RE: White-rumped Swiftlets in SE Queensland

To: "Atzeni, Michael" <>, "'Birding-Aus'" <>
Subject: RE: White-rumped Swiftlets in SE Queensland
From: David James <>
Date: Sat, 28 Nov 1998 14:55:20 +1000
At 14:38 26/11/98 +1000, Atzeni, Michael wrote:
> What's the furtherest south you've seen White-rumped Swiftlets? 


I think that the most southerly (known) colony is at Finch Hatton Gorge in
the Eungella Range. The small colony here was ravaged by a feral cat for
quite a while but I understand that the cat was eradicated and the colony
survives. Storr 1984 (revised list of qld birds) did not list this colony,
but the Atlas did list it and suggested that the range had not altered
historically. Does anyone know how long it has been there? 

Coming north, there then appears to be a substantial gap (c. 300 km in a
staight line) until Mt Elliot, just s. of Townsville. Then another gap (c.
80 km) to Rollingstone, n. of Townville, although there may be undiscovered
colonies in between. From Rollingstone they are more or less continuously
distributed through the Wet Tropics. 

There may be undiscovered or temporary "colonies" in some ranges s. of
Mackay (like Kroombit Tops or Many Peaks?). The Atlas suggests that they
breed in fairly large colonies but evidently they can nest solitarily. I
saw a single nest with a chick in a culvert under a forestry road in
Kirrama state forest behind Cardwell in Sept 97. The species is common
there, but nevertheless... 

As for their wanderings, they are thought to be sedentary apart from rare
single vagrants. They roam in flocks far from the home caves by day moving
for example from mountains tops to coast, but return each night, year
round. The Atlas lists one record from Canungra Qld (1980) and one from
Iluka, NSW (1980), (Clancy, 1980, Aust. Birds 15:4). There's another one
from Murwillumbah NSW, 1969 (Pratt, 1969, Aust birds 13: 68). Another
record from the Clarence Valley, NSW was questioned by Pratt, accepted by
Clancy and omitted by Morris et al (1981, Handlist of Birds in NSW). There
may well be more recent records. I have not seen them south of Mackay

A flock of 60 (so far) south of Eungella seems to be completely
unprecedented and worthy of documenting. It suggests the possibility of a
colony in the ranges of the (Towoomba?) region. (Is Helidon near Crows
Nest/Towoomba??). It also suggests the possibility of confusion with
Fork-tailed Swift, which should be addressed.

The Swiftlet expert is Mike Tarbuton. I think he's in PNG at the moment but
he is on email. Perhaps someone can forward his address to you (I don't
have it). 


David James
PO BOX 5225
Townsville Mail Centre 4810

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