and in January [1865] a female was set at liberty; they were
    observed to keep about the grounds, and not many days since the female bird was seen with worms in
    her bill. Being suspected of having a nest in some part of the Garden, she was carefully watched, and
    the result was the discovery of the nest with young birds, singularly enough in a small naturalised
    tree, the Cussonia thyrsiflora, indigenous to the cape. It is now proposed to liberate all the Black-
    birds and Thrushes in the possession of the Society.”
    The Acclimatisation Society of NSW in its proceedings listed the following birds as being
    liberated in the Botanic Gardens during 1864-1865: four Skylarks, four House Sparrows
    and two Common Blackbirds. Five other Common Blackbirds and four Song Thrushes
    were recorded as being held in the aviary at the time of publication of the 1864-1865
    Annual Report. The 1865-1866 Annual Report lists only one Common Blackbird and
    two Song Thrushes as being held; it is probable that the other birds (ie. four Common
    Blackbirds and two Song Thrushes) had been released during 1865. No Common
    Blackbirds or Song Thrushes were recorded as being held in the 1866-1867 Annual Report
    of the Society. It is probable that all Common Blackbirds and Song Thrushes had been
    released prior to that date.
    In the Annual Report of the Botanic Gardens and Domains for the year 1903 it was stated
    “A native cat, [Dasyurus viverrimus] measuring 37 inches [92 cm] long, was captured in a spring trap
    at the back of the Aviary on 25th June [1903], and a young one was found dead in the Upper Garden
    on 28th October, 1903.
    We have lost a number of fowls, ducks, and other small birds from time to time, and there is little
    doubt but that these native animals, probably the last of their race, are responsible for their destruction,
    and also for the complete extermination of the English blackbirds and thrushes, which for a number
    of years delighted visitors to the gardens in the early morning”.
    At the monthly meeting of the Acclimatisation Society of NSW held on 23rd January
    1865 (Anon 1865a) it was resolved to:
    “… set at liberty the sky larks, and it was directed that they should be intrusted (sic) to Mr. Byrnes to
    be turned out at Elizabeth Farm, Parramatta. The sparrows were also to be turned loose at Elizabeth
    Bay, The members present expressed a hope that, now that the public were aware of this, care would
    be taken to prevent their wanton destruction.”
    Le Souef (1958) reported that a pair of sparrows had been presented by the Acclimatisation
    Society of Victoria to the Acclimatisation Society of NSW on 27th May 1863. House
    Sparrows obviously were very successful in breeding within the Gardens, as well as
    spreading throughout New South Wales from a number of liberation sites (Anon 1865c,
    Anon 1883, Long 1981), the following newspaper report (Anon 1903) noting that:
    4 LEISHMAN : Introduced Birds December 1997″In the Botanic Gardens there are hundreds of sparrows, and here they are delightful to watch. On
    bright sunny mornings they gather on the edges of the fountain basins, fifteen to twenty at a time, and
    splash about and enjoy themselves just like a troop of youngsters in a waterhole. They swarm down
    on the floating raft on which the ducks’ food is placed in dozens, and the place rings with their pert
    While some observers were enthralled with the antics of the House Sparrow in 1903, it
    was clear that the House Sparrow had been recognised as a horticultural pest by 1876
    (Anon 1876). The gardening staff at the Botanic Gardens had recognised that the sparrow
    was capable of serious horticultural damage, as noted in the 1908 Annual Report, p.33:
    “The English sparrow …, is also some what of a nuisance, his particular offence being his
    predilection for turning over newly- sown seeds in the borders, and devouring them.”
    FIGURE 2.The Aviary, Botanic Gardens 1980, showing the plantings along aviary
    Photo : RBG Library
    The Annual Report of the Botanic Gardens and Domains for the year 1913 presents a list
    prepared by Mr A.J. North of the Australian Museum documenting the birds observed in
    the Botanic Gardens “… during the last decade” (North 1913). No reference is made in
    this document to either the Common Blackbird or the Song Thrush, although the Spotted
    Australian Birds Vol 31 No.1 5Turtle -Dove, Common Starling, House Sparrow, European Greenfinch, European
    Goldfinch and Common Myna were listed as “Common” in the Botanic Gardens at that
    From this information it is clear that the Song Thrush, Skylark, House Sparrow and
    Common Blackbird were released in or adjacent to the Botanic Gardens, Sydney, in 1862-
    1865 and that successful breeding of the Common Blackbird occurred in the Botanic
    Gardens in 1865. Further releases of the Common Blackbird and Song Thrush were
    probably carried out in 1865. It is probable that both the Common Blackbird and Song
    Thrush were resident and breeding in or adjacent to the Botanic Gardens, Sydney from
    1865, but had disappeared some time before 1903. One Common Blackbird was caught
    by the Aviary -keeper in the Botanic Gardens in 1899-1900 (Annual Report 1900, p.32.).
    The House Sparrow was recorded as very common by 1903 (Anon 1903), while European
    Greenfinch were recorded in the gardens in 1903 (Anon 1903) as having almost certainly
    escaped from the aviary.
    Hindwood and McGill (1958) recorded that a few Blackbirds had been seen in the Sydney
    suburbs and in the Botanic Gardens since 1952. Common Blackbirds have been recorded
    in the Botanic Gardens since 1952, and they continue to nest in the gardens in 1996-1997.
    The reasons for the long period taken for the Common Blackbird to become established
    in the Sydney region following the initial liberation in 1862, and its breeding in the wild
    until circa 1903, are not clear.
    English Blackbirds were released at Ingleburn, NSW about 1940 and a pair bred at the
    release location in September 1940 (Hindwood, 1947).
    Daugherty (1993) commented on the lack of understanding of why many introduced
    species spread slowly, if at all, for many decades – the lag phase – then erupt suddenly.
    Recher et al. (1986) discussed the ecology of establishment of introduced species and
    pointed out that the species must be suited to the climate and vegetation and have high
    reproduction rates, grow rapidly and have the ability to disperse widely if they are to be
    The 1864-1865 Annual Report of the Acclimatisation Society of NSW states:
    “It is reported that a nest of the English Sky -lark has been found near Bondi; the Council [of the
    Society] hope the public will protect birds under such circumstances from being robbed or otherwise
    Later in the Proceedings of the Society dated 25 June 1867:
    “Mr. Bosley desired to state, for the information of the members of the society, that the English Sky
    larks are seen in the fields near Liverpool in numbers.”
