[UNCLASSIFIED] Magpie Geese at Tidbinbilla ACT

Subject: [UNCLASSIFIED] Magpie Geese at Tidbinbilla ACT
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 19:40:16 +1000

I don't want to labour over this issue, but I just want to be clear. The question was whether the magpie geese at Tidbinbilla were wild birds.


I think this is very unlikely. Ockham's Razor says that 'The simplest explanation is the best.' The Tidbinbilla birds before the fires were captive birds. I knew a Ranger who worked there and the birds being 'free' is a technicality used to appease tourists. In the past I am pretty certain some bird's wings were pinioned and some clipped. I remember there being 21-22 before the fires, others have advised me there were a lot more and that the original birds had bred.


After the fires I observed 21 or 22 magpie geese at the wetland. On looking at the birds I estimate about 8 had wings that were pinioned. I did vaguely remember a review of the impacts of fire on Tidbinbilla. It turned out to be Ian Frasers review of the fires impact 24/1/2003. I probably misinterpreted Ians comment that 'A surprising number of water birds are still on the lagoons' to mean 'quite a lot survived', when Ian possibly meant surprising relative to other animals or relative to the intensity of the fire?? Anyway it suggests some water birds did survive. On my walk around the wetlands most trees were burnt but it appeared less devastated than most of the rest of Tid. The hides were burnt but some wetland infrastructure appeared fine.


The comments on wild magpie geese are very interesting. Although their range has contracted over the past 2 centuries, I had also noticed an increase around Brisbane area in the past 5 years or so and this is backed up by friends who live there. The map from 'The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000'

does not show them being closer to Canberra than Brisbane and not in the MDB, but that is a bit old now. Nevertheless, even taking into account Johns and Geoffreys emails the birds are still at a minimum about 500km from Canberra. Sure, they can fly, but Tidbinbilla is not ideal Magpie Goose habitat. Perhaps as a stop off during drought, but they are still present at Tid now. On Philip Veermans comment that they are 'rarely' in Canberra , well I don't enjoy semantic arguments, but to me 'rarely' means 'not often' or 'seldom' and these are also stated on Web definition pages. I would not consider 1 record in 20 years as being 'not often'.


So in conclusion I suggest that by far the most likely answer is that some of the captive birds that were already at Tidbinbilla have survived and the birds are captive rather than wild. [And that means you cant tick them off, heh heh].


Benj Whitworth

From: Philip Veerman [
Sent: Thursday, 11 August 2005 5:09 PM
Subject: [canberrabirds] Magpie Geese at Tidbinbilla ACT

Thanks Ian & John etc. Yes the species has been rarely recorded wild locally e.g. at Roses / Rowes lagoon on 31-3-1986. Also when I lived in Brisbane 1979 to 1983 the species was not there but now is in abundance (in some parts). Apologies for my wording error in the last message "I wonder whether any other the former captive Magpie Geese there, survived the fire" was meant to be "I wonder whether any of the former captive Magpie Geese there, survived the fire". I would have doubted that any had but did not know.


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