Tuesday, 20 September 2011


I was out catching and banding birds at the weekend helping Mark Clayton with his long-running study of birds in the Charcoal Tank Nature Reserve near West Wyalong in south-west New South Wales. This is a stand of woodland, a tiny remnant of what was once typical wooded plains in the area. The main trees are red ironbark which were flowering and attracting numerous honeyeaters and the little jewels of the woodland, pardalotes. There were two species: the spotted and the striated, and we caught both.  

Spotted pardalote - Pardalotus punctatus

This is an adult male, identifiable by his white-spotted black crown, bold white supercilium and bright yellow throat. The female has yellowish spots on her crown and less pronounced supercilium and throat colours. The young birds have a pale crown base colour and greyish back with very little scalloping of the back feather pattern.

The bright fire-red base to the tail  of the spotted and the bright yellow forehead of the striated are the most readily identifiable markings between the two species when seen briefly in the field. 

Striated pardalote - Pardalotus striatus, subspecies substriatus

This is an adult bird as it has a full white supercilium and streaked crown of white feathers on black. The sexes are identical. Young birds of the year have a faint yellowish supercilium and a pale buff-green freckled crown.

The broad white markings along the veins of the primaries are a feature of the subspecies which is the typical type of the wooded plains west of the Great divide in southern New South Wales.

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