Interesting mixed flocks

To: 'Michael Lenz' <>, 'Christine' <>
Subject: Interesting mixed flocks
From: Steve Read via Canberrabirds <>
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2023 09:05:54 +0000

Hi all


Each autumn from about mid-March to mid-April (depending on the season), it is easy to find large numbers of Golden Whistlers (mostly brown birds) scattered through the top of the Botanic Gardens, often accompanied by Grey Fantails. Examples are from 29 Mar 2019, and from 15 Mar 2020; my earliest such observation was in 2014, just after I came to Canberra – I’ll go back this Saturday for this year’s look.


I’ve always assumed this was birds stopping off for a feed and rest on their annual migration out of the mountains.




From: Canberrabirds

On Behalf Of Michael Lenz via Canberrabirds
Sent: Wednesday, March 29, 2023 6:41 PM
To: Christine <>
Cc: COG chatline <>
Subject: Re: [Canberrabirds] Interesting mixed flocks


Hi Christine,


thanks for sharing your interesting observations.


I agree with other comments, the fact that you saw those flocks on hilltops was most likely incidental.


But your mixed flocks had some special features normal feeding flocks at this time of year don't have. You saw a high proportion of High Ccountry (tall forest) birds, such as many Golden Whistlers (up to 20!) and a Rufous Fantail. I associate such events with some severe weather in the High Country, such as severe Thunderstorms, triggering movement of birds from  higher to lower elevations.


This can also happen even during the breeding season when after heavy thunderstorms, High Country species may appear in the woodlands (even gardens) around Canberra (such as Golden Whistler, Sati Flycatcher, Rufous Fantail), and quickly departing again once the weather has cleared.


Michael Lenz


On Wed, 29 Mar 2023 at 12:43, Christine via Canberrabirds <> wrote:

Hi all,


on the weekend I came across a couple of interesting mixed feeding / migrating flocks. Both were on hill tops, and seemed to be slow moving, and even temporarily incorporating sedentary birds as they moved through.

It is the first time I have witnessed such groups and it raised a few questions about where the birds were migrating to, do they usually migrate in mixed flocks, why were they on hill tops, and will some of them stay here in Canberra?

The first flock was late afternoon on Black Mountain summit. There were at least 20 female and immature Golden Whistlers, several Grey Fantails, a Rufous Whistler, some White-throated TreeCreepers, and one Rufous Fantail.

The second flock was on top of Red Hill, on Saturday morning. It comprised 50+ Silvereyes, at least 6 Golden Whistlers (again female and Immature only), 2 White-throated Gerygones, several Grey Fantails and a female Scarlet Robin. Birds which seemed to temporarily join this group included Superb Fairywrens and Red-browed Finch.


Thanks for any information on this behaviour,




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