Blackbirds in SEQ: the situation as at March 2008

Just how many Common Blackbirds have infiltrated Toowoomba and surrounds? And whereabouts are they? To help control this latest threat, please post details of all positive and possible sightings (date, time, numbers, ->O, exact location, behaviour) here. If unsure about your ID, please provide a description of the features you noted ...

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Mick Atzeni
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Blackbirds in SEQ: the situation as at March 2008

Post by Mick Atzeni » Sun Mar 09, 2008 11:17 pm

The current situation in SEQ is that blackbird pairs/populations are definitely in Toowoomba City (Wilsonton), Highfields district, Stanthorpe, Dalveen and St George.

I’m told Stanthorpe has had them for at least 6 years but I am yet to receive data supporting this claim so if anyone can help with actual records I'd be grateful.

Dalveen has apparently had them for at least 3 years according to the
locals. The largest group reported at any one time was five by Pat McConnell at Highfields last year and eight by a Wilsonton resident this year. TBO have not yet confirmed the latter report.

In the last couple of years, there have also been several reports of individual birds from other parts of Toowoomba including:
  • a juvenile (dead) at Lake Annand in Rangeville;
    a male near intersention of Alderley and Ruthven Sts, South Toowoomba;
    a male at Bridget Court, Middle Ridge near the Toowoomba City Council nursery;
    a male at Vacy Hall, Russell St, close to the CBD;
    a male at a Stockyard property about 15km SE of Toowoomba in the Lockyer Valley.
Extraordinarily, in 2000, an adult male turned up at Dundabara on Fraser Island.

There are also unconfirmed but credible reports in the past year or so from other areas in southern Queensland including:
  • Geham (Jan 2008) -interestingly, this is only about 2 km from Cooby Dam where the first sighting in 1986 occurred, which begs the question: have they been present in that neck of the woods all along?;
    Killarney (2008);
    Millmerran (2005); and
    Chinchilla (2007).
The pattern of spread in Queensland is proving a bit of an enigma.

Historically, the earliest report was of an adult male in 1986 at Cooby Dam, one of Toowoomba’s water reservoirs, about 8 km north of Highfields. Thirteen years passed before another blackbird was confirmed by TBO members, this time in Wilsonton in December 1999. At that time only one adult male was seen but a local resident said there had been a pair around for up to four years and they nested in his staghorn in 1997. The hen and immature birds were subsequently killed by currawongs. It appeared the male was the only one left in Wilsonton for a number of years until two birds were heard singing and eventually a female or immature was finally reported 31/1/05.

The Birds Australia Atlas data contains a QPWS record from Sundown NP in Sep 2004. The most northern NSW Atlas records (as at Dec 2006) are around Inverell and Moree. We have also had a reliable report from Tenterfield since the awareness campaign began last month.

I note also in the Birding-Aus archives that blackbirds have been reported in Brisbane including a report from Bracken Ridge. However, I am unsure whether any of these records were ever confirmed or accepted. If anyone has details of these Brisbane reports could they let me know please?

Based on the current state of knowledge there are more than likely other
blackbird populations in southern Queensland. We need your ongoing vigilance and help to locate them. I'd appreciate any other QLD/northern NSW records - historical or current - that may help piece together the likely routes blackbirds are using – and no doubt will continue to use - to establish these satellite populations in Queensland.

That will give us a better idea of where to concentrate the campaign in the search for other populations. TBO are particularly interested to establish the likely route they took to end up in the Toowoomba region, when the northern front was supposedly only around Glen Innes at that stage. Surely, there must be breeding populations all the way in between? Where are they?

If you live in the identified areas so far, I'd like to hear from anyone willing to assist with confirming and/or monitoring blackbirds and likewise for any other localities identified in the future.

Once again, I urge you to report all Qld blackbird sightings as a matter of course from now on, regardless of whether they've already been reported in that location.
Michael Atzeni
7 Woden St, Murphys Creek 4352
Mob: 0499 395 485

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