White-browed Woodswallows - dy defensive pose

To: "'Geoffrey Dabb'" <>, <>
Subject: White-browed Woodswallows - dy defensive pose
From: "Julian Robinson" <>
Date: Sat, 11 Jan 2014 14:53:40 +1100

I have seen the ‘dead-branch’ posture with Dusky chicks, shown in this pic (2006 at Kelly Rd) …


The chick adopted the posture in response to an alarm call from parent, when a Kestrel appeared.





From: Geoffrey Dabb [
Sent: Friday, 10 January 2014 16:03
Subject: FW: [canberrabirds] White-browed Woodswallows - dy defensive pose


Yes  -  I have seen that freezing behaviour, head raised stiffly, sufficiently often with White-broweds to think it is typical early fledging (not necessarily premature fledging) behaviour in response to a possible predator.  It does not seem to happen with Duskies, for example the below premature fledger (discussed earlier) at Stony Creek which remained active and was eventually called back to the nest site by the parents.  One assumes that the alarm calls by the parents prompt freezing (up to a point) in the White-browed, otherwise with Duskies




From: Philip Veerman [m("","pveerman");">]
Sent: Friday, 10 January 2014 1:45 PM
To: 'Leo Berzins'; m("","canberrabirds");">
Subject: [canberrabirds] White-browed Woodswallows - dy defensive pose


I thought the observation and photo from Leo to be really curious (as I had not known of passerines to do that) and it is well worth showing to a bigger audience. I had not encountered it or did not remember having heard of that behaviour before. I have just got around to checking HANZAB about it and although there are a lot of pages to scan through, it did not take long. Vol 7A page 431 for White-browed Woodswallows under "Anti-predator response of young" describes some prior observations of what I assume to be exactly that pose. It even cites (our own well known) G Dabb in an article (1999) in CBN 24(1):29-30. Although that described the posture as "frozen", which maybe Geoff can comment on whether it was the same thing. Curiously I don't see the same comment given for other Woodswallow species.


I normally would delete a photo if responding to a message but in this case it is relevant to keep it in.





-----Original Message-----From: Leo Berzins [m("","leo.berzins");">] Sent: Tuesday, 7 January 2014 6:59 PM      To: m("","canberrabirds");">
Subject: [canberrabirds] Re: White-browed Woodswallows

Jude reported White-browed Woodswallows vigorously protecting their young on the ground.

I observed the same behaviour last week at Campbell Park and naturally moved on when I realised what the fuss was about.

Passing by the same spot an hour or so later, I observed a very different behaviour. A young W-b Woodswallow (possibly the same one) was motionless on a dead branch at eye level and doing its best Tawny Frogmouth impression. The parents were nearby but kept silent as I moved in a little closer for a quick photo.






<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the Canberra Ornithologists Group mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the list contact David McDonald, list manager, phone (02) 6231 8904 or email . If you can not contact David McDonald e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU