bushfires and avian aggression

To: "birding aus" <>
Subject: bushfires and avian aggression
From: "Judie Peet" <>
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2000 22:07:30 +1000
Hi All,
I am just back from a quick visit to SE Qld and coastal northern NSW.  I was surprised at the dryness throughout the areas we covered - from north of Moree in NSW, right through Qld from Goondiwindi at the NSW border, to Beaudesert, and north to Munruben Forest region, the countryside was very dry, and the air was thick with smoke from bushfires, and huge areas were blackened. Right down the northern NSW coast to Coffs Harbour and inland till west of Tamworth very dry conditions and fires were encountered.
* While in Munruben (?kms S/W of Brisbane) I noticed very aggressive behaviour from a pair of Dollarbirds (1st-2nd Oct).  They were inspecting hollows in a tree and constantly attacked every other bird that came near. In an adjacent tree the Galahs were behaving like real galahs - fooling around - and this had the Dollarbirds swooping on them repeatedly.  The Galahs too became aggressive, fighting with each other, then with locked claws, falling to the ground in pink and grey flurries of feathers.
Nearby, a Willie Wagtail attacked a Laughing Kookaburra with more than usual gusto. The Spur-winged Plovers were shrieking and swooping, and even the Rainbow Lorikeets were squabbling.  Scary place!
I wonder if this spate of aggressive behaviour is a response to the massive loss of habitat in the area? My resident daughter told me that in the Munruben area alone there had recently been 200 separate fires, so nest sites, building material and food would be getting pretty scarce.
Judie Peet, Dubbo NSW
(The only thing certain in birdwatching is that nothing is certain, etc.)
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