[00:00:00] Grant Williams: hello, bird nerds it's Monday. And that means it's the best day of the week. There is no Monday artists in bird, nerd, world and bird nerd world today is especially glorious because me grant Williams, goodnight gets to speak to. Dr. Holly Parsons. Hello, Holly morning.

[00:00:21] Holly Parsons: You could say it's supper today.

[00:00:24] Grant Williams: It's splendid.

[00:00:26] Lovely. And with the PECI sky, maybe it's very guided, who knows, but but Holly of course is the urban birds program manager at BirdLife Australia. We super, super privileged today to be joined by Dr. Joe. Welklin, hi jug grant. Thanks for having me. Are you the originator of the fairy Wren project or the director or the the czar fairy Renza?

[00:00:55] Joe Welklin: Yes. All above it's a farrier and project is a [00:01:00] citizen science project run by my colleague, Alison Johnson. And I we're both based in the U S but we studying Australia.

[00:01:08] Grant Williams: That's pretty, pretty wild. Isn't it? Holly? As judge has said he's based in the U S at the university of Nevada.

[00:01:14] Now I was done when I learnt that both Joe and Ellison were based in the U S cause I was thinking fairy, wrens Al special little bit of time night. So how did that come about Jai? Yeah. There's a lot of reasons to study farrier rims. Even if you're coming across the world pretty much on the opposite side of the world from us.

[00:01:36] Joe Welklin: There are really interesting species because they're for multiple reasons. One because there as your listeners may have heard before, but they're cooperative breeders. Offspring often. Their parents res new offspring. So they're raising their siblings and they exhibit these really, as you've seen these really colorful plumage types, which is what I'm interested in.

[00:01:57] And so there's been a, there's a sort of a [00:02:00] tradition of us or for of Americans studying very rents in Australia. And we're continuing that tradition.

[00:02:06] Grant Williams: I put a question out on Twitter earlier on, and nobody got back to me with the with the sort of answer, but J w what is the equivalent of the fairy ring group or the Janus in the U S which not only in England and in Europe, we've got the true rent, but what is the equivalent to AB bunch of farrier ins in your neck of the woods?

[00:02:32] Joe Welklin: That's a great question. I think. That we have. So we have true friends in the United States as well in north America and south America. But they're not, but the Turin's, so the one I'm most familiar with is the Carolina rim. That's native to the Eastern United States. They're not closely related to farrier ins at all.

[00:02:50] They're really separate. So very errands are part of their own sort of Australian clade of birds. But I think their behavior is somewhat [00:03:00] similar. Their tails often are cocked straight up like ferry runes are. But another species I've just moved west to Nevada from the Eastern United States.

[00:03:08] And out here out west, we have what are called Bush tits. And there are tiny little birds, like farrier ends and they're often cooperative breeders, like carrier,

[00:03:16] Grant Williams: I think. I think so. So they, yeah, but so the the offspring will help their parents raise more offspring, like very runs do, and they're really funny cause they move through bushes and forage together like in groups do.

[00:03:29] Joe Welklin: So they even, maybe even more than the true ruins, they remind me of ferry arounds a lot. Out here

[00:03:34] Grant Williams: now, Holly, you're a bird scientist as well. What fairy wrens most closely related to before you answer? I would, I always think that they look like, I always think that they look a lot like Robbins when I Australian Robbins, when I look at them, just the proportion of their legs and to their body and things like that.

[00:03:55] But. I'm probably wrong. What do you reckon on a busted? I know[00:04:00]

[00:04:00] Holly Parsons: I should know the answer to this and I can't, I'm sitting here thinking scrubbers let me get to be closely or I just scrubbed Brynn's and probably the song bills and things I think are probably the

[00:04:10] Joe Welklin: next. And you'd have guys just going to be laughing at

[00:04:13] Holly Parsons: me going.

[00:04:13] Grant Williams: Yeah. Amy runs her, obviously part of that off shoot in grassroots, again, grass trans and of course who hasn't got a grass rain on their bucket list of birds, they want to say, okay I've a, I buy an ancient family Jai. That's a good question. I think so. I don't, I'm not as up to date with the phylogeny.

[00:04:33] Joe Welklin: Some others are. But yeah, they're part of that, the large Australian pastoring group, which has been separate for many other passerines songbirds from, for many years, the Australian species have evolved on their own for many years separately from for many other groups.

[00:04:51] Grant Williams: Yeah. They they're songbirds in the truest sense of the word. I'd lie in that. So much of the way their behavior [00:05:00] and their social interactions as structured, revolve around the various songs. We can probably get back to that a little bit, light, a bit fish. I'm really interested in the Genesis of the fairy ring project.

[00:05:14] How did it start up? And how long has it been going? And who's been supporting the work that you've been doing. I'll start with the last question. Like many things in science, it starts with an idea that you don't have funding for. And so you just try it and launch it and see if it's gonna work.

[00:05:31] Joe Welklin: So far we've just Allison and I, my colleague has just been doing this as a side project. We put a fair bit of work into it, but it's not where we're getting our funding from or like living expenses from. And so we don't have any funding currently. We're currently applying for grants in the United States for big research grants and hoping to get one of those soon, but we'll see what happens.

[00:05:54] And so yeah, right now this is just our fun side project that we're going to try and eventually turn into [00:06:00] our full-time research project. If we can get funding, find academic positions.

[00:06:04] Grant Williams: Oh that's a really common issue in race science research generally, but Holly there's seems to be a bit of support from bird life because there's some I think there's a whole separate page.

[00:06:18] Isn't there for on on bird life. Where are we? For the barrier and project, we bird life doesn't support us. And we haven't asked for bird life for any funding. We've just been doing everything on her own, but we do. If people come to us asking if they can donate to our project, we actually tell them to go to bird life.

[00:06:36] Joe Welklin: Because we can't. Yeah, we don't think we can fund our project. Small donations or just one time donations. It would take a lot of money to do the research we want to. So we're going to, we're waiting out for these big government grants and sending other these one-time donors or these monthly donors to conservation organizations and research organizations, big or organizations like bird life who can put that to use and any different ways.[00:07:00]

[00:07:00] Grant Williams: I love your web site, your web page. Please tell me that someone is paying for that for you. I designed almost all the website and Alison did all the drawings on the meet the fairy wrens page,

[00:07:11] but hope, but someone is hosting it for you and whatnot for nothing. I hope other it's pretty cheap to host now on your own if you want to.

[00:07:19] Joe Welklin: So we do that with some leftover research money. You have.

[00:07:22] Grant Williams: Cool, cool. I encourage everyone to go and have a look because it is it's a really great site. Let's get into the hard hitting questions. Holly, I'd like your opinion on this one, too. How many species of fairy ring that Joe and how many subspecies or rices?

[00:07:39] Joe Welklin: If you start in Australia, there are currently tens recognized species in Australia. And then I always forget exactly how many are in new Guinea. I think it's either five or six. But I always forget how many species are up there and then subspecies and races. There's a lot. I just pointed it in a paper republished and now I forget what it is, but I think [00:08:00] it's over 20 probably.

[00:08:00] So species, I don't remember for sure. Most of the species do have at least one or two subspecies, but yeah, maybe not all of them, but most of, many of

[00:08:09] Grant Williams: them do. Holly, what's your opinion.

[00:08:12] Holly Parsons: So there's tens bases of Australian fairy, wrens or fairy wrens found in Australia, as Joe had said I am looking at Wikipedia,

[00:08:23] Joe Welklin: so

[00:08:23] Grant Williams: am I, and I'm thinking there's even a cooler. There's a super cool name wake up the suburban, the splendid, that new Guinea I've got the emperor super grandiose.

[00:08:35] Holly Parsons: They are. Most of the farrier ins are found in Australia and there are a couple that are found in, through new Guinea. Including what else would we go? Orange, crown fairy rent as well. But yes, the emperor sounds very impressive. And I think this. Competition amongst the fairy wrens for some very attractive looking birds.

