Birds of Karkarook Park

This section is still under construction.  
We don't expect to get everything right first time, so comments and contributions are welcome,

Much of the information here is derived from Bird Life Australia web site.    

 In this section we have selected species that have, over the years,  been observed at Karkarook Park.  In time we may be able to include the monthly count of individuals observed for each species from month to month, but for now there is just a picture and brief description.      We'd also like to have original photos taken at Karkarook Park with acknowledgment for the photographer.   Contributions are welcome.

For the novice in need of assistance in identifying birds we highly recommend the Aussie Backyard Bird Count app by Bird Life Australia for your mobile device.  This free app can be downloaded from the Aussie Backyard Bird Count web site ,  Apple Store or Google Play.

Why not get your bird knowledge and observation skills up to speed ready for the National Backyard Bird Count  17-23 October2022

Narrow your search

Small Birds
Water Birds
Medium Size Birds
Large Birds

or scroll down this page to browse the images.

Australasian Grebe

The Australasian Grebe is usually confined to freshwater wetlands, and can often be seen swimming singly or in twos on farm dams. They build floating nests —a platform made from green aquatic vegetation — into which bluish-white eggs are laid, sometimes by two females. When the young hatch they have striped down and proportionally oversized webbed feet, and are able to swim almost immediately. Not becoming independent for eight weeks after hatching, they follow their parents about, and they sometimes nestle onto the back of a swimming adult to rest

Australasian Shoveler

Often associating with other species of ducks, the Australasian Shoveler is often seen in flocks with Pink-eared Ducks. They inhabit a wide variety of wetlands, ranging from terrestrial swamps and lakes to estuaries and even sheltered inshore waters. They prefer wetlands with areas of open water fringed by abundant aquatic vegetation, where they feed in small groups by dabbling in the mud or at the water’s surface to filter small aquatic invertebrates from the water, using small grooves, or lamellae, on the sides of the birds’ spatulate bills.


Australasian Darter

 Because of its long and slender neck, the Australasian Darter is sometimes called the snakebird. Usually inhabiting freshwater wetlands, darters swim with their bodies submerged beneath the water’s surface, with only the sinuous neck protruding above the water, enhancing its serpentine qualities. Darters forage by diving to depths of about 60 centimetres, and impaling fish with its sharp, spear-like beak. Small fish are swallowed underwater, but larger ones are brought to the surface, where they are flicked off the bill (sometimes into the air) and then swallowed head-first.

Australian Magpie

  This striking black-and-white bird is, according to the experts, a large species of butcherbird. Apart from its widespread distribution — there are few places in Australia where magpies do not occur — the species’ familiarity is probably due equally to its pleasant carolling song, which is such an essential part of the Australian soundscape, and for its tendency to swoop at people during its springtime nesting season. Reaserch indicates that the Australian Magpie is declining in some regions, while increasing in others. In the East Coast region, reporting rates for this species have declined significantly since 1998

Australian Pelican

The Australian Pelican is often seen around the coasts, where it can be seen roosting on sandbanks, rock platforms and reefs, or swimming in lagoons, bays and estuarine waters, dipping their oversized bills into the water to catch fish. However, on the rare occasions that monsoonal rains flood the salt lakes in the arid inland of Australia, many pelicans take advantage of the conditions and flock there in their thousands to breed. When it dries out, they leave and head for other less-ephemeral terrestrial wetlands or the coast.


Australian White Ibis

In regional areas, Australian White Ibis (and Straw-necked Ibis) are sometimes called ‘the farmers’ friend’, due to their habit of flocking into areas afflicted by plagues of locusts and gorging on the ravaging hoards of insects. In urban areas, however, where many Ibis scrounge for a living by scavenging at rubbish tips and in city parks, and their plumage becomes soiled by refuse, they are sometimes disparagingly referred to as ‘tip turkeys’

Australian Wood Duck

The Australian Wood Duck has adapted to modified environments remarkably well. You are just as Australian Wood Ducks loafing at the edge of a farm dam or ornamental pond as beside a swamp, or swimming on a reservoir as on a lake, or foraging on a golf course or in green pasture as in a water meadow or grassland. They even sometimes build their nests in chimneys instead of tree hollows. This level of adaptability has allowed the species to expand its range greatly since Europeans colonised Australia.

