ICONIC: The tinkling sound of the bellbird has been immortalised in song by the likes of Gympie's legendary Webb Brothers.
ICONIC: The tinkling sound of the bellbird has been immortalised in song by the likes of Gympie's legendary Webb Brothers.

Heard but not often seen species a local icon

POEMS and songs by Kendall and Gympie's famous Webb Brothers have helped make bellbirds or bell miners an iconic species - at least along a narrow east coast strip from Victoria to Gympie.

The furthermost north the bellbird has been recorded is in the Wrattans Hut area of Mt Widgee, about 30km west of Gympie.

We live on the eastern side of the Widgee valley and have these often heard but not-often-seen birds visit us occasionally.

Bellbirds are sedentary in a territory and the ones at Wrattans have been there since first recorded in bird books dating back almost 150 years.

The call is a distinctive "tinkling bell” and occurs as a rolling chorus through a territory.

The birds themselves are a dark green, which is good camouflage among green leaves, but they are hard to see mostly because you are not sure just where the call is coming from.

The call is pleasant at first but after a period tends to echo in the skull, although people who live with them say after a while you do not notice it.

Related to the ubiquitous noisy miner that can be a problem for rural residential areas, the bell miner shares many behaviour patterns.

Both species are aggressive to intruders into their territory, whether they be people, dogs or other birds.

Both miners attack by noisy mobbing that more often than not drives the intruder away fairly quickly.

Research has not yet indicated if the bell miner has a vocabulary for different intruders that the noisy miner uses to alert the flock to just what has come in.

Years ago I was able to distinguish a call for me, the dog and for a couple of birds of prey.

Research has shown more than 30 intruder identification calls.

As with many things the more you find out about them the more interesting they become.

Gympie Times


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