[00:08:53] Joe Welklin: I think there's 16 species total. I'm looking at birds of the world from Cornell right now. And I think, yeah, so [00:09:00] there's in new Guinea, you have the orange crown. Do you have the emperor? You have Waltz's farrier in, which is a really old, very rim. It's been separated for a long time. There's the broad built farrier and Campbell's farrier and the white shoulder farrier as

[00:09:15] Grant Williams: well.

[00:09:15] And of course the purpose of asking that question is that taxonomy is always fraught. It's always based on observations and opinion behaviors and whatnot, but we've moved into the, that brave new world where genetic testing is now available at a process. Many scientists can afford if they don't want to maintain the second car or something like that, whole buy a house.

[00:09:43] How did you come up with your 10, the typing of 10 species? Is this question for me or for,

[00:09:51] yeah, because I don't think Holly's published the pipe.

[00:09:53] Joe Welklin: I guess we just follow who w we call the experts and we, so we follow Cornell [00:10:00] and the taxonomy they use the specific tax on anything but Clements text-only there's different organizations that put out taxonomies across the world that you can pull from. But we use Cornell's because our the farrier in project research ties in so closely to eBird which is a Cornell program.

[00:10:17] And so that's the simplest for us. If our users are using or participants are using eBird, then we're just using the same taxonomy that they're using.

[00:10:27] Grant Williams: What kind of genetic work was done maybe not necessarily by you, but to support the work that you've been doing. Is it blood feathers, eggshells? I don't want to tell us how it's done usually.

[00:10:40] Joe Welklin: Yeah. It's often now it's done for museum specimens. And when people want to build a taxonomy, say of the fairy wrens or phylogeny of the ferry runs to see what the evolutionary or evolutionary relationships are, they'll often take DNA from a museum specimens and often that. The collections may injures that [00:11:00] museums are funny, cause they don't want you messing up the specimens.

[00:11:03] They want to keep them as pure as possible. And so the one thing that they're usually okay with people taking are not really feathers. If you can avoid it, they don't want you to take feathers and they don't want you to take any other parts if you can, if they can avoid it, but they will let you often take a Topaz.

[00:11:19] So like on the inside of the foot of a bird that has the pads on each of the segments of the foot, and you can often people will cut those off and disintegrate those and solution. And then you can get DNA from those toe paths. And using those, you can get the the DNA characteristics or even the full genome of the species.

[00:11:40] And usually you pull from different populations as well to get a represented. Estimate of the species, and then you put those into a comparison plot to build a

[00:11:49] Grant Williams: phylogeny. Did you know that Holly, about the foot pads isn't fitting me either and I've talked to a lot of people who've done a lot of genetic work and no one ever [00:12:00] mentioned that.

[00:12:00] So thanks, Joe. That was the price of admission. And I always wondered how I probably should have asked the question since I've got the shower and the access, and I've always wondered how. That transfer of material happened from the from the museum to the rice etcher or actually to the lab, I guess sometimes it would just go direct to the lab.

[00:12:22] Wouldn't it? They don't want it getting lost in the post between between the museum and yay. And I'm guessing most museums probably have an arrangement with the local a local lab anyway. And then you would get those results. Is that how it works? It depends. I

[00:12:36] Joe Welklin: think a lot of people do like to get to run all the samples themselves.

[00:12:40] So I think a lot of times museums will send samples to to a research group that's doing the study and then the person doing the study usually likes to do all the lab work themselves. So they know they did everything correctly. Or if they mess up, they can at least blame themselves instead of blaming someone else.

[00:12:59] We're [00:13:00] paranoid that way. I guess scientists.

[00:13:01] Grant Williams: Yeah. Holly the advances in genetic testing and the availability to to ornithology generally as it might, I a big difference in the way projects are now designed and done from your point of view at bird life,

[00:13:20] Holly Parsons: look, it, it opens up new avenues to explore and apply that sort of understanding of the genetic population to on ground conservation work.

[00:13:30] We don't have a lab at bird life to, to do that sort of testing. We've got relationships with museums but we recently did some some work with the powerful, our projects looking at. The relatedness of powerful owls in greater Sydney through the collection of like feathers on the ground.

[00:13:50] So using EDA and AI to look at how our different powerful our pairs are related or not related. And the idea behind that is then we can look and [00:14:00] see how has the genetic material traveling around Sydney? Is it traveling around or are we getting isolated populations because potentially the canopies.

[00:14:08] And they had to allow birds to move across the landscape, even though we think that they are bigger than ours and they should be able to fly. So I should have some good results to talk to you about on that very soon, because we've got some more results back recently, but yeah just from a feather on the ground, you can start to uncover these sort of interrelationships amongst a bird population, and it has practical on ground outcomes.

[00:14:32] It's fair.

[00:14:32] Grant Williams: in the U S and so is Alison. So have you been able to do any on-ground work here with the fairy wrens? Have you been out collecting feathers for instance?

[00:14:44] Joe Welklin: Yeah, so I did my PhD on red bacteria rains that I spent in total, probably over two years in Queensland, Australia, just outside of Brisbane.

[00:14:54] Just to the west of Brisbane researching the red bacteria rents there, chasing them around a field [00:15:00] site for I think five field seasons. So anywhere from three months to six months at a time I was on the ground collecting feathers and blood samples and falling the red back carrier ends.

[00:15:11] Grant Williams: They very little bit. Delicate are they easy to track? Because you're, obviously, if you're typing, taking blood samples, you must be trapping them. So are they like AC to trap and are they difficult to handle? Yeah. Good question. I think compared to some species, they are easy to trap, but compared to others, they're not super easy.

[00:15:34] Joe Welklin: It depends. So it's if you only want to catch a bird once, sometimes you can they have to catch them in generally for a fair, very runs. You almost always have to put up a net, which is anywhere from a six meter long net to a 12 meter long net, but stands usually about two meters high and made a really fine mesh.

[00:15:53] That tends to blend in really well. With vegetation, if you put it up right up against a set of bushes that [00:16:00] blends in really well to the point where we even sometimes run into the nets and other people set up and we don't know they're there and you only want to catch a ferry run once. A lot of times you can just, especially if it's during the breeding season, you can play that species' song from a speaker and you put the speaker below the net and the resident bird, especially there isn't a male, but sometimes the female too will come in and thinking there's an, a trigger on its territory and try and find the intruder and usually fly right into your net.

[00:16:28] But once you've done that, the, they tend to remember that being captured using that song. And so it's much harder to catch them like twice easing song like that. You can also when you get really good, you can So it's very ruins. Don't like to fly very high. They like to stay in generally low in the grass or low in bushes.

[00:16:48] If you have multiple people, you can herd them into nets. What we would do during the non breeding season when they wouldn't, they didn't really care about song very much. Cause we put up two or three 12 mere nets and align [00:17:00] like connected and we'd get three or four people. And we we first find the birds then stuff nearby and then we'd walk all out around the birds and slowly spread out and just move the birds towards the notes.

[00:17:13] And they would generally find them that it's not always, sometimes they go over, but generally they'd go in mustering.

[00:17:20] Yeah, exactly. It's yeah very cool. We've established that we've accepted. I don't think you ever establish anything in this to discussion, but we've accepted that there's 10 species in Australia.

[00:17:32] Grant Williams: Do you want it, do you want to run us through what they which ones they are and the niche that they occupied in, in the distribution. And then maybe we can talk about the differences and the different the distribution, the geographic distribution of them.

[00:17:51] Joe Welklin: Yeah. Sure. Let's start. Let's start with the red back.

[00:17:55] Yeah. Okay. Sure. Yeah. So the red bacteria you're in is the males [00:18:00] known for this jet black plumage on his everywhere, but his back his lower, his middle to lower her upper to lower back. Is this bright red plumage or bright orange?

[00:18:09] There's two subspecies to read back very ruins. The ones on the east coast of Australia or the orange, so species or orange, or they're still pretty red. But if you go to the far north all the way over, a little bit past, oh yes, perfect. A little bit past the York peninsula. Think you can find the red, so species up there.

