Saturday, March 04, 2006

A Lofty Question

John & Shirley Tongue write: On Thursday, we climbed Cathedral Rock, overlooking Northwest Bay, in behind Mt. Wellington. On the way, we passed through some pretty dark, damp areas of forest, where we came upon 4 to 6 birds we were fairly confident were Scrubtits. The habitat and behaviour were right, though we assumed they might be juveniles, because they were very plain chocolate-brown. At various times we also saw Scrubwrens--confident of their ID, and much more olive-brown. However, at one stage, in much drier, more open scrub we saw about 3 more of the dark chocolate-brown birds. Again, we thought, "Scrubtits", but the habitat didn't seem right, and they were feeding mainly on the ground. Does anyone know an easy way to separate juvenile Scrubwrens from juvenile Scrubtits?

Or could Scrubtits have been in much drier and more open forest, feeding on the ground? Or were we mistaken with the earlier birds?
We did have a good day for endemics though. Assuming we did in fact see both Scrubwrens and Scubtits, then we only missed out on Native Hens and Forty-spotted Pardalotes out of the 12 endemics. The accompanying photo is of a cheeky Scarlet Robin who came to investigate us closely as we ate lunch right on top of Cathedral Rock.

5 comments:

Mona Loofs-Samorzewski said...

Scrubtits have a 'black subterminal tail band' says my fieldguide and scrubwrens don't. So I guess that would show up in the juveniles too?

By the way, is the Tasmanian Scrubwren still counted as a separate species or is it back to being a race of the White-browed Scrubwren?

Anonymous said...

According to the latest DPIWE list, the Tasmanian Scrubwren is an endemic. Who actually dtermines this?

BirdingTas said...

In my experience, Scrubtits do regularly feed on the ground, but are rarely seen far from substantial trees. They do seem to spend a lot of their time feeding on the trunks of trees. Reading through the literature I have, there isn't much/any info. on the subject of IDing imm birds. It also appears that much of the info. available is based on Sharland's 'Tasmanian Birds". The subject is worthy of follow-up field work.

John Tongue said...

Thanks all (so far - more to follow, hopefully). We have an old copy of Sharland, which I haven't consulted yet, but must do so on this topic. I have heard of people doing lots of ID research on various Juveniles from HANZAB, but my budget doesn't quite run to that! While not being sure where the current status is at with regards to Sprcies Status for the Scrubwren, we're confident we saw adults of these throughout the day, but just weren't sure about both lots of Juveniles. And I must admit, we didn't get a good enough view of either lot to notice any sub-terminal tail bands, but will pay close attention next time.

BirdingTas said...

Just to clarify--Sharland doesn't mention anything about imm. birds. But I notice that most authors have repeated Sharlands comments about Scrubtits almost verbatim.The problem with that is that Sharlands' comments have become 'set in stone'. What is required is a new,enlarged set of field notes. May I add that Sharland was a very good field observer.