One of the most striking changes in local birdlife over the last 30 or 40 years has been the increase in the number of crested pigeons.
Formerly absent from the Ballarat region, they arrived in northern parts in the 1980s and have since spread gradually, not only here but across the whole of western Victoria.
Prior to the 1980s, we had to travel to drier places such as Stawell, Maryborough and Bendigo to see this bird.
We regarded it as a bird of the inland, but it has now moved south to the coast.
And it happily resides in Ballarat proper, in home gardens, on roadsides, in parks and on the edge of Lake Wendouree.
A reader from Alfredton requests the proper name of this bird. Crested pigeon is the correct name.
While ‘topknot pigeon’ is sometimes also used, that name correctly belongs to one of Australia’s tropical fruit-pigeons.
To avoid confusion, our bird should always be known as the crested pigeon.
This has been its official name for many years.
An attractive greyish pigeon, its main feature is indeed its slender crest.
A closer look reveals iridescent colours on its wing, rather like those of a bronzewing.
A name sometimes used in early days of settlement was crested bronzewing.
Pink legs and feet are another feature.
The local increase in numbers of the crested pigeon was at one time attributed to the Avoca – Maryborough fires of 1985, with the bird thought to have spread out into new areas after its habitat had been burned.
The continued spread, across much more than our region, indicates that this was not the case.
The request for the bird’s proper name also mentioned a small flock of them feeding on a lawn.
They like short grass and partly-bare areas where their short legs enable them to feed easily.
The Caspian tern is normally a coastal bird, but occasionally one or more makes a visit to the Ballarat region.
The latest local sighting was earlier in August, when a lone bird was spotted at a large dam at Springbank. It remained for at least two days.
This is similar to a sighting near Clunes several years ago, where one visited a large dam for a few days.
The most likely local spot for a Caspian tern is Lake Burrumbeet, where small numbers visit in most years, usually in November. Lake Wendouree sightings are rare.
A Caspian tern has a prominent black cap and a thick red bill.