[00:18:29] They are very red up there. It's a very deep breath on their back and the females of that species. They're all brown. It's a nicer Tawny fond brown. Color and they're, so they're on the east coast and on the north coast and there they haven't grassland habitat usually, or sometimes open forest with grass understory.

[00:18:50] Grant Williams: Yeah. And I suppose if we're going to go through these these sort of segments on the page, you better tell us about the definition of bright and [00:19:00] intermediate.

[00:19:00] Joe Welklin: Yeah. So these are just our definitions. We're using the classify, their plumage other researchers, sometimes these other definitions.

[00:19:09] And sometimes we use other definitions when we're writing our papers too, but the bright fluids is generally the ornamented or the nutshell or the breeding plumage. Generally what the species is known for are named for. Is that, that male bright plumage we, for our project, we call an intermediate male, any male that is multi.

[00:19:28] So if he's going from the brown plumage to the red and black plumage or the red and black limits to the brown plumage, that's an intermediate male. So he's molting those feathers and replacing those feathers and very urban student twice a year. So they do it prior to the breeding season, anywhere from a couple months prior to right before the breeding season, these males will molt from their brown, non breeding plumage into their fancy breeding plumage for the red backs.

[00:19:55] That's the red and black plumage. And then at the end of the breeding season, they mold out [00:20:00] of that red and black plumage into a brown flippage. So that's what you're seeing there in the middle of. The double male is the males nonreading plumage. So that's when the males, that's what the males, most of the males look like in the winter when they're outside of the breeding season.

[00:20:13] Grant Williams: So is it about a equal length of time during the year that a male will be in the bright breeding plumage? And then in the I think what we used to call the eclipse plumage didn't we

[00:20:28] intermediate plumage. I just want it to get old timey language in there in case any people as old as me w watching Joe. So yeah, it, is it a pretty, even split of time through the year or is it only maybe eight weeks or something that you're going to see them in the full resplendent written.

[00:20:47] Joe Welklin: It's really dependent on a lot of things. And what, I guess I would say what I would call the eclipse plumage is actually the doll plumage, the non breeding plumage the intermediate plumage is their mold isn't normally [00:21:00] clips. Yeah. So normally they're like when they're actually melting from brown to red and black or doll to bright, the mold usually only takes a couple of weeks, say two to three weeks often.

[00:21:10] But yeah, for timing of when they're in these, how long they're in these images it depends a lot on the meals, the age, and the environmental conditions that year. So at least for read back farrier runs in four supered farrier ruins and red winged ferry runs the older males tend to acquire their breeding, their bright plumage earlier than younger males.

[00:21:34] And they do this months before the breeding season begins. So they, so the red back fair were, I studied outside of the Brisbane, they start breeding and usually in August or September, but males were acquiring their red and black plumage as early as may or even before them. Some of them, I would usually arrive in may and there were often males already in red and black plumage when I arrived.

[00:21:59] [00:22:00] So if anything, they're probably spending more of the year in the, in their bright breeding plumage than they are in the dull non breeding plumage. And

[00:22:08] Holly Parsons: some of them, Joe might not, might skip the dull plumage altogether. Don't they like some of the better quality older laced with suburbs will have a malt, but stay.

[00:22:17] Joe Welklin: We do know with superbs and red bacteria rands, and probably others too. It's just the ones that it's been established in. They can yeah, maintain some males can maintain the bright breeding plumage year around for superbs it seems like they have a hard time doing that multiple years in a row.

[00:22:34] That must be probably energetically costly for them to do. But but they can't, some old males can do that. Multiple years or, sorry, at least two years, they can be in bright plumage for two full years. Let's let's go to the suburb and I'm going to guess Joe, that.

[00:22:52] Grant Williams: Holly has some local, super farrier ends near her place that she might [00:23:00] know fairly well. I used to have two family groups. I I assume it was two family groups that may actually have been one big group. After I spoke to a Torah. He told me how big the colonies or the, what do we call them?

[00:23:14] Yeah, what's the current group. If I've got 20 of them hanging around, I had those in my own mind identified as to two different groups, but are we calling them a colony, a flock a a battalion platoon.

[00:23:29] Joe Welklin: I forget what the Tory called them in his paper. I've been calling them community.

[00:23:33] So I think you're right. You probably have. At least two separate family groups, but then they often get together to interact in a larger what I would call a community. And sorry, Jay. As I'm referencing a tour, I I did do for part of science last year interviewed a tour. I had been studying the suburb fairy Wren, and I think we established that.

[00:23:56] Grant Williams: There's no such thing as a fidelity[00:24:00] with nice grapes. I think that's like both six is get around at night.

[00:24:05] Joe Welklin: Yes, very much especially in supered farrier ends, they have some of the highest rates of what we call extra pair of paternity in the bird world. So yeah, both during the breeding season, both the male and female are seeking copulations with separate or with males and females from different groups from, so the females out in the early morning, Finding other males to mate with and the male in the morning is waiting for other females to come to him and sees singing during the Dawn chorus.

[00:24:33] Holly Parsons: It's the best science term. So calling them socially monogamous, I think is the most, it's my absolute favorite term to describe a bird and its behavior. I think yeah, it looks happy families and it's actually very sorted and there's lots of avenues being explored by a breeding pair. It's amazing.

[00:24:55] Grant Williams: One thing that I got to know with my logic group was that [00:25:00] it's very difficult for the subordinate miles and I'm sure that's the wrong terminology, but it seems very difficult for them to to do anything, but. What they told 'em in that they always seem to be being beat up by by the couple of dominant females and dominant mile.

[00:25:20] Now with me messing up all the terminology and with the suburb, very rain, which is the one that I think the majority of our listeners will be familiar with just simply because of where the population spread is in Australia. How do they organize their platoon socially monogamous battalion group flock.

[00:25:41] So tell us about what is the standard, why they organize themselves?

[00:25:48] Joe Welklin: Yeah. Firstly dominant, like I think dominant subordinates not advanced term, not bad terms to use. So normally you'd have a dominant male who's the male and the breeding plumage and a dominant [00:26:00] female governing over a territory.

[00:26:02] And then they often have a helper son with them. They're in the territory who is also usually in the bright breeding plumage. And for superbs, that's probably the most common group size, other than pairs, other than just straight male and female pairs having one helper son with them. But you could get groups, some areas where you have more than one helper son and super farrier is it's very pro I think it's very rare to find helper females, normally females disperse before their first adult reading season.

[00:26:32] And so you only ended up with sons helping their parents on their parents' territory. They organized differently. Now let me phrase this a different way. All of the females chased away like the previous years offspring, or they chased away quite quickly and they disperse widely or do they do we know if they establish territories infiltrate another group close by?

[00:26:58] We think, I [00:27:00] don't know if anybody's looked at exact distances, they travel, but I believe they, we know they travel at least a couple of kilometers. It seems like the females do. And so there's some co-work I think from the nineties on super fairy wrens, where they found for females, there's two There's sort of two dispersal time, something else disperse near the beginning of the non breeding seasons.

[00:27:21] So just after the breeding, season's over, they dispersed pretty early and other females wait until right before the beginning of the next breeding season to disperse. So you have these two periods and the ones that stick around until right before the next breeding season probably are getting kicked out by their mothers.

[00:27:38] I haven't seen super carrier in as much as red bacteria farrier, but I have seen female red back farrier and kicking out their daughters right before the beginning of the breeding season. So these females that are leaving late are probably getting kicked out and then they do seem to travel quite a ways a way.

[00:27:53] We don't when I looked at relatedness, like Holly was talking about related this among powerful [00:28:00] house in the city, when I looked at among female red bacteria runs of my field site and we found that the in general, they were pretty Not very related. So the females that seemed like were traveling out and the new females we were getting in were coming from different areas.

[00:28:15] Grant Williams: Holly, I want to give you a, another pop quiz question and we'll say how we go. How long do you think the the fairy rings leave?

