Bird of the Week – Bower’s Shrike-thrush ~ by Ian Montgomery
Newsletter ~ 12-09-13
We spent several days last week camping on the Atherton Tableland at Malanda Falls Caravan Park. It’s a great caravan park incidentally as it borders on rainforest and is within walking distance of both Malanda Falls and the Conservation Park across the road. My aim was to photograph locations for the book Where to Find Birds in NE Queensland but I was of course on the lookout for any obliging birds, in particular the wet tropic endemic Bower’s Shrike-thrush and the local race of the Yellow-throated Scrubwren, both of which I’d found uncooperative in the past.
One of the spots I visited was Mobo Creek Crater about 10km along the Danbulla Forest Drive from the Gillies Highway end. I hadn’t been there before and found it a delightful spot as the path twice crosses the creek near the crater. I spent some time photographing the local resident, rather dark race of the Grey Fantail (we get the southern race here as a visitor in winter). While, I was doing so, a Bower’s Shrike-thrush came to the creek for a swim. The first photo shows her checking out a small pool from a rock in the creek.
She then jumped into the creek and had a good swim, before jumping back out on the original rock, photos 2 and 3.
Then a good shake, fourth photo, and a rather bedraggled but satisfied-looking bird returned to the rainforest. You can tell it’s a female from the grey bill with a pinkish tinge and the buff eye-ring, lores and eyebrow. Males have black bills and grey eye-ring, lores and eyebrow.
Bower’s Shrike-thrush is one of the 12 species endemic to the Wet Tropics of northeastern Queensland. It is found in highland rainforest above 400m from just south of Cooktown to just north of Townsville and is reasonably common within this relatively restricted range.
Shrike-thrushes get their name from their slightly hooked shrike-like bills and their thrush-like appearance and melodious songs. Bower’s Shrike-thrush has a distinctive whistling song that sounds to me like ‘we you you cha cha cha’ and we heard them at a number of sites during our stay. They are related to Whistlers and are sometimes placed in the same family, Pachycephalidae – ‘thick-heads’ as you may remember from the Rufous Whistler bird of the week last month – or placed in their own family the Colluricinclidae.
Here, incidentally, is a male of the local race of the Yellow-throated Scrubwren that I wanted also for the book. A pair of them emerged into the car park at Millaa Millaa Falls after the last tourist buses had departed.
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 firstname.lastname@example.org
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au
For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land–a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; (Deuteronomy 8:7 NIV)
He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head. (Psalms 110:7 KJV)
Thanks again, Ian. We don’t get to see birds taking a bath that frequently. At least, not in a stream. Dippers do that, but take a dive also.
Here is the sound of the Shrike-thrush from xeno-canto. It really is neat.
As Ian mentioned in his newsletter, the Shrikethrush belong to the Pachycephalidae – Whistlers and Allies Family (IOC), which is where we have it here, or the Colluricinclidae Family. which is where Ian has it listed. He also uses Shrike-thrush, whereas the IOC uses Shrikethrush.
- Ian’s Bird of the Week
- Ian’s Colluricinclidae Family
- Ian’s Pachycephalidae Family
- Pachycephalidae – Whistlers and Allies Family