Re: birding-aus Mystery Birds

To: Lloyd Nielsen <>,
Subject: Re: birding-aus Mystery Birds
From: Brian Fleming <>
Date: Mon, 08 Mar 1999 11:25:46 +1000

Lloyd Nielsen wrote:
>  Michael Todd has mentioned  the subject of some old 'mystery birds'.
> As I was involved with the Red-tailed Quail, some detail after all these
> years may be interesting.
> > Firstly  the 'Purple-crowned Honeayeater' from Lamington NP in
> southern> Qld -  The Blue Regent seemed to run into a dead end as well.
> > Lloyd Nielsen
> PO Box 55,
> Mt Molloy   Qld  4871

Dear Lloyd,
Many thanks for your collated data about the Red-tailed Quail. You have
certainly convinced me of its existence. I note the strong correlation
with clover and lucerne- what could its original habitat have been
before these crops were available? Presumably it must have dense low

  I have just spent a fruitless 20 minutes searching for my copy of the
Sotheby catalogue of Gould's prints (when his personal collection was
broken up and sold). I am sure that it illustrates a very peculiar
Bowerbird in either Australian or New Guinea Birds which is now classed
as a probable Regent-Satin hybrid. Perhaps this is the Blue Regent. I
understand that lek-breeding birds are rather given to hybridizing.
  I have my own personal mystery bird and attempted to photograph it at
Sorrento, c.1970, where it was in the habit of visiting the birdbath at
my parents' holiday house. It resembled a large heavily marked immature
Blackbird with a grey cap and orange-brown motttled breast. (There were
usually two about and one lacked the grey cap so I wonder if this
characteristic was sex-linked). Whether it was an abnormal young
Blackbird or some phase of the Bassian Thrush, then fairly common in the
teatree, I do not know. Unfortunately it was in the days before I learnt
to take proper notes. We saw them every summer for three or four years
at least.

  A lot of the mysteries I have seen over the years have turned out to
be juveniles or immatures, still under-illustrated in fieldguides. How
puzzled I was by my first baby Yellow Robin, and my first Golden
Whistler in the blotchy state between ginger and grey. but even worse
have been birds covered with pollen - including Woodswallows,
Honeyeaters, Mistletoebirds, Silvereyes, and even an immature House
Sparrow, which followed the Silvereyes into my Philadelphus flowers. A
male Mistletoebird with a lot of yellow pollen on its crown and face
looks really strange. Actually the last Bourke Parrots I saw were
walking through and nibbling flowering yellow everlastings in WA - they
had pollen dusted all over them, but not enough to really change their
colour. A strange and beautiful effect however as they wandered past my
feet somewhere inland from Geraldton. 
  I dont think pollen or fruit effects can be fully ruled out for the
PurpleCrowned Honeyeater.  Some flowers only release nectar and pollen
for a very few days. And in New Zealand the native Fuchsia has blue or
purple pollen. And some birds put their heads right into soft fruit -
particularly figs. 
  Thanks and best wishes,
  Anthea Fleming in Melbourne
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