Re: Rosy Starling
"Rohan Clarke" <>
Mon, 6 Sep 2004 11:30:21 +1000
As far as I know it was last seen at 1.45pm on Friday by George Swan. It was
not present on Saturday or on Sunday morning. No word this morning...
My take on the vagrancy/captive debate is that it is not a species that has to
my knowledge ever been kept in Australia. Therefore it is not an escapee from
an Australian collection. It may have been an escapee from a collection in SE
Asia (or possibly even off a ship) but most 'songbirds' kept in Asia are housed
in small display cages and so they often show evidence of captivity such as
worn wing tips and damaged tails. Joy Tansey's photos suggest this is not the
case with the Broome bird. In particular it's tail tip and wing tips appear
very neat. The feet also look pretty clean, when caged birds often have muck
caked on their feet and some scale damage on legs.
The species also has a history of vagrancy. Despite it's normal Indian/eastern
European range it is nearly annual as a vagrant well to the west in the UK,
there are also records as far east as Korea so it's potential to overshoot must
be pretty good. It may have been ship assisted at some point but being a near
annual long distant vagrant (e.g. the UK) a rest at sea would not be a
requirement for this species to make it to OZ. Ship assistance is always
difficult to prove but doesn't really seem to matter much these days anyway.
The location is an extensive grassy plain dotted with termite mounds miles from
any buildings etc and it was associating with other wild birds such as trillers
and woodswallows. In fact a 500m strip of fence in the area that it was seen
was the favoured site for woodswallows and trillers to perch on on Sat and
Sunday when another 10km or so of fence in the general area held very few
birds. From talking to the observers it also doesn't sound like it's habituated
to people in any way (it would perhaps have been a different matter if it was
hanging on the side of an aviary or at a bird feeder in Broome!).
Finally the timing seems entirely consistent with timing of expected southward
migration...this bird just flew too far!
Given there is no particular character or behaviour to suggest a captive bird
and it's arrival fits both it's tendency for vagrancy and timing of southward
migration a wild bird seems to be the logical conclusion.
An excellent find by Joy Tansey who must be thanks for reporting it so quickly
to both a network of birders by phone and Birding-aus.
Dr Rohan Clarke
Threatened Mallee Bird Project
La Trobe University
Ph: 03 9479 1672 Mobile 0408 947001
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