Land of the smokey bears

To: <>
Subject: Land of the smokey bears
From: "Tom Wilson" <>
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2020 21:01:55 +1100
And that’s a great illustration of the Wallace Line concept – so different faunal groups filling the same niches on either side.  To Philip’s point, groups on our side – marsupials (the most obvious I think), or from a birding perspective, honeyeaters, gymnogenes like Magpies & Buthcherbirds, bowerbirds and birds-of- paradise.  I know there’s a small cross-over on the Lombok Strait (which the Wallace Line runs through dividing Bali and Lombok)  as I’ve seen a Pygmy Woodpecker on Lombok and the chap guiding me said the common honeyeaters of Lombok are in much smaller numbers on Bali.
Tom Wilson
Sent: Tuesday, February 11, 2020 12:39 PM
Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Land of the smokey bears
But we have species that fill those niches.
On 9/02/2020 4:34 PM, Philip Veerman wrote:
I can understand the observation Chris makes. If a tree with hollows burns,
the hollow may allow the fire to cause increased damage (compared to a solid
tree) and may make the tree more likely to collapse. Or it may just be that
trees with hollows are older and thus more likely to fall over, than younger
trees and that is the difference.

Even so, I am not convinced that fires might not speed up the hollow forming
process in previously healthy trees. I am not advocating fires for that

An easier and far more obvious reason Australia doesn't have woodpeckers is
that they are a northern hemisphere group that have never arrived here. For
the same reason, other parts of the world don't have many of our bird
groups. We also don't have vultures, laughing-thrushes, toucans, shrikes,


From: Birding-Aus [] On Behalf Of
Penny Brockman
Sent: Sunday, 9 February, 2020 4:13 PM
Subject: Land of the smokey bears

I remember reading somewhere the reason Australia doesn't have woodpeckers
is that we don't have trees which are suitable for them to hammer their
bills into. Even the rainforest trees don't on the whole suit woodpeckers.
I'm ready to be nay-sayed on this!!

On 9/02/2020 3:02 PM, Chris Corben wrote:

Someone with more expertise than me should answer that.

What I have seen numerous times is that even low intensity burns can
selectively cause trees with hollows in them to fall over, while having
little apparent effect on younger trees.

Cheers, Chris.

On 2/8/2020 9:44 PM, Philip Veerman wrote:

About "if you just think of the loss of hollow trees, which happens as a
result of ANY burning." Yes that may well be true but can it also be the
case that fires might increase the amount of available hollows in trees by
damaging trees and allowing hollows to form in trees before the process of
hollow formation would normally happen due to aging. Just asking....


*From:*Birding-Aus [] *On Behalf
Of *Chris Corben
*Sent:* Sunday, 9 February, 2020 2:26 PM
*Subject:* Re: [Birding-Aus] Land of the smokey bears

In the USA, I have heard many people speak about the importance of regular
burning to improve and protect habitats. As an Australian, this has always
felt odd to me, though recently I have read some material suggesting that in
the USA this view is changing. In any case, the Australian landscape is very
different, even if you just think about the extreme importance of hollows in
old trees for wildlife, which is far more significant in Australia than
elsewhere. And Australia doesn't have Woodpeckers! I also note that in the
USA, many habitats we see have been hugely modified by Native American
burning, so that there is perceived value in returning it to that state, not
to any prehuman state. It is a complicated mess, but at least in Australia,
if you just think of the loss of hollow trees, which happens as a result of
ANY burning, (not to mention hazard tree removal!), it is easy to conclude
that fire needs to be thought through very carefully and not controlled by
knee-jerk reactions to particular events.

Cheers, Chris.

On 2/8/2020 6:36 PM, Geoffrey Dabb wrote:

    I found the below link about the now slightly contentious ,
    perhaps outdated, Smokey Bear, an emblem of the agency in the
    United States that manages National Parks  -  real national parks,
    that is, not like our State-managed parks that are labelled
    'National' in imitation of those Americans.  Some entertain the
    idea that some quite large wildfires should be allowed to burn
    unchecked to avoid really serious fires.  I don't believe the
    'thinking' in Australia has gone quite that far, but we are going
    to hear quite a lot about beneficial controlled fires, a subject
    complicated by the absence of a national agency with any
    responsibility in this area.

Chris Corben.

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