birding-aus White-headed and Topknot Pigeons in Toowomba

To: "'Birding-Aus'" <>
Subject: birding-aus White-headed and Topknot Pigeons in Toowomba
From: "Atzeni, Michael" <>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 14:40:37 +1000
Here in Toowoomba (SE Qld),  White-headed Pigeons (WHP) have been recorded
every month of the year, and are most common in Winter and Spring with an
apparent peak around August.

Most sightings are along the numerous Camphor Laurel-lined streets in the
central, eastern and northern parts of the city.  You usually see them
perched on the wires, or feeding under the trees as you drive along.  No
doubt many people probably think they are just domestic pigeons.  I must
admit I was pleasantly surprised when I first realised they "were in town",
and still wonder how I managed to overlook them the first 17 or so years of
my life!

The vine scrub in adjacent escarpment parks, particularly Redwood Park, is
the only other habitat they are regularly seen in around here.

I happen to drive through favoured areas on my way to and from work and find
WHPs tend to prefer certain stretches of camphor laurels.  What separates
these from others is not apparent, but perhaps it has something to do with
the timing and effects of regular pruning that many of these feeding trees
require to keep them clear of the powerlines they have grown through.

Yes, Toowomba boasts whole streets of Camphor Laurel with U-shaped canopies!

WHPs also travel further afield to isolated trees in atypical habitats.
One of the biggest groups I've seen was under a single tree in the Drayton
Cemetery on the western (and drier) side of the city, a semi-industrial,
semi-rural area.  They have also been seen feeding in isolated trees in the
Lockyer Valley, Helidon, east of Toowoomba.

Regarding numbers, well my experience is that they can fluctuate markedly
from year to year.  Some years you're flat out finding them, especially when
you most want to see them, e.g. on our annual local Species Census in
October, while other years I can track them down with ease.

Topknot Pigeons are much rarer around here, but have been recorded in every
month except March and December, mostly on the eastern side, along the
Toowoomba escarpment.  They are rarely seen in town, but if so, invariably
in Camphor Laurels, or just flying over.  I saw them on three separate days
over a brief period flying over the western side of town which is extremely
unusual.  Perhaps, they also target isolated trees in odd habitats.

Michael Atzeni
Toowoomba Q 4350

ph       (07) 46 881 318
fax      (07) 46 881 192

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