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You wouldn’t put money on it

January 20, 2021

For experienced birdwatchers the metric by which to assess success is the number of species seen in a calendar year. If you have lived in a given area for any length of time this usually means counting the species that you have already seen in previous years. You wouldn’t put money on observing a ‘lifer’, a species you had never seen before.

I am not an experienced birdwatcher so there are still occasions when I see a lifer. Yesterday I heard a bird call (my time with the Murrindindi birders is paying off!) I had never heard before. Perched high in a eucalypt was a bird I had never seen – dark head with a deep blue sheen on its body. It was a Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis). The scientific name comes from the Greek eurustomos meaning wide mouth and orientalis meaning eastern.

Dollarbirds are members of the roller family so called because of their acrobatic courting and territorial aerial displays. The Dollarbird is the only roller found in Australia, its distribution stretching along the entire east coast and up into SE Asia, Korea and Japan. It comes to Australia in Spring and Summer to breed and then winters in New Guinea. Our area seems to be the limit of its southern migration. Juvenile birds have brown beaks and feet that turn bright orange on maturity. This species feeds on insects taken in flight and nests in tree hollows.

The term Dollarbird comes from the pale light-blue coin-shaped colouration that can be seen on their underwings when in flight.

That makes cents.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. chris cobern permalink
    January 20, 2021 1:10 pm

    Where did you see it Ron?
    I’ve seen them along the rail trail in the Homewood/Kerrisdale area.

    • macwake permalink*
      January 20, 2021 4:20 pm

      Yea Butter Factory

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