New Holland Honeyeater Canberra

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Subject: New Holland Honeyeater Canberra
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2007 00:17:51 +1100
We do fortunately have a large data source on such issues and it exists to be used.  Here is the relevant text from my 130 page book: Canberra Birds: A Report on the first 21 years of the Garden Bird Survey. As I explain the seasonal distribution of this one is rather peculiarly different from other honeyeaters. Also, as it happens the breeding record in Year 16 at Site 152 is at my home (they raised 2 or 3 young) and I don't know that I have had them here since. It has however been even longer since I have had the (formerly regular winter visitor) the Crescent Honeyeater here at Kambah.

New Holland Honeyeater Phylidonyris novaehollandiae

This species shows the least regular pattern of all the honeyeaters but that may be related to sampling problems. It has its greatest population density in coastal heaths where it can be superabundant. It is very active, sociable and noisy and unlikely to be missed. Locally populations are found at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, where diverse plantings of Grevillea and other natives provide constant food sources. It also occurs along the Murrumbidgee River Corridor and other sites, where there are large stands of suitable shrubs. This species can survive as individuals for some time and even breed as isolated pairs in the suburbs and there are many such records. However, it is the occurrence of large groups that contribute the greater part to the measured abundance. In our region it appears to show two patterns that are superimposed. It has the winter peak and summer minimum of most small honeyeaters but on top of that it has a marked late summer to autumn peak as well. There is even the impression from some sites where they are recorded regularly that there is a gap in their occurrence between the winter and summer peaks. This results in the odd arrangement of lows during spring and autumn having similar mid-range abundance to summer. Abundance has varied widely. It is reasonable to believe there is some real effect in this as the populations of these birds naturally fluctuate according to nectar availability. Interpreting GBS data is complicated by the changing distributions of both the sites surveyed and the locations of colonies of this species affecting numbers observed, for this species apparently rather more than most. The summer peak was greatest in those years that had one or several sites at the Australian National University (Acton) that is near to the Australian National Botanic Gardens and so is influenced by that large population.

All three breeding records include activities with young in the nest and dependent young. The duration 5 to 7 weeks is consistent but the timing of these events is diverse. In late November to December in Year 4 and late February to mid April in Year 5 at Site 105 and mid August to mid September in Year 16 at Site 152.
Graphs on page: 99, Rank: 75, Breeding Rank: 67, A = 0.04606, F = 11.71%, W = 28.7, R = 1.845%, G = 2.50.

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