Re: Spotted Pardalote deaths

To: George Appleby <>
Subject: Re: Spotted Pardalote deaths
From: (Harvey Perkins)
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 1998 14:04:33 +1000
George Appleby wrote:

>In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I saw a few dead
>pardelotes in the Camberwell-Kew area that appeared to have
>died from unexplained causes as well as from apparently
>flying into windows. I recall that a number of pardelotes
>were found dead around Melbourne during this period and
>that there was a possiblity of disease affecting these
>birds. Does anyone remember if anybody discovered any
>disease or virus?

Late '70s to early '80s was long before I started being what you could call
a birdwatcher, but I do remember finding a dead Spotted Pardalote at about
this time.  I had no idea what it was at the time but they are fairly
distinctive and memorable birds, particularly at close range.

It would have been either 1980 or 1981 and it was dead beside the path in
the back yard of the house I was living in at the time. It would have been
about six feet back from the wall of the house but was fairly close to a
window. It may have been a window-kill, but would have to have been flying
pretty fast to rebound the six feet (unless it was subsequently moved
somehow - but it looked fairly unmolested except for a few ants in its
eyes).  So maybe this was also the victim of some disease???

As an aside, the next Spotted Pardalote I ever saw was in 1984. It was also
dead, but this time it was the gruesome midnight plaything of the cat I
then had. I found its head beside my bedroom door in the morning and
feathers liberally strewn about the room.  (I no longer have a cat!).

Since becoming a 'practising' birdwatcher in about 1990 I have of course
seen them heaps, but the best was probably the one that also hit a window
in 1993.
It was a female and we had over the previous few days been watching both
her and her mate diligently foraging and taking food down their nesting
burrow in the yard next door (apparently they had been nesting there for
the last four or five years according to our neighbour). We heard the thud
on the window and went to look - she was lying unmoving on the grass about
20 feet below. We rushed out, picked her up, and I cradled her in my hand
for several minutes before she made any move. After a few more minutes she
was able to perch on my finger, but stayed quietly with us for about
another ten minutes before flying to a nearby branch where she waited
another five minutes or so before flying off.  Throughout all this she held
on to her beak full of tiny insects and as far as we know, she took them
back to her brood.  We saw her subsequently foraging as before and assume
that she and her mate successfully raised their brood.  It was a lovely
little episode and we have some great photographs to remind us...


Dr Harvey D. Perkins
Divn Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Faculty of Science
Australian National University          |  Editor, Gang-gang (Newsletter of
Canberra, ACT, 0200, Australia          |  Canberra Ornithologists' Group)
ph:(02) 6249 2663; fax:(02) 6249 0313   |  42 Summerland Circuit
email:         |  Kambah, ACT, 2902

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