just noticed the postings relating to Shrike-tit vocalisations by Phil Gregory
and Tom Tarrant on 3 Jan 2013 on birding-aus.
My experience is similar to that of Tom's except that no call playback was
used. Andrew Stafford and myself were on our 8 grasswren & 3 emuwren trip (that
being the full set of Amytornis & Stipiturus in those days) from the Kimberley
to Victoria in August 1991 - at the Drysdale River in the Kimberley we noticed
calls very similar or identical to Eastern Shrike-tit (mournful whistle). We
tracked down the bird and sure enough, it was a Northern Shrike-tit, still the
only one I've seen. So, I'm not sure where Phil's idea of 'very different
calls' comes from, certainly if I hadn't chased these obviously shrike-tit-like
calls (this being almost identical to the common call in south-eastern
Australian shrike-tits at least) I wouldn't have Northern Shrike-tit on my
list. An obvious split for mine, certainly more convincing than Tasmanian
Scrubwren (tail end of cline) or Black-eared Miner (it seems necessary to
actively remove yellow-throated miners from Gluepot to maintain the genet
ic persistence of Black-eared genes).
Just to comment of the Bronze-cuckoo debate, we need to take into account all
the forms of the minutillus (or should that be malayanus??) complex in New
Guinea and eastern Indonesia (e.g Gould's russatus is recognised as occurring
in Sulawesi). More research need to be done, focussing on the points raised by
Lloyd Neilsen in his posting. My personal opinion is that they are very
closely related and the calls are pretty much identical across the entire range
(so I prefer to lump them), but there could be differences - e.g. a couple of
apparently endemic forms (species?) in e. Indonesia (Wallacea).
Not so Spotted & Yellow-rumped Pardalote, it has always been my view that these
two are full species. The so-called wide integradation is a bit of a furphy, in
fact in northern Victoria, the two are generally sharply differentiated in
terms of habitat and there few places in which the two breed in close
proximity. Yellow-rumped maintains distinct populations in tiny patches of
mallee surrounded by box-ironbark forest inhabited by Spotted at sites like
Rushworth, Bendigo Whipstick and Kamarooka. The two are easily separated by
their advertisement calls (although contact calls are very similar), something
ignored or glossed over by Schodde & Mason. It seems the lumping is based on
Woinarski's work (Emu vol. 84) at Millwood Dam, Kamarooka where he found 5 out
of 7 mixed pairs (statisticians should have have input here - this sample size
is pretty small is it not?), but did not mention anything about the distinct
vocalisations of the two forms. This site has both box-ironbark and
mallee habitat in very close proximity and I have never seen birds with
hybrid characters there or elsewhere around Bendigo, despite searching on
multiple visits. There may be some intergradation in the south-east of South
Australia where extensive habitat clearance has taken place, but my
understanding is that in south-west WA the two forms act as separate species.
More research please, and not forgetting the north Queensland form!
Plenty more splits vs. lumps argument to bandy around birding-aus (don't get me
started on the those nonsense splits of the Rainbow Lorikeet and Golden
Whistler complexes), bring it on!
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