[00:28:24] Holly Parsons: So we know some of that. So in terms of suburbs, at least there have been some re captured banded birds that have been about 10. But estimates are generally somewhere around five, I think is considered a long lived superb fairy run.

[00:28:41] And it's probably in an urban setting. Actually younger than that too. I think there, there are so many threats in an urban space that you probably looking at just an average of about three years, I would think in an urban setting for a suburb. So they can be like relatively long lived for for something that's very small [00:29:00] bird, but yeah, there's a lot of challenges that they face.

[00:29:02] And as Joe said when females have to disperse to try and set up a new territory at least in urban spaces, those potential new territories are very limited. And so re establishing new ferry, Wren territories is quite challenging in an urban context because it's just not the habitat around for them

[00:29:22] Grant Williams: ciao all of the species comparable in size they're all pretty small compared to most other birds, I would say but there are some minor differences.

[00:29:33] Joe Welklin: The, so the red bacteria and the average weight was around seven grams, I think when I was studying them. But I think super Perrier is, are there a bunch of, are they around the 11 or 12? Even nine

[00:29:46] Holly Parsons: to 10, I think about 10 that average. And then I think too, depending on the subspecies as well, some of the some of the subspecies, or even a little bit larger, I think king kangaroo island or.

[00:29:57] Joe Welklin: Yeah. When you have them in the hand, you do notice a difference. They [00:30:00] do feel chunkier.

[00:30:01] Holly Parsons: Oh, that's funny. I've only held suburbs in the hand and it feels like you're not actually holding anything

[00:30:04] Joe Welklin: at all. Yeah. And I don't think you'd ever be calling a fairy Wren chunky or chunky pencil. You start with that, that's right. It's relative. Isn't it's all relative. But if you've ever if you've ever handled a red bird, for instance, you would ever be thinking that a theory written was chunky.

[00:30:23] Grant Williams: Let's have a little a quick run through the next one. That is pretty well-known again on the through the interior, the blended fairy red Yeah, splendid, very variations are amazing. They're just, yeah, bright or almost turquoise blue, a really vibrant blue that stands out against the sort of red dirt habitat in the Outback that they live in.

[00:30:45] Joe Welklin: Seeing them in the wild is amazing. And as you can see from that range distribution, they have three subspecies. Each of those sort of horns on that map is a different subspecies. There's at least three, there might even be four. I can't remember for sure now. [00:31:00] But yeah, there, there was Outback specialists for the most part, but then if you go over to the west coast or by Perth, they are in a little bit wetter habitat over there.

[00:31:09] And they're it's like super farrier and habitat, but just on the west coast, I would say no. They Avaya replaced. Species, but I, my, my non-science, our terminology is probably making you both tear your hair out, but if we go back to this, the super superb fairy red, or I always want to keep saying superbly Ren, that's how old I am.

[00:31:35] Grant Williams: So yeah, we've got that distribution and then it's seems like it's roughly a replacement with a different kind of habitat, but they've got to be integrating, are they?

[00:31:45] Joe Welklin: Yeah, I've actually been to Elsa. I have visited locations are like the edge of their range. They had supposed to be range there. It was either in Victoria or new south Wales.

[00:31:55] I can't remember, but maybe somewhere around the edge of the Bayer, like the Northern edge of Victoria, I [00:32:00] think is the supervisor there range. And we actually did find a site where there was a a superD carrier in territory right next to a splendid farrier and territory. But other than that we didn't canvas the area to a great extent but it is pretty like a pretty distinct cutoff in general.

[00:32:18] We were surprised to find those two territories right next to one another. But otherwise what we saw on our trips is it goes straight from superb farrier into splendid ferry run almost immediately.

[00:32:29] Grant Williams: And is that a govern, do you think by the type of geography sorry geology or vegetation type habitat?

[00:32:41] Why do you think the cutoff is so stark?

[00:32:44] Joe Welklin: I think you're right. Yeah. I think it's, I think it's really habitat differences. I want to look into this further in the future if I'm able, if I have time. But yeah, it seems that rain judge is where you go from. Like farmable land with lot greener [00:33:00] land to Outback desert right at that border of the new south Wales Victoria border as you move in Northern new south Wales, it really, the habitat really changes.

[00:33:10] So we've stopped a mil dura. I think that's Victoria a lot. And so right across there the habitat really changes a lot as you go north across the river. And it was somewhere around there. I can't remember where for sure, but we, I have a notes of it where we found those two territories right next to one another, but that was really cool because we looking back and forth at the two species waiting for them to interact, but they never did.

[00:33:31] Grant Williams: Holly, are you a splendid fairy, Wren fan, have you come across them? Obviously the Superbowl is leaving living in your vicinity as he as is mine. But have you seen it the splendid regularly, frequently? Not frequently because they're not in my normal, my home range. So I don't see them very often the couple of opportunities I've had, they are simply [00:34:00] remarkable.

[00:34:00] Holly Parsons: I'm pretty basic. I love me a suburb. They're the most popular bird in Australia and I'm quite happy. Be on their bandwagon. I studied them for a long time in my PhD too, and I still love them. So there was certainly an opportunity for things to go horribly wrong in their relationship to sour, but I do still love a suburb and I think it's not necessarily about the look.

[00:34:21] I think it's around the behavior and and I think that's partially because they're so well studied compared to Australian other Australian birds in general, let alone other fairy wrens they have some that intricate social life. There is so much research looking at now about how they respond to cuckoos and teaching songs in eggs.

[00:34:39] And that whole wealth of knowledge I won't go into it

[00:34:42] Grant Williams: anymore. Hope not. I'll just, I hold onto that thought. We might come back to that. Joe, let's give a, just so we don't forget at the end, how good is Ellison's work with the with the illustrations and the identification. She is

[00:34:58] Joe Welklin: amazing.

[00:34:58] Yeah. She [00:35:00] it's funny because if you look in bird books and stuff, not all artists get very runs. Perfect. But Allison is, I think you can't always like expectedly represent a bird on a 2d plane. Anything maybe it's impossible, like 3d, it's impossible to do that but Alison gets the closest I've I think I've ever seen to getting it.

[00:35:18] Perfect. She is really good.

[00:35:20] Grant Williams: Yeah. Okay. We'll let's move on to the white wing fairy Wren because it's the, almost the most unique of the group when you are looking at them, but you can tell us now Joe had, is it closely related to to the genetics of the genetics told you if it's a closely.

[00:35:39] To suburban splendid than it is to the other group. And that's how old that's how old I am. Cause I used to be I think it was two complexes, I think was the way they were treated for a long time. So

[00:35:53] Joe Welklin: yeah, we can vary runs are actually more closely related to red bank, very ruins. Then they are [00:36:00] two Splendas and superbs they're white winged fairy ruins, white shouldered farrier ruins, which aren't on here because they're in new Guinea.

[00:36:07] And red back ferry ruins are all three really closely related. And whitening farrier is really interesting. Like you said, they're a desert specialist, so they're pretty much only in the. And really dry habitats and we're usually in low vegetation structure. So like salt, Bush, and that kind of things like even salt Plains, salt flats is extending as far as the eye can see.

[00:36:28] You'll find these whitening farrier and sitting at the tops of bushes singing their sort of reeling song but just travels over the top of these bushes through the Outback. They are really fun to see too cause they, they have to live in really big groups. And the the ornaments of mails, the bright meals are more rare than in the other species, maybe because of the harshest harshness of the habitat they live in.

[00:36:52] But it seems like from past research, it appears that for the males to acquire that bright plumage takes anywhere [00:37:00] from two to four years of age before they can acquire the full bright plumage.

[00:37:05] Grant Williams: That means that this species is living longer on average than the suburb and the splendid. Is that right?