Australian Spotted Crake

 The Australian Spotted Crake is a rather secretive bird. It usually skulks about among dense vegetation at the edges of wetlands, though sometimes they come out into the open, and not nearly as shy as many other species of crakes and rails. When they walk, they constantly flick their tail to reveal a white patch of plumage, and if they are disturbed, they may run in a crouched posture with the tail cocked. Australian Spotted Crakes also swim occasionally, though usually only to cross channels or streams.

Black Swan

Black Swans are widespread throughout much of Australia, and occur wherever there is a wetland, from river estuaries, bays and great lakes to inundated pasture and water-meadows. In some places, where the wetlands are permanent, Black Swans are sedentary, remaining throughout the year. However, where the wetlands dry out for part of the year, swans are forced to disperse over wide distances in search of suitable water, and have even been recorded swimming in isolated waterholes surrounded by vast tracts of arid stony desert.

Black Tailed Native Hen

Black-tailed Native-hens may be absent from a region for many years, but when the rains come, filling the wetlands and making the conditions suitable for nesting, they may breed up and then they move into new areas in huge numbers, forming remarkable influxes called irruptions. These birds seldom fly, and they mostly run across the landscape, their red legs flashing beneath them, and the effect of seeing thousands and thousands of these birds on the move is like a seeing moving carpet of birds.

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike

 In flight, the Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike appears rather lazy, as it gives a few flaps of its wings, then glides with them by its side for a second or two; during this glide, the bird loses elevation until it flaps again, giving the flight is characteristic undulating pattern. Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes sometimes form mobile flocks of dozens of birds, each flying in this manner but not synchronised with the other birds. Foraging Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes may hover in the wind, plucking invertebrates from the foliage of trees and shrubs without alighting.

Black-fronted Dottorel

 The Black-fronted Dotterel is widespread in many parts of Australia, where it usually inhabits the muddy margins of a variety of shallow terrestrial freshwater wetlands, walking over the soft mud, all the while pecking at its surface to take small invertebrate prey. As well as natural habitats, they also regularly occur at man-made wetlands, and are often seen at the muddy margins of farm dams. They are also often recorded in less salubrious artificial habitats, such as beside sewage treatment ponds and at sludge ponds in abattoirs.


Black-shouldered Kite

Common throughout much of mainland Australia, the Black-shouldered Kite is also occasionally recorded in northern Tasmania and on islands in Bass Strait. They usually inhabit grasslands and other open habitats, and with the expansion and establishment of agriculture in many regions, forested areas have been cleared, providing additional habitat, as well as extra food, in the form of House Mice, which forms a major part of the species’ diet. occasionally, grasshoppers.

Black-winged Stilt

The long, slender bill of the Black-winged Stilt is used like a pair of fine tweezers as the bird forages by pecking at tiny invertebrates on the water’s surface. Although this is its most common feeding method, stilts have been recorded using at least nine different methods to feed. They usually forage by wading in water up to belly deep, but also feed along the muddy margins of wetlands, regularly forming large, noisy feeding flocks, often in association with Banded Stilts and Red-necked Avocets.

Blue Billed Duck

Although they usually nest solitarily, outside the breeding season Blue-billed Ducks may congregate in large flocks, sometimes comprising a thousand birds or more, with most of the birds probably juveniles. These huge congregations form on large, deep lakes where they forage for aquatic vegetation and invertebrates, mostly by diving deep underwater to filter food from soft mud. They are almost always seen on the water, swimming, feeding or loafing, and on the rare occasions they are seen on land they walk with a penguin-like gait.


Brown Falcon

The Brown Falcon is one of the most widespread birds in Australia — there is almost nowhere they cannot be seen, at least occasionally. They are most commonly seen perched on power poles, or hovering or flying back and forth over open habitats, especially grasslands and low shrublands, where they search for prey. They are opportunistic raptors, catching and eating mammals and birds, snakes and insects, with introduced rabbits are their most common prey in many places, especially in summer.

Brown Goshawk

With a flight characterised by frantic flapping interspersed with short glides, Brown Goshawks can be seen over most of Australia. They mostly hunt birds, but also take small mammals, reptiles and insects. Among various hunting methods, their preferred method is to suddenly burst from a concealed perch, surprising unsuspecting prey. Goshawks may spend considerable time perched among the foliage; initially small birds give vigorous alarm calls, but eventually the commotion dies down as they forget about the goshawk. Then the raptor is able to pounce on any unwary bird.

Brown Quail

Like many species of quail, the Brown Quail is often difficult to see, as it inhabits rank, overgrown grassy areas, often in damp, low-lying patches beside wetlands. They are difficult to flush from this cover, preferring to squat among the grass or run quickly off through the vegetation rather than fly off. As is the case with many species that inhabit dense habitats, the Brown Quail may be heard more often than it is seen, with its characteristically mournful two-note call whistle often heard at dawn and dusk.

