Beautiful Firetails

Subject: Beautiful Firetails
From: Carol Probets <>
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2000 09:01:03 +1100
>I don't know of anyone that might have a handle on movements of Beautiful
>Firetails.  Any of the Blue Mountain people able to help out?

David and all,

I don't have a handle on their movements either, but I'll try and provide
some pieces of the jigsaw puzzle.

Here in the Blue Mountains it is reported throughout the year. Records from
Blue Mountains Bird Observers over the last six years indicate a slight
increase in sightings during autumn and fewest sightings in November, but
the sample size is small. There are a number of locations that I know of in
the mid to upper mountains where they seem to always be present, and this
includes altitudes up to at least 1000m.

While many of the books state them as sedentary, the 1984 Atlas of
Australian Birds says: "Pairs of Beautiful Firetail occupy a territory
during the breeding season but may wander locally in the non-breeding
season when groups form." Personally I don't know of any sightings of
"groups" much larger than 2-3, but I have seen them at high density in an
area of heathland in autumn, so I guess that might be regarded as a loose
group. Most books list the breeding season as September-January.

What intrigues me most about the Capertee Valley sightings is the habitat.
The Beautiful Firetail is a bird I associate very much with particular
types of habitat, namely heathland, shrub swamps and wet sclerophyll forest
with a tall dense understorey. They especially favour wet areas. I note
that most of the records Alan Morris mentioned in his message were in
fairly bushy parts of the valley, as far as I can tell. The sandstone areas
surrounding the valley would certainly have some ideal habitat, so I
suspect David was right when he suggested that the Capertee Valley birds
have dropped down off the nearby Wollemi National Park, i.e. local
wandering in the non-breeding season.


Carol Probets
Blue Mountains NSW

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