Archive for May, 2009

Adelaide Rosellas

Adelaide Rosella

Adelaide Rosella

I’d just driven out of the driveway this morning on the way to Adelaide when four parrots flew across the road in front of the car. I immediately noticed that they were Adelaide Rosellas, a species not all that common around our house and garden. In fact, they are only occasional visitors here in Murray Bridge.

Adelaide Rosellas, a sub-species of the common Crimson Rosella, are found throughout the Mt Lofty Ranges near Adelaide, as well as in the lower north of South Australia. There are considerable colour variations in different parts of their range, from bright orange through to a washed out orange. The Crimson Rosella (shown below) is much brighter, being quite a deep crimson.

I didn’t have time to stop to take a photo; I was on my way to Adelaide to attend a lecture. And I didn’t have my camera with me anyway. Maybe some other time they will pose for me when I have the camera within easy reach – or even in my hand.

Crimson Rosella, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Crimson Rosella, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Birds and window strikes

Silvereye, Murray Bridge, South Australia

Silvereye, Murray Bridge, South Australia

I was working in my home office last week when I heard a sudden bang on the glass about a metre from where I sat. I immediately grabbed the camera and headed out into the garden. There on the garden bed was a little Silvereye, obviously quite stunned but alive. I was able to take a series of close up photos while it recovered. Within a few minutes it had flown off again.

Silvereye, Murray Bridge, South Australia

Silvereye, Murray Bridge, South Australia

Window strikes by birds is a constant problem around the world. Home windows, office blocks and anywhere glass is used in buildings create a potential hazard for flying birds. At certain times of the day or light conditions the reflections of the surrounding area – sky, garden, forest – give flying birds the false impression that they can fly straight ahead.

In reality, they fly straight into the glass which is acting like a huge mirror. I have read about various techniques for preventing bird strikes on windows but haven’t yet come across a foolproof way of preventing it.

Luckily for this little fellow, he survived.

Many don’t.

Further reading:

Click on any image to enlarge the photo.

Silvereye, Murray Bridge, South Australia

Silvereye, Murray Bridge, South Australia

Silvereye, Murray Bridge, South Australia

Silvereye, Murray Bridge, South Australia

Can birds see colours?

This week I had an interesting question from a reader: Can birds see colours?

She also asked what colour flowers birds are most attracted to. This is a fascinating topic, one I am far from qualified to answer in full.

Yes birds can see colours – in fact, they can see colours far more intensely than humans. Scientists have only recently discovered the vast range of colours that birds can see, and most are completely beyond what humans can see or imagine. The reason for this is that humans have three cone cells in the retina while birds have four cones. In real terms, one could say that humans are virtually “colour blind” compared to birds.

For a good discussion on this topic go here:

http://www.csulb.edu/labs/bcl/elab/avian%20vision_intro.pdf

As far as what colour flowers birds are most attracted to, there is no simple answer. In my very limited understanding of the topic, birds are attracted more to the ultraviolet patterns on flowers rather than the colour that we see in our limited range of perception.

This is a vast and interesting topic. Thanks to Emilie for asking the question.

Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow Lorikeet

I’ve been distracted a little

I’ve been a little distracted from blogging on this site this week – for two reasons.

I’ve been very busy with my studies is one of the reasons.

The second reason is that this week I became a Grandfather for the first time. Our son and daughter in law are currently in Colombia, South America adopting a little boy. You can read about their adventures here. We’ve actually been able to see and speak to the little fellow (7 months old) via a web cam on Skype, wonderful¬† technology which allows us to actually see and hear him in real time.

Meanwhile, you’ll have to be satisfied with a photo of a Silvereye taken earlier this week in our garden.

Silvereye, Murray Bridge, South Australia

Silvereye, Murray Bridge, South Australia

Help needed with Silvereye research

Silvereye

Silvereye

I recently had a request for help with research on Silvereyes in Australia. If you are able to help, please contact Dominique directly at the email address at the bottom of the article.

Hello Fellow Australian Birders!

I need your help!

My name is Dominique, and I am a PhD student currently studying at the University of Melbourne. I am investigating how urban noise affects song learning, development and evolution within a native Australian bird species. The species I have chosen to focus on is the Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis). I have chosen the silvereye for a variety of reasons: it occurs commonly in both urban and rural environments, its behaviours (especially acoustic) have been well documented, and we have good knowledge regarding its genetics.

The first part of my project will involve travelling to various sites around Australia, capturing silvereyes for morphological and genetic analysis, releasing them, and recording the songs of individuals in that population.  I am using paired sites in order to compare urban vs rural birds, and I am hoping to cover a relatively large geographical range, in order to observe any geographical effects on song, as well as environmental. I will be staying in each place perhaps for a week or so doing data collection, before moving on.

Although there is good data available on the distribution of silvereyes in atlases, I need the help of birders across Australia (yes, that’s YOU!) to locate resident populations of silvereyes: areas where individuals might be able to be recorded and caught reliably.

I would like to specifically focus on the following areas: Southern Victoria, Southeastern South Australia, Eastern NSW, Tasmania, and Southeast Queensland. Therefore, I am asking if anyone knows of any silvereye populations that tend to hang out either in city parks, or rural areas.

If you have any knowledge that could help me with this project, or any further questions about my research, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would like to thank you in advance for your help, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Dominique Potvin

d.potvin@pgrad.unimelb.edu.au