Apostlebirds in South Australia


Whenever we camped at or visited Lake Hattah in the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park in Victoria we always looked forward to seeing the family of Apostlebirds occupying the camping ground. They are gregarious and noisy, often bossing other species out of any food scraps we may drop on the ground.

As we drive over to visit our family in Sydney we start looking for this species along the road between Hay and Narrandera. On most trips we get good views of them crossing the road in front of our car as we speed along.

As a result of these regular sightings we have become rather attracted to these interesting birds. Part of this fascination is that they make a bowl shaped mud nest; very few Australian birds construct their nest with mud. The other fascinating aspect of this species is that they are relatively uncommon here in South Australia.

For some years I have known of a family living around the gardens and grounds of the Peterborough Hospital in the mid-north of the state. My sister-in-law is the cook at the hospital, and she has told me that these bold birds will even come onto the veranda and into through the doors of the wards which open onto the veranda. Over recent years we have visited our relatives a number of times, and despite searching the area I have failed each time to see these birds – except once many years ago.

Many years ago I did manage to record Apostlebirds near the township, but this was in the early 1980s and again in the 1990s. Even earlier than that I saw them during a family picnic at Dawson Gorge, about 30km north-east of Peterborough.

In recent months, however, there have been a growing number of reports of this species in other spots in the mid-north, including Gladstone, Laura, Stone Hut and more recently at Watervale. On a recent visit to my daughter in Clare we went for a drive through this area. As we drove through Gladstone, I was pleased to see two Apostlebirds fly across the road in front of the car.

It seems that this species is expanding its range here in South Australia.

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