Regent Honeyeater at Newstead, Vic.

To: "Chris Tzaros" <>, "birding aus" <>
Subject: Regent Honeyeater at Newstead, Vic.
From: "Philip A. Veerman" <>
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 2003 14:10:26 +1000
Hi Chris,
Thanks for that and I would appreciate more information on the described mimicry in this very typical situation for this behaviour. From anyone with anything to add. Actually Chris, you mention "(well documented and summarised in HANZAB)", as the person who first described this phenomenon, I was disappointed that although HANZAB does mention it in passing, it does barely mention the significance and uniqueness of this behaviour (as acknowledged by various international experts on bird vocalisations such as Peter Slater of University of St Andrews, Clive Catchpole, David Dobkin and Peter McGregor). Mimicry of Little Wattlebird by the Regent Honeyeater is standard in those parts. The references with full explanation are as follows: (and I apologise a bit to David Geering and others, for being repetitive).
Veerman, P.A. 1992, ‘Vocal mimicry of larger honeyeaters by the Regent Honeyeater Xanthomyza phrygia’, Australian Bird Watcher 14: 180–189.
Veerman, P.A. 1994, ‘Batesian acoustic mimicry by the Regent Honeyeater Xanthomyza phrygia’, Australian Bird Watcher 15: 250–259.
There have been several additional incidents of this behaviour since those described in my two reports and is worth collating again.
-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Tzaros <>
To: <>
Cc: <>
Date: Wednesday, 11 June 2003 10:21
Subject: [BIRDING-AUS] Regent Honeyeater at Newstead, Vic.

Dear all,

Thanks to John Harris for reminding me to post my observations of the Regent Honeyeater at Newstead.  At the time it was reported to me, I followed it up almost immediately and my partner and I were lucky enough to see the bird (almost certainly the same one).  As soon as I could, I also informed numerous local Castlemaine, Bendigo, Ballarat and Newstead birdos and field nats. who have flocked to see it.

Now to the bird.  The following is snippet of facts that I've sent to numerous people.  The Regent HE was first seen in the township of Newstead (near Castlemaine) by Joe Hubbard outside his son's (Cameron) motel (Whispering Gums Motel) on 17th May.  The sighting was reported to me on the 21st and I saw it on the 24th, in same tree!  Four weeks later, the bird is still there (in the same 3-4 trees) and I've checked up on it several times.  Trees are Red Ironbark (E. tricarpa) in heavy flower, and the regent has been seen feeding on the flowers of these trees.  Yellow Gums (E. leucoxylon) nearby are also flowering well but I've only seen the bird in there on one occasion.  The district was hard hit by the drought but recent rains have brought the area back to life.  There are numerous species of honeyeaters in the area including Red Wattlebird, New Holland HE, White-plumed, Fuscous, Yellow-tufted, White-naped, Brown-headed and Eastern Spinebill.  Apart from the regent, other more unusual (or scarce visitors) include Noisy Friarbird and Crescent HE (this is the first Crescent I've ever seen in the box-ironbark).  There has been unconfirmed report also of Yellow-plumed from nearby area of forest.  Records of Regents are few and far between in this area.  The last sighting in the district was 5-6 years ago, and prior to that, there was a record in 1989.  These are the last two records of regents in that entire region for some time.  They were once common around the towns of Maryborough and Bendigo, and probably in the areas surrounding Maldon, Castlemaine and Newstead, but now they are incredibly rare visitors from ????  So far, it is estimated that over 100 people have visited the 'tree' and seen the regent.  My guess is that it will stay around for a while, as long as those trees keep producing food.  Red Wattlebirds are very aggressive towards it but on the same token, the Regent has been dishing a bit back!  Also very interesting is the Regent's calling behaviour.  It is mimicking Red Wattlebird and occasionally Little Wattlebird.  Reports of Regents mimicking are not unusual (well documented and summarised in HANZAB), but I am intrigued as to where this bird has come from considering it speaks the language of Little Wattlebird?????

Happy birding.


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