Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Eastern Rosella mimicry calls have begun

Calls - Listen
Please check the Videos page for all videos of the Eastern Rosella's calls.

Unusual vocalisations of one lone Eastern Rosella
Bell Miner
Eastern Rosella
has tricked me into believing there were Bell Miners
Pacific Koel
Bell Miner
here in Tenterfield. But that is not the case. After a bit of time I discovered the true maker of these Bell Miner calls......

It all began around the 16-22nd January 2012 when I began hearing the calls of Bell Miners here in Tenterfield. There were 1-2 calls in the beginning. The closest population of Bell Miners (that I'm aware of) to the Tenterfield area is about 45 minutes drive east of here, just passed Drake, in the Great Dividing Ranges rainforest area. It took me a while to figure out that Bell Miners were not in the area, nor had they moved into Tenterfield but at first I thought they had.

The Local birds - Bell Miner mimicry calls video clearly shows an Eastern Rosella practising it's mimicry sounds of a Bell Miner with other Eastern Rosellas present even though no actual birds can be seen in this video, not clearly anyway. I was actually on my way to Bi-Lo when walking passed the back of ST. Joseph's Catholic Primary School I heard these rosellas calling out to each other. So I started filming and surprisingly got more than I bargained for, with the bird's full range of vocalisation that I could not actually hear myself. You can clearly hear the rosella starting its mimicry sounds with a few other rosellas not doing it.

The confusing part to all of this was hearing the sounds of more than one Bell Miner calls in Tenterfield before and after this video was taken. Tenterfield sits in a sort of bowl shaped formation with hills on 3/4 of its sides (it reminds me of a crater actually), and is lower than the surrounding areas. Sounds travel across town VERY EASILY and quickly, and in many directions. You can always hear the echoes of just about anything in town coming back at you from just about any direction during the day and night, if you are in the right location to hear it. This is what I was hearing - one bird's calls but many echoes.

Why this mimicry call is happening I do not know, as I have never known Eastern Rosellas in Tenterfield to make mimicry sounds of other birds or animals. This particular call only occurs late in the afternoon from about 4pm onwards and it is not heard for any longer than one hour. Before and after those calls are heard you just hear the normal sounds of the Eastern Rosella.

Maybe something unusual is happening here in Tenterfield, or maybe the birds are evolving or maybe the birds are just bored senseless. It could be a mating vocalisation thing, as a few other birds in Tenterfield also display various vocalisation mimicry sounds. The female Australian Magpie for one! The Bell Miner mimicry sounds stopped sometime in mid to late May 2012, which tells me it may be a mating call variation of it's normal mating call.

These pretty Rosellas are normally very hard to photograph as they are elusive and hide themselves very well in long grass, even on the sides of the road. Only if you walk passed where they are do they suddenly take to the air scaring the pants off of you with all their sudden screeching and wing flapping.

I have seen Eastern Rosellas on Miles, Francis, Douglas, and Manners Streets, as well as other streets in Tenterfield. They seem to like places with few houses on them and areas where there is dense to semi-dense cover for them to hide in. They often frequent areas close to the Tenterfield Creek, which is where I have mostly spotted them in town. They generally are not seen in Rouse Street but can be observed on ocassion in Bruxner Park feeding in the tall trees there. They do not generally feed on the ground anywhere where humans are present. If disturbed they usually flee to tall trees, fences, or power lines if a human is too close for comfort.

They are aggressive birds and will not share food with different rosellas species or parrots. When competing for food Eastern Rosellas always win when fighting other rosellas and parrots. In the past I have seen Eastern Rosellas fight off King Parrots as food competitors.

I have also observed Eastern Rosellas roosting in large Poplar trees throughout Tenterfield when the trees have not lost their leaves. The taller the Poplar tree the better, the birds reckon. They roost about 3/4 the way up the tree in a family group (small flock). They are quite noisy prior to falling asleep, often resettling on a new branch or ten whilst making a bit of vocalisations to each other. Sometimes you can almost hear them making a sound similiar to a sigh or a snore before they fall asleep. It is quite funny. Eastern Rosellas are easily startled prior to falling asleep. If startled they will go to higher branches within the Poplar tree and will settle down again after a few minutes.

Eastern Rosellas seem to stay in the area despite other bird species migrating elsewhere due to a lack of food. They exist in very small numbers in Tenterfield.



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