Brown Thornbill

The Brown Thornbill may lack the flamboyance of a rosella or the melodious song of a butcherbird, but for many people in eastern and south-eastern Australia, they are a familiar and friendly face in the garden or the bush alike. With a cheeky demeanour, bold attitude and frenetic buzzing calls, these diminutive birds have the ability to brighten the day of anyone nearby.


Buff-banded Rail

Occasionally seen as it quickly dashes between clumps of rank grass, rushes or other overgrown vegetation, the Buff-banded Rail is often otherwise difficult to observe as it skulks about, concealed by plant cover. Its harsh squeaks may reveal its presence. The species inhabits a wide range of terrestrial wetlands, as well as coastal beaches, reef flats, mangroves, where it forages on the ground, pecking and probing in mud to catch crustaceans, worms and other invertebrates.  Rails on beaches may scavenge along the strandline.

Caspian Tern

Australia’s largest tern, the Caspian Tern is easily identified by its large, bright-red, dagger-like bill. They forage by plunge-diving into the water from heights of up to 15 metres, grabbing a fish with that massive beak. Caspian Terns are able to take larger fish than any other Australian tern. They are widespread around virtually the entire Australian coastline, and also occur inland along major rivers, especially in the Murray–Darling and Lake Eyre drainage basins, preferring wetlands with clear water so they can detect their prey.

Cattle Egret

Since Cattle Egrets were first recorded in Australia in 1948, their range has expanded to include eastern and northern Australia, and also along major inland river systems. Their breeding colonies are often shared with other species of waterbirds, especially herons, ibis and other egrets. Cattle Egrets are usually seen stalking about in pasture, accompanying cattle to snap up insects as they are disturbed by the beasts. They also follow other grazing animals, including sheep, horses, goats, alpacas, and in zoos, elephants!

Chestnut  Teal

Although the Chestnut Teal occurs at wetlands hundreds of kilometres inland, the species’ strongholds are usually near the coast. It is one of the few species of Australian ducks that can tolerate habitats with highly saline water. They regularly occur in estuaries, inlets, exposed mudflats, coastal lagoons, saltmarsh and evaporation ponds at saltworks. Nevertheless, they also occur at freshwater wetlands. They usually feed at the margins of wetlands, among aquatic vegetation in the shallows or upending in deeper water, or dabbling on recently covered mudflats or sand.

Clamorous Reed-warbler

Inhabits wetlands, especially rushes and reed beds in freshwater swamps, tall crops beside water, bamboo thickets, lantana beside water. An unobtrusive bird, living entirely within the cover of reeds. Clings to reed stems, often low down near the water pecking at insects near the waterline or foraging over fallen, floating debris and water plants for small aquatic animals.

Common Blackbird

In Australia, the Common Blackbird is often viewed as a pest, but the early pioneers were determined to ensure that Blackbirds were successfully introduced into their adopted land. Blackbirds were released dozens of times throughout south-eastern Australia, mostly in the 1860s. Though most Blackbirds are sedentary in Australia, their range has expanded and they are capable of making long-distance movements, with some regularly crossing Bass Strait; a few have even reached subantarctic islands!

Common Bronzewing

The Common Bronzewing is most often seen while it is feeding as it walks along bush tracks or quiet country roads, pecking at fallen seeds on the ground. Although seeds from wattle trees are its favoured fare, bronzewings will also eat the seeds of many other trees and shrubs. When they are flushed from the ground, their wings make a loud clattering or clapping sound as they take off, and their flight is strong, swift and direct, before they land in a tree nearby.

Common Myna

One of the most readily recognised birds in urban areas of eastern Australia, the Common Myna is also increasingly familiar to country folk as well. Introduced from Asia to combat agricultural pests, mynas were slow to expand their range initially, but they eventually spread into rural areas, where they have thrived in paddocks and along roadsides. These days their numbers are so large that the chorus of raucous calling by thousands of birds at favoured roosting sites can be deafening, and heard from hundreds of metres away.

Common Starling

The common starling has about a dozen subspecies breeding in open habitats  and it has been introduced to Australia,. 

Large flocks typical of this species can be beneficial to agriculture by controlling invertebrate pests; however, starlings can also be pests themselves when they feed on fruit and sprouting crops. Common starlings may also be a nuisance through the noise and mess caused by their large urban roosts.

