Alarm calls

To: Allan Richardson <>
Subject: Alarm calls
From: Allan Richardson <>
Date: Wed, 1 Jan 2014 07:35:09 +1100
Good Morning,

First raptor over home this morning to be rewarded by a Miner herald was a 
Peregrine. Leisurely alarm call from the miners, although the bird flew very 
close to the canopy. The only moderately excited call from the miners obviously 
due to the gentle rowing flight of the Peregrine.

First 2014 bird this morning was roosting Kookaburras in the backyard at 

Allan Richardson
Morisset NSW

On 17/12/2013, at 10:02 PM, Allan Richardson wrote:

> I too have noticed the difference in miner calls, although I think there is 
> another dynamic that is going as Eric mentions below.
> Miners give more leisurely calls for soaring birds at a long distance than 
> they do to imminent danger. I agree with Eric on this point in regard to the 
> falcon's rapidity of arriving in the proximity to miners, but I've also 
> noticed very similar calls when they are surprised by accipiters.
> It appears to me that there is a definite escalation in call intensity and 
> frequency as a bird of prey approaches.
> On a related note, there is s definite period of the year (late summer and 
> into autumn) when the birds clearly make mistakes about danger. They give 
> alarm calls for Needletails, aeroplanes and sometime swallows and I think 
> there is a correlation between the numbers of young birds and these mistakes. 
> A period of learning alarm calls and recognising what is an identifiable 
> threat if you will.
> I've definitely noticed a marked difference in call between aerial danger and 
> danger on the ground, such as a lace monitor, cat or human, similar to the 
> vocabulary that vervet monkeys display. The ground call is not the higher 
> pitched call, it's the yaap, yaap, yaap call.
> Happy birding
> Allan Richardson
> Morisset NSW
> On 17/12/2013, at 10:07 AM, <> wrote:
>> Hi All, 
>> There are also different calls for sitting versus flying raptors of the same 
>> species. What we hear as "urgency" greatly increases when a Hobby gets off 
>> its perch and starts raking the 'burbs. Mick I agree there seems a very high 
>> level of urgency relating to hobbies, and I think this may be because they 
>> have a habit of flying rapidly over the suburbs/tree tops trying to flush 
>> things. Everything gets very suddenly scared. You can definitely track a 
>> Hobby by listening to the wave of alarm calls and fleeing birds. If the 
>> hobby is below the tree/roof tops, and you can't see it, look for the 
>> lorikeets flying above it, and the pied butchebirds going up and down, dive 
>> bombing, as it passes thtrough their territory.
>> Also, not only miners, but many other species have different bird calls for 
>> different raptor species - ones that I've observed regularly enough to be 
>> sure of this include BF honeyeaters (honorary miners anyway), various 
>> Melithreptus (esp. white-throated honeyeaters), drongos, woodswallows, 
>> swallows, fork-tailed swifts, little friarbirds, grey, pied and BB 
>> butherbirds. I'm sure there's more I've forgotten. 
>> Most species recognise other species' alarm calls I think, and respond/join 
>> in accordingly. Peaceful doves seem especially challenged though in this 
>> respect and hence the regularity on hobby's menu.   
>> Great topic, a favourite of mine. 
>> Regards, 
>> Eric Vanderduys
>> Technical Officer
>> CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
>> Phone: +61 7 4753 8529 | Fax: +61 7 4753 8600 | Mobile: 0437 330 961 
>>  | | 
>> Address: CSIRO, PMB PO, Aitkenvale, Qld 4814. Deliveries: CSIRO, ATSIP, Bld 
>> 145 James Cook Drive, James Cook University Douglas Campus, Townsville Qld 
>> 4814, AUSTRALIA
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From:  
>>  On Behalf Of Mick Roderick
>> Sent: Tuesday, 17 December 2013 8:49 AM
>> To: Shirley Cook; Messages Birding-aus
>> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Fw: Fw: Alarm calls
>> I totally agree with Stephen and have been trying to nut this out at home. 
>> Here at Shortland (on the edge of Hexham Swamp, Hunter Estuary, NSW) we are 
>> blessed with a good variety of raptors. I have had 18 species fly over my 
>> house during the past 12 months (I work from home so spend a lot of time 
>> here!). We are also "blessed" with an uber-aggressive mob of Noisy Miners (I 
>> have seen them near-kill a White Ibis and have brought egrets down to the 
>> ground). 
>> As Stephen says, one can tell which type of raptor is approaching by the 
>> pitch and 'urgency' of the Noisy Miner alarm calls. The most frantic calls 
>> occur when an Accipiter approaches (less so for a Grey Gos), followed by 
>> Hobby, Peregrine then maybe other falcons. The Hobby can really get the 
>> neighbourhood going though and is possibly the only bird that causes every 
>> antenna-perched pigeon to leave their perches in a panic. You can almost 
>> track a Hobby by listening to the wave of alarm calls and fleeing birds. 
>> I was first alerted to this (pardon the pun) by when my first Little Eagle 
>> flew over the house. The alarm was completely different to any of the others 
>> I had heard and sure enough, a 'different' raptor appeared. 
>> They do not bother sounding off at Whistling Kites and only do so at Black 
>> Kites because they're a rare visitor here.
>> The alarm for Corvids (there are resident Aussie Ravens and Torresian Crows 
>> here) is completely different. It's hardly an 'alarm' at all but is that 
>> relentless 'near near near' that Noisy Miners are famous for. It's probably 
>> the same for the cuckoos.
>> Mick 
>> On Tuesday, 17 December 2013 9:25 AM, Shirley Cook 
>> <> wrote:
>> DEar all
>> Here is a very interesting comment from Stephen Debus.
>> Shirley Cook

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