Red Wattlebird Migration in NSW

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Subject: Red Wattlebird Migration in NSW
From: "alan morris" <>
Date: Tue, 27 Sep 2005 07:58:18 +1000
Hi Birders,
George Guy raised the question of the migration of Red Wattlebirds up and down the the coast of NSW and asked whether it was unusual to see large flocks (c.250 birds) migrating north or south.

It must be remembered that the Red Wattlebird in the coastal regions of Newcastle, Sydney & Wollongong was always considered to be a migratory species arriving in autumn and departing in spring, with the birds presumably coming from and returning to Victoria, other flocks moving out onto the inland plains to feed on the flowering Mugga Ironbark and Box trees. However in recent times, some decide to stay behind and now are very dominant birds in the coastal cities particularly in the bushland suburbs! These resident birds are now so common that they are masking the migration.

However I have memories of camping out in autumn in Nadgee NR on the far South Coast of NSW pre 1970 and watching the migration of Red Wattlebirds, Noisy Friarbirds and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters taking place, and I found a reference in1970, to me observing similar groups passing north through Dunbogan, on the NSW Mid North Coast. Obviously return migrations occur. I did not record/or note numbers of birds involved at that time.

However HANZAB Vol 5 devotes some considerable space to the subject although says that their movements are "....Apparently complex, and incompletely known; no major studies....movements poorly understood ... and few clear patterns emerge.."! However details are given of observations in autumn in the Blue Mountains and at Holdsworthy, west of Sydney, mostly late May and early June, in flocks up to 3-400 birds. Migrating flocks are generally associated with Yellow-faced & White-naped Honeyeaters. HANZAB shows that migration observations are fairly well documented in the Victorian Border Regions north to Moruya.

Reverse migration of the latter two species has been well documented but it is not as well doumented for RWB but HANZAB does give some details. See Vol 5, 465-467.

Alan Morris
Birding NSW Records Officer
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