Re: RFI: Avian vocal mimicry whilst banding.

To: Philip A Veerman <>
Subject: Re: RFI: Avian vocal mimicry whilst banding.
From: Marcus Pickett <>
Date: Mon, 17 Aug 1998 20:47:53 -0700
Yeah,...I've heard Brown Thornbills (Acanthiza pusilla) issuing all sorts
of vocal mimicry as they are extracted from a mist net or  being banded.
 Amidst a string of such apparent mimicry from this species, I've
frequently heard what sounds to me like a very good rendition of the
commonly heard (at least around here,...southern Mt. Lofty Ra., SA) alarm
call of the New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae).  But
the apparent mimicry doesn't sound like just one honeyeater, it sounds
like a small group of honeyeaters issuing their alarm (eg., in the
presence of a threatening raptor), and has a (perhaps not so surprisingly
for such a small bird as the thornbill) beautiful quality of 'distance'
and an air of ventriloquy about it.

This apparent use of another birds alarm call is intriguing.  (I guess it
makes (some adaptive?) sense to swear and shout abuse like someone with a
little more clout than a thornbill when you're a thornbill and you or
your 'mates' are in or close to strife!!??)  I've noticed that some small
passerines seem particularly 'tuned in' (ie., respond to by taking cover)
to the alarm vocalisations of honeyeaters around here, especially alarm
calls of New Holland Honeyeaters.

A very interesting topic, I think,...and I bet there's a 'swag' of
fascinating information out there!

Marcus Pickett

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