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Introducing geoffleslie

July 27, 2021

Even though this post is published by ‘ronlit‘ it is the first post of a new member of the team ‘geoffleslie‘ (no prizes for guessing what his actual name is!). Geoffleslie is a keen amateur naturalist and leader of the Murrindindi Birdwatchers, a group of twitchers and photographers that (pre-covid at least) did a monthly trek to some part of the district to check on the bird species there. So it is no surprise that the first post is about …. birds. Read on…

When I was out with an old birdwatcher in the Yea district some years ago, a couple of corellas flew over. “Little Corellas”, he said. “How do you know they are not Long-billed Corellas?”, I asked. “The common one around here is the Little. The other one is a feral that’s just moved in.”

That was not my experience. I had only been in the area a short time and I thought the two species were equally common. I have photos of both in the same tree. The Little Corella (Cacatua sanguinea), pictured left, has a crest and no visible red on its front. The Long-billed Corella (C. tenuirostris), pictured below, has a less-noticeable crest, a long upper mandible for a beak and looks like its throat has been cut with a red gash easily visible when it is perched. The calls are different, too. The Little corella always sounds sad, a plaintive one-note call; the Long-billed has a quavering curr-ur-rup. Both can be deafening when flocks go past.

Some birds decline when people move in. Some birds thrive. The Long-billed Corella is one of the latter. They used to be confined to a small part of Western Victoria – now they’ve spread up and down the East Coast with populations in Cairns and Townsville, even Perth. One reason for their success is the spread of Onion grass (Romula rosea), a widespread weed whose bulbs are dug up by that long bill, providing food in Winter. Meanwhile, the Little Corella is doing well also, now common in more parks and farmlands than previously, even in Melbourne where I never saw them as a child.

So my old friend was right that Long-billed Corellas are feral recent arrivals. But that doesn’t mean they’re less common. They’re trying to take over the place!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    July 27, 2021 4:12 pm

    Welcome Geoff Leslie! Thank you for your insight into the corellas. I didn’t now the differences until D&L pointed out the red cut throat so I look for that and now for the crest shapes! Thank you!

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