[00:37:14] Joe Welklin: Not necessarily. I would it would take a lot of work to decide that for sure. You'd have to do a lot of banding and and watching the abandoned birds to figure that out for sure. But in general, when you find white ring farrier ins, I'd say you see fewer of these bright meals than you would in a super barrier and population we're in, especially during the breeding season, a super barrier in population, all the males should be on the bright plumage, but if you go to a white wing farrier and population during the breeding season, you might only see say one out of six birds would be in the bright plumage.

[00:37:47] It probably varies by area. And that's one of the questions we're looking into in the farrier end project. But we don't know for sure.

[00:37:54] Grant Williams: Yeah, there's a black and white I was going to say FYS or, but that's totally wrong. It's [00:38:00] two subspecies, I think, but they're only on offshore islands.

[00:38:04] Is that

[00:38:04] Joe Welklin: right? Yeah. They're only off the west coast of Australia on Dirk Hartog island, which is outside of shark bay, Australia, and Barrow island, which is Malott further north. I forget what city it's outside of. If it's outside of any. But yeah, we further north up there. Yeah. I think Barrow is close to broom and down here at Dick hotdog is down in the area.

[00:38:28] Grant Williams: I think I've got right. You might be able to correct me. Holly, what do you think? I think

[00:38:33] Holly Parsons: that sounds about right. So if I go back and I use my is the point, huh? So one of the black and white subspecies is here. Yes. And the other one is upper end. He now up around here, somewhere up here. Yeah.

[00:38:50] Grant Williams: Actually it might even be up there, I think. Yeah. Yeah. Wow. So they're quite far apart. What are the relationships? Oh, look, I'm [00:39:00] probably asking you for work. You haven't done. Oh you can ask. Cause I think I know the work, so people have done this work.

[00:39:05] Okay. So how closely related the black and white subspecies to each other?

[00:39:13] Because there's a great geographical distance between them. And I guess the question is how close of the relationship between the two black and white social issues to each other and then to each of those, to the blue and white talked species.

[00:39:29] Joe Welklin: That's been a really interesting question.

[00:39:30] That's been an or looked into multiple times over the years. And as far as we can tell, it seems like the black and white, so species are more related to the mainland of blue, some species than they are to each other. So the, it seems from what we can tell that the black and the black plumage, that black body plumage has evolved independently twice and at least twice from that blue plumage.

[00:39:58] So it seems like Bluebirds [00:40:00] probably colonize those two islands and then have independently evolved that black and white plumage twice at those two islands. So the island birds are more related to the mainland Bluebirds than they are to each other.

[00:40:11] Grant Williams: That's super interesting. Isn't it, Holly?

[00:40:13] That just from an evolutionary standpoint, you get the same mutation or adaptation, whichever it may be independently so far apart, but from the same cause it's almost identical, isn't it? The two black and white subspecies are almost identical in appearance. I think so to my eyes from the photos I've seen, yes.

[00:40:36] Joe Welklin: I've never seen them in person. And I don't know for sure if anybody's done a a study of their feathers, like their feather structure. They might have, I can't remember if there's some, there are some cool studies on feather structure and farrier, very rents. But I don't know if they included those two black and white, so species and compared them.

[00:40:54] Grant Williams: Yeah. Maybe. Maybe you can put me in touch with those links and if [00:41:00] someone wants to totally nerd out they, they can follow the links off the of my page for this episode. And we'll let people go down the fairy Wren rabbit hall. Holly, in your experience is in have any other Australian birds had that kind of divergent fat, almost identical evolutionary path like that, or evolutionary plumage accident.

[00:41:26] Holly Parsons: I don't know, grant is my answer. Quite possibly, because there are a number of subspecies that are found on offshore islands. But I. Can't think of any off the top of my head that has such a dramatic plumage change. Somebody out there will correct.

[00:41:42] Grant Williams: Actually I phrase it really wrong.

[00:41:44] This is my clumsy interviewing stuff now. Yeah, there's plenty of really divergent MOS. You only have to look at the gray goshawk or whatever to look and say that, but the, but to have two vastly different morphs from the type species but for [00:42:00] those to be almost identical that's the thing that, that I think is really amazing because they've been in lots of groups where like what Nate, tiny haters and all those that have got lots of variations in their different geographical replacements, whatever.

[00:42:14] Let's not even talk about tops and Clines and but to have two that are so separate in geography to be almost identical is really weird. Yeah, nothing's springing to mind. But that's not to say it hasn't happened. I will say there is a phenomenon where island sets islands, so species tend to go black or darker.

[00:42:33] Joe Welklin: This is beyond just fairy rinse. I don't remember what it's called or if there's a name for it. And I'm not very well-versed in this research, but I think there is a known phenomenon where this happens in other species as well, other bird species as well, or

[00:42:45] Grant Williams: they we've got Carol Long of course is probably the logical one to think about for our Blackie and Whitey birds.

[00:42:53] The Tasmanian ones got very little watt. And they, I think the king island one, I think is. Blackout. Oh, [00:43:00] cool. Okay. So I'm probably wrong, but I think that's the one let's move on to the first of the other group. Justin shoulder group. Yeah. Yeah. So these are all and I always thought of those as the mustachioed group as well.

[00:43:16] So yeah, apart from the obvious difference in appearance, do they do this group? What are we got? I think there's going to be six or seven in this group. Are they are they behaviorally different to the two, the three species we've just talked about or the four, four species we've just talked about?

[00:43:37] Joe Welklin: Yes, these, this BC the purple back farrier on the Chestnut shoulders in gym. I don't know if this is true for all of the species in this clade and in this group, but for the purple bacteria ends at least and a few others. They're really interesting because they won't only have male, they'll have male helpers as well as female helpers at at a nest.

[00:43:57] And so Alison has been studying [00:44:00] the purple bag farrier and she stayed this species for her PhD and is continuing with it so far. And she'll, she's found that these you have like superv and splendid farrier ends. You have a dominant pair usually. So we have a male and a female pair, but are often joined by sons and the sons will usually take on the bright plumage of the male holes.

[00:44:22] And they'll often be joined, not always, but sometimes by a fiend and unrelated female who joins the group and sometimes helps feed the offspring of the of the dominant pair. By socially monogamous. Yes. I think all the farriers are socially monogamous, not monogamous me. Yeah. The male team have worked together to raise offspring within both are meeting outside of that pair bond.

[00:44:45] So they're not genetically bomb.

[00:44:47] Grant Williams: And what's the habitat preferred by the purple back fairy red.

[00:44:51] Joe Welklin: They're more of a sort of desert scrubbed species as well. They're not quite as much Outback specialists as the white wing farrier in, [00:45:00] but they are more of a dry grub habitat open for us where Alison studies them.

[00:45:05] They're sorta in a Mulligan forest. So like short stunted growth trees with many trunks and large bushes around the nest, usually in the bushes.

[00:45:14] Grant Williams: Okay. Now you said Moga. As distinct from Melly on I

[00:45:19] Joe Welklin: oh or yeah, I guess it's mainly habitat. I'm less versed in the the distinct Australian habitats is I shouldn't be,

[00:45:26] Grant Williams: yeah I'll do my best to put all that stuff in wet after we've got the episode out and published and whatnot on the webpage.

[00:45:34] Joe, I don't know if I'm a horticulturist as well, so I'm really interested in the vegetation community. So I try and always overlay that either the distribute distribution maps. Awesome. Yeah, I'm looking at beds. So I'll see if I can come up with that because it's such a big distribution here and traveled around a lot of Australia frequent.

[00:45:56] And I have, I'm not confident that I've ever [00:46:00] seen the purple backed fairy red. And I think that's probably because of the habitats that I've spent the most more time in, but it could also be that I've just completely misidentified it too, which is the next thing, Holly, you, have you checked this one off your list?

[00:46:16] Joe Welklin: No,

[00:46:16] Holly Parsons: I haven't. Unfortunately I don't know how I haven't, because I've been through some of those spots as well, but yeah I'm missing the purple backed and obviously means I need a holiday. I think I need like a fairy Wren themed holiday where I can just travel

[00:46:31] Joe Welklin: around and

[00:46:31] Grant Williams: yes, I actually put a map together last night, Holly for precisely that that Rosen touring map I draw the point too, that's such a wide distribution for this species.

