"Whisper Mimicry"

To: Greg Clancy <>, <>, <>
Subject: "Whisper Mimicry"
From: Graeme Stevens <>
Date: Mon, 5 Apr 2010 15:20:09 +1000

This thread jogged a very pleasant memory and I have a record that sticks with 
me:25.1.66 in my family back garden at Lindfield, a Sydney suburb NSW. I had a 
Silvereye's nest under close watch (Z.lateralis) and the birds were fairly 
comfortable with my presence.

Perhaps at a distance of a metre or less with one of the pair quietly perched 
in dense cover, I was enthralled to hear the most gentle rendition of Sacred 
Kingfisher, and snatches I interpreted (according to my notes) as House 
Sparrow, Striated Thornbill, Red-whiskered Bulbul and Superb Blue Wren.

Certainly correct that if I had been even three or four metres away I would not 
have heard a thing.

While I had never heard such a performance before from such a small bird (yes 
OK it was early in the ornithological journey!) I remember still the dreadfully 
unscientific feeling that it was sheer individual "pleasure" in improvisation 
that was going on. The other bird in the pair wasn't present and I doubt that 
anything shared the performance apart from myself. It went on for some minutes 
with repetitions and variations.
Graeme Stevens

> From: 
> To: ; 
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Mimicry by Grey Butcherbird and others (was 
> GreyButcherbird mimicry) correction of typo
> Date: Sat, 3 Apr 2010 11:10:44 +1100
> It is interesting to note that when thornbills caught for banding mimic
> other birds' calls they do so with 'whisper mimicry'. I have also heard
> free-flying Mistletoebirds using 'whisper mimicry'. As it is likely that
> only the bird doing the mimicry and the bander holding the bird could hear
> the sound its purpose is baffling. 'Whisper mimicry' my occur more often in
> free-flying birds but unless an observer is very close they would be
> unlikely to hear it.
> Greg Clancy
> Ecologist
> Coutts Crossing

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