Re: Spotted Quail-thrush

To: "David & Sue Harper" <>, "BIRDING_AUS" <>
Subject: Re: Spotted Quail-thrush
From: Michael Todd <>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 13:37:21 +1000
Hello David,

I for one am very interested in your project. I was waiting to see if you got many responses before I replied. However, I suspect that Peter Waanders comment was closest to the mark- that no-one knows the answer to your question, I certainly don't but I will try to help. I have an interest in quail-thrush (most experience with Spotted) and have come across them many times in the last 15 years, especially in the Lake Macquarie area. I found a nest in the Mt Sugarloaf area behind Seahampton (West of Newcastle, NSW for the Victorians), in about 1991 or thereabouts. It was situated at the base of sapling Melalueca, underneath a clump of Kangaroo Grass (Themeda). Despite this 95% of my observations are only anecdotal and of limited use other than to give me an impression of Spotted Quail-thrush habitat choice.

When I was doing regular open-forest counts a few years ago, I only recorded them occasionally as they were under-recorded due to their secretive behaviour. I don't know of anyone who has studied Spotteds and I believe that they would be only rarely caught in mist nets so there would be very little recapture data. While I often see them in the same general areas it is impossible to know whether I am seeing the exact same individuals or different ones. Similarly when I find them 500 metres away from a known site I don't know whether I am seeing the same birds or a different pair. I think that they are probably territorial and would have reasonable sized territories but I have little to base this on. In the Lake Macquarie area they are almost entirely restricted to ridge tops which maintain more of an open understorey than the slopes and gullies. After burning some areas can become suitable until the vegetation thickens up again. They are often seen on bush roads, I think because roadside edges often maintain a bit of a narrow strip of more open microhabitat for the birds to feed in. However, once the vegetation becomes too thick they disappear. I presume they move on to look for any other unoccupied suitable habitat.

I would be very interested in any observations as well, that people may have made on SQT or of any articles that people may know of regarding them. Julian Ford published an interesting article on quail-thrush evolution in EMu (1983, 83: 152-172). Cleland published a little info on diet (seeds and insects) in EMU (1919, 19: 79-93). Similarly there is a small amount of info on diet in Barker and Vestjens (1990) -Food of Australian Birds. While I've never specifically searched for quail-thrush papers there may be some- but I don't know of them.

Good luck finding your Cinclosoma punctatum anachoreta!


Mick Todd
Toronto, NSW

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