[00:46:45] And if we go back here, the white wing fairy, Wren, super wide distribution I reckon I've seen female white wing fairy wrens in my travels and visiting people, but they could well have been double [00:47:00] males as well. Cause I wasn't looking that closely where I

[00:47:03] Joe Welklin: wasn't if their bills hasn't, haven't turned black, they're indistinguishable for white wing farrier ends.

[00:47:08] And for red back fairy rents, even if you have them the hand, you can't tell the difference when they're in the non-breathing place.

[00:47:14] Grant Williams: But the point of bringing that up is when we see a map like this, people think, oh if I just go there, I'm likely to see it. But now they're intrigued. They're very closely linked to a specific habitat taught in most cases.

[00:47:29] So what have we got next to the very guided fairy Wren, which I have had the pleasure of of saying, so how is it, what niche does this species occupy giant? This

[00:47:43] Joe Welklin: one is slightly more tropical, but not quite to tropical then the purple back farrier. And so they just recently, I think, excuse me, the paper was from 2017 that actually led to the splinting of these two speeds.

[00:47:56] So the very good farrier in, and the purple [00:48:00] bag farrier and used to just be called the very good, very urban. So if you have a, my bird book, I've got open right next to me right now is pissy and night. I think it still calls them just very good farrier ants yeah, for the whole species or for the two species.

[00:48:13] So just in 2017 they were two papers were published that led to them being split, at least in the taxonomy that eBird uses. I'm not sure if BirdLife has split them yet or not, or if they plan to but at least some groups are considering them two

[00:48:29] Grant Williams: species. I was going to go through the exercise of looking at all my bird books and see how they all traded them.

[00:48:34] But that's that's a futile exercise because every new edition has some old traded differently. And that's that's a good thing because. Keep showing what it

[00:48:44] Joe Welklin: does is how does BirdLife treat them, Holly? Are they,

[00:48:48] Holly Parsons: I'm just looking now. And I think they are still lumped in with Vera guidance.

[00:48:53] Yeah.

[00:48:53] Joe Welklin: But that may change. Yeah. Ebro had only changed him, I think last year or maybe the year before, but it's been very [00:49:00] recent. Yeah. I'm guessing that there are ornithologists currently shouting at the screen going that's not wrong.

[00:49:08] We'll have strong opinions and I'm for taxonomy. I'm just the. The conveyor of what other people have decided, I guess I'm not making a decision, so don't shoot the messenger.

[00:49:20] Grant Williams: And also it's go with the fly, the birds don't care. If you go and ask a lovely fairy Wren where he's placed on on our texts and moment texted gnomic sliding scale, he doesn't really give us stuff out, I think, excuse me, caterpillar.

[00:49:35] All right. Lovely, lovely fairy rent. Now this is one that I think a lot of people have on their bucket list just simply because of where it occurs. There's the G the geographical range, the way does flying which full listeners it's the Eastern fringe of the, of Cape York down to I'm guessing that's a bad.

[00:49:58] Ken's [00:50:00] maybe might be Sabrina.

[00:50:01] Joe Welklin: I think my friends and I saw them outside of camps. I think there are some spots. Yeah.

[00:50:06] Grant Williams: Yeah. I'm guessing that's at that integrated point somewhere around Cerena or whatnot. And then it goes up to the tip of Cape York occupies the top, maybe quarter of Cape York, and then at a little bit of the Eastern coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria, or shall we call that the Western Cape?

[00:50:26] A lot of us would ashamed that gee it's in the Tropic, so it must like jungle, but it doesn't does it I don't know them super well, but I know that I'm one person who study them with studying them in mangrove habitat. Actually that was in camps, I think. Yeah. You've got to usually.

[00:50:42] Joe Welklin: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:50:43] Grant Williams: Okay. You've got to, you've got a dense classic term here that I think there, we ask scrubby edge habitats. I think that's, I reckon that might be common of most of the fairy wrens at that age. That edge into gride from one sort of vegetation, top to [00:51:00] another is where I see where I say them frequently where shrubbery becomes grassland or for us with our urban wrens, the oval the edge of the oval and things like that.

[00:51:10] That's have you had the opportunity to get up to Kate, your Kevin and. Not all

[00:51:15] Joe Welklin: the way to Cape York, but I no, we were up there a little ways up there, not all the way to the tip. But we were up in Cannes and then port Douglas and then went up a little bit further north of there as well.

[00:51:26] And that's BC, this is really cool. Cause those females are really neat Dilu. They're really neat among the farrier ENS. Yeah. Look at some it's CR it's a really gravy looking bird AREC and the females, so that a really cool looking with the Branny wings with a bluey upper body.

[00:51:44] Grant Williams: Okay. Blue breasted ferry right now. How many have we got we've sets 2, 3, 3 to guide three to guy. And then I want to talk about. Something a little bit different. So blue breasted farrier, endless rice through that one. Yeah. So [00:52:00] they're

[00:52:00] Joe Welklin: there. Most people know them as from Southwest Australia.

[00:52:04] Just are near, I think you can get them just outside of Perth and then in scrubby open forest habitat. If you ever go birding or tucked ornithologists in near Perth dry Andra, I think is the Woodlands that they're really well known for where the numb bats are. They're common there and they've been, I think they were studied there a long time ago.

[00:52:23] Maybe. It looks Locke. Holly, you might correct me with this as well, but it looks like it's that a weight belt zone of Western Australia and they're the air peninsula where That Mellie Woodland has been is being replaced rapidly by farmland, but the set sit with your understanding of this species.

[00:52:47] Holly Parsons: Yeah. That, that tracks with me that they're going for that sort of you can live with land type habitat where it's going to be a little bit dryer. And I think that's perfectly along that sort of built for sure.

[00:52:58] Grant Williams: And then we might just rice [00:53:00] through the red wing fairy red. Now this is the one that I always thought this is the species and all the others are subspecies, but it's the one with the most localized distribution, the Southwest corner of the continent, south of Perth down towards Albany.

[00:53:16] What's amazing about this one. I think you could remind me of the forest or the

[00:53:22] Joe Welklin: Okay. Yeah, those were the, of the sort of what I felt like when I was there multiple canopies were the giant Kerry trees that are just so tall. And then below them, you have some smaller trees. And then on the ground among the ferns, you have the red wing ferry runs running around on the ground.

[00:53:39] So they're just in an incredible habitat to be in. Yeah they like firms and dense sort of low habitat. They really riversides or like streams and creeks for the vegetations are really dense. Some they're hard to follow, but they're really neat species down there.

[00:53:54] Grant Williams: And they I organize socially the same why [00:54:00] as the the blurred breasted and the lovely.

[00:54:05] And the very guided I mean that they're all sort of replacements. That's the why it appears when you look at the map that each one is replacing another in a different habitat, but do they all do they all have a very similar society that we have?

[00:54:23] Joe Welklin: I think so. I don't know for sure about a couple of the species, but I think so.

[00:54:28] I don't remember for sure if the lovelies have female helpers or not. But very goods' do purple backs do and Redwings do. I don't know about a blue breasted either. They probably do but the this is in general, this clade at least most many of the species are interesting because they have females helping up Ines as well as nails helping with the nest.

[00:54:48] Grant Williams: Okay. Let's scoot down triple crown fairy Wren, cause already going. A lot of people have got this one on. My favorite bird list. It's tropical. Very definitely, but not to [00:55:00] the most Northern reaches of the country. So it's what habitat is this one living in and w let's go for some opinion, why do you reckon that's so different to all the others?

[00:55:13] Oh

[00:55:13] Joe Welklin: yeah. Those are great questions that people have been trying to answer for quite a while. There's a lab at Melbourne on appears this lab is studying purple crown farrier. And so the same lab that atory Toryism who you talked to previously some of her students who were studying these up in the Kimberley, I believe.