Crested Pigeon

 The crested pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes) is a bird found widely throughout mainland Australia except for the far northern tropical areas. Only two Australian pigeon species possess an erect crest, the crested pigeon and the spinifex pigeon. The crested pigeon is the larger of the two species. The crested pigeon is sometimes referred to as a topknot pigeon,

Dusky Moorhen


The dusky moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa) is a bird species in the rail family and is one of the eight extant species in the moorhen genus. It occurs in India, Australia, New Guinea, Borneo and Indonesia. It is often confused with the purple swamphen and the Eurasian coot due to similar appearance and overlapping distributions. They often live alongside birds in the same genus, such as the Tasmanian nativehen and the common moorhen.

Eastern Rosella

The plumage of the Eastern Rosella is especially vividly coloured — red and yellow and blue and green and black. Despite this bold coloration, when rosellas are feeding on the ground among the grass or perched among the foliage in the treetops they can be very difficult to see, often seeming to disappear completely into the background. Despite their bright colours, their plumage is patterned so that it creates an extremely effective camouflage which assists the birds in avoiding detection by potential predators.

Eurasian Coot

Also known as the common coot,or Australian coot, is found in Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Africa.

It is reluctant to fly. When taking off runs across the water surface with much splashing. It does the same, when travelling a short distance at speed in territorial disputes or to escape from intruders. Its weak flight does not inspire confidence, but on migration, usually at night, it can cover surprisingly large distances. It bobs its head as it swims, and makes short dives from a little jump.

Eurasian Skylark


Being a non-descript brown bird, the outstanding feature of the Eurasian Skylark is its well-known song. The subject of emotional outpourings by British poets for centuries, the Skylark’s song provides a pleasant background to many open grasslands, pastures and crops in south-eastern Australia. That is exactly the effect that people in the 19th century hoped to achieve when they released Skylarks into the Australian countryside by the hundred. Once considered to be the supreme songster, the songs of many native grassland birds are now generally recognised as being superior.

European Goldfinch


The European Goldfinch was introduced at numerous places in south-eastern Australia in the 19th century, and their populations quickly increased and their range expanded greatly. They now occur from Brisbane to the Eyre Peninsula. In Western Australia, the species was released in 1899, but these birds all died. Later, aviary escapees became established in parts of suburban Perth in the 1930s, and the species became common, but the population declined dramatically in the 1960s, and was extinct around Perth or nearly so by the mid-1970s.

Eurasian Greenfinch


This bird is widespread throughout Europe, north Africa and Southwest Asia. It is mainly resident, but some northernmost populations migrate further south. The greenfinch has also been introduced into Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, and Argentina. In Malta, it is considered a prestigious songbird, and it has been trapped for many years. It has been domesticated, and many Maltese people breed them. In Hungary, it is threatened.

Fairy Martin


The Fairy Martin is sometimes called the Bottle Swallow, because its nest, made from tiny pellets of mud or clay, is bottle shaped. The nests are often placed in colonies in in culverts or under bridges, and are only seldom located on natural features such as cliff faces or the banks of watercourses. The entrance to each nest is via the horizontal spout. These mud-nests are occasionally occupied by Tree Martins or Welcome Swallows, and sometimes usurped by House Sparrows and, rarely, Common Starlings.

Flame Robin


Flame Robins are winter visitors to the lowlands in south-eastern Australia. In the warmer months they breed in upland forests, laying their eggs in finely woven nests, sometimes decorated with lichen. As autumn approaches, most move to lower elevations, where they are often conspicuous in open habitats such as farmland, especially pasture and recently ploughed paddocks. They also occur in other grassy areas, such as golf courses, ovals or parkland in built-up areas. They usually return to breeding areas in the mountains in August or September.

Freckled Duck


Australia’s rarest waterfowl, the Freckled Duck breeds in swamps in inland Australia. When these wetlands dry out in the summer months, the Freckled Ducks are forced to disperse towards coastal and subcoastal wetlands, usually swamps where there is much fallen timber that they can loaf amongst. Sometimes, if there is a drought, there may be few of these wetlands available for them, so they may congregate into flocks on whatever wetlands are available, sometimes giving the impression that they are more common than they really are.



Galahs were once confined to the open plains that occur beyond the inland slopes of the Great Divide in eastern Australia, north of the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, and north of the Mulga–Eucalypt line in Western Australia. However, following the clearing of subcoastal woodlands for farming, Galahs began to flood in, taking advantage of the new habitat and its abundant supply of food. They even spread to the coasts, where they are now a familiar sight in the cities.