    6 LEISHMAN : Introduced Birds December 1997The Skylark had been released in the Botanic Gardens and at other locations in the vicinity
    of Sydney prior to 1864 and had become established in a number of locations around
    Sydney by 1867. In 1903 its distribution was quoted as Centennial Park and the flats in
    the south along the sea shore (Anon 1903).
    Both the Common Blackbird and Song Thrush were released by individuals, as can be
    seen from the statement presented by Dr G. Bennett to the Acclimatisation Society of
    NSW Meeting on Monday 1st April 1865 (Anon 1865b), which stated:
    “…that Mr. Guilfoyle had desired him to inform the society that a blackbird, in excellent plumage,
    had been seen that morning in the garden of Mr. T.S. Mort, of Double Bay. About twelve months
    ago, four blackbirds and two thrushes were set at liberty in those gardens. They had heard the thrushes
    Little other published information is available on the dates of release, numbers of species
    or individuals released for introduced birds in New South Wales. Chisholm (1926) provided
    an overview of the status of nine species of introduced birds in New South Wales at that
    time; no details as to release dates or numbers released were given in this paper.
    Published references (e.g. Tarr 1950, Jenkins 1977) to the earliest introduction date of
    birds into New South Wales quote as a primary source the First Annual Report of the
    Zoological Society of New South Wales for the Year ended February 28th 1880. This
    listed the following species as being freed by the Zoological Society in New South Wales
    between 1878 and 1880: Common Pheasants, Californian Quail, Skylarks, European
    Goldfinches, Yellowhammers, Common Blackbirds, Common Starlings, Brown Linnets,
    Bullfinches, Chinese Quail, Bul Buls [sp?] and 2 Chinese Horned Owls [sp.?]. No
    information as to numbers for most species or dates of release was given. Jenkins (1977)
    reproduced the first page of this Report in his publication The Noah’s Ark Syndrome
    Harrison (1923) presented an overview of the introduced species found in the Sydney
    region at that time. He recorded that the House Sparrow and the Common Starling had
    spread from Sydney throughout New South Wales. Harrison further stated:
    “An Asiatic dove, … [Spotted Turtle -Dove] has spread from the Botanic Gardens, where it was first
    released, to the outermost suburbs, and is as much at home in the city streets as in the wild scrub
    surrounding upper Middle Harbour. The European green finch, … which also originated from the
    Botanic Gardens, is slowly spreading along the coast immediately north of Sydney, and its nest may
    often be seen in the serrate -leaved Banksias about Narrabeen and Deewhy. The goldfinch, … which
    is very plentiful in some of the southern country districts, does not seem to increase much about
    Sydney…. The skylark, … is fairly common about Moore and Centennial Parks, in the latter of which
    it breeds, and has spread for a little way through the flat country to the south, but it does not seem to
    grow any more numerous as the years pass.”
    Ryan (1906) recorded that Song Thrush were released at Sydney in 1872. McGill (1960)
    recorded that the Song Thrush had been liberated near Sydney, but never became
    established. No details as to dates or numbers of individuals released were given.
    Australian Birds Vol 31 No.1 7Ryan (1906) reported the Common Blackbird as being first introduced in Sydney in 1872.
    He stated that:
    “The first lot of Blackbirds (Turdus merula) that arrived here was in 1864, when 6 were liberated in
    the Melbourne Botanical Gardens; in 1866 17 were turned out, and in 1872 22 more, as well as a few
    near Sydney.”
    Long (1981) altered this statement to read:
    ” .They may also have been released near Sydney at the later date.” [1872].
    Data presented in this paper show that the previously published release date for
    the Common Blackbird should be revised by eight years and provides dates of release for
    a number of other species. It would appear likely that introduced birds were released by
    a number of individuals throughout New South Wales as well as by the Acclimatisation
    Societies of the day. The release of the Spotted Turtle -Dove in the Botanic Gardens
    probably occurred after excessive breeding of the species in the aviaries. This is supported
    by records from the Register of birds held for aviary (Botanic Gardens 1896-1940) which
    lists a number of Spotted Turtle -Doves being presented to or exchanged with a number of
    people between 1896 and 1918. No published information as to the earliest release date
    for this species has been located. Appendix 2 lists the early release dates for birds in the
    Botanic Gardens, Sydney and adjacent suburbs.
    I would like to thank Anna Hallet, Librarian, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, for
    her assistance in researching the various documents. Julie Dale provided valuable assistance
    with the researching of newspaper material. Dariel Larkins provided helpful comments
    on the draft of this paper. Photographs were provided by the Library, Royal Botanic
    Gardens, Sydney.
  • Annual Reports and Proceedings of Meetings 1861-1867, Acclimatisation Society of
    New South Wales.
  • Annual Reports of the Botanic Gardens and Domains, 1896 to 1923, Government
    Printer, Sydney.
    Anon, 1860a, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 July 1860, p.2.
    Anon, 1860b, Sydney Mail, 8 September 1860, p.4.
    Anon, 1862, Sydney Mail, 25 October 1862, p.3.
    Anon, 1865a, Sydney Mail, 28 January 1865, p.11.
    Anon, 1865b, Sydney Mail, 6 May 1865, p.5.
    Anon, 1865c, Sydney Mail, July 1865, p.5.
    Anon, 18176, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 August 1876, p.5.
  • Copies held in the Library, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney
    8 LEISHMAN : Introduced Birds December 1997Anon, 1883, ‘The Sketcher, A Stroll in the Sydney Zoo’. Sydney Mail, 24 March 1883,
    Anon, 1903, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 September 1903, p.5.
    Bennett, G. 1860, Gatherings of a Naturalist in Australia, John van Voorst, Paternoster
    Row, London.
    Botanic Gardens, 1896-1940, ‘Register of birds held for aviary,’ June 1896 – October
    1940 (held by the NSW State Archives, 5/4800.)
    Chisholm, E.C. 1926, ‘Birds introduced into New South Wales’, Emu 25: 276-279.
    Daugherty, C.H. 1993, ‘Introduced species: an overview’, Ch. 13 in Conservation
    Biology in Australia and Oceania, ed by C. Moritz & J. Kikkawa, Surrey Beatty &
    Sons, Chipping Norton.
    Gilbert, L. 1986, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, OUP Melbourne.
    Harrison, L. 1923, ‘Notes on the Zoology of New South Wales’ in Guide Book, Pan
    Pacific Scientific Congress 1923.
    Hindwood, K.A. 1947, ‘Occurrence of the Crested Pigeon near Sydney, NSW,’ Emu
    47: 63-64.
