Honeyeater alarm calls

Subject: Honeyeater alarm calls
From: Andy Burton's Bush Tours <>
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 2003 14:46:33 +1100

My experience is that occasionally (always???) Noisy Miners will use their 'raptor' warning call for other large species such as Pelicans. I am not aware that they use "specific calls depending on the type of raptor". In the majority of cases the call represents the presence of a raptor.

This call should not be confused with what I call their mobbing call which appears to be used when harrassing a perched or tree-climbing predator such as a raptor or goanna, or a cat on the prowl beneath their perch.

Any other comments on this subject would be of interest.


I made what I thought was an interesting observation relating to honeyeater
alarm calls. I was alerted to a large mixed flock (15-20 birds) of New
Holland and White-cheeked Honeyeaters when they collectively sounded alarm
calls. Looking up I saw a Whistling Kite overhead. Later after the Kite had
moved on, and the calls had subsided, the cacophony recommenced. Thinking
the Kite had returned I looked up and observed an Australian Pelican. I had
good views so I was sure there was no Kite in the vicinity.

I have heard that Noisy Miners give specific calls depending on the type of
raptor, so in this case how could the HE have got it so wrong. This begs the
question, do birds recognise raptors/predators or do they react to the size
and behaviour of the potential predator? In this case the pelican was
circling and may not have appeared too dissimilar to a White-bellied Sea
eagle (which were also evident in the location), but I am not aware that Sea
eagles take passerines as prey.

I look forward to your comments.

Alastair Smith
Law Enforcement Liaison
National Coordinator Child Pornography

Phone: 02 6275 6726
Mob:   0401 993 381
Fax:    02 6275 6996

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NSW  2069

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