Golden-Crested Cisticola


The diminutive Golden-headed Cisticola usually inhabits areas of long, dense grass, where they often remain hidden, but their presence may be betrayed by their buzzing and whistling calls. Once this call is heard, it is often not too difficult to see the bird perched atop a stalk of grass. During the breeding season these tiny birds can sometimes be seen performing display flights, high above the grassland, consisting of a jerking, bouncy flight accompanied by a wheezing song, before diving back down into the long grass.

Great Cormorant


The Great Cormorant is the largest species of cormorant in Australia. Its plumage is mostly black with a slight greenish sheen, visible only in good light. During the breeding season, Great Cormorants have orange-red skin on their faces and throats, but this fades to yellow at other times. They breed in colonies, often with other species of cormorants, herons, ibises and spoonbills, their platform-like stick nests built in trees in terrestrial wetlands, including floodwaters, or on coastal cliffs or offshore islands.


Great Crested Crebe


With its spiky, black crest and chestnut mane, the Great Crested Grebe is unmistakable. It inhabits wetlands from rivers and lakes to estuaries and sheltered bays, but favours large, deep, open bodies of fresh water. Although the species sometimes appears ungainly, Great Crested Grebes perform elaborate courtship displays, which include activities such as the ‘weed dance’ and the elegant ‘penguin dance’. The latter display involves birds stretching their necks upwards, then suddenly rising up out of the water with their feet paddling vigorously and their breasts touching.

Great Egret


One of Australia’s most elegant birds, the snowy-white Eastern Great Egret is often seen wading in a range of wetlands, from lakes, rivers and swamps to estuaries, and intertidal mudflats. They usually feed in shallow water, standing and waiting for fish, frogs, insects and other small aquatic creatures to appear before stabbing them with its long, yellow bill. They also walk slowly through the water, on the lookout for prey. Large fish are eaten with difficulty, and are often snatched from the bill of the egret by raptors.

Gray Butcherbird


With its lovely, lilting song, the Grey Butcherbird may not seem to be a particularly intimidating species. However, with its strong, hooked beak and its fierce stare, the Grey Butcherbird is not a bird to be messed with. When a nest or newly fledged chick is around, if you venture too close, a butcherbird will swoop by flying straight at your face, sometimes striking with enough force to draw blood, and each swoop is accompanied by a loud, maniacal cackle.

Gray Currawong


The Grey Currawong is known by at least 29 different colloquial names, reflecting the varied nature of the species: it has six different subspecies throughout its range in southern Australia. This variation stems mostly from the tone of the grey colouration of their plumage (varying from light grey to sooty black) and the amount of white feathering in their wings (which ranges from none to prominent white patches). To confuse matters further, some subspecies may interbreed with one another, and they may also associate with Pied or Black Currawongs.

Gray Fantail


The most restless of Australia’s fantails, Grey Fantails are almost continually on the move, constantly changing position when perched, the tail swished back and forth, fluttering about in the canopy of trees or darting out after flying insects. They seem never to keep still. Despite their fluttering flight, they are nevertheless capable of relatively long-distance movements, with some regularly flying across Bass Strait. Grey Fantails’ movements are particularly complex, with no general rule: birds in each different region have their own individual patterns of movement.

Gray Shrike-thrush


The Grey Shrike-thrush is considered to be one of the best songsters in Australia. It was formerly known as the ‘Harmonious Thrush’, and little wonder, as the species has hundreds, if not thousands, of different songs, most of which are musical masterpieces. The song has been described as glorious, pleasing and melodious, with sweet, mellow, rich and liquid notes. Although their song is pleasant to human ears, it is less so for many nesting birds, as Grey Shrike-thrushes are notorious predators at nests, regularly eating eggs and nestlings.

Gray Teal


When it comes to spectacular movements, the Grey Teal is unsurpassed by any other Australian waterfowl. Responding to rainfall, or lack of it, they cover vast distances in search of suitable water, and occur on every type of wetland. When the water dries up, they disperse to look for more, turning up almost anywhere, including at waterholes in the desert. These extensive travels have also taken some Grey Teal beyond Australia's shores to Indonesia, New Guinea and New Zealand, and even to subantarctic Macquarie  Island.



The Hardhead is a medium-sized duck which appears mainly chocolate brown when swimming, with a white under tail. In flight, the underwings are white, edged with brown. A white breast patch is obvious in flight and when standing in the shallows. The name ‘Hardhead’ has nothing to do with the density of the duck’s cranium, but stems from early taxidermists who found that the head was the most difficult part of the duck to process.

