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The ups and downs of twitching

March 9, 2013
White-throated Treecreeper

White-throated Treecreeper

Our property, and probably yours, is inhabited by ‘the tribe’. This is what we call the group of birds that, as a wave, traverse the slopes several times a day. You can hear them coming and if you position yourself in the right spot and sit very still, the tribe will engulf you with a cacophony of different birdcalls.

In the past we have identified members of the tribe by colour and form – for example the robins have coloured breasts, the finches gaudy eyebrows and the fantails and wrens distinctive tails, and by behaviour – the treecreepers move up tree trunks. All the other birds we had consigned to the ‘LBJ’ (little brown job) category.

Varied Sittella

Varied Sittella

However in recent times, as we have attempted to tick more birds off our list, we have become more discriminating of the LBJs. I was reminded of a ‘rule-of-thumb’ a knowledgeable twitcher called Laurie once taught me – watch the birds on the tree trunks. White-throated Treecreepers (Cormobates leucophaea) hop up the tree trunk, and Sittellas hop down the tree trunk. So with these words in mind, last week as I watched the tribe go past one of the LBJs did indeed hop down the tree trunk – a Varied Sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera). Not a great photo, but another bird ticked off the list and out of LBJ obscurity.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan and Joel King permalink
    March 9, 2013 1:30 pm

    I always wanted to see a sittella and couldn’t tell the difference! Now I can – thank you.

  2. ccobern permalink
    March 9, 2013 5:08 pm

    They’ve both found their own niche in the bush. Even though the two species have the same habitat, treecreepers get the spiders and bugs they see searching up the tree and the sittella gets the ones the treecreeper misses but he can see searching from another angle.
    Chris Cobern.
    Landcare Coordinator

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