birding-aus Camphor laurel and White-headed Pigeon

Subject: birding-aus Camphor laurel and White-headed Pigeon
From: (Syd Curtis)
Date: Sun, 18 Jul 1999 23:09:29 +1000
Ros Laundon wrote:
> Dear birding-Ausers,
> Do White-headed Pigeons eat green Camphor Laurel fruit?  There are quite
> a few birds in Rainbow Forest on Cubberla Creek, Indooroopilly,
> Brisbane.  They are in the tree tops and on the ground and green Camphor
> laurel fruit is the only food source I can see.
> Cheers,
> Ros Laundon.

H.J.  Frith, in his authoritative work, "Pigeons and Doves of Australia"
(Rigby, 1982) wrote this concerning camphor laurel fruit in the diet of the
White-headed Pigeon (page 155) -

        "In the Richmond River district in the winter the birds now feed
extensively on the fruits of the introduced camphor laurel _Cinnamomum
camphora_ and give the impression that this is now their most important
source of winter food.  They feed on the ripe fruit in the trees but also
occasionally pick up the seeds under them."

(The Richmond River is in northern New South Wales.)

Incidentally, I recall visiting Harry in the '70s, in his CSIRO office in
Canberra when he was studying pigeons.  His desk, as Chief of the Wildlife
Division, faced a glass wall - not with a view of the rolling hills of the
ACT, but forming one side of a large well-lit aviary.  A cine-camera, still
camera and Nagra recorder were to hand so he could record any interesting
pigeon behavior.  In his preface he explains that many canopy species were
impossible to watch, being usually hidden by the foliage, and he could make
only fleeting visits to several species in remote regions.  Hence the
"large, well-planted, and heated aviary in which all Australian species
have been kept and in which most have bred".

Eighteen years of study, field work and observation went into the book.

Syd Curtis at Hawthorne, Queensland.

H Syd Curtis

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