Hoary-headed Grebe


The often occur singly, but Hoary-headed Grebes are sometimes also seen in flocks which may comprise hundreds or even thousands of birds. When confronted by a raptor, grebes in a flock may all dive under the water together in a highly synchronised manoeuvre, though at other times they may fly away from danger, staying just above the water. Hoary-headed Grebes often nest in simple pairs, but sometimes they form colonies of hundreds of floating nests, which may be joined together to form a large raft.

Horsfields Bronze-cuckoo


The persistent, descending whistled call of the Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo is heard throughout most of Australia. They inhabit a wide variety of lightly wooded habitats, where they often perch on a fence-post or exposed branch of a shrub, calling throughout the day and sometimes at night. Calling is most common in spring and summer, but also occurs in other seasons. Being a cuckoo, this species lays its eggs in the nests of other species, and its presence often generates irate alarm calls of potential hosts.

House Sparrow


The House Sparrow (actually a large Finch) is a native of Europe and parts of Asia, though it was widely introduced around the world. Australia was no exception, as the species was released at many sites, especially in Victoria. Sparrows quickly became established in the wild, and their numbers increased enormously until they became pests in town and country alike as they spread into new districts. However, their numbers have begun to decline in some built-up areas in recent years.

Latham’s Snipe


Even when you know exactly where they are hiding in the grass, Latham's Snipe are remarkably difficult to see. So well camouflaged, they blend into the background until, with a loud krek!, they suddenly burst from their hiding place, only to land somewhere nearby where they become instantly invisible again. They are much easier to see on their breeding grounds in Japan, thanks to their elaborate courtship displays. At the nest, though, incubating birds are superbly camouflaged, just as they are in Australia.

Little Bittern

The Australian Little Bittern could be considered the consummate skulker and lurker of our wetlands. It is not much larger than the small rails but, unlike them, it rarely comes out onto mudflats or into the open, preferring to remain within or on the edge of wetland vegetation. It occurs in diverse freshwater swamp habitats, mainly where tall rushes, reeds, Typha (cumbungi), shrub thickets or other dense cover is inundated by at least 30 cm of water. It can be found in vast swamps, but unlike the Australasian Bittern, it often inhabits small patches of dense wetland vegetation such as Typha along drains or in small urban lakes.

Little Black Cormorant


Most species of cormorants congregate in breeding colonies, but the Little Black Cormorant also regularly forms large flocks at other times. Foraging Little Black Cormorants may occur in flocks of hundreds or possibly thousands, which sometimes feed co-operatively. They have been recorded surrounding schools of fish in open water, and forming a line across marine inlets to catch fish washed out on ebbing tides. Flocks advance across the water’s surface, with birds flying ahead from the rear, alighting and diving in front of the feeding flock.

Little Corella


Little Corellas often indulge in an activity that is uncommon in the bird world — they like to play. Sometimes they slide down the steep roofs of wheat silos, falling off the edge and then flying back to the top to slide down again. They have also been seen perched on the blades of windmills, spinning round and around, falling off and then regaining a precarious grip on the blades. Even when perched, Little Corellas often hang upside down, or dangle below the perch, holding on with its bill.

Little Grassbird


The Little Grassbird is a nondescript, drab little bird which lives at the margins of wetlands among rank growth of grass, rushes, reeds and sedges. In these densely vegetated habitats, the Little Grassbird is heard more often than it is seen, and its mournful, whistled three-note call is often a characteristic feature of these environments. The Little Grassbird readily engages in conversation with people — its call is easily imitated, and grassbirds usually whistle in response to such imitations.

Little Pied Cormorant


Sometimes Little Pied Cormorants occur in sheltered bays and inlets, but they are more common at terrestrial wetlands, including artificial wetlands as well as a variety of natural ones. Although Little Pied Cormorants will catch fish, more often they take freshwater crayfish and other crustaceans which are captured during brief dives beneath the water. The prey is brought to the surface or back to the nearby bank, where the claws of the crayfish are shaken off before its body is eaten.

Little Raven


Australian crows and ravens are challenging to identify; concentrate on call, throat-hackles, behaviour, and location. Calls usually fairly fast and lack the drawn-out wail typical of Australian Raven. Long throat hackles lend it a slightly bearded appearance. Often flicks wings when calling. Inhabits a broad area of south-eastern Australia. The default crow/raven in Adelaide and Melbourne and forms very large flocks in high-elevation areas like the Australian Alps.

