Lorikeets in Hughes (and Gang-Gangs)

To: "'Canberra Birds'" <>
Subject: Lorikeets in Hughes (and Gang-Gangs)
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Sat, 5 Apr 2014 15:28:38 +1100
I am not confident about the idea of these Rainbow Lorikeets having flown up the Hume Highway (presumably either north (east)-wards, up from Melbourne or south (west)-wards, up from Sydney - the ACT being at a higher elevation than both). The species is now abundant in both these cities, to such an extent that the proportion of the population with human assisted release history must be minute. Even if the original population (as in Perth) was released birds from which the big feral population has grown. But no one has suggested the equally big population in Brisbane is because they are escaped birds. What we see here could more easily be general movement of fully wild birds with no human contact history at all, from any surrounding areas in NSW. The random occurrence suggests this to me especially as it is matched by dispersal in, of other lorikeet species. It fits natural dispersal of a typically highly mobile species far more than a static escaped population or spread of a feral population. There has clearly been a well documented group of Rainbow Lorikeets in Belconnen, that may well have an unknown origin of maybe released birds. This specific stable group, near Mark's home is possibly derived from some released birds and there may be some others. That surely does not account for all the other observations around Canberra that do not fit this group in space or time. Although I note Mark wrote "the birds we see locally" which can reasonably refer to just that little group and not all the other occurrences of the species in the COG AOI that Martin and I refer to.
I published an article about this long ago. (1991) ‘The changing status of the Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus in South-east Australia: the role of wild and escaped birds’, Australian Bird Watcher 14: 3–9. This was written largely as a reaction against the idea that all these birds are wherever they are because people put them there. It could hardly escape anyone's awareness that the Rainbow Lorikeet has continued its dramatic increase throughout Melbourne (as was first documented in my 1991 article). In the same time its occurrence and small increase in Canberra has been minor and variable.
On the other point about Gang-gang Cockatoos. I am curious at John asking if all GG records in the ACT ceased in this wet weather. I wonder why the question would arise. I would be surprised if there is any reason to think Gang-gang Cockatoos move away from anywhere, because of rain. And as Mark notes, surrounding areas are also wet. They are inhabitants of wet parts of mainland Australia.
The only Gang-gang Cockatoos I have seen or heard this year was one pair near the ANBG on 15 March and that is because that is the only day I was there. It has been some years since I have had any GgC in my GBS area.
-----Original Message-----
From: Martin Butterfield [
Sent: Saturday, 5 April 2014 11:20 AM
To: Mark Clayton
Cc: calyptorhynchus .; Canberra Birds
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Lorikeets in Hughes (and Gang-Gangs)


What evidence would you need to convince you that the Lorikeets are not aviary escapes?

I have no dispute at all that the original birds might have escaped from aviaries rather than flown up the Hume Highway.  However I have seen them emerging from tree hollows in breeding season and the way the numbers and distribution have changed suggests to me that there is now a self sustaining population in the Canberra region.

An analogy could be drawn with Common Mynahs where it is known the original infestation was a human act but (as far as I am aware) no-one is saying Mynahs are now escapees.


On 5 April 2014 10:36, Mark Clayton <> wrote:

Hi John,


I think point number 2 covers what happens when it is wet. I can’t see where Gang-gangs would go in wet weather as the whole area was pretty wet in that period.


With the Rainbow Lorikeets in my area (Kaleen), yesterday I had two feeding in the rain in the tree in my front yard where I reported 5 birds a week or so ago. I am yet to be convinced that the birds we see locally are anything other than aviary escapees and email conversations with several people tend to agree with me. Despite the rain I stood under the tree and watched them for about 10 minutes – sorry, no Gang-gangs but I am waiting for them to arrive in a neighbour’s yard where they fed in a Hawthorn last year.





From: calyptorhynchus . [
Sent: Saturday, 5 April 2014 9:47 AM
To: Canberra Birds
Subject: [canberrabirds] Lorikeets in Hughes (and Gang-Gangs)


A flock of eight Rainbow Lorikeets screeching past in Hughes this morning. 


No Gang-Gangs in Hughes since the 24 March (when the rain started). I had seen or heard them almost daily since the beginning of the year till then. 


When people have entered all their Gang-Gang data at the COG/ALA site it will be interesting to see if all GG records in the ACT ceased in this wet weather. If they did it could either be because:


1. GGs leave Canberra in wet weather

2. Observers don't get out and GGs are less vocal/obvious in wet weather.


Or a combination of 1 and 2.


John Leonard

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