1. Bird Migration 2. "Rosella"

To: "Messages Birding-aus" <>
Subject: 1. Bird Migration 2. "Rosella"
From: Dr Richard Nowotny <>
Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2003 23:06:11 +1000
Two questions:

1. A semi-birding friend who went with us to see Travelling Birds asked me why birds migrate such long, and dangerous, distances when they seem to have quite suitable habitat for their needs (including nesting?) in their wintering grounds. I started proffering responses gathered from my reading over the years, but found it more difficult than I expected justifying say a Red-necked Stint flying from what seems to be relatively food-rich mud-flats (and associated coastal habitat) in south-eastern Australia to somewhere in northern Asia to breed, and then to endure the equally long and hazardous return flight for the non-breeding season. What are the scientific reasons/theories for these complex and frequently very long migration patterns, ie what are the present (or past - assuming that it is now genetically-acquired behaviour, which may not any longer actually be necessary) survival advantages of making such a flight, over the obvious disadvantages. Does it date back to a previous age when the advantages were more apparent, or are the present advantages of migration still so great that the behaviour continues to be truly necessary?

2. A much more prosaic matter: Is it correct that the name "rosellas" is a corruption of "Rose Hillers" after the early Botany Bay locale, and present-day Sydney suburb, of Rose Hill where they were commonly seen by early naturalists and travellers between Sydney Cove and (?) Parramatta? If not, what is the correct origin of the name?

Richard Nowotny
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