Red Wattlebirds

To: 'COG Chatline' <>
Subject: Red Wattlebirds
From: Philip Veerman <>
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2020 03:54:38 +0000

Historical data are, or maybe I should just say were, variable; From GBS Report, below. This is one of the just 3 species given the privilege of an all months data graph (i.e. abundance every month for 21 years) in The GBS Report (page 90). Because I thought it was an interesting case study. Showing that the pattern had changed over that time (and thus may continue to change). However, for lots of years, the COG ABR have failed to provide the monthly abundance graphs (that were always provided many years ago), so there is no way to see annual trends any more. Thus it is hard to make time relevant comment, in the way it was easy years ago.


Red Wattlebird Anthochaera carunculata

Our most conspicuous honeyeater, it is noisy, bold, active and aggressive. This species being a resident and

the largest and most rambunctious honeyeater, may take over a site that provides a rich food supply and

exclude other species. It is among the most recorded species in the count and the breeding list. It is common

all year. Over the years the monthly pattern has changed, with a reduced seasonal variation. The same

happened with the Noisy Miner. For the first seven years seasonal variation was marked, with a strong

autumn to winter peak and a summer minimum, then the next about eight years the extent of this seasonal

pattern was reduced. Since 1995 the earlier pattern appears to be occurring again (see extra graph). When

all years are combined, the monthly variation is minimal. From July to February is stable, then from March to

May the abundance rises when this species migrates, it then declines in June. During migration, groups of up

to 50 may be observed. Long-term the species has had a steady increase, its abundance has more than


There are some early observations of nest building or copulation in late June or in July but most breeding

records start after early August. Most records are of dependent young, rather than activities at nest. From the

few records that chronicle a whole breeding event, the duration is from 10 to 12 weeks. The breeding period

is long and with considerable overlap of nest period and the time that young are dependent. There may be

more than one breeding pair simultaneously at many sites, there is also a strong suggestion of double

nesting. Mostly activities at nest have ceased by end of December with dependent young from late

September till end of February with a few observations as late as early April.

Graphs on pages: 90 and 98, Rank: 6, Breeding Rank: 3, Breeding graph on page: 106, A = 2.00051,

F = 97.36%, W = 52.0, R = 74.847%, G = 2.67.


From: Terry Munro [
Sent: Friday, 21 February, 2020 2:13 PM
To: Mark Clayton
Cc: COG Chatline
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Red Wattlebirds [RE: [canberrabirds] ANBG today]


Common around here also

Terry Munro

On 21 Feb 2020, at 2:04 pm, Mark Clayton <> wrote:


Still common around my place in Kaleen.


On 21/02/2020 11:24 am, Hawkins, Brian wrote:



I’ve been trying to keep an eye/ear out for Red Wattlebirds and have noticed very few lately.


Is this autumn departure from Canberra usual?  Any idea where they go?


Best regards,





In recent years one of the exciting sights of Mallacoota has been the daily movement of flocks of 50 -100 Red Wattlebirds along the shores of the Inlet.  This has been recorded in late April - early May.  I doubt if it will occur this year.



On Mon, 17 Feb 2020 at 18:26, Michael Lenz <m("","michael.lenz.birds");">> wrote:

The Red Wattlebird exodus starts early in drought years (Jan/Feb). Further, the recent hailstorm has stripped many leaves from trees, and with it, no doubt, many food sources for the RW. Hence, the Botanic Gardens will have lost some of their attraction.


To me it is also of interest that another group of birds has recently departed, Welcome Swallow and Martins, only small numbers have stayed. No doubt, other recently flooded areas further N and W from us, may provide more food for them. There were already comments about an abundance of mosquitoes in some of those areas.


Michael Lenz

Michael Lenz



I wandered through the Australian National Botanic Gardens this morning – full bird-list Small birds (White-browed Scrub-wren &c) were active, but unusually I saw no Red Wattlebirds and only heard a brief call from one. On previous visits of similar length over the last 12 months I have seen or heard 15, 6, 15, 22, 10, 6. 3, 7, 8, 5 and 12.


Have others noticed a marked exodus of Red Wattlebirds from particular areas this summer, or a relative paucity of Red Wattlebirds from the ANBG currently?


The gardens looked better than expected after the hailstorm. I suspect a major clean-up was undertaken. Many of the eucalypt stands had lost much of their canopy, but regeneration had already started. A few trunks in the upper parts of the gardens showed scars from individual hailstones, but this phenomenon was not as marked as higher up Black Mountain.






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