Archive for March, 2007

Good Birding Sites

Here is another list of links to excellent birding sites:

  • Earth, Wind and Water – this site has some articles and photos about birds but its real strength is in the amazing photos of sea life. The writer is a scuba diver and photographer.
  • Search and Serendipity: a Birder’s Blog – David J. Ringer’s blog about birding inTexas and other parts of the USA. He has also blogged his birding experiences in Papua New Guinea, where he lived for some time, as well as Australia and New Zealand. Once again, beautiful photography.
  • Journey Through Grace – Jayne’s observations of birds in her life in Georgia. Again, plenty of beautiful photos to enjoy.
  • Bird Ecology Study Group – Nature Society, Singapore – more stunning photos abound on this blog site.

Early morning walk and a bird of prey

I rose early this morning so I could go for a walk. I left the house just after sunrise. The air was crisp and cool and I was pleased it had not yet warmed up to the forecast temperature.

I decided to take the route along the road up the hill from our home. Because it was early there was very little traffic. This meant I could concentrate on the bird life. I was quite delighted with the busy activity of so many birds all around me.

Just as I approached a bush on the road side I was aware of a sudden flapping. A Singing Honeyeater shot like an arrow from the bush closely pursued by a Collared Sparrowhawk. They flew to another bush on the opposite side of the road. The honeyeater was too quick for the hawk and escaped. The hawk wheeled around, flew back in front of me and then off to look for another potential meal.

As I continued my walk I noticed the sparrow-hawk eyeing off a small flock of Common Starlings nearby. I hope he had more luck with them and eventually caught some breakfast.

The photo below was taken last year, possibly of the same bird. If it is the same bird it is a frequent visitor to our garden.

Updated November 2013.

Collared Sparrowhawk

Collared Sparrowhawk

Bird word: Gregarious

  • Gregarious: some birds live in groups and are said to be gregarious. One such species is the White-Winged Chough. They are usually seen in groups of from 5 to 10, though the family group that visits my garden has been up to 12 in size. I have seen larger groups than that in other places.

There is some truth in the saying “birds of a feather flock together.” In Australia it is quite common to see large flocks of birds of the one species. There are few sights as beautiful as a flock of several hundred pink Galahs wheeling through the deep blue Australian sky. Corellas and cockatoos also flock together, feeding together on the ground in large groups numbering in the hundreds, or even thousands.



Another amazing sight is to see a large flock of budgerigars feeding together. As they fly off – sometimes in their thousands – it is like a swiftly moving green cloud before your eyes. When such a flock lands in a dead tree, it suddenly seems to spring back to life once again.

Budgerigars, Cleland Wildlife Park

Budgerigars, Cleland Wildlife Park

Some of our finches are also quite gregarious. These flocks may only number in the dozens but in their own small way can be just as spectacular. They bring great delight to the observer when such groups visit a watering point (such as a bird bath) or a feeding tray in a park or someone’s garden.

Zebra Finch

Zebra Finch

Waterbirds can also be said to be gregarious, their numbers can often be in the thousands. Rafts of ducks, mudflats seething with waders and nesting cormorants in their thousands can be an inspiring sight and an attack on the ears (and nose in the case of cormorants).

Birding Bloopers #17

Over the last few weeks I have featured many birding bloopers from birders all over Australia and even some from overseas. These have generally first appeared on the Birding-Aus forum. I have been very amused at the problems some birders have, including myself, in identifying birds. I have also been impressed with the willingness of birders to be embarrassed in public in this way.

Here is #17 in this series, but with a happy ending:

I had a classic with a tour group up in PNG, when I spied a far distant Black Sicklebill (largest of the Birds of Paradise and pretty rare in accessible areas as they get shot for their long tail plumes) atop a snag on a distant ridge, like they usually are.

We scoped the thing for some minutes and everyone was very happy, then as I looked again it took off and turned into a Papuan Mountain Pigeon that had been sitting with two sticks right behind it, exactly like distant Black Sicklebill tail feathers………
Oooer, credibility nose dive and some of the folks were not smiling at losing a megatick. Happily however Orni was looking out for me because not 2 minutes later I scanned a ridge behind us and found a real Black Sicklebill!
Phil Gregory

Thanks Phil for your contribution to this series of articles.

To read more in this series click here.

Question for readers:

When did you experience an embarrassing birding moment? Perhaps it was a mistaken identification. Perhaps you didn’t look carefully enough and were later proved wrong. Maybe the bird itself fooled you in some way.

I invite readers to submit their birding bloopers in the comments section below. If it’s good enough I might just feature it in a post of its own, with a link back to your blog (if you have one).

Bird Word: Hybridisation

  • Hybridisation: the cross-breeding between different species.

Most species stay true to their kind. King Parrots breed with King Parrots and produce young King Parrots. Occasionally, one species will interbreed with another species. In some parts of Australia the introduced species of duck, the Mallards, will hybridise with the native Pacific Black Duck. The offspring show characteristics of both species. These offspring may also breed, though success rates tend to be poor (citation).

For more about hybrid species of animals and plants click here.

UPDATE: One of my regular readers and frequent commenters has added some interesting observations of bird hybridisations in the comments section. I have copied and pasted this below. I inviteyou to add your observations in the comments section.

When we used to live in northern NSW, we had a malaysian lady in town who like to try to FORCE hybridization of various Australian Parrots. One day, we thought we had a new bird for our garden list, but the closest we could put it to was a Superb Parrot, though it wasn’t ‘right’ and we were out of range. Eventually, we heard that one of Connie’s “creations” had escaped – a hybrid between a Mallee Ringneck and a Pale-headed Rosella! It didn’t stay long, but whether through misadventure or ‘travel’ I’m not sure. The neighbours also had a Galah in a cage, to which lots of local Galahs got attracted, including one which had paired with a Little Corella. For about 20 years, they brought their offspring (like pale, washed out Galahs, with a yellow ‘wash’) to feed on spilled seed each year, but none ever lasted more than a season. One day, we saw a dead Corella by the highway, and this ‘pair’ never returned, so it must have been that one.

Thanks to John for these observations.