David Attenborough-where are you? Black-tailed native hens in the outba

To: birding <>, Nick DAY <>, ken & vivien harris <>, Keith Johnson <>, Ian Rainbow <>
Subject: David Attenborough-where are you? Black-tailed native hens in the outback
From: Laurence Living <>
Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2001 18:14:03 +1000
Coming down the Birdsville track from Mungerannie to Marree on July 3
and 4, this year, Geoff walker, Nick D and I witnessed an event similar
to that of the Christmas Island Crabs and the great animal migrations of

We encountered very large numbers of black-tailed native hens on the
many patches of roadside water, the result of the recent heavy rains in
the outback.

The first group we countered and recorded as an incidental atlas survey,
was some 300 in number, only to find around the other side of the small
dune, another 300.

The 'flocks' grew to 500 or more as we travelled down the track, and the
biggest 'gathering' we estimated to be between 1500-2000 birds. These
sightings continued for the rest of the day as we made our way to

There was evidence of regular road kills, which may have occurred at
night as the hens were only moving in daytime when disturbed by us.

In his trip report Geoff Walker mentioned the total number being in
excess of 20,000 and these were the ones we saw from the vehicle! How
many more there must have been.

Who can explain this 'mass migration'?

Were the native-hens going somewhere?

Were they taking some advantage of the outback wet?

Was there a population explosion?

Are there any native-hens left at their usual water holes?

Laurie Living

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