Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Birds are returning after the drought

Adult female Turquoise Parrot
Last weekend was spent mist-netting birds out at the Weddin Mountains. John Rawsthorne organised the banding and we caught about three-hundred birds, an indication that birds are coming back in numbers a couple of breeding seasons after the drought. We caught several Turquoise parrots, in a mix of adult females and young birds of the year. So they have had a successful breeding season.

Chestnut-rumped Heathwren
We also caught four Chestnut-rumped Heathwrens, which I haven't seen in the area for several years. Two birds were adult and two were young of the year - the one illustrated is a young bird as it has buff tips to its coverts and its tail is all new in uniform length. Adults have no buff tips and they were moulting their tails, the outer feathers being shorter than the central ones.
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater
Most of the birds caught were honeyeaters; about a hundred each of White-eared and Yellow-faced, a few Yellow-tufted, Brown-headed and White-plumed, and single Fuscous, Black and Black-chinned. The Black Honeyeater is a bird of the farther west, drier country which had bred in the area earlier in the season but had now moved on. The Yellow-tufted and Black-chinned were evidence that the species were now breeding in the area after being absent for several years. Their food plants have probably been flowering well in surrounding places which have held numbers in refuge during the drought.

Yellow-faced Honeyeater
The flocks of Yellow-faced and White-eared Honeyeaters were largely composed of young birds. Some of these were in early stages of their first post-juvenile plumage moult and others were further on, signifying that there were probably two cohorts of young birds; one from nests initiated early in the breeding season and the other of birds from second broods. So there has been a very successful breeding season in the area in 2012.

Black-chinned Honeyeater
The netting site at the Weddin Mountains is a long-term study site, so it will interesting to see what birds are recruited into the breeding population in 2013.

Happy New year.

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