Coast and ID please

To: canberrabirds chatline <>
Subject: Coast and ID please
From: Julian Robinson <>
Date: Mon, 03 Mar 2008 12:55:23 +1100
Thanks to those who offered opinions. I accept that the pics lack many of the things that we would like for diagnosis, however if they did, I probably wouldn't have to ask :)  The colouration is especially difficult in these photos, and the green-yellow in parts of the wing confused me.  It didn't look particularly like other f or imm GW's I've seen and photographed.

The summary is:

Golden Whistler   6.5
Olive Whistler   2.5
Pale Yellow Robin   2

Of GW, it seems most are now leaning to adult rather than imm. 

Several people mentioned the yellow spot at the vent area which can be seen more clearly on the full size image now attached.  (can also see the interesting insect it was after, pointed out by Geoffrey).  If this yellow patch is hard-core diagnostic then I suppose it settles the matter.  I assume this is distinct from the "yellow wash" on the undertail of northern GWs mentioned in guides.

And of course GW is much more common there than the other two, rule 1 I think in identification lore.  It was in quite open country, but adjacent to deep forest.

For public benefit, here's some thinking from knowledgeable people in addition to that already on chatline:

Golden Whistler... Clues :  large red-brown (whistler) eye, short thick bill, rather sluggish, inquisitive twig-and-leaf gleaner in denser veg

It looks definitely like a species of  'thickhead' (Pachycephala) to me. My best guess would be an immature Golden Whistler. Female Golden Whistlers tend to have more yellow underneath. The only other possibility I can think of is a female Olive Whistler, but that seems unlikely.
In one of the photos (where the bird is bending
forward) you can actually see a hint of the small patch of yellow feathers
around the cloaca, which strongly suggests golden whistler.
Olive Whistler. I suspect the white shoulder fleck is a plumage aberration
The colouration makes me think olive whistler.
Note the diagnostic gold patch around the vent...EY Robins as young are very spotty. Olive whistlers like dark wet rainforests and don't have the yellow vent.

Is there any disagreement with the certainty and significance of the yellow patch near vent?

Also, where are such useful but detailed diagnostic features written down?  Are they in HANZAB or only in field notes for banders?   Although most such info is beyond my skill level, it would be many times useful when you have photos to work from (as I often do).

Thanks again - regardless of the 'correct' answer, ALL of this discussion is really useful to people at my stage of birding, a great learning tool.


At 09:05 AM 3/03/2008, Beth Mantle wrote:
I'd really love to hear what others think - I find this type of exercise so beneficial developing better observation skills.


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