Re: birding-aus from lerps to manna

Subject: Re: birding-aus from lerps to manna
Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 10:43:09 +1000
Observations here in Bayside support Lawrie Conole's suggestion that
sugary exudates from plants can be significant sources of food for

In autumn and winter days a white froth appears on the bark of some
older coast wattles (Accacia sophorae or longifolia - the taxonomy's
still under debate!) where there are wounds. Our guess that these are
the result of insect activity but they could be produced by wind damage
or mammals (ring-tailed possums?). It's very sweet so I guess it is
'phloem sap'. The affected trees always(?) die within a year. 

Often there is a queue of honeyeaters trying to feed on the substance,
although some sites are dominated by red wattlebirds which exclude other
species.  Birds recorded feeding include little and red wattlebirds,
spiny-cheeked and white-plumed HEs and silvereyes.  Since they sometimes
fed on the trunk of a dying coast wattle I'm pretty sure that a
white-eared and a yellow-tufted HE seen in 1994 (before we were aware of
the exudate) were also feeding on this substance.  

In the most recent Australian Bird Watcher (I've mislaid my copy) there
was an article on the food of various honeyeaters which included
analysis of stomach contents.  Where these were liquid the author stated
that the food was presumably nectar. But, from this thread, it could
well in some cases have been phloem sap.

I'm glad Sean started this thread so that I now know what lerps and kino
are. According to my dictionary 'manna" can now mean various sweet
substances obtained from plant. The original manna (Exodus, 16) appeared
on the ground and melted in the sun so perhaps it would be better to
just say 'sap' (if that's what it is!).

Michael Norris
Friends of Native Wildlife
Hampton, Bayside, Vic.

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