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Focal species found

May 18, 2014
Southern Whiteface

Southern Whiteface – click on the photo for a closer look

While conducting a bird census last week on one of the Strath Creek Biodiversity Project sites, we were pleasantly surprised to come across a small group of Southern Whiteface (Aphelocephala leucopsis). This small bird (about thornbill size), which is one of a number of woodland species in decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation, was highlighted in the ‘Focal Species’ section of the local booklet ‘Birds of the lower King Parrot Valley’ produced by the Strath Creek Landcare group in 2007. It has not been recorded on the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas database in this district since 1999 (and that sighting was in fact on our own property), although we do recall a later sighting on ‘HumePark’ about 9 years ago.

With its mainly grey-brown plumage, it is not easy to detect, but the white forehead patches are unmistakeable. From front on, it seems to have fallen head first into a bin of flour! It feeds on the ground, often in association with other species such as Yellow-rumped Thornbill. It’s sturdy bill is well-suited to eating seeds as well as insects.

The Southern Whiteface builds an untidy nest in a dense shrub, or often in a hollow tree limb (spout). It has been known to use nest-boxes.

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