birding-aus Honeyeater Migration - An Anticlimax

Subject: birding-aus Honeyeater Migration - An Anticlimax
From: "Carol Probets" <>
Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 04:06:29 PDT
Honeyeater migration a fizzer this year

The autumn migration of Yellow-faced and White-naped Honeyeaters has just
about come to an end here at Katoomba. Today there were only very occasional
small groups travelling through. It seems, from my experience here as well
as talking to other people in the area, that this year?s migration was
particularly small in terms of numbers of birds. A real contrast to last
year, one of the biggest I can remember.

The 13th April when I posted my last message on this subject (that day I
counted 5100 birds per hour flying over my street) turned out to be the only
really big migration day this season, and a lot of those were Silvereyes.
Since then, on most fine mornings I?ve had between 1000 and 2000 honeyeaters
per hour flying over my street. That?s not much compared to most other years
- really!

As to the composition of the flocks, the first White-naped started appearing
on the 12th April. On the 20th, Yellow-faced were still approx 92% of birds,
White-naped 4%, Spotted Pardalotes 3%, with smaller numbers of Striated
Pardalotes, Red Wattlebirds and Silvereyes. On the 3rd May, White-napes had
gone up to 14%, and on the 11th were approx 25% of migrating birds. This
surprised me, I always thought they were in the majority towards the end of
autumn, but counting them proved different. I think their contact calls are
more penetrating than the Yellow-faced, which perhaps gives the impression
that there are more of them.

Another interesting thing this year has been the large number of pardalotes
which joined the migrating flocks.

All this brings me to some questions. Have people in other areas (e.g.
Canberra) also noticed fewer than usual migrating honeyeaters? Why such
large variation from year to year? I can think of four possible reasons:
a. Large fluctuations in honeyeater population size. Perhaps last year was a
poor breeding season?
b. Fewer of the population migrated. This suggests that some individuals
would migrate some years and not in others.
c. They didn?t migrate as far this year.
d. They took a different route.

Is there anywhere they have been seen in larger than usual numbers this

Thanks for any info and/or comments.

By the way, around lunchtime on 17th and 19th May we had huge mobs of Pied
Currawongs flying west through here ? you should?ve heard the din!

Carol Probets
Katoomba NSW
(In the Blue Mountains 100km west of Sydney)

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