Re: Rosy Starling

To: <>
Subject: Re: Rosy Starling
From: "Rohan Clarke" <>
Date: Mon, 6 Sep 2004 11:30:21 +1000
Hi All,

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
Zoology Department
La Trobe University
Bundoora 3086
Ph: 03 9479 1672 Mobile 0408 947001

Birding-Aus is now 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>

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