unusual visitor

To: "" <>
Subject: unusual visitor
From: Philip Veerman <>
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2018 00:15:00 +0000

Yes it is a quibble but clarifying what is intended is still an issue when addressing a question, as to if something is “common”, There are similar quibbles over “endangered” and “vulnerable”, etc . There is also no standard of quibble for this chatline..  “Not unusual” is close to “not uncommon”, which is a double negative, which is always awkward. (“I can’t get no satisfaction”). The three terms as Martin puts them relates to frequency of finding one of something and it doesn’t suggest any difference between 154 or 362 Corellas or 2 Corellas. This is a species that is likely to be noticed as “present” almost regardless of how many there are.


In preparing The GBS Report, which dealt in detail with actual data, I mostly tried to reduce the use of words such as common or rare, (and certainly did not use them as headers) for those reasons. Because data are superior.


As for the Kookaburra, this is what it said, which I suspect is still relevant. Although the ABR don’t include seasonal graphs, so annoyingly they present little useful to elucidate that issue.


Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae

This species has a strong family life and many observations represent family groups. It favours woodland but is still common in suburbs bordering Canberra Nature Park. They are conspicuous and have probably the most distinctive and well-known calls of all Australian birds. They probably have a tight annual schedule with juveniles being included for a long time in family groups. This may be the cause of a peculiar monthly pattern. This appears to be regular and smooth but unusual in the shape of two peaks and troughs each year. The amplitude is small. From a high in March declines to a low in May then increases to August, declining again to a low in November, then increasing to March. The low spring and early summer pattern is probably due to birds breeding at that time and tending to move away from suburbs and into the bush, or even birds on nest not being counted. The April to May drop could be from dispersal of young birds. What is clear however is the significant almost even decline in abundance. It is possible that its decline may be related to the increasing summertime abundance of the Pied Currawong. That species in part relies on the same food sources and may be successfully competing with the Kookaburra. This may be reducing the Kookaburra’s breeding success. Breeding records have declined (13 in the first 8 years, four of these from Site 14, compared with 10 in the last 13 years). The breeding period is wide with only two records involving activities at nests, inspecting hollows from mid July to attending nest late September. The only other breeding records are of dependent young from end of November till end of April.
Graphs on page: 96, Rank: 23, Breeding Rank: 26, A = 0.36959, F = 74.00%, W = 52.0, R = 20.886%, G = 1.77.





From: Geoffrey Dabb [
Sent: Sunday, 5 August, 2018 7:06 PM
Subject: FW: [canberrabirds] unusual visitor


I think we have moved past that kind of quibble.  The two basic guides aiming to be helpful about ‘how common’ are the McComas  Taylor guide (still) and the COG list, to be found on the website.  Both of those embody the idea of likelihood of finding the species in suitable habitat at the right time of year.  The first gives the L Kookaburra as ‘very common’, the latter as ‘common’.


Whether a Kookaburra is usual or unusual in backyard X or backyard Y is a separate issue.  The answer to John’s question is that Kookaburras are not becoming unusual in Canberra.   However, one might be unusual in a particular backyard.  There is no standard of ‘important enough to report’ for this chatline..


From: Philip Veerman <>
Sent: Sunday, 5 August 2018 4:43 PM
To: 'chatline' <>
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] unusual visitor


Yes.  That supports my point. I expect we all have a reasonable perception of those 3 ideas. There isn’t a good word and un just means not. Thus, at a stretch “uncommon” as in “not common” could also be very rare or super abundant. “Not seen often” is still vague.


Even those quotes are not overly helpful. I reckon in our context “common” should relate more to abundance, rather than just recording rate (how often something is found).


My “hot potch” should have been hotch potch.......


From: Martin Butterfield [m("","martinflab");">]
Sent: Sunday, 5 August, 2018 4:05 PM
To: Philip Veerman
Cc: John Harris; chatline
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] unusual visitor


Surely "uncommon" plugs the gap rather nicely?  From the Cambridge Dictionary:

  1. Common  found frequently in many places or among many people:
  2. Uncommon:  not seenhappening, or experienced often:
  3. Rare:  not common; very unusual: (emphasis added)


On 3 August 2018 at 13:44, Philip Veerman <> wrote:

Good question and the issue is largely semantics. It is sad and strange that there is no English word that bridges the gap between “common” and “rare”. We only have access to a hot potch of poorly defined adjectival additions like “un, moderately, rather,” etc that vaguely fill in gaps.


As for kookaburras, they are very territorial and need suitable habitat and food (that may not be suburban), so the presence of sufficient suitable habitat is going to impact on where they are seen.




From: John Harris [mailto:m("","john.harris");" target="_blank">] Sent: Friday, 3 August, 2018 11:21 AM            To: Robert Parnell            Cc: chatline
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] unusual visitor


Are kookaburras becoming so unusual in Canberra that the sighting of them is important enough to report? The Report still calls them Common Breeding Resident. But also notes that there is a slow decline.  Is the fact that I see and hear them almost every day from my place (Nicholls, backing onto Ginninderra Creek) deluding me into thinking they are still common?  At what point do the editors list them as Uncommon Breeding Resident?


On 2 August 2018 at 22:38, Philip Veerman <> wrote:

I heard a kookaburra at home (Kambah) last week. Also unusual, though not a first. They are regularly perched on the light poles on Tuggeranong Parkway adjacent to Mt Taylor.

 From: Robert Parnell <>Date: Friday, 3 August 2018 at 9:44 amTo: sandra henderson <>Cc: chatline <>Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] unusual visitor


I have seen kookaburras in Telopia Park, Barton on two occasions in the last week or two.


On 2 August 2018 at 22:38, Philip Veerman <> wrote:

I heard a kookaburra at home (Kambah) last week. Also unusual, though not a first. They are regularly perched on the light poles on Tuggeranong Parkway adjacent to Mt Taylor.


From: sandra henderson [mailto:m("","shirmax2931");" target="_blank">] Sent: Thursday, 2 August, 2018 4:10 PMTo: Cog lineSubject: [canberrabirds] unusual visitor

 went into my front yard right now to find out what the commotion was about - and found a kookaburra sitting in my leafless ash tree, just metres from the front doot. The first one in my yard that I can ever remember. The local noisy miners, magpies and pied currawongs are not happy!

sandra h


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