Re: Re: [BIRDING-AUS] Mistletoebird

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Subject: Re: Re: [BIRDING-AUS] Mistletoebird
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Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2004 14:48:15 +1000

Gary Blond
The author of the Mistletoebird thread.

> From: 
> Date: 12/08/2004 16:58:20
> To: 
> Subject: Re: [BIRDING-AUS] Mistletoebird
> This is an enjoyable thread started by Gary Blond (did he know what he might 
> spark off?).
> I just love Mistletoes and I hope David Watson will see some of the thread.
> A few comments from my position of great interest and ignorance (corrections 
> welcome!):
> 1. Whoops! I should have written in my first response in the thread about 
> Peter Fuller's Mistletoe brainteaser. "Since there is lots of FOSSIL 
> mistletoe in Tasmania but no Mistletoebirds I reckon you could work that out 
> yourself ! (OK "lots" is an exaggeration).
> Haven't heard of fossil Mistletoebirds, though. But the contributions by 
> Peter Ewin and Lawrie Conole about Lyrebirds in Tassie and species turnover 
> make me wonder if there could be any.  
> Actually I got the idea of Mistletoebirds being recent arrivals from a famous 
> ornithologist, including his suggestion (as I recall it) that they did not 
> carry enough calories to cross the Bass Strait. I'd love to hear from someone 
> about mistletoe diversity from north Oz to south and the explanations 
> (particularly given the marvellous mistletoe diversity in the north outlined 
> by Syd Curtis) and the timing of this evolution.
> 2. Michael Hunter mentioned the WA Christmas Tree. There is a great website 
> which has extensive plant relationships (and like all websites could be 
> "wrong" or not up to date - given the way those marvellous taxonomists 
> keeping on changing our appreciations). See:
> It includes the WA Christmas Tree as the sole member of the Genus Nuytsia 
> (and parasitic on grasses). (KOFGAS is a way of remembering Kingdom, Order, 
> Family, Genus And Species.)
> (Incidentally it shows, as members of the Order Santalales, the Santalaceae 
> family as well as the Loranthaceae and Viscaceae families. The Santalaceae 
> include the root parasitic Ballarts which, together with the mistletoes, are 
> host plants of Delias and other Australian butterfly caterpillars (Wood White 
> and Imperial White down here). I'd say something about phylogeny and ontogeny 
> if I knew enough !)   
> 3. Lastly, so I am not the only person who is mistaken. The European 
> mistletoes are parasitic (or parasitoid) on a range of deciduous trees. The 
> one I know from England grows on oak trees and the Druid priests were said to 
> ceremoniously cut it down with a sickle at the Winter Equinox. 
> 4. We have a few records down here of Mistletoebirds feeding on other drupes, 
> both exotic, being Coprosma (Mirror-bush) and Boxthorn.  Suspicions of them 
> taking Cotoneaster and the indigenous Common Boobialla.
> And I can still get Mistletoe at Xmas !
> Michael Norris
> Hampton, Vic
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