    Hindwood, K.A. and McGill, A.R. 1958, The Birds of Sydney, Royal Zoological
    Society of NSW, Sydney.
    Hoskin, E.S. 1977, ‘The Royal Botanic Gardens and National Herbarium, Sydney’,
    Wildlife in Australia 14: 83-87.
    Jenkins, C.F.H. 1977, The Noah’s Ark Syndrome, Perth Zoological Gardens Board.
    Le Souef, J.C. 1958, ‘The introduction of sparrows into Victoria’, Emu 58: 264-266.
    Long, J.L. 1981, Introduced Birds of the World, A.H. & A.W. Reed, Sydney.
    McGill, A.R. 1960, A Handlist of the Birds of New South Wales, Fauna Protection
    Panel, Sydney.
    North, A.J. 1913, ‘Birds Observed in the Botanic Gardens,Sydney’, in Botanic Gardens
    and Government Domains, Report of Directors for 1913, Government Printer,
    Recher, H.F., Lunny, D. & Dunn, I. 1986, A Natural Legacy. Ecology in Australia,
    second ed., Pergamon Press, Sydney.
    Ryan, C.S. 1906, President’s Address: ‘On European and other birds liberated in
    Victoria’, Emu 5: 110-119.
    Tarr, H.E. 1950, ‘The distribution of foreign birds in Australia’, Emu 49: 189-195.
    Waugh, J.W. 1861, The Strangers’ Guide to Sydney, J.W. Waugh, George Street,
    Australian Birds Vol 31 No.1 9APPENDIX
    List of scientific names of birds referred to in paper.
    English name Scientific name
    Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
    California Quail Callipepla californica
    Chinese Quail Coturnix chinensis
    Rock Dove Columba livia
    Spotted Turtle -Dove Streptopelia chinensis
    Chinese Horned Owl sp?
    Skylark Alauda arvensis
    House Sparrow Passer domesticus
    Bullfmch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
    European Greenfmch Carduelis chloris
    European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
    Linnet Acanthis cannabina
    Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella
    Red -whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus
    bulbul Pycnonotus sp.
    Common Blackbird Turdus merula
    Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
    Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
    Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
    Early published liberation dates for introduced birds in the Botanic Gardens,
    Sydney,and adjacent metropolitan areas.
    Spotted Turtle -Dove Botanic Gardens pre 1913
    Skylark Botanic Gardens 1864/65
    Parramatta 1865
    House Sparrow Botanic Gardens 1864/65
    Elizabeth Bay 1865
    European Greenfinch Botanic Gardens pre 1903
    Common Blackbird Botanic Gardens 1862/64/65
    Double Bay May 1864
    Ingleburn 1940
    Song Thrush Botanic Gardens 1862/64/65
    Double Bay May 1864
    10 LEISHMAN : Introduced Birds December 1997APPENDIX 3
    Current status of introduced birds in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney,
    October 1997. Species are listed in order of abundance.
    Rock Dove Very common breeding species.
    Common Myna Very common breeding species.
    Common Starling Very common breeding species.
    Red -whiskered Bulbul Common breeding species.
    Common Blackbird Common breeding species.
    House Sparrow Uncommon, numbers have reduced
    substantially over the past five years.
    Spotted Turtle -Dove Uncommon, numbers have reduced over the
    past five years.
    European Greenfmch Last recorded c 1977 (Hoskin, 1977).
    European Goldfmch Last recorded 1960 (Hoskin, 1977).
    Skylark Not recorded after 1864.
    Song Thrush Last recorded c 1903
    About the Author
    Alan Leishman works in the National Herbarium of the Royal Botanic Gardens,
    Sydney. He monitors the birds within the Sydney Gardens as well as carrying out
    a long term bird- banding study at the Mount Annan Botanic Garden. A Black
    Duck, banded in the Gardens by Alan Leishman in March 1991 was recovered,
    dead, at Violet Town, Victoria on 1 September 1994, 583 km south west.
    222 North Curramore Road, Jamberoo 2533
    This paper discusses the expansion of the Crested Pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes in the Illawarra,
    Eurobodalla and Picton-Moss Vale regions of southern coastal New South Wales. It is based
    on records of the species from throughout the region collected by the author and other
    observers, mainly between 1981 and 1996. The Crested Pigeon has expanded its range and
    abundance considerably in the Illawarra region during this period. Since the late 1980s, the
    species has also expanded in the Eurobodalla region. The Crested Pigeon continues to expand
    in both regions.
    The Crested Pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes is endemic to the Australian mainland;
    it occurs throughout the continent, except for a few coastal regions such as Cape York
    and the extreme south-eastern part of the continent (Blakers, Davies and Reilly 1984).
    The species is primarily a bird of the dry inland (Frith 1992; Higgins and Davies 1996),
    although it has expanded its range considerably since Europeans have modified the
    environment over a large part of the country, removing the more closed scrub and
    forest vegetation and providing watering places in arid areas (Frith 1982, Blakers et al.
    The Crested Pigeon has expanded its range into various regions in New South Wales
    where it was previously absent. For example, on the central coast of New South Wales
    (County of Northumberland) Morris (1975) noted that “since 1961 [the Crested Pigeon]
    has extended east from Maitland to Newcastle south to Redhead (1972) and Tuggerah
    (1973)”. Similarly, in the Blue Mountains, Smith and Smith (1990) stated that the Crested
    Pigeon “has colonised the Blue Mountains in the last two decades” and that it is “now
    found in settled areas throughout the region and its numbers are increasing”. The Crested
    Pigeon was absent from the Sydney region at the time of European settlement; Frith
    (1982) noted that the species was not discovered until the Blue Mountains were crossed.
    In 1958, Hindwood and McGill (1958) stated that the Crested Pigeon “has been reported
    occasionally from several locations within the County [Sydney region]. Possibly some
    of the birds were from aviaries, as it is known that several were liberated in 1940.” The
    Crested Pigeon is now regularly observed throughout metropolitan Sydney and the
    Cumberland Plain (the author, pers. obs.); these observations are supported by Roberts
    (1993). As summarised by Higgins and Davies (1996), the species is now “widespread
    and expanding in coastal regions from [the] Queensland border to Central Coast and
    12 December 1997Many of the records on which this paper is based were reported in the newsletters of
    the Illawarra Bird Observers Club [IBOC] and the NSW Field Ornithologists Club
    [FOC] as well as the annual bird reports presented in Australian Birds; unless otherwise
    stated, all records are from these sources. The Eurobodalla records were obtained from
    the annual reports of the Eurobodalla Natural History Society between 1986 and 1996;
    see references.
