birding-aus The escaper/releasee dilemma

To: "Atzeni, Michael" <>, "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: birding-aus The escaper/releasee dilemma
From: "Philip A Veerman" <>
Date: Sat, 27 Mar 1999 12:12:35 +1000

I published an article about this for the Rainbow Lorikeet in Aust Bird
Watcher, "The Changing Status of the Rainbow Lorikeet in South-east
Australia: the role of Wild and Escaped Birds". ABW 1991, 14(1):3-9. I am
not sure that anyone else has followed on that line. I can say that the
trend I described for Melbourne has continued, whereas the the trend
described for Canberra has not (but I was not to know that at the time). The
viewpoint I put was not any "official one" but was intended to raise a
debate. Nobody has disagreed with me but then noone has agreed either. The
evidence I raised was circumstantial and was intended to debunk the
prevalent theory, that all these birds were just escaped pets. Maybe now is
the time to think about it again. The forthcoming book that I am working on,
on 17 years of the COG Garden Bird Survey in Canberra, will discuss this
issue in detail. The line it takes is that escapers and releasees (NOT
escapees), should be observed in more or less the ratio at which these birds
are kept in captivity, allowing for a factor as to how well they survive
once released. This is on the basis that this is generally a random event.
When you have lots of data (1099 observer years) such as in the GBS, there
is enough information to decide whether that hypothesis is supported. The
GBS results fit this pattern perfectly. Where it is difficult is when the
birds' natural range borders on the urban area in question. Look out for
this book, it should be out second half of 1999.
Can I say this is not an advertisement? I might just be telling fibs if I
-----Original Message-----
From: Atzeni, Michael <>
To: 'Birding-Aus' <>
Date: Friday, 26 March 1999 15:16
Subject: birding-aus Bourke's Parrot, and the escapee dilemma

>Mark and Birding-Aussers
>I had a similar experience back in the 80's.  A group of us had spent a few
>days camping in the Eulo area in southwest QLD.  We saw Bourke's Parrot
>there, but if we hadn't, it would have been quite ironic because, on
>arriving home in Toowoomba (southeast QLD), there was one feeding in the
>front yard -  very tame, and obviously an escapee, and not seen thereafter.
>But what about the "untame" one reported to me from an Oakey resident (on
>the Darling Downs just west of Toowoomba) a couple of years ago near the
>of the drought?   Most probably an escapee, but if we believe a Spotted
>Bowerbird opted for a sea change and bee-lined to North Stradbroke Island,
>then a wild Bourke's Parrot driven a few hundred kms east by adverse
>conditions is not too hard to swallow.
>For such sightings, particularly of single birds (or even a couple), it's a
>tough call as to whether they're wild or aviary escapees.  Since there are
>aviaries throughout Australia,  I am often suspicious about reports of
>species within their natural range, too.  For example, if memory serves me
>correctly, someone reported a single Scarlet-chested Parrot in an odd part
>of the NT recently, and I wondered how normal that was, and why it couldn't
>have been an aviary escapee.   Another example - around Toowoomba, we get
>the odd report of one or two Turquoise Parrots, but never a flock, and
>usually close enough to settled areas to make you wonder.
>I'm interested to know the "rules of thumb" applied by Rarities Committees
>to such sightings?   If "untame" and within range, do they get the benefit
>of the doubt?
>Michael Atzeni
> Phone +61 7 4688 1318      Fax    +61 7 4688 1192
> Email:  
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Mark Sanders [SMTP:
>> Sent: Monday, 22 March 1999 10:11
>> To: 
>> Subject: birding-aus Escapees
>>  two years ago i headed out for the day only to find a Bourke's
>> Parrot feeding in my front yard. I never saw it again.
>> Mark Sanders
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