[00:55:30] And they're the one species I haven't been to see. So I don't know the habitat as well, but as far as I know, it's desert habitat, but then where you have the rivers through the 3d Outback desert, you have the it's really vegetated along the rivers and these purple bags or purple crown ferry ruins are along those rivers.

[00:55:49] And that really vegetated just zone of area, just on both sides of the river.

[00:55:54] Grant Williams: I'll do some work and put some visuals in on the page, a deal listener [00:56:00] so that you can have a look at what those different habitats look like, because the map doesn't give us any kind of indication of what you're likely to see if you were walking around up there.

[00:56:14] Holly, one for you, we've looked at we've raced through the 10 what's the conservation status for most of them are. Any of them in peril.

[00:56:25] Holly Parsons: So most of them are classified as actually all of them I think are classified as least concerned by the UCN list. The purple crowned west, the subspecies is classified as endangered.

[00:56:38] Grant Williams: Is that the Western suburbs? The Western suburbs. Okay. So that's the one inhabiting the in, in a Kimberley region.

[00:56:46] Holly Parsons: Yep. That's right. So I don't think just trying to remember, I know that the kangaroo island subspecies of the suburbs understandably the cops are beating during the fires. And so I'm not [00:57:00] sure if their status has been reviewed or not, but I know they were one of the ones that, that Louis significantly, the population was significantly damaged.

[00:57:07] I don't think any of them are on. On an IECN list aside from that, that Western subspecies of the purple crown that's good news. I don't often get to talk about good news on this show. That's

[00:57:18] not to say that they're not in trouble and they're not facing a whole range of different threats.

[00:57:23] Oh, that's

[00:57:24] Grant Williams: the next question for the two of you? Joe, tell us about production when you answer and then Holly, if you can tell us what the major threats are for the complex and any individuals, if we need to target individual populations, not individuals. I think every individual is worried by goshawks.

[00:57:45] Yeah. Would you like to go first? Who predates these these fabulous birds Yeah, for adults, not many things do, there are a kookaburra is certainly we'll try butcher birds. Any of those are like Sparrow [00:58:00] colored Hawks, and what's the other Hawk and small, oh, goshawk brown goshawk would definitely try.

[00:58:05] Joe Welklin: They're probably too small for a, something like a gray goshawk to worry about. But it seems like adults in our population of the redneck farrier ENS we didn't observe extremely high predation of the adults. They they seem to stick around for quite a few years. It seemed like the average age probably was three or four, what Holly said before.

[00:58:26] But for NES most or many of the nests do suffer from predation. So they'll often the redneck farrier that I studied will often try to nest multiple times in the season, but only often only succeed with one. It's only fledged one desk, but we think there the biggest predator was snakes.

[00:58:43] We think we'd often find the Ines just completely empty and not really damaged at all. So we think say like brown snakes and that sort of thing. We just somehow find them and and eat the babies when they're in the nest. Other bird predators, like Cooper brews, and which are birds. We had to be careful of [00:59:00] that.

[00:59:00] We didn't lead them to the nest as well. And every once in a while, we'd have a trail camera that caught one chiro came up, caught a Fox Debra dating a nest. But we, I think for the most part, snakes are the biggest predator.

[00:59:11] Grant Williams: Okay. Holly the threats from things other than critters, what what are there any of these species or specific localities that are on your list of concerns for the.

[00:59:26] Holly Parsons: Th there's always land clearing these with the exception of suburbs really as being the most tolerant urbanization shall we say they're all under threat by clearing of habitat. They're all dependent on understory vegetation they'll often most of them will feed out in the open, but they're reliant on that sort of dense, protective cover of Vedge in order to escape.

[00:59:51] Once you go in and clear and fragment habitat, opening it up means you have more predators around, they're not, the birds are [01:00:00] not as well protected and population loss. So across the board that's a huge thing with the purple crown fairy wrens being so dependent on those right period stretched there, riparian stretches of dense vegetation.

[01:00:13] You get inappropriate fire regimes clearing out that habitat, you get invasive plants coming in and changing the structure as well in those areas. Conversely for things like very guided and suppose, particularly probably read back fairy wrens as well. Sometimes weedy habitats actually really important.

[01:00:33] So as much as it pains me to say it fairy runs love Lantana. It, it provides that really dense structure that, that is going to protect them from predators and enable them to duck in and out and do their foraging. I know, I think the way we approach weed management now for small birds has changed and it's in that whole clear it all out and blanket flatten everything actually does a lot of [01:01:00] damage for things like variants and a range of small birds really that any of that Wade removal actually has to be done really cautiously.

[01:01:06] And we see lots of people taking that approach now. Across the board, it's always loss of habitat, simplification of habitat structure if they don't have that dense, protective layer, they're in big trouble. And we see climate change is going to pose a risk for some of these guys there's more evidence now, was it suburbs changing, breeding time to do with the to do with changing climate, Joe, is that ringing a bell with you?

[01:01:32] It's ringing a bell in my head. Yeah. I studied from the Canberra group, I believe where they've stayed, supervise for many years in a row. The timing of breeding was associated with temperature. So earlier warmer temperatures led to earlier breeding and superbs, I believe, and there was also something with the end of breeding, but I don't remember that result as well.

[01:01:52] Grant Williams: And the world's a complex place. So you would think that's got an effect on the availability of food [01:02:00] and EV everything. So everything is shifting, but. What I was wondering Holly pass. And what you said about the changing in the way we manage disturbed locations and changed echo systems, and that we're not tidying up every piece of land now does other, the group and Joe chipping with this too, in general, this group of species, are they doing well on agricultural land?

[01:02:28] Because we still keep most agricultural land devoid of undergrowth. And does that mean that corridors and remnant vegetation is crucial to the ongoing success of the, of each species, but the group in general, what's your view on that?

[01:02:46] Joe Welklin: Do you want to go first? Joel, do you want me to say you can go

[01:02:48] first.

[01:02:49] Holly Parsons: You can notice from those distribution maps, that a lot of these birds overlap with agricultural habitat. But they are relying on the forest areas of those all those [01:03:00] edges of forests with agricultural habitat. And clearing for grazing and removing understory for example, is going to have a huge impact.

[01:03:08] There was some bird life research that came out just recently that showed that where where that habitat was planted back in ferry runs with one of the quick colonizes, the ones that were coming back and into those agricultural areas relatively fast the reason for asking was that suburbs are really successful in as garden beds in the south bay site.

[01:03:33] Grant Williams: But you don't see them around, over well on ovals and things like that very often. So I just wondered if the density of vegetation

[01:03:42] Holly Parsons: it's around that proximity to vegetation. A big oval is very open. A garden has lots of little places to hide away a lot quicker. So they seem to be one of the very reasons that's most tolerant to people being around.

[01:03:57] Then they're not as shy as even something like a [01:04:00] variegated that tend to stick very close and require a bit more density. There's still a limit to how much open space or how much lawn is appropriate for them.

[01:04:09] Grant Williams: Let's try it. And the the edge effect when you see those words on paper that never really accurately reflects what's going on on any piece of a piece of plant.

[01:04:21] So Joe, you're looking at the fairy wrens from afar. How do you think that they're tracking and as an American, do you think Australians in general are aware of the whole fairy Wren group?

[01:04:35] Joe Welklin: I think they're aware of super farrier amps, which is great because Holly said, are, they're an amazing species.

[01:04:41] All these theses are amazing, but superbs are a wonderful flagship species for this family, for this group. I think probably most Australians are not aware of all the diversity. And I remember so the first time, I think the first, when I first saw splendid fairy, wrens and whitening farrier ins and Western [01:05:00] Queensland out at the I forgive it's Bush heritage, your AWC might own the I'm forgetting the name out by Cunnamulla Queensland.

[01:05:08] There's a. A wildlife or refugee area out there. Oh, Berowra B O w RA, I believe wildlife refuge. I drove from queen or Brisbane out to there about 10 hours and first saw these bright blues splendid farrier ruins on this sort of clay pan Outback render habitat. And that sort of just sold it for me, that I really wanted to continue working with this group of birds and just try and understand more about them.

