Breeding display by Striated Thornbill

To: <>
Subject: Breeding display by Striated Thornbill
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2012 15:23:09 +1000
Thanks all for the clarification. I was the no name correspondent, sending this:
"I am a little curious about the "Striated Thornbill (Display)" No reason why it wouldn't be but what was it and how does someone know that it was a breeding display? HANZAB doesn't enlighten me."
I thought we may have some new information about Striated Thornbill breeding display. I suggest "the open wings did look purposeful and directed at another thornbill - not for preening or flight" having little to no intimate knowledge of these birds, I guess that could equally be aggression or something else, unless someone such as HANZAB has properly described these things. I would suggest we want a "co" associated with it, to be confident that is what it was. However as the species surely breeds in our area, a breeding record either way is not going to rock the records.
I was not suggesting a species misidentification. I have seen the wing fluttering display of Pardalotes many times but I don't know what it means and have not seen it in Thornbills. 
Would Barbara accept this as a BR on the blitz day? The principle does sometimes become odd, like when we get a GBS breeding record of Wedge-tailed Eagles from seeing a courtship display flight over the site, when the breeding is clearly not in the GBS Site.
-----Original Message-----From: Duncan McCaskill [ Sent: Thursday, 16 August 2012 9:32 AM      To:       Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Breeding display by Striated Thornbill

I was the one who saw the behaviour, and now that you mention it did look similar to Striated Pardalote behaviour I have seen. Although I only got a brief glimpse (they were being typically hyperactive thornbills, and mostly invisible in dense foliage), the open wings did look purposeful and directed at another thornbill - not for preening or flight.


On 16 August 2012 08:05, Geoffrey Dabb <> wrote:

Martin, we all respect your decision of course, but, as you have ventilated the issue publicly, may I ask whether, given that the reported behaviour seems unusual and that such behaviour is common in Striated Pardalotes, and that verbal confusion between the two species does occur, AND that your single reporter is unnamed so there is no possibility of embarrassment, do you see any possibility, strong or faint as you might wish to describe it, from your vantage point as excursion leader, mentor to the group, person-on-the spot and researcher into the sexual behaviour of small birds, that it was a Striated Pardalote?

From: martin butterfield [ Sent: Thursday, 16 August 2012 7:08 AM      To: COG List
Subject: [canberrabirds] Breeding display by Striated Thornbill

I have been asked offline for some details about the the breeding display by the Striated Thornbill, which I included in my report on the McQuoids Hill walk yesterday.  My correspondent noted that there is no information on this behaviour in HANZAB.  As my response might be of general interest I am making this broad reply with no names and thus no pack drill..

A member of the group reported seeing a striated thornbill in an unusual posture with wings outstretched, apparently being looked at closely by another bird.  This was thought possible to be a breeding display.  It sounded to me rather like some of the attention seeking displays I have seen with other species (indeed, other genera) and at this time of year the main reason for attracting attention is for breeding purposes.  So I decided to include it as a indicative breeding record.

HANZAB is rather thin on display behaviour for any thornbill species.  For Striated Thornbill a description is cited (from a 1923 article) of courting behaviour 'of the nature of a sparrow fight'.  The entry also says this article is quite vague!  The only other information about courting behaviour by thornbills found in this area which I could find related to Yellow-rumped where the performance began "crouched down with head raised and wings fluttering".  There are other elements in this routine not observed yesterday but it does offer some slight support for my decision.

Given the very speculative nature of many of the aspects on the indicative elements of breeding records I will let the record stand.

 Martin Butterfield

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