Little Wattlebird


The range of the Little Wattlebird is said to have been shaped by fashion. Before the 1970s, Australian suburban gardens were dominated by exotic trees, shrubs and flowers, providing little food for native birds. In the 1970s, the elms, rhododendrons, roses and gladioli had gone out of fashion, and were replaced by native trees and shrubs which provided bounteous nectar-laden flowers, and shelter among spiky foliage. This coincided with the invasion by Little Wattlebirds into the suburbs of various cities, where they have remained and flourished.

Long-billed Corella


There were once two subspecies of the Long-billed Corella — one lived in western Victoria and the other in south-western Australia. Then, in 1994, suddenly there were no Long-billed Corellas in Western Australia. This was not a conservation issue, but a taxonomic one. With the stroke of a pen (and after years of scientific research) it was decided that the two subspecies differed sufficiently and were, in fact, two separate species. Thus the Long-billed Corella in Western Australia was renamed the Western Corella, a species in its own right.



Magpie-larks are often seen in parks, gardens and streetscapes in built-up areas, but it is equally common in farmland and open areas of the bush. Its familiar call, sometimes rendered as peewee or peewit, has led to those renditions being used as colloquial names for the species, though in South Australia it is known as the ‘Murray Magpie’. It is often confiding in urban areas, but less so elsewhere. Magpie-larks build robust nests made from mud and rootlets, which male birds sometimes defend surprisingly vigorously.



The Mallard prefers habitats that have similar seasonal conditions to its original range in the Northern Hemisphere. These habitats include wetlands, grasslands and crops, as well as sheltered estuaries and marine habitats. It prefers still, shallow water with abundant plant life and is most often found on artificial lakes, ponds and wetlands in urban and farm areas, although it may sometimes be found on natural wetlands if they are not far from settlements.

Masking Lapwing


The Masked Lapwing is sometimes referred to as the Spur-winged Plover because each of its wings is armed with a yellow spur at the ‘elbow’ (or carpal joint) — Indigenous people used to say that the birds were carrying yellow spears. Lapwings use these spurs when diving at potential predators or intruders during breeding season, while chicks are running around or when the eggs are just about to hatch. While these attacks are quite unnerving, the birds seldom actually strike their ‘victims’, preferring a close approach to scare them away.

New Holland Honeyeater

The New Holland Honeyeater is one of Australia’s most energetic birds. Fuelled up on high-energy nectar taken from the flowers of banksias, eucalypts, grevilleas and other trees and shrubs, they are always active and pugnacious. Whether they are dashing in pursuit of a flying insect or chasing other honeyeaters away, the New Holland Honeyeater is seldom seen sitting still. One of their more unusual activities is to conduct ‘Corroborrees’, where up to a dozen birds congregate and noisily display together, fluttering their wings.


Noisy Miner

Noisy Miners are particularly pugnacious honeyeaters. They noisily defend their ‘patch’ of trees from other birds, especially other species of honeyeaters which may be seen as competitors for the food resources, and these are vigorously chased away. Many other small birds are also driven from the area, and sometimes miners will even chase after cormorants or herons that may fly past, or harass them mercilessly if they perch somewhere in the miners’ territory. Because of this aggressive behaviour, areas inhabited by Noisy Miners often support few other birds.

Pacific Black Duck

Despite being predominantly brown, the Pacific Black Duck has always been known as the ‘black duck’. Its only black plumage is a bold stripe that runs across the bird’s face, from its bill to behind its eye, giving it a distinctively striking pattern. It has been claimed that the duck appears as though it is black when seen at a distance. The species is known as the ‘Grey Duck’ in New Zealand, but as it has barely any grey plumage, this is hardly a more appropriate name!

Pacific Gull

Australia’s largest gull, the Pacific Gull occurs only along the coasts of southern Australia. Despite its name, the species is seldom seen on the Pacific coastline, and is far more common on the beaches bordering the Southern and Indian Oceans. They breed in colonies on islands, extending from the Furneaux Group in eastern Bass Strait, west to Shark Bay. Their nests may consist of either a scrape in the ground, sometimes lined with gravel, or a neat nest made from grass, sticks and seaweed.

Pied Currawong

Once a regular winter visitor to lowland areas, Pied Currawongs are increasingly remaining at lower elevations areas throughout the year. Assisted by extra of food in the form of scraps and the berries of exotic plants, they have become permanent guests in the lowlands. The converse is also true: Pied Currawongs are also a year-round fixture at many alpine ski resorts. In the winter, when they should be elsewhere, currawongs can be seen hopping about in the snow, scavenging scraps.

