Nature Note: On the move
 Baw Baw Nature Blog  

By // 13:12, Monday 18 May 2015

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The migration of birds was not a fully accepted view until around the end of the 18th century. Up until then, the disappearance of many birds as winter approached was explained as hibernation. We now understand that changes in daylight hours, temperatures, food supplies and even genetics are probably the main factors that trigger migration. 

First published in the 24 April 2015 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. Read the full paper here.

We now understand that changes in daylight hours, temperatures, food supplies and even genetics are probably the main factors that trigger migration.


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The lifestyle of many of our shorebird species is dominated by their migratory patterns. Right now for example, many of the waders on our Gippsland lakes have left or are about to leave for their breeding grounds in the Arctic regions. Some of these birds complete a round trip of 25,000 kilometers each year.

Migration on a smaller scale takes place at this time of year too. Many of our bush and woodland birds take on seasonal movements in search for more providential feeding grounds or breeding habitat.

Our forests will no longer ring with the brilliant song of the Rufous Whistler now for the next six months or so. The Rufous Whistlers in this region have already headed inland or northwards to northern Australia and many birdwatchers will say spring has arrived when they hear that first glorious whistler song next August or September.

The beautiful little Rufous Fantail has gone north too by now. This tiny little flycatcher has spent this last summer feeding on insects in the low scrub of our damp forest regions, and rearing a family. The Rufous Fantail will also return in spring.

While there has been an exodus of some birds for winter, others begin to arrive and to brighten our winter days. Described as altitudinal migrants, the Scarlet Robin and Flame Robin often come down from the high country to spend winter in the lower forests, woodlands and grasslands.

Everyone’s favourite parrot, the King parrot, is essentially an altitudinal migrant. After spending the summer in the high country and breeding in the hollows of large mountain trees, they come down to lower altitudes for a more reliable food supply. Like most other species, there are often exceptions to these rules when individuals or small groups tend to remain put year round.

Words and photos by ‘Gouldaie’. For more, vist gouldiaesblog.blogspot.com

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