Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Yellow-faced Honeyeater - a banding control

Yellow-faced Honeyeater : 026-11399

When I was out helping Richard Allen and others mist-netting birds for banding  a week or so ago at the Weddin Mountains in New south Wales, we caught a Yellow-faced Honeyeater Lichenostomus chrysops which had been banded previously elsewhere. We now have the information on where that was. The bird was banded and identified as a first year (1) female in 2011, in the Warraderry State Forest. So it is now a three-year old (3) and has moved 29 km from the initial banding site.  

We use the shape of the alula tip as an aging guide, and we had already designated the bird as an adult (1+) on the basis that it had a pointed alula. Young birds have rounded tips on their alulae.

This is only the 18th record of a banded Yellow-faced Honeyeater moving over twenty kilometres, although for a widespread and abundant breeding bird of south-east Australia, which is known for its spectacular north-eastern orientated migration flocks, little is known on how far they migrate other than birds winter in eastern Queensland. Some birds also spend the winter in the south east, so which birds travel and where. As there are so few records from banding, perhaps attaching tracking devices to some birds would help answer this question. This is a common species yet we do not know its full life story. If a suitable system could be developed, the methods could be adapted to address similar questions on endangered species. For it is important to know where rare birds migrate, or even move locally, in order to conserve their habitat requirements in all parts of their range. Work of this type is well established in other countries and is providing enlightening results.

The bird had moved between two large areas of forest,  with a large area of farmland separating the sites 
Thanks to Richard Allen for organising the banding trip, Graham Fry for first banding the bird and David Drynan of the Australian Bird & Bat Banding  Scheme for the speedy interpretation and return of the data.

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