Banded Brown Falcon at Werribee

Subject: Banded Brown Falcon at Werribee
From: "Paul McDonald" <>
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 16:34:06 +1000
Dear Birders,

I've passed a brief summary of the bird sighted onto Ian Montgomery, but Russell has asked that I send a brief history of the bird onto the list, so here goes...

Unfortunately I am unable to determine the exact bird, as the colour scheme I am using for adults is two colours on the left leg and a third colour over the metal Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme (ABBBS) band on the right leg. Nestlings raised at Werribee are banded with one colour only on the left leg and just the silver metal ABBBS band on the right leg.

>From the photo and colour bands the bird is obviously an adult, however the band on the right leg is obscured under the bird. Given that the colour bands are powder coated stainless steel, the likelihood that it has fallen off is extremely remote. Unfortunately Brownies don't always cooperate and often seem to enjoy fluffing their belly feathers out and over colour bands!

However I believe it to be the bird David Drynan mentioned, with a black over metal band on the right leg.

This bird was banded in August 1999 as an adult (at least 2 years old) and was paired with a banded adult female in that year. In 1999 he raised a brood of 3 successfully to fledging (2 females and a male). Unfortunately his female partner did not survive the winter of 2000 and the bird paired up with another adult female in the winter of 2000. This female was also banded and had previously occupied the adjacent territory in 1999, however her male partner had also left the study site in winter 2000 and is presumably dead.

In spring 2000 with this new female the bird photographed again raised a brood of three, but conditions were not as favourable in that year and the third hatched bird perished in the nest from starvation. The first hatched bird fledged, but was infected with a type of nematode and was put down after rehabilitation was not possible. The middle bird of the brood also fledged, but again did not reach independence and was most likely the victim of a fox or feral cat.

The bird usually takes rabbits, but occasionally takes frogs and small skinks, in particular Eastern Pobblebonk frogs Limnodynastes dumerilii insularis. I have seen him perched 15m up a sugar gum fly over 100m and drop straight down on a frog without hesitation, they have exceptional eye sight. Given the type of territory the male defends and his age he is certainly one of the more productive males, however the previous breeding season was not as successful as the first.

Its good to see him still at Werribee. I am about to begin my last field season and am studying the 49 pairs that occupy Werribee for my PhD project, which is examining the impact of land-use changes on the population and the more theoretical areas of parental investment (how many chicks of what sex are raised) and mate choice (what makes a sexy brown falcon?).

If anyone happens to be birding at the western treatment plant I would be very interested in hearing of banded birds. If you could take note of the location, the colour combination seen (and which colour was on top on left legs) and the date I would be very grateful. People not at Werribee should also keep an eye out for birds banded as nestlings which may turn up anywhere, no-one knows as yet where they go.

My contact details whilst in Werribee are below, if I am not there I can be contacted at the ANU numbers.

Happy Birding,
Paul McDonald
Ph 03 5224 2938
Mbl: 0410 679 022
Paul McDonald
Division of Botany and Zoology
School of Life Sciences
Australian National University
Canberra, A.C.T.
Australia 0200
Ph:  +61 02 6125 2536
Fax: +61 02 6125 5573
Mbl: 0410 679 022
Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Banded Brown Falcon at Werribee, Paul McDonald <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU