Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Friday, 28 December 2012

A Tale of Two Brushtails


The Boebuck (Short-eared Brushtail or Moutain Brushtail Possum) Trichosurus caninus, and the Common Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula, are closely related marsupials that do not usually occur together. Boebucks live in wet sclerophyll forest or rainforest while Common Brushtails prefer open eucalypt forest or woodland. Both species, however, reside in my Sunshine Coast garden at Ninderry.

Common Brushtail

The differences between the two species can be seen in the images above. Boebucks are darker and stockier. Their ears are shorter and more rounded.  Boebucks have a marked white line along the lip.
There is a mix of rainforest trees and eucalypts in the garden. Generally, Common Brushtails feed in the eucalypts, and Boebucks in the rainforest trees.


However, the two brushtail species have a common interest in the seed I put out in three feeders for native birds. Interestingly, the methods they employ to reach the seed are very different. A Common Brushtail positions itself on the tree trunk closest to a feeder and leaps across to it - a distance of less than 1 metre. Once in the feeder, the animal sits there quietly munching away until all the seed is disposed of. The evidence that a possum has raided the feeder is there in the morning in the distinctive lumps of masticated seed that they leave.

By contrast, a Boebuck moves along a branch above the feeder as close as it can get to the target. Then it wraps its prehensive tail around the branch and dangles upside down from the limb, as in the image above. With some difficulty, it swings its body until it grabs the edge of the feeder, thereby gaining access to the contents. Either way, the bird seed rarely survives an evening.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

In other mammal news, Eastern Grey Kangaroos are a frequent presence in the garden in the wake of the prolonged dry spell we are having. This female and her joey have taken to drinking from the bird bath - something I've not seen them doing previously.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

1 comment:

  1. We have also had eastern grey kangaroos drinking from our birdbath this Summer. It seems to be the perfect height for them. I did wonder where all the birdbath water went overnight.