Cicadas and small birds

To: <>, "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Cicadas and small birds
From: "Bruce Cox" <>
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001 21:29:48 +1100

Around Sydney cicadas are at their noisiest when it is very hot , what was
the weather like around breakfast time up you way? It was muggy and hot in
Sydney and the birds were correspondingly quiet.

> A strange thing happened here yesterday. At breakfast time, the garden was
> practically devoid of small birds. There were still birds on the creek,
> some interesting flyovers, but the activity around the bird baths and in
> vegetation was close to nil. Maybe 10 to 15 or more regular species that
> usually show themselves during our drawn-out breakfast time were absent.
> At the same time, we had a continual loud mixed cicada chorus from not
> after sun-up, which was kept up with variations right through the day.
> was as unusual here as was the absence of birds.
> Are these related phenomena?
> It has happened again this-morning. The overwhelming sound to be heard
> the verandahs is of cicadas, and the bird activity has again been very
> lower than normal.
> Happily, we've just had a visit from our now daily Red-tailed Black
> Cockatoos, as well as several Cockatiel. A male Collared Sparrowhawk which
> dropped onto an exposed branch on a small tree just across from us,
> assessed, like us, that there was really nothing much about today and
> off for better pickings elsewhere.
> I've got anecdotal memories of noisy cicada days coinciding with poor
> birding, but I've never seen any account of whether this is consistently
> case, or why.
> I've often wondered if Cicadabirds benefit from sounding like cicadas -
> which do seem to form a significant part of their diet. But do these
> cacophonous cicada choruses actually protect the insects from birds, maybe
> by driving the birds away?
> Please, someone who knows about these things - enlighten me. I know I
> like it, but if I can understand it I might be able to put up with it with
> better grace.
> Bill Jolly

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