birding-aus "Feral" natives and "wrong" distributions

Subject: birding-aus "Feral" natives and "wrong" distributions
From: Hugo Phillipps <>
Date: Tue, 27 Jul 1999 17:12:48
Michael -

At 14:30 27/07/1999 +1000, you wrote:
>Perhaps field-guide authors are just as confused as I am as to what counts
>as a valid wild population for birdwatching purposes, when they omit "feral
>native populations" from the maps.

I think field-guide authors have mainly followed the distribution maps in
the Atlas of Australian Birds (the book published in 1984).  Interestingly,
this only shows the distribution of the Long-billed Corella as occurring in
what is currently considered its natural range in SE Australia, and around
Perth (before the splitting-off of the Western Corella).  So no obviously
feral populations are indicated.  Mallards are shown as occurring over much
of SE Australia as well as around Perth.

>Is there a distribution map etiquette that authors follow?   If so, we
>should be made aware of what it is.   If not, then I repeat a question I've
>asked previously but didn't get a reply to:
>In other words, when are they considered to be part of the normal

Different people have followed different conventions.  I would consider
successful breeding (raising young to the point of independence and sexual
maturity) is an important step that should be recognised.  When a
population (not just a single pair) breeds successfully (sustaining
numbers) over a few generations, that is another.  So, when atlassing
marginal or newly established populations of ferals it is especially
important to record breeding.

>Finally, in Australia, the term "feral" generally conjures up nasty thoughts
>of various destructive exotic mammals.  Surely we can come up with a better
>term in describing native species of bird whose only "crime" has been to
>successfully colonise another part of the country that we've taken them too.

I don't have a big problem with the term although, strictly speaking, it
should be reserved for wild populations derived from domestic stock rather
than for those derived from translocated wild birds.  Maybe someone could
come up with a good term for the latter (translocatees? transportees?).   I
found it interesting to see flocks of feral turkeys and peafowl recently
on King Island (Tasmania - western Bass Strait).


Hugo Phillipps,
Communications Coordinator
Birds Australia,
415 Riversdale Road,
Hawthorn East, VIC 3123, Australia.
Tel: (03) 9882 2622. Fax: (03) 9882 2677.
O/s: +61 3 9882 2622. Fax: +61 3 9882 2677.
Email: <>
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