    The Crested Pigeon in coastal south-eastern NSW before 1983
    Until recent times, the Crested Pigeon was absent from the south-eastern corner of
    New South Wales. Morris, McGill and Holmes (1981) stated that the species was present
    in “all regions [of NSW] except the south coast. Generally absent from extreme south-
    east, east of Picton, Canberra and Albury.” Early discussions on the birds of the Illawarra
    Region did not include the Crested Pigeon as a local species; these studies include
    McNamara (1948), McGill and Lane (1955), Sefton and Devitt (1962) and Gibson and
    Sefton (1964). The Crested Pigeon was not recorded in the bird counts of the Illawarra
    Bird Observers Club prior to 1982; see Table 1. In the County of Camden, which includes
    the far northern part of the Illawarra Region, Gibson (1977) noted that the Crested Pigeon
    was a scarce species of “agricultural and grazing country that only occurs in the extreme
    northern corner of the County on each side of the Nepean River”, and reported that its
    numbers were increasing.
    On the tablelands in the Wingiecarribee area, the Crested Pigeon has been present since
    at least 1970, when Sonter (1983) observed a pair of birds near Mittagong. Other records
    documented by Sonter (1983) are Bargo (1979), Summit Tank, near Robertson (1981),
    Canyonleigh (1981) and Douglas Park (1981). Nagle (1981) recorded the Crested Pigeon
    at Wingello, but did not give the exact date of observation. Nearby at Bundanoon, the
    species was not recorded in a weekend investigation by the FOC in 1978 (K. Wood, pers.
    comm.). By 1983, the species was reported to be “established and breeding in the Berrima
    district” (Lindsey 1985). Later records from this area in the IBOC newsletters are Picton
    (1982), Moss Vale (1986) and Joadja (1991). On the northern edge of the region, the first
    record for Royal National Park was on 20 November 1981, when two birds were observed
    at Red Cedar Flat in the Hacking River valley (Lindsey 1982).
    In the Eurobodalla Region and the southern part of the Illawarra Region, the Crested
    Pigeon was not recorded in the regional surveys of the late 1970s undertaken by Nix
    and Brooker (1978) and Disney (1979). Similarly, the Crested Pigeon was not mentioned
    in a paper by Humphries (1982) on the birds of the Budawang Ranges and environs.
    In summary, prior to 1983 the Crested Pigeon was rare near the coast south of Sydney
    and was only occasionally recorded in the far northern part of the Illawarra Region,
    mostly on the tablelands between Picton and Moss Vale.
    Australian Birds Vol 31 No.1 13Wedderburn a
    0 – pre1983 record ° o I
  • post 1983 record
    Kangaroo Valley
    0 a
    Osi e
    Jervis Bay
    Sassafras mf
    c Nerriga -SP
    Tasman Sea
    Figure 1: Locations where Crested Pigeons have been
    recorded in the Illawarra Region.
    14 MILLS Crested Pigeon December 1997
    :Recent expansion of the species’ range
    By 1987, the IBOC Newsletter (February, 1987) was able to report that “the spread
    of the Crested Pigeon to the coast in 1982 has now consolidated with breeding records
    from West Dapto and Yallah [both just south of Wollongong].” In a revision of Gibson’s
    1977 paper, Smith, Chafer, Emery and Thomson (1989) stated that the Crested Pigeon
    was an uncommon resident breeder that was “now established on [the] coast, breeding at
    West Dapto, Mount Warrigal, Calderwood and Comerong Island”. By 1988 it was clear
    that the Crested Pigeon was increasing its range and abundance along the coast in a rather
    dramatic way (the author, pers. obs.). Relatively large flocks have been observed in the
    northern part of the Illawarra Region since about 1989; see Table 3.
    70 –
    60 –
    50 –
    40 –
    30 –
    20 –
    70 72 74 76 78 80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96
    Figure 2: Cumulative number of locations where the Crested Pigeon has
    been recorded in the Illawarra and Picton-Moss Vale Regions.
    Figure shows where the Crested Pigeon has been observed in the Illawarra Region
    before and since 1983. The map demonstrates how significantly the range of the Crested
    Pigeon has been expanded in this region over the past 13 years. This expansion is also
    demonstrated in Figure 2, which shows the number of sites in the Illawarra Region where
    the species was observed (shown cumulatively) year by year. There has been regular
    reporting on the birds of the Illawarra Region since about 1974 and the author has been in
    the region since 1975. Thus it can be said the increase in observations since 1983 represents
    a real increase in range of the Crested Pigeon in the region.
    Australian Birds Vol 31 No.1 15The expansion in the range appears to have begun in 1982/83, coinciding with a major
    nation-wide drought. Although only speculation, the drought may have been the catalyst
    for the expansion of range. Observations of Crested Pigeons were certainly sparse in the
    region before 1983, but by 1988 the species was regularly recorded.
    The abundance of the species in the northern part of the Illawarra Region was recorded
    between 1978 and 1991 in the twice -yearly bird counts by the IBOC; see Table 1. Although
    the count methodology changed twice over the period and it is not legitimate to directly
    compare figures between count methods, it is reasonable to assert that the statistics indicate
    an increase in the abundance of the Crested Pigeon in the region during the 1982 to 1987
    period (count method B). There were few records in the early to mid 1980s (see also
    Figure 1) when the species was becoming established in drier areas around Lake Illawarra
    (the author, pers. obs., IBOC newsletters).
    Crested Pigeons recorded in Bird Counts Northern Illawarra Region
    Count Method A Count Method B Count Method C
    4 Nov 1978 0 29 May 1982 0 May/June 1988 90
    3 Nov 1978 0 30 Oct 1982 2 Oct/Nov 1988 58
    31 May 1980 0 28 May 1983 0 May/June 1989 182
    Nov 1980 0 29 Oct 1983 3 Oct/Nov 1989 65
    30 May 1981 0 26 May 1984 7 May/Jun 1990 125
    31 Oct 1981 0 3 Nov 1984 3 Oct/Nov 1990 43
    Jun 1985 29 May/Jun 1991 177
    2 Nov 1985 4 Oct/Nov 1991 59
    31 May 1986 8
    Nov 1986 3
    30 May 1987 21
    31 Oct 1987 12
    Source: K. Wood, Illawarra Bird Observers Club
    South of the Shoalhaven River, there were few records before the late 1980s. Sightings of
    the species in this area began in 1984, when Humphries (1986) reported two birds at
    Ulladulla on 13 February 1984, noting that it was his “first local record of the species in
    nearly 40 years of regular observations”. Wallis (1988) reported that the Crested Pigeon
    “first appeared in Greenwell Point [just south of Comerong Island] in 1984. They are
    now permanent residents”. Hobbs (1989) reported his first record of the Crested Pigeon
    on Comerong Island at the mouth of the Shoalhaven River on August 1988, although
    the species was in the Shoalhaven area well before that date, as shown by the records of
    Humphries and Wallis.
