Bowerbird Collecting - an opinion from Del Richards

To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: Bowerbird Collecting - an opinion from Del Richards
From: Lloyd Nielsen <>
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2001 10:14:55 +1000
Del Richards (Fine Feather Tours) has asked me to post the following -

"Much has been written on the subject of collecting male bowerbirds in NQ and it
invokes a conscious feeling of despair regarding the parameters of collection 
by the
scientific community

Because of its striking plumage amongst the other members of the genus, I often
reflect upon my experiences with the Golden Bowerbird.

AS A BIRDER ..........I first encountered the species as I climbed Mt Bartle 
in July 1972, some 28 years ago.  I was deeply impressed by the light which 
to emanate from the bird then as I am today.  My 'What Bird is That?' could not 
them justice!

AS A GUIDE.......... I've shared the joy of others with the species as in 
December I
took Dr Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University to see the male at Mt Lewis at his
request.  At our approach the male alighted about five metres away and we 
each other for fully three minutes. I am sure the Dr did not breathe in that 
This world travelled environmentalist made special mention of those moments in a
letter of thanks.

I must agree with Lloyd Nielsen and others that the rainforest bowerbirds are
extremely restricted in habitat preference and it is likely that on the Atherton
Tableland less than six Golden's bowers are regularly visited by guides with

AS A BANDER............  I have serious concerns with the physical logistics of 
Lainey Day's project in collecting blood samples from 100 male Great Bowerbirds.
With retraps and females, many many more would have to be handled.  From 
it is not often that things go to plan.  I am no haematologist but what is the 
of 100 blood samples as opposed to 20?

AS A RESEARCHER of general information available, many birders will be 
surprised to
know that the northern race of the Satin Bowerbird is generally uncommon. Cliff
Frith (pers.comm.) reckons that there are only six skins held in museums and
scientific institutions.

AS A CONSERVATIONIST............there should have been forward research on a 
species of the genus i.e. the  Satin (southern subspecies), proving the 
viability of
the theory regarding the obscure outcome in favour of menopause and Alzheimer's

AS A MEMBER of BIRDS AUSTRALIA.......... I find it pleasing that our regional 
has rightly made its concerns known to the media and the Government departments
involved.  Our members include authors, researchers, publishers, guides and 
accommodation owners.  Effectively this group is charged with introducing 
to the birds of NQ.  Now there lies a much bigger responsibility for Birds 
as the national bird conservation body to become involved at a legislation 

AS A CITIZEN............I am very concerned that under the guise of academic
science, overseas researchers can come to our country and approach all of the 
people in regional and federal departments to achieve exactly the outcome they
desire.  Normally there is more resistance than assistance.  Sadly it is true.

AS A COMPLETE OPTIMIST............I trust that there will be an acceptance by 
the entities involved that we have a precious commodity in the birdlife of our
nation and that we will have a  very valuable and ongoing role to play in its
conservation in the twenty first century.  At every level!?"

Del Richards,
Fine Feather Tours,
PO Box 853,
Mossman 4873  Nth Qld

(Lloyd Nielsen)

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