Re: Thanks for Heathwren advice

To: <>, "Syd Curtis" <>
Subject: Re: Thanks for Heathwren advice
From: "Vicki Parslow Stafford" <>
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 18:16:19 -0400

Thanks for the interesting summary and feedback.  A couple of observations
of my own:
> Consider the following:
> #   The two lyrebirds use mimicry as part of their breeding season song. 
> think that many (most?) Australian bird mimics do not.  The Toothbill
> Bowerbird is another species that does ... and for the same purpose as
> lyrebirds, I surmise.

I mentioned the performance of the male Mistletoebird.  In this case, the
mimicry was integral to a sustained burst of song, which I found novel
enough (the song, I mean), as I had only ever heard the usual contact calls
before, despite having had a pair of Mistletoebirds nesting outside my
bedroom window some years ago.  The song included a range of clearly
recognisable calls and song fragments from most of the common local species
eg scarlet honeyeater, peewee, B-F cuckoo-shrike, Willie Wagtail, brown
honeyeater, grey butcherbird, noisy miner etc. 

> #   With lyrebirds the mimicry is passed down culturally from generation
> generation.  They are not directly mimicking the other species, though
> hearing the other species keeps their mimicry true to the models, and
> originally each mimicked sound must have been copied from the model
> species.  (What about other bird mimics?  Culturally learned or direct
> copying of models?)

You may have heard about the Ipswich "Hello" crow (discussed by Ric Natrass
and reported in the local press a few years ago).  A local resident said
she believed the bird was one she had hand-fed and talked to as an
immature.  "Hello" nested in my sister's yard in Woodend two seasons ago,
and there are now at least two, and almost certainly more, "hello" crows in
the area.  At least one is the offspring of one of the originals (observed
at the nest together).

On a related note, I was in Coffs Harbour last week.  While visiting a
garden tea room, I heard very pretty song coming from a shrubbery.  When I
investigated, I could also hear little scratchy calls.  "Kissing" brought
an immature grey shrike-thrush out of the bushes.  It perched in a tree
directly above me (about five feet way), and we exchanged whistled warbles
for a couple of minutes.

Vicki PS 

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