Purple Swamphen

Unlike many wetland species which have dull plumage to aid camouflage among the rank vegetation, the Purple Swamphen has a resplendent purple-blue neck, breast and belly, and a gaudy, oversized bill and frontal shield, both of which are bright red, as are its beady eyes.  And when a Swamphen walks away from you, it usually flicks its tail up and down to reveal a gleaming white rump, which contrasts with the bird’s black upperparts.  The entire combination is dazzling when ambling across a sunlit grassy sward.

Rainbow Lorikeet

The Rainbow Lorikeet is unmistakable with its bright red beak and colourful plumage. Both sexes look alike, with a blue (mauve) head and belly, green wings, tail and back, and an orange/yellow breast. They are often seen in loud and fast-moving flocks, or in communal roosts at dusk..

Rainbow Lorikeets are such colourful parrots that it is hard to mistake them for other species. The related Scaly-breasted Lorikeet is similar in size and shape, but can be distinguished by its all-green head and body.

Red Wattlebird

Large, gray-brown, streaked honeyeater with small pink flaps of facial skin (wattles) and a bright yellow lower belly. Adult has black crown, red eye with white patch below, yellow belly, and streaking across neck, back, and breast. Juvenile is a more uniformly brown, with less defined facial wattles. This species is found in a wide variety of habitats across southern mainland Australia. It can be quite aggressive and typically chases smaller species away from flowering trees. Has a wide variety of loud, harsh vocalizations, many of which are familiar noises across southern Australia.

Silver Gull

There weren’t always as many Silver Gulls as there are now.

Since the 1950s, society has become increasingly wasteful, with our rubbish tips now bulging at the seams. With this increased availability of food in the form of refuse, the population of Silver Gulls has exploded, and offshore islands which once supported small breeding colonies are now over-run.

With so many gulls dominating these breeding islands, it is becoming increasingly difficult for terns and other seabirds to breed there.

Spotted Paradalote

One of Australia’s smallest birds, the Spotted Pardalote builds its nest in a long horizontal tunnel dug into the soil of creek banks, the embankments of railway cuttings, quarries or similar suitable sites, and sometimes they even excavate tunnels in rabbit burrows, or potted plants in gardens. The nest itself is spherical, made from strips of bark, and built in a chamber at the end of the tunnel. Pardalotes are usually seen foraging in the crowns of eucalypt trees, where they pluck invertebrates, especially psillids, from the leaves.

Spotted Dove

The Spotted Dove builds its nest from a few fine twigs. It is so frail that the eggs are often visible from below, and they often fall out. Being so precarious, it seems the eggs must seldom hatch successfully and nestlings seldom survive to fledge, but this is not so. Since they were introduced into Australia in the 1860s, Spotted Doves have been very successful, expanding their range greatly to occur right along the east coast, as well as in parts of South Australia and Western Australia.

Superb Fairy-wren

With its gleaming, velvety blue-and-black plumage, the male Superb Fairy-wren is easily distinguished. These ‘coloured’ males are often accompanied by a band of brown ‘jenny wrens’, often assumed to be a harem of females, but a proportion of them are males which have not yet attained their breeding plumage. The contents of these birds’ untidy nests — a clutch of three or four eggs — are not necessarily the progeny of the ‘coloured’ male, as there is much infidelity among female fairy-wrens, with many eggs resulting from extra-pair liaisons.

Welcome Swallow

Australia’s most widespread swallow, the Welcome Swallow can be seen fluttering, swooping and gliding in search of flying insects in almost any habitat, between city buildings, over farmland paddocks, in deserts, wetlands, forests and grasslands and every habitat in between. Sometimes they even occur at sea — the name ‘Welcome’ swallow comes from sailors who knew that the sight of a swallow meant that land was not far away. Swallows build their mud nests in many different situations, though most noticeably beneath bridges and on the walls of buildings.

White Plumed Honeyeater

Though not a large honeyeater, the White-plumed Honeyeater is a particularly aggressive bird. They defend their territories quite fiercely, sometimes co-operating in groups to mob interlopers much larger than themselves to drive them away, and have been recorded attacking birds as large as Laughing Kookaburras and Australian Magpies, and as small as Spotted Pardalotes and Mistletoebirds. Mobbing is often accompanied by their characteristic alarm call, and White-plumed Honeyeaters are often the first birds to raise the alarm about the approach of a raptor or other potential predators.