Showing other birding and parrot enthusiasts around Cairns and surrounds

To: "Donald G. Kimball" <>, Birding Aus <>
Subject: Showing other birding and parrot enthusiasts around Cairns and surrounds
From: David Adams <>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2014 11:02:49 +1000
Sorry to answer so late...something reminded me about Cairns and Fig
Parrots recently and I thought I'd add a couple of notes. I live in far
southern NSW where we don't have Fig Parrots. I visit Cairns whenever
possible and the birding in and around town is great. In fact, I've found
Fig Parrots there in different years surprisingly easily to find. I don't
mean out in the hinterland, I mean in Cairns itself, right at that big
plaza by the Woolies and the bus depot and over in Century Lakes Park. I
have no idea if they'll be around when you're there, but it's worth keeping
an ear open. (Like many of the parrots in my area, I assume that you could
see them every day for weeks and then not again for months...but I don't
really know as I only visit the area.)

I don't know about their life history in detail, but would figure that Fig
Parrots are nomadic, like so many Aussie parrots and birds. The key to
finding them (as anyone on the ground will say) is to know their flight
call instantly. They coming buzzing overhead with a zzzzzt-zzzzt and
disappear into a tree. I normally find call transcriptions a waste of space
but "zzzzzt-zzzzzt" really does hit the mark in this case.

I don't know if it's just me, but there can be flock of them in a tree just
meters from you and they're still hard to find. Tiny, ever-clambering,
green birds in dark green foliage. Up high, naturally ;-) I suspect that
the Cairns environment doesn't have more Fig Parrots it's just that they're
may be easier to see. Lower, more spread-out trees make tiny, green canopy
lovers a whole lot easier to spot. They are just so small! In proper
rainforest, they zip overhead and good luck. Even if you're at the margin,
you can hear them coming over and then they're Somewhere In One of Those
Trees. Grrr! [Later] I've just checked both the Pizzey and Morcombe apps
and am not in love with the flight calls for Fig Parrots in either. I'd
assume it's really hard to get it right. I don't know the bird's other
calls so I can't comment. If someone that lives around Fig Parrots and
hears them regularly could suggest a representative recording of a Fig
Parrot flight call, that would be great. (If that turns out to be one of
the ones I didn't find entirely right, I'll happily defer to those more

Bonus: I don't know if they're still there, but for that past couple of
years running there have been huge numbers of Bush Stone-curlews on the
Anderson St. (southern) side of the Cemetery resting during the day. If
your friends are from the USA, Stone-curlews (Thick-knees to our friends on
other continents) should be pretty satisfying. The first time I stumbled
across a pair I had absolutely no idea what they were....I said "It looks
like a plover crossed with an owl." I'll stand by that ;-) if your friends
are coming from a part of the USA with Burrowing Owls, the comparison makes
more sense...Anyway, it's a great photo opportunity, if they're there. At
night, you can normally find them calling and in numbers around the
Esplanade...which is also great for close views of Spoonbills. Another
crowd-pleaser for USA visitors since their only Spoonbill, while
spectacular, is pretty darn hard to see in the political USA.
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