Splits 2 (shrike-tit calls) + other splits & lumps

Subject: Splits 2 (shrike-tit calls) + other splits & lumps
From: Peter Lansley <>
Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2013 10:54:37 +1100
Hi all,
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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