    16 MILLS Crested Pigeon December 1997
    :The Crested Pigeon is still scarce in the Eurobodalla Region, south of Batemans Bay, but
    there is an increasing number of records, as shown in Table 2. The first observation of the
    species appears to have been in November 1986 (ENHS 1986). Since that time the records
    have been increasing.
    Most of the Eurobodalla sightings are from the Moruya to Tuross area. The Eurobodalla
    Natural History Society reports that by 1994 the Crested Pigeon “now seems firmly
    established at Moruya and Tuross” (ENHS 1995). The species will probably become
    more widespread in the Eurobodalla Region in view of the number of observations over
    the past 10 years and the species record of expansion in other areas.
    Table 2
    Summary of the Records of the Crested Pigeon in the Eurobodilla Region
    Year Locations # Sightings # Birds
    per year (all sightings)
    1986 Near Moruya Heads
    1 1
    1987 Barling’s Beach
    1 1
    1988 0 0
    1989 Moruya, Meringo, Coila Lake 7 10
    1990 Moruya Heads 3 5
    1991 Moruya Heads, Batemans Bay, Tuross 7 11
    1992 Meringo, Tuross, Moruya, Moruya Heads, 8 15
    Coila Lake
    1993 Moruya Heads 9 14
    1994 Tomakin, Moruya, Tuross, Moruya Heads, 19 53
    Meringo, Lanys Mt. Road, Cobargo,
    Maulbrooks Road
    1995 Tuross, Tomakin, Mullenderee, Batemans Bay, 21 187
    Moruya Heads, Sheringham Farm
    1996 Turlinjah, Murrah Beach, Meringo, Mossy Point, 17 70
    Bobandara Swamp, Tuross, Broulee, Coila Creek,
    Potato Point, Moruya, Batemans Bay, Moruya Heads
    Source: Annual reports of the Eurobodalla Natural History Society
    Flock size.
    Crested Pigeons are usually observed in flocks of less than five birds (the author,
    pers. obs.); Frith (1982) noted that the pigeon was usually seen in parties of five or six
    birds. Larger flocks are most often seen together in the autumn and winter months, between
    April and June, outside the breeding season; see, for example, Table 1. Larger flocks of
    Crested Pigeons in the Illawarra and Eurobodalla Regions are being seen more frequently
    (author, pers. obs.); up to 45 birds have been reported in a flock in the Illawarra.
    Australian Birds Vol 31 No.1 17Frith (1982) provided data from the RAOU Nest Record Scheme for south-eastern
    Australia showing that the smallest number of nests containing eggs were recorded in
    the four month period from April to July inclusive, when only 9% of 287 nests contained
    eggs. As already mentioned, this is when flocks tend to be larger.
    Crested Pigeon abundance is consistently higher during the May and June bird counts of
    the Illawarra Bird Observers Club than in the October and November counts; see Table 1.
    The data support the contention that birds congregate outside the breeding season.
    The largest flocks observed in the Eurobodalla Region (ENHS records) appear to consist
    of five birds at Moruya on 17 May 1992, eight birds at Larrys Mountain Road on 28
    April 1994 and up to 24 birds at Tuross during 1995, with 12 birds regularly recorded
    there during the same year. These results also suggest that the birds congregate in
    autumn and winter.
    The Crested Pigeon has expanded its range and abundance considerably in the
    Illawarra Region, as it has in other parts of New South Wales. The species has also become
    established in the northern part of the Eurobodalla Region, but numbers are still low. The
    Crested Pigeon is likely to continue to expand its range in both regions in the future. The
    Crested Pigeon has become a resident breeding species in several areas, notably in the
    Picton to Appin area, from West Dapto to Calderwood, in the Jamberoo Valley and
    probably on the floodplain east of Nowra.
    The increase in the range and abundance of the Crested Pigeon in the regions under study
    has occurred in the last 13 years, between 1983 and 1996. This expansion may have been
    initiated by the severe drought conditions during 1982/83, when many inland species
    moved to coastal and near -coastal areas. Alternatively, it could be part of the general
    expansion of the species from the Sydney Region, which probably began in the 1940s
    and 1950s (Hindwood and McGill 1958). Whatever the reason, the expansion of the
    species in the Illawarra Region since 1983 has been dramatic.
    Individuals and small numbers of birds have been observed in most settled parts of the
    Illawarra Region. Observations in isolated settlements and on cleared land within larger
    areas of unsuitable forest habitat, such as Currarong on Beecroft Peninsula and
    Cudmirrah, south of Sussex Inlet, suggest that the birds will cross inhospitable country,
    perhaps by following road corridors, to fmd new habitat areas. This ability probably
    aids its spread through the extensive forests in the southern coastal region of New
    South Wales.
    18 MILLS: Crested Pigeon December 1997Almost without exception, observations of the Crested Pigeon in the region have been in
    cleared or semi -cleared environments and in urban areas. The Crested Pigeon is a bird of
    open habitats and it is likely that large scale modification of the environment, particularly
    the clearing of forests, has enabled the bird to expand its range into the coastal regions of
    southern New South Wales. This contention is supported by Higgins and Davies (1996),
    who suggest that the range of the Crested Pigeon “has expanded this century towards
    [the] coasts, mainly as a result of modification of habitat”. A similar expansion has occurred
    in the Hunter Region, where, by 1993, the Crested Pigeon was regarded as a “common
    breeding resident” that is “widely and regularly recorded” in the region (Hunter Bird
    Observers Club 1994).
    It is expected that the Crested Pigeon will continue to expand its range in the future,
    becoming established in new areas and increasing in abundance within its present range.
    The author would like to thank Mr Kevin Wood, Ms Jacqueline Jakeman and
    two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on earlier drafts of this paper.
    Blakers, M., Davies, S. J. J. F. & Reilly, P. N. 1984, The Atlas ofA ustralian Birds,
    Melbourne University Press/RAOU Melbourne.
    Disney, H. J. 1979, ‘Royal Australian Ornithologists Union. Pilot Atlas Scheme’,
    Corella, Vol. 2, Suppl., July.
