Re: birding-aus White-headed Pigeons

Subject: Re: birding-aus White-headed Pigeons
From: Damian Hackett <>
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 1999 10:58:09 +1000
Hi Ros, Brian, Tom, Laurence and Birding-Ausers,

White-headed pigeons probably aren't capable of spreading camphor seeds as
they are seed predators (i.e. they grind the seeds in their gizzard and
digest the contents).  However, camphor certainly seems to be a major food
source for WH pigeons in the Richmond River district where I live.

Over the past 4 years I've spent a lot of time observing birds feeding on
camphor fruits in the region. I've recorded 18 species consuming the
fruits, including rose-crowned and wompoo fruit-doves. The former species
can now be found in pure stands of camphor laurel throughout autumn and
winter in the region.

Every autumn, thousands of topknot pigeons move into the area to feed
almost exclusively upon the abundant camphor fruits. I've often seen over
60 pigeons feeding in a single tree. Watching them feed is quite a
spectacle - the whole tree crown shakes as the pigeons clamber throughout
the canopy, gorging themselves on fruit.  It's probably this species, along
with figbirds, that are primarily responsible for spreading the seeds of
camphor laurel.


Damian Hackett

At 11:33 PM 7/18/99 +1000, you wrote:
>Hello Brian, Tom, Laurence and Birding-Ausers,
>If White-headed Pigeons eat green Camphor Laurel seeds then they may not be
>responsible for spreading the trees.
>My curiosity was aroused because there are lots of birds (>10) and no ripe
>left.  A few months ago the Camphors dropped ripe seed like rain.  I
brought home a
>few of the Camphor laurel berries from where the pigeons were eating
(something) on
>the ground.  They were completely green but the flesh was fairly soft and
>and tasted like camphor; quite like the fresh, eucalyptus taste of Syzygium
>australe (Brush Cherry) fruit.  (I guess it affects the taste of these
fellows too,
>Laurence.)  Two of the 3 were empty but the 3rd had a nice plump kernel.
The skin
>of the kernel cracked easily with a fingernail, no great challenge to a
>>From below with binoculars I couldn't find any fruit in the trees and I'm
>how these few green fruit appeared so early and what the pigeons are doing
>well before the main crop comes on stream.  The trees are just producing
>buds.  Could the birds be eating the flower buds which look a bit like a
>fruit at this early stage?
>Apart from those on the ground I couldn't find a pigeon actually feeding.
They do
>a lot of sitting and neck craning though.
>Perhaps the White-headed Pigeons have benefited from the spread of Camphor
>without contributing anything to their spread.
>Ros Laundon.
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