[01:05:35] And yeah, for seeing them for the first time, just sold it for me. That was the, that was what I wanted to do. And they're just one of the coolest families of birds out there

[01:05:45] Grant Williams: now, Holly I'm watching the time. So tell us about cooker.

[01:05:50] Holly Parsons: Yeah. When most people think of cookers, they think of the big urban cookers.

[01:05:55] So the Capels and channel bills that arrive along the east coast and [01:06:00] drive people nuts. And I get an influx of emails asking what on earth is that bird that's calling all night, but there were a range of smaller native cookers across Australia and a number of them used fairy wrens as their hosts.

[01:06:14] And so there's this really interesting evolutionary arms, race going on amongst the cuckoos and the fairy wrens to try and outreach and outlast each other. And research out of Canberra, I believe was finding that. The suburb fairy Wren females were seeing a certain note or a song to their eggs.

[01:06:36] And because the cookoo eggs were laid later, they didn't have enough that the theories, they don't have enough time to actually learn this little call. And so if the, if her eggs do not, if the chicks that hatch from the eggs do not repeat that call to her, they don't get fed so effectively. That means that the cookoo chick goes hungry and the fairy Wren chicks [01:07:00] get fed and grow.

[01:07:01] And so it's not a situation of course, that it works all the time. It depends on the timing of when eggs are laid and everything. But it's a really interesting way that supper very randoms are evolving in an attempt to outwit the.

[01:07:14] Grant Williams: That's pretty astounding stuff. Isn't it? I don't know why I am there.

[01:07:19] I don't even want to be there. Let's get us back there. That's better. That is pretty standing and it just shows there's so much, we don't understand about how birds learn, what they must do to win the evolutionary battle, but that is a great, is there a link to that research or something that we can direct people to?

[01:07:41] Great. Oh, I'll

[01:07:42] Holly Parsons: get that. I'll send you

[01:07:43] Grant Williams: something. I'll get that and put that on the page as well. We've got to almost the end of the time that Holly has a forest, but I want to. Draw attention to a couple of things. There is a ran project that is [01:08:00] currently going on. That is not the fairy Wren project and that suburb city wrens.

[01:08:05] There's a link again on the bird slash ferritins. Don't go right now because the pages and up, cause we're still doing the job. But that's about the suburb blue the superbly run superferry ran in Melbourne, particularly, and Joe, we haven't really talked about the citizen science aspect of the fairy Wren project, but what do you need people to do to help you out?

[01:08:34] Joe Welklin: Yeah. Check out our website very rim We're looking for citizen scientists. Photographers anyone to help us look at plumage types of farrier ins. We're trying to understand how Verrier plumage is when they produce this bright plumage, how that's related to environmental conditions.

[01:08:54] So if it's a really dry year or a drought year, does that delay when males are producing this [01:09:00] fancy, bright breeding plumage, and then we're also looking at how group sizes, so how Crawford or breeding behavior varies across different environments. So Alison and I have done some transects of our own.

[01:09:10] We start from wet coastal Victoria and go north into Outback, new south Wales to look at group sizes along this transect to see how superferry earrings at purple bag barrier ins are changing their group sizes as we go from wet to dry habitats. And we're trying to. Expand, see if our results match sort of continental results.

[01:09:30] So you can be anywhere in Australia and send this data through eBird. You can check out our website for the instructions. But we're trying to see if species are changing their cooperative reading behavior based on the environment they live in as

[01:09:43] Grant Williams: well. Fantastic. It's such a massive project.

[01:09:47] It's going to be ongoing, so Joel, I hope we can get you back and Alison, when she's available and Hey let's get Kylie and Atara in as well. And just [01:10:00] nerd out on on fairy wrens. And of course, Holly, you want people to go and check out what's going What is the current thing.

[01:10:11] People might've seen you on the news? Yes. Yes. I'm always talking rat poisons with another mouse, plague around the corner and impacts on wildlife and pets. From some research we've done recently. So yep. Act for poison for lots of info on what we're doing there and getting some advice on how to deal with rats and mice around your place.

[01:10:34] Holly Parsons: He can always do a bird survey for us and tell us maybe you have fairy wrens in the garden. If you're lucky. I don't, unfortunately they have, I've had dispersed a dispersing pair, visit my house. And I get very excited that they called through and stopped on the shed. And I was like, this is it.

[01:10:50] They finally come. And then they just moved that, that were all, I didn't stay. It's my plan and my wish to get the nearby fairy wrens to incorporate [01:11:00] my garden within a territory. It's yet to happen. A lot of wandering cats around my place. It's probably not a great spice. So people can do a birds backyard survey at any time.

[01:11:10] And then what else, if you're interested in gang cockatoos, we're about to have a great learning course available for people to take part and learn about gang gangs. Check out.

[01:11:20] Grant Williams: And we'll not be talking about that. Son Jari Holly was interviewed on the news about, rodenticides and and the particular channel shied, a whole lot of footage of rodenticides in the big hardware store and the supermarkets, and then talk to Holly about the problem.

[01:11:40] And they emphasized before they introduced Holly that vets all over the country of having to treat pets that are getting poisoned. And then they go into this great montage of products, but they didn't say which ones to avoid. So they've ticked off. We have done our bit for [01:12:00] conservation and the problem.

[01:12:00] Bloody useless. Oh, sorry to say, even though Holly looked fantastic bird Lataisha shit.

[01:12:06] Holly Parsons: Thank you. Thank you. And I did talk it obviously got cut that.

[01:12:09] Grant Williams: Yeah. Yeah. The introductory ramble was quite long, a bit like the way I taught. But Holly was like this big. And now that you said avoid these products, but the problem with promoting through a commercial buddy is that if it's a slightest bit bad for business, that aren't included, but they still tick off that when they go to the management meeting and talk about, look out ethically risk how environmentally responsible we are.

[01:12:38] We talked about conservation, but it was useless greenwashing of the highest order. Look I'm not going to get into debate about it Being able to actually share a message like that with a massive audience. So you're not just talking to the converted, there's always an opportunity.

[01:12:52] Holly Parsons: And certainly I got to talk to two different two different channels that are normally not one that would ever touch what we talk about. So [01:13:00] that was a week. And we got to celebrate the wins, but I think we thought we can't let them get away things, slack and lazy is why is my point it's national volunteer week?

[01:13:10] Grant Williams: Obviously citizen science and a lot of those bird projects rely on the input of volunteers. So I just wanted to say thank you very much. I appreciate what you do. And every time you fill in the Ozzy bird count your local bird camp, wherever you are in the world, using a bird. Good on you.

[01:13:28] You are doing something valuable and high. If you're out there pulling, wait until making fences reefa cake, KP that Dr. Joe, Dr. Joe Welklin, thanks so much been a pleasure to meet you. I hope we can do this again, as your research takes along and that whenever Ellison is available, let's talk grins again.

[01:13:49] Dr. Holly Parsons. Birds in backyards. BirdLife Australia. Thanks for being with us again, Holly. Thanks for those watching up. Nobody asked any [01:14:00] questions, Joe. So you had to put up with me.

[01:14:02] Joe Welklin: It was fun. All the same

[01:14:03] Grant Williams: grant. Thank you. And we're not going to call up the Monday megaphone anymore, Holly. Cause I thought I don't need to be that shouty all the time.

[01:14:10] So it's just Mondays with Holly until I can come up with a bitter with a bitter idea. So this has been Mondays with Holly on the bird emergency. Thanks Jerry. Thanks Holly.

[01:14:21] Joe Welklin: Thank you both.

[01:14:22] Grant Williams: This was really fun. Yeah, let's see what Connie wave. Let's make that a thing now. 


Australia, Citizen Science, Fairywrens, fieldwork, Grant Williams, Holly Parsons, Joe Welklin, research, The Fairywren Project, transcript

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