    Emison, W. B., Beardsell, C. M., Norman, F. I. & Lyon, R. H. 1987, Atlas of Victorian
    Birds, Dept. of Conservation, Forests and Lands/RAOU, Melbourne.
    Eurobodalla Natural History Society 1986, First Annual Report, ENHS, Moruya.
    Eurobodalla Natural History Society 1989, Annual Record for 1987, EHNS, Moruya,
    Eurobodalla Natural History Society 1989-1995, Nature in Eurobodalla Numbers 3-9,
    EHNS, Moruya.
    Forshaw, J. M. 1981, Australian Parrots, Landsdowne, Melbourne, 2nd Ed.
    Frith, H. J. 1982, Pigeons and Doves ofA ustralia, Rigby, Adelaide.
    Gibson, J. D. 1977, ‘Birds of the County of Camden (including the Illawarra District)’,
    Aust. Birds 11:3.
    Gibson, J. D. & Sefton, A. R. 1964. Birds of the Illawarra District, in Natural History
    of the Illawarra, The Illawarra Natural History Society, Wollongong.
    Higgins, P. J. & Davies, S. J. J. F. 1996, Handbook of Australian, New Zealand &
    Antarctic Birds, Vol. 3: Snipe to Pigeons, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
    Hindwood, K. A. & McGill, A. R. 1958, The Birds of Sydney. (County of Cumberland)
    New South Wales, The Royal Zoological Society, Sydney.
    Australian Birds Vol 31 No.1 19Hobbs, J. 1989, ‘Crested Pigeon in Nowra District’, NSWFOC Newsletter, No. 113.
    Humphries, C. 1982, ‘Birds Observed in the Budawang Range’, in Pigeon House and
    Beyond A Guide to the Budawang Range and Environs, The Budawang Committee,
    Humphries, C. 1986, ‘An observation of the Crested Pigeon at Ulladulla’, Aust. Birds
    20: 2.
    Hunter Bird Observers Club 1994, Annual Bird Report No. 1 (1993), The Club, New
    Lindsey, T. R. 1982, ‘NSW Bird Report for 1981’, Aust. Birds, 17: 1.
    Lindsey, T. R. 1985, ‘NSW Bird Report for 1983’, Aust. Birds 19: 4.
    McAllan, I. A. W. & Bruce, M. D. 1988, The Birds of New South Wales. A Working
    List, Biocon Research Group, Turramurra.
    McGill, A. R. & Lane, 1955, ‘Mt Keira Camp -out’, Emu, 55.
    McNamara, E. 1948, ‘Birds of the Illawarra’. Aust. Nat.
    Morris, A. K. 1975, ‘The Birds of Gosford, Wyong and Newcastle (County of North-
    umberland)’, Aust. Birds 9: 3
    Morris, A. K., McGill, A. R. & Holmes, A. R. 1981, Handlist of Birds ofN ew South
    Wales, NSW Field Ornithologists Club, Sydney.
    Nagle, P. A. 1981, Checklist as at June 1981 for Wingello, NSW, Unpubl. list.
    Nix, H. A. & Brooker, M. G. 1978, ‘Birds’, in Land Use on the South Coast of New
    South Wales, Vol. 2, Biological Background Papers (ed. Gunn, R. H.), CSIRO,
    Roberts, P. 1993, Birdwatchers Guide to the Sydney Region, Kangaroo Press,
    Sefton, A. R. & Devitt, J. A. 1962, ‘Additions to the Birds recorded from the Illawarra
    District’. The Emu 62.
    Smith, J. & Smith, P. 1990, Fauna of the Blue Mountains, Kangaroo Press, Sydney.
    Smith, L. E., Chafer, C. J., Emery, W. & Thomson, D. 1989, Birds of the County of
    Camden (including the Illawarra District), IBOC, Wollongong.
    Sonter, C. 1983, ‘Crested Pigeon in the Berrima District’, Cumberland Bird Observers
    Club Newsletter, 5 :1.
    Wallis, R. J. (ed.) 1988, Greenwell Point – an Early Shoalhaven Port, Greenwell Point
    Bicentennial Sub- committee, Nowra.
    About the Author
    Dr Kevin Mills, has been a member of the RAOU, NSW FOC and related
    organisations for many years. He is the Managing Director of Kevin Mills &
    Associates Ply Limited, Ecological and Environmental Consultants, and has written
    several papers on the birds of south-eastern New South Wales.
    20 MILLS : Crested Pigeon December 1997FOREST RAVEN ON THE NSW COAST
    5 Rosedale Street, Nambucca Heads 2448
    The Forest Raven Corvus tasmanicus is found along a narrow fringe of the north
    coast of NSW, from Mungo Brush to Sawtell (Debus 1983, 1995). It is also found nearby
    on the New England Tablelands. This population has been referred to as a relict population
    isolated from that of Victoria and Tasmania (McAllan & Bruce 1988). It has been suggested
    that this is a fragmented range of a declining species (Debus & McAllan 1984, Blakers et
    al. 1984)
    The basic requirement for a breeding pair along the coastal area appears to be a stretch of
    beach backed by forest. They do not venture far from the coast, with the Pacific Highway
    often used as a guide to the western edge of their range. They may be vulnerable to
    habitat destruction (eg. sand mining) and other major breaks in vegetation creating the
    opportunity for other competing corvid species (Debus 1983) such as the Torresian Crow
    Corvus orru.
    This article aims to define the distribution of the northern part of the coastal range of the
    Forest Raven. Information on habitat preference, breeding, movements, relationship with
    the Torresian Crow and human disturbance is presented.
    Since 1985 general observations have been made during outings from South West
    Rocks northwards (see Fig. 1). Locations were defined as areas around a township or
    between two townships and were classified as either coastal or inland. Inland is defined
    as being two or more kilometres from the beach. Additional information was drawn from
    daylists of the Valla and Hungry Head areas I had compiled from 1984 to 1991.
    Identification was made from the call, with particular care being taken when immatures
    of either of the two resident corvids were present. Although there are subtle differences
    in shape and size no positive identification was made solely on the basis of morphology.
    Seasonal statistics were analysed using chi square.
    The Forest Raven was found throughout the area from South West Rocks to Scrub
    Creek, 5 km south of Sawtell. There were nine locations where they were seen regularly
    Australian Birds Vol 31 No.1 21and would be regarded as resident pairs. The most northerly of these is just north of
    Urunga which includes Urunga Island and the beach area south of North Beach. The
    most northerly nest was at Hungry Head. With regular visits additional pairs are likely to
    be found, including pairs north of Urunga. From Sawtell northwards the Torresian Crow
    was the only corvid found in coastal areas.
