Poisonous Aussie birds.

To: "'Steve Clark'" <>, "'Sonja Ross'" <>, "'Birding Aus'" <>, <>
Subject: Poisonous Aussie birds.
From: "Stephen Ambrose" <>
Date: Wed, 16 May 2012 14:06:10 +1000
The poison in Gastrolobium is sodium fluoroacetate (also known as 1080). In
Australia, natural occurrences of sodium fluoroacetate occurs mostly in
Gastrolobium species, and nearly all species in this genus are restricted in
distribution to South-western Australia.  Twigg & King (1991) found that
Emus also had a high tolerance to the poison when feeding on Gastrolobium
seeds, but I don't know if it accumulates in the Emu's body, is metabolised
or excreted.

Stephen Ambrose
Ryde, NSW


Twigg, L.E. & D.R. King (1991).  The impact of fluoroacetate-bearing
vegetation on native Australian fauna: a review. Oikos 61: 412-430

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Steve Clark
Sent: Wednesday, 16 May 2012 9:49 AM
To: Sonja Ross; Birding Aus; 
Subject: Bass Straight migrants and poisonous Aussie birds
- birdng myths?

G'day Sonja and Anthea

Thanks for your replies.

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across Bass Strait unless Anthea can track down the unpublished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.


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