Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bassian Thrush (Zoothera lunulata)

Bassian Thrush

Bassian Thrushes (Zoothera lunulata) dwell in the shady forests of the gullies and paperbark swamps. Their beautiful fluty song heralds the day long before sunrise. It is occasionally heard late in the evenings and on dark overcast days.

Most of the year these secretive birds keep to the gully where they breed. I have only once found a nest, a large cup-shaped structure built against the trunk of a dogwood. In autumn they move into the open forests to forage for ground dwelling invertebrates, especially worms. They use their strong fleshy legs and feet to pound and scratch the ground when searching for prey.

Sometimes their presence is revealed by a warning whistle, a note so high that it’s beyond the hearing capacity of many people. Seeing the birds can be difficult, as their scalloped markings (their Latin species name ‘lunulata’ means 'marked with little moons') on their breast and back blend well with the leaf litter in which they search for food.

It was undoubtedly the activities of a Bassian Thrush that revealed the bright red flower of the fairy lantern (Thismia rodway).

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