Spotted Quail-thrush behaviour

Subject: Spotted Quail-thrush behaviour
From: Carol Probets <>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004 14:33:34 +1000
I was down in the Capertee Valley over the long weekend where there has been a little rain of late but not enough to yet be able to describe conditions as anything but "dry". The Narrow-leaved Ironbarks have started flowering as have some isolated White Box around the Glen Davis campground and on my place beside the dam. Although I camped literally underneath one of these trees, the only nectarivores I saw in it were White-plumed and Fuscous Honeyeaters and a couple of Little Lorikeets. However, it's always worth keeping an eye on any flowering White Box for honeyeater activity.

It was a lazy weekend which allowed me to spend a bit of time watching the resident Spotted Quail-thrushes. There is a group of three which came down from the rocky hillside at the beginning of April and has been around ever since. They seem to range over an area of at least 4 hectares, which includes the area immediately around the cabin, a rocky dry creekline, some sparse open woodland and a patch of dense Acacia shrubland (which they seem particularly fond of and which seems rather unusual habitat for this species). Yesterday they extended this list of habitats even further when I found them out in the front paddock, foraging amongst some fallen branches beneath an isolated eucalypt. When I got too close they suddenly flew, one by one, across the grassy paddock to the nearest patch of woodland.

These birds constantly maintain voice contact with their thin high-pitched notes. This means that once I have located them, I can keep track of their whereabout for some time and quietly follow them around. At times I noticed them concentrating their feeding efforts around an ant nest and one of the birds looked like it was picking off ants, although I cannot be sure what it was actually picking up. I can find no reference to ants being a part of their diet but in the NPI volume "Robins & Flycatchers of Australia" it mentions that they feed on various seeds and that their stomach "frequently contains grains of sand, which assist the grinding process". It's possible they could have been getting coarse sand from these ant nests.

Whenever I have visitors, these quail-thrush become frustratingly difficult to find, and yet alone, I am always encountering them. Quite the opposite to the male Red-capped Robin who only appears when I have birding visitors, jumping at the opportunity to show off his plumage to someone new!

Black-chinned Honeyeaters, Speckled Warbler and Painted Button-quail were other good birds seen but the property birdlist still stands at 108.



Carol Probets
Blue Mountains &
Capertee Valley, NSW

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