Bass Strait migrants and poisonous Aussie birds - Flame Robins

To: Steve Clark <>, bird <>
Subject: Bass Strait migrants and poisonous Aussie birds - Flame Robins
From: brian fleming <>
Date: Wed, 16 May 2012 12:20:20 +1000
On 16/05/2012 9:48 AM, Steve Clark wrote:
G'day Sonja and Anthea

Thanks for your replies.

Dear Steve,
I contacted Xenia Dennett and she has very kindly given me the reference to the work on Flame Robins which she and Rosemary and Peter Balmford carried out at Cape Liptrap.

It was written up in "VORG Notes" June 1982, vol.18, pt.1.

As this may not be readily available to those who are interested, I will summarize it here.

The party went to Cape Liptrap for Easter 1982, believing that the full moon might have some relevance to the birds' movements.

On 9th April 1982 no Flame Robins were seen.
On the morning of 10 April, 1 male and 2 females (ie brown birds) were trapped and banded.
On 11 April, 10 males and 29 females were banded.
On the 12th, 4 males and 8 females were banded.
On the 13th only a few birds were present.

I believe the birds were trapped individually (not mist-netted) and only a small proportion of the birds present were banded. The banders were absolutely convinced that the birds had flown in overnight, because in the morning they were perched on bushes on the precipitous cliffs, apparently exhausted, until they recovered enough to make their way to the cliff-top and start seeking food and moving on.

Unfortunately no bands were ever recovered. I understand a few birds were banded by one worker in Tasmania.

For banding studies to produce useful data, a large number of workers are required at both ends of the journey, over the whole migratory season, for many years. In Australia the high variability of the seasons adds to the difficulty.

Anthea Fleming

I'm aware of the Gastrolobium poison bush in WA.  Anthea has turned up
this reference

which is good evidence that the pigeons accumulate poison from the
seeds of Gastrolobium bilobum in Western Australia.

Further questions:

Has anyone ever extracted poison from a Bronzewing and analysed it?
What is the situation in other parts of the Bronzewings' range?
Why are Pitohuis claimed to be the first known poisonous birds?  This
article mentions others (including Bronzewings):

It seems that others were known or suspected earlier but the chemical
in Pitohui poison was the first to be identified.

There appears to be no conclusive evidence that Flame Robins migrate
across Bass Strait unless Anthea can track down the unpublished
research of Balmford and Dennett.  I wouldn't be at all suprised if
they do cross the Strait but it would be nice to have evidence.



To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with 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