    Observations at Valla, where Forest
    Ravens were recorded on 27 out of the
    1643 days, are an example of the
    paucity of records for inland areas. 153° 00′
    There were five inland locations that
    Ravens had been known to utilise.
    These included Macksville (for a period
    of seven months), three more locations
    (infrequently through the year) and the
    Nambucca waste disposal area (on all
    North Beach
    Ureega -30° 30′
    Individuals and pairs were heard calling lsfand
    Hungry Head
    forcefully away from known territories
    during autumn. It is not known if these
    are local or non -breeding birds and such
    periods are not recommended in trying Valid) Valla Beach
    to define local territories. NAMBUCCA HEADS
    The principal habitat was found
    to be a narrow coastal strip mostly 1.5
    Scotts Head E
    km wide, that includes the beach and
    adjacent forest. This provides the basic
    Grassy Head
    requirements, the foredune for feeding
    Stuarts Point q_cP “
    and the forest for breeding and roosting.
    There were three notable exceptions; Tke”
    west of South West Rocks at Golden Fishermans Reach
    Hole and at the north end of Urunga Golden Ho1 le
    Island (where pastures were the primary
    feeding area) and the Nambucca tip.
    There was a wide range of habitats that Fig 1. NSW north coast,
    South West Rocks to
    were infrequently used, both natural
    Coffs Harbour
    and developed. The former included
    the beach at low tide, sandbars (feeding on crabs), vegetated islands in estuaries, exposed
    22 SECOMB Forest Raven December 1997
    :beaches along waterways, tree canopies (foraging for insects) and tall shrubs (flowering
    banksia). Disturbed and modified habitats were pastures at Macksville, Hungry Head
    and Valla from April to December, picnic grounds that fringed urban areas, waste disposal
    area (tip) and a forest that was recently burnt by a bush fire.
    The area between Grassy Head and Scotts Head had few Raven records and was considered
    to contain poor Raven habitat. This had short beaches (length = 1.5 km) and large
    headlands. Ravens were absent in the urban areas ofN ambucca and Scotts Head, Urunga
    and North Beach but they will fly over them.
    Breeding was recorded at four locations between Scotts Head and Hungry Head.
    All nests were found in forests dominated by blackbutt Eucalyptus pilularis from c. km
    from the beach. One of these pairs did move westward to nest 2.5 km from the beach.
    Three pairs returned to the same nest sites in consecutive years. Those pairs were found
    to reside in their territories, throughout the year ranging over an area of 3 – 4 sq. km. The
    fourth pair was not visited frequently enough to confirm loyalty to the nest site.
    Pairs were able to tolerate some degree of human disturbance in the near vicinity of the
    nest. These are summarised as follows: –
    Pair 1 nested 200 m from a picnic and small camping area.
    Pair 2 nested on the bank of a river where numerous pleasure boats passed. The
    pair later moved two km to a site that was 100 – 200 m from an established gravel processing
    plant (the reason for moving is unknown).
    Pair 3 experienced a large bushfire within 50 m of the nest on 19 September
    1994; despite this, the young successfully fledged. The site was not used the following
    season and the forest around the nest was selectively harvested and a hazard -reduction
    burn carried out during April and May 1996. However, the pair bred there successfully in
    the 1996 season.
    Pair 4 nested in a small stand of forest (seven ha) adjoined on two sides by
    macadamia plantations and by a large dam on the third.
    Seasonal and Local Movement
    Tables 1 to 4 outline the seasonality of records at coastal and inland sites. When
    considering seasonal preference for the Hungry Head site there were very significantly
    more records for winter and spring (p< 0.01, chi 22.7) which coincided with the breeding season. The 12 coastal and four inland areas had no seasonal significance despite having more records during autumn and winter (P> 0.05, chi 2.85 & 2.97). Unlike Hungry
    Head, the coastal areas included non -breeding areas which were visited by local pairs and
    Australian Birds Vol 31 No.1 23non -breeding birds. Valla had significantly more autumn and winter records (P< 0.05, chi 13.1). Apart from the pastures and Nambucca tip records, inland observations were of flocks of from one to four birds flying in a north -south direction. The one exception was at Valla where one bird was seen flying high from a westerly direction. Further from the coast there were less records. Of the 27 records at Valla, 17 were two to three km from the coast compared to two at five to eight km. The greatest distance from the coast for this study was ten kilometres at Tewinga west of Macksville. Visiting groups appeared to adopt roosting and feeding sites for short periods. During May and June 1995, up to ten birds were seen flying from a roosting site at Nambucca Heads south-west to the Nambucca tip, six kilometres away, returning that afternoon. A pair at Macksville occupied a pastoral area for eight months. Relationship with Torresian Crow There was a range of interactions when the two species came into contact. In most cases there was no conflict observed. Both species have been seen flying through each other’s territory without being challenged, in one instance a Crow flying over a Raven’s nest during incubation. However conflict occurred at one site where the Ravens responded to the presence of Crows by calling and or escorting them out of the territory. This pair still reside in their territory. A second pair of Ravens visited a small vegetated island in an estuary but after a period of conflict a family of Crows now are the regular visitors. At other locations there were conflicts where Crows repelled groups of non -breeding Ravens. There are insufficient data on Crow territories to determine whether any pairs were displaced by Ravens. When both species were in close contact, such as when feeding at the Nambucca Shire tip, they segregated into small single species units. One species would exclude the other from the feeding area if it significantly outnumbered the other species. DISCUSSION Throughout the study area the Forest Raven and Torresian Crow are locally allopatric. The Raven dominates the beaches and adjacent forest south of Sawtell, however from Sawtell northwards and west of the littoral zone the Crow is the sole breeding corvid. Debus (pers. comm.) observed two (possibly three) Forest Ravens at the southern end of Coffs Harbour Airport (4.5 km north of Sawtell). After some conflict with the local resident Crows, the Ravens flew southwards. Only Crows were present at the airport the following day and when I made several visits there myself over a number of years. Within the Ravens’ domain, Crows are not found feeding on beaches although they are 24 SECOMB Forest Raven December 1997 :found in such areas further north in coastal NSW (pers. obs.; Debus 1982, 1983). an exception was at Forster where both species have been seen feeding on the foredune. Debus (1983) recorded the Torresian