Letter-winged Kites & egg collecting

Subject: Letter-winged Kites & egg collecting
From: Lloyd Nielsen <>
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 2010 14:47:56 +1000
Alistair is spot on. The business of we birders informing egg collectors about nests is somewhat ridiculous. I started my birding in the late 1950s in country Queensland after I left school and the only birding people close to me in those days and within a few hours driving distance were two egg collectors and a non-collector. I saw first hand how those fellows operated. The collectors had the ability to find a nest before they even saw the bird. The non-collector only found a nest when he fell over one even though he was a very good birder. The collectors had a sixth sense and were expert in sniffing that sort of thing out long before the average birder comes across something that the collectors might be interested in. In a year like this, they (if egg collectors still exist) would have been following the seasons out there and would have been out looking and searching at first opportunity. It always amazed me how they knew the best day of the year for a certain species (for fresh eggs), where the nest would be built, the right breeding habitat and so on. They could look at a bird and tell you whether it had been brooding or not. Like photographers, they are very much specialists in their own odd way. To think that we will be informing the collectors is airy-fairy stuff. It is akin to the GP informing the neurosurgeon how to operate.

Another thing is that egg collecting is probably as dead as a doornail in Australia in this present day. All of those guys whom I got to know 50 years ago have long since gone - except one. I saw him about 6 years ago - now well into his 80s and his big complaint was that "there were no young fellows coming on"! He had been part of a ring of a dozen or so collectors scattered throughout Australia back in the 1950s and 60s. Incidentally, most of those collections are now in the National Wildlife Collection in Canberra or in state museums.

I get out into the bush much more than most people and for the last 30 years or more I have not seen one instance where a nest has obviously been raided by an egg collector - nor have I seen someone acting suspiciously in that way. However, I have seen quite a few instances where nests, bowers and so on have been disturbed and deserted by a few uncaring photographers and the like. Having said that I have great respect for all responsible photographers. I do alot of photography myself. As responsibly as I am able! I should also add that I don't reveal nest sites to anyone.

The business of poachers taking young birds of prey and the like for falconry etc may be a different story but only once have I been aware of an incident such as this and that was about 20 years ago. I would be more worried about that.

Lloyd Nielsen
Mt Molloy, Nth Qld

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