Rare Birds To Look Out For In Victoria
Thanks to twitchers, birders and the ever-growing popularity of birding in Australia, more and more species are being found and recorded in places they've never been seen before. State and national lists are continuing to grow and Victoria is no exception. Since 2010, Victoria's state bird list has been growing on average of a new bird each year. Some recent additions have included Wandering Tattler (2016), Long-billed Dowitcher (2014), Tawny Grassbird (2014), Red-footed Booby (2013), South Island Oystercatcher (2016) New Zealand Storm Petrel (2012) and Semipalmated Plover (2010). With all this in mind, I've tried to put some thought into some species that are worth having on radar whilst out in Victoria. Birds such as Noisy Pitta are recorded further and further south each year and have almost certainly reached and crossed over the Victoria border. I have also included a number of subspecies such as Central East Coast Variegated Fairywren (M. l. lamberti) and the Tasmanian Masked Owl - (T. n. castanops) for sharing the same probable characteristics as full species. As everything on this website, taxonomy is dealt in IOC. Below, I have grouped the possible bird into four categories - New Zealand Vagrants, Mainland Vagrants, Tasmanian Vagrants & Mega Vagrants. You never know what might turn up next, but this may help to put it on your radar!
New Zealand Vagrants
Canada Goose - Branta canadensis
Canada Goose are a species of waterfowl native to the arctic and temperate regions of North America. They are not a naturally occurring species in the southern hemisphere, but were successfully introduced to New Zealand in 1905 where their population has now reached over 60,000. There have been two accepted records of this species in Australia (BARC cases #551, #401) both of which are from the east coast of NSW. Historically, when this bird was more common in Australian aviculture, there was a feral population of this species in Victoria which occasionally dispersed to places such as Phillip Island and the Torquay area. Today, this bird a possible vagrant from New Zealand and most likely to be observed in East Gippsland - anywhere from Mallacoota or any other settlement or town along the coast through Croajingolong National Park.
(New Zealand) Shining Bronze Cuckoo - C. l. lucidus
The NZ subspecies of Shining Bronze Cuckoo (C. l. lucidus) is an uncommon but annual visitor to the east coast of Australia. Mainly recorded during winter from Queensland coasts, it is presumably a highly unrecorded subspecies in Australia due to its similarity to the Australian subspecies of Shining Bronze Cuckoo (C. l. plagosus). There have been a handful of possible observations of this subspecies in Victoria (all from East Gippsland) but no certified records yet to date. They are best identified from Australian birds through close identification of their heads. Male NZ birds lack the golden bronze head often appearing much greener than a typical adult male Australian bird. The white scalloping in the immediate forehead also is less striking than Australian birds. Female NZ birds are harder to identify even still, appearing to have a male plagosus like cap but with a female face - resulting in what looks like a slightly whiter plagosus bird. One could be easily forgiven for not picking up on a NZ bird in the field due to the subtle identification differences as well as the fact that majority of Australian birders would not be expecting to find a New Zealand bird in the first place.
Interstate Mainland VAGRANTS
Pacific Baza - Aviceda subcristata
Pacific Baza are a common bird of prey of subtropical woodland, forests and grasslands. Their Australian population stronghold stretches from the Top End through into Queensland down to Sydney in NSW. Occasionally birds are observed south of Sydney and further along the coast in NSW. Though considered a sedentary species, there are some signs of various seasonal and dispersive movement. There have been two possible sightings of this species in Victoria. One possible bird was observed in suburban Melbourne (2014) whilst the second sighting is from the late 90's at Shipwreck Creek in Croajingolong National Park. Like a variety of other east coast species, perhaps with Global Warming we shall more movement of this species going south and perhaps it will be confirmed as a rare visitor into Victoria.
Green Catbird - Ailuroedus crassirostris
Yellow-throated Scrubwren - Sericornis citreogularis
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Red-vented Bulbul - Pycnonotus cafer
Red-vented Bulbul are native to Sri Lanka, Burma and other areas of the Indian subcontinent. They have also been successfully introduced to several Pacific Islands such as Fiji, Somoa and New Zealand and have earned themselves a place in the 100 worse global invasive species. This species is a potential candidate for a ship-assisted vagrant of which there already has been a possible case for in South Melbourne from 1952. Red-vented Bulbul were introduced to Melbourne (and Australia) in 1914, but unlike their related cousin, the Red-whiskered Bulbul, did not establish successfully and presumably died out by the 1930's. There were further reports of birds right up to 1942, but these were presumed to either be misidentified Red-whiskered Bulbul (which were common over Melbourne by the 1940's and 1950's) or a remnants of the previous released population. Male and female are identical with chocolate-brown bodies, darker heads and a scaly pattern that adorns the breast. On their crown, they have a obvious short black crest which identifies them from any possible similar species. They have black tails with a white rump and red vent. Juveniles and immatures are similar to adults but are duller in plumage. A full grown bird is approximately 20cm.