Female Golden Whistlers

To: Greg & Val Clancy <>, Birding-aus <>
Subject: Female Golden Whistlers
From: Syd Curtis <>
Date: Wed, 06 May 2009 22:59:47 +1000
I think that something like that may also happen to very old female Albert's

Prior to writing "The Albert Lyrebird in Display" (Emu, 72, 81-84) I visited
the Queensland Museum to check the Museum's Albert Lyrebird skins. I wanted
to measure the tail feathers of the males to compare them to the Superb.

The collection included a couple which were labelled female but which had
some filamentary feathers in the tail.  I thought that maybe they were
immature males that had been wrongly identified.  However the Curator of
Birds checked the records and said definitely female, the collection notes
indicated that the bodies had been dissected and the state of the ovaries
was described.

Syd Curtis


> From: "Greg & Val Clancy" <>
> Date: Wed, 6 May 2009 19:30:14 +1000
> To: "Birding-aus" <>
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Female Golden Whistlers
> I banded birds at Iluka Nature Reserve (North Coast NSW) on Monday and Tuesday
> with Anthony Overs and others from Canberra.  We had two interesting adult
> female Golden Whistler recoveries.  They were recovered over 12 years 8 months
> and over 7 years and 8 months after banding, respectively.  The older bird had
> very interesting plumage. The belly and lower breast were extensively yellow,
> as were the lower belly and vent as is usual for female Golden Whistlers.  Its
> throat was white mottled grey, similar to adult female but much whiter.  The
> bird appeared to be partly assuming adult male plumage characters.  I have
> seen this type of unusual plumage once before many years ago.  I was banding
> with Bill Lane (at Tumbi Umbi I think) and seem to remember that someone
> (?John Disney) told me that it may be due to the degeneration of the gonads
> which change the chromosomes from XX to XY and therefore the bird begins to
> assume male characteristics.  This apparently occurs in the domestic fowl.
> Does anyone know if this is true?
> Regards
> Greg Clancy


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