Crow at North Beach but I made no records during this survey. There is a gap between the coastal and New England Raven populations of approximately 70 km but this narrows at the Dorrigo Plateau to 30 km. Along the eastern edge of the tableland Forest Ravens have been found breeding near Dorrigo National Park visitor centre (alt. 750 m), are common above 1000 m, and are the sole occupants in some areas along the escarpment (pers. obs.; G. Clancy and S. Debus pers. comm.), while the Torresian Crow is common below 1000m (pers. obs.). The Torresian Crow dominates the gap between the two Raven populations restricting the movement of Ravens outside their stronghold. For the coast, Raven records decrease rapidly two kilometres from the beach with the most westerly records ten or twelve kilometres inland. Ravens are rarely recorded north of Sawtell and the majority of movements are along the coast in a north -south direction. Debus has observed small flocks of Ravens flying over the escarpment heading east towards the coast from Point Lookout (New England National Park) but they turned around and returned to the tableland. The tableland population do venture down to the coast occasionally; small flocks have been seen in the upper Macleay Valley (Lower Creek) in autumn (Debus pers. comm.) and two plus at Hortons Creek Nature Reserve near Nymboida (alt. 230 m, Clarence Valley) on 19 and 20 April 1997 (pers. obs.). Sightings at breeding locations such as Hungry Head were significantly more numerous in winter and spring, coinciding with the Ravens’ breeding season. In the remaining coastal areas containing breeding sites there were more autumn and winter records, but this was not significant. Coastal and inland areas showed similar patterns, suggesting that there is visitation to the non -breeding areas. Whether this represents pairs moving outside their territories and/or the presence of non -breeding birds is still to be determined. Movements from the New England tablelands can not be discounted. The low number of summer records in all areas may coincide with body moult, as reported with Australian Ravens (Rowley 1973). It was found that a pair of Forest Ravens occupied a home range of 3 – 4 km2. This compares to an estimate of over 40 ha (Rowley 1973) but it should be noted during Rowley’s studies of Australian corvids there was little opportunity to study the Forest Raven in detail. The information that was collected for the Forest Raven closely resembled that for the Australian Raven for which territories averaged 112 ha. In areas where the Australian Birds Vol 31 No.! 25Australian Ravens territories are spaced out, pairs do venture outside their boundaries (Rowley 1973) and such wandering does apply to Forest Ravens in this study. Debus (1982) cited several occasions of conflict between Forest Raven and Torresian Crow. In this study interactions between the two species varied. Mostly there was no conflict when both were in close proximity but when it did occur both breeding and non – breeding Ravens have been involved. Some territories in the study area had little or no buffer forest separating them from Crows. Debus (1983) suggested that a substantial strip of forest is required to act as a buffer against other corvid species; the two pairs that experienced regular conflict had little or no such buffer. A diverse range of niches was utilised by coastal Forest Ravens for feeding, but the majority centred around open habitats such as beach/foredune and pasture. Open habitats such as pasture are also the main feeding sites for Forest Ravens on the tableland (pers. obs.). CONCLUSIONS The Forest Raven is found in a distinct, narrow, linear strip along the coast northwards from South West Rocks to Scrub Creek (south of Sawtell). There is a clear zone of demarcation where the Raven excludes the Crow along the beach environment despite the Crow being able to utilise such habitat further north. This is in contrast to the New England Tableland where in many areas they are sympatric (i.e. they inhabit the same habitat with other corvid species). An exception for the coast was at Forster where both species are common in the township and both were seen feeding on the foredune. The coastal areas are subject to heavy human population pressures. At present Ravens appear to tolerate a degree of disturbance around the nest area. They are able to exclude Crows from beach and adjacent forest habitat but as development pressures alter the forest patterns there is cause for concern that Crows could threaten the continued survival of this population of Forest Ravens. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank Greg Clancy and two referees for the numerous helpful suggestions on the draft, Pat Thompson for the statistical calculations and advice, and Mary Secomb for continual support and encouragement. 26 SECOMB Forest Raven December 1997 :Table 1 FOREST RAVEN AT VALLA Summer Autumn Winter Spring records 1 12 11 3 visits 390 394 433 426 Number of observations from day list at Valla for the Forest Raven Table 2 INLAND RECORDS OF FOREST RAVEN Summer Autumn Winter Spring records 4 6 8 1 visits 21 18 19 10 Number of observations from 4 inland locations (> 2 km.), excluding Nambucca tip.
    Table 3
    Summer Autumn Winter Spring
    records 24 25 40 30
    visits 84 64 94 96
    Number of observations from 12 coastal locations.
    Table 4
    Summer Autumn Winter Spring
    records 24 27 39 53
    visits 94 88 74 79
    Number of observations at Hungry Head for the Forest Raven
    Australian Birds Vol 31 No.1 27REFERENCES
    Blakers, M., Davies, S.J.J.F., & Reilly, P.N. 1984, The Atlas of Australian Birds,
    RAOU and MUP, Melbourne.
    Debus, S.J.S. 1982, `Sympatry in the Australian corvids’, Aust. Bird Watcher 9: 147-
    Debus, S.J.S. 1983, ‘Forest Ravens in coastal New South Wales’, Aust. Birds 17: 79-
    Debus, S.J.S. 1995, ‘Crows and Ravens’, Wingspan, Vol. 5 No. 4: 38 – 42.
    Debus, S.J.S. & McAllan, I.A.W. 1984,’The corvids of north-eastern New South
    Wales’, Aust. Birds 18: 83-85
    McAllan, I.A.W. & Bruce, M.B. 1988, The Birds of New South Wales, a Working List,
    Biocon Research Group, Turratnurra, NSW.
    Rowley, I. 1973,’The comparative ecology of Australian corvids II, social organisation
    and behaviour’, CSIRO WildI Res. 18: 25-65
    About the Author.
    David Secomb has been facinated by birds since his school days at Sawtell and
    Coifs Harbour.He is currently studying a pair of Forest Ravens that have nested
    near his home for the past two seasons. He works in Macksville and lives in “Owl
    Cottage” at Nambucca Heads.
    28 December 1997Advice to Contributors
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    References to books appear in the form
    Marchant, S. & Higgins, P.J.(eds) 1990, Handbook ofA ustralian, 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’, Aust Birds, 23:3.
    These are cited in the text as Marchant & Higgins (1990) or (Morris et al. 1990), respectively.Volume 31 No. AUSTRALIAN BIRDS December 1997
    ALAN LEISHMAN Introduced Birds in the Botanic Gardens, Sydney 1
    KEVIN MILLS Expansion of the Range of the Crested Pigeon 12
    DAVID SECOMB Forest Raven on the NSW Coast 21
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