Do you want to learn about the types of birds found in Australia?
Well, you have come to the right place!
Today, you will learn about the 30 most COMMON types of birds in Australia!
*Due to the sheer number of species, there was no way to include every bird in Australia in this article. So instead, I tried to focus on the birds that are most regularly seen and observed.
#1. Australian Magpie
- Gymnorhina tibicen
Also known as the Tasmanian Magpie, Flute-bird, and Piping Crow-shrike.
- Adults are 37-43 cm (15-17 in) long with a wingspan of 65-85 cm (26-33 in).
- Adults have red irises and mostly black feathers. Juveniles have dark eyes and brown feathers.
- Their wedge-shaped beaks have black tips.
- The napes, shoulders, and upper tails are lighter in color.
This iconic species is the most recognizable bird in Australia!
The Australian Magpie freely roams the country’s cities and suburbs. While these birds might snatch some grains from your birdfeeder, they prefer foraging on the ground for insects and worms.
- RELATED: 8 BEST Birding Tours in Australia!
Australian Magpies are territorial, often claiming an entire street for years. So, you might look at the same magpies daily on your morning commute. They’re also a highly intelligent species that can memorize over a hundred human faces! Unsurprisingly, people have befriended these birds in the wild by routinely feeding them.
Australian Magpies have an impressive vocal range. They sing in pairs or groups, making sounds that might remind you of flutes. They also copy other species’ birdsongs. Amazingly, they can even mimic human speech!
#2. Australian Wood Duck
- Chenonetta jubata
Also known as the Maned Duck or Maned Goose.
- Adults are 45-51 cm (18-20 in) long with a wingspan of 76-85 cm (30-33 in).
- Their heads are brown, and they have gray wings, black tails, and marbled breasts.
- Females have a pair of white streaks that run through each eye. Their mottling also continues down to their undersides.
Australian Wood Ducks inhabit wetlands and wooded areas throughout Australia. They have also adapted well to human-populated areas. Your favorite park might be home to a family of these ducks! Listen for loud honks and rhythmic chattering. Females sound croaky, while males have smoother and higher-pitched calls.
Though they’re comfortable in the water, they spend much of their time on land foraging for grass, herbs, and insects. Other times, they graze on the water’s surface, feeding on floating vegetation. When threatened, Australian Wood Ducks swim toward deeper water where land predators can’t pursue them.
Females typically lay eggs inside tree hollows near ponds or lakes. Newly hatched ducklings have a bit of a daredevil streak: they jump out of the nest and straight into the water! The chicks spread their wings and feet to slow down their fall.
#3. Silver Gull
- Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae
Also known as the Red-billed Gull.
- Adults are 40-45 cm (15-17 in) long with a wingspan of about 94 cm (37 in).
- Their bodies are stark white, with gray wings that get darker toward the tips.
- Adults have red-orange beaks and legs. Juveniles have dark beaks and brown wings.
Silver Gulls are the most common type of gull in Australia.
As a highly energetic and social species, they love to flock in groups around coastal cities. Hold on to your fries! These mischievous birds are known for stealing food from oblivious tourists.
If there isn’t an unsuspecting beachgoer nearby, Silver Gulls prey on fish and crabs. They sometimes circle above fishing vessels or scavenge urban sites for leftovers. Note, however, that it’s not advisable to feed seagulls. They might become dependent on humans to the point of aggression if they don’t get a snack.
Amazingly, you can tell how old a gull is by how colorful its beak is! For example, Silver Gulls have dull brown or gray beaks when they’re young, but as they age, it changes color from pink to vibrant red.
- Eolophus roseicapilla
Also known as the Pink Cockatoo and Red-breasted Cockatoo.
- Adults are 35 cm (14 in) long, with 75 cm (30 in) wingspans.
- Males have dark brown irises, while females have red ones.
- Their backs, wings, and tails are silver. Their heads and undersides are reddish pink, with pale pink retractable crests.
There are large numbers of these birds in Australia in metropolitan areas. This is because, in the 1960s, many Galahs escaped captivity. Today, they are one of the most common cockatoos in the country.
Keep your ears open for their shrill, metallic shrieks!
These parrots are as flamboyant as they look. They are loud and sociable, often gathering by the hundreds! Flocks may include other species of cockatoos as well. While individuals usually eat seeds on the ground, larger flocks can be detrimental to local ecosystems. The flocks go from tree to tree, picking off so many leaves that the trees often die.
#5. Laughing Kookaburra
- Dacelo novaeguineae
Also known as the Great Brown Kingfisher and Laughing Jackass.
- Adults grow 41-47 cm (16-19 in) long with a wingspan of 56-66 cm (22-26 in).
- They have large heads with a brown streak behind their eyes.
- Their bodies are cream-colored, and their backs, wings, and rumps are brown.
This famous bird is one of the most recognizable in Australia!
It frequents woodlands, urban parks, and gardens. As their name suggests, Laughing Kookaburras are best identified by their “koo-koo-kaa-kaa” laughter. They call out as a group to establish their territory. Usually, you can hear them just before the sun sets and rises.
Laughing Kookaburras normally feed on small rodents, fish, and insects. They perch on tree branches, quietly waiting for passing prey before rapidly swooping down for the kill. Astoundingly, they will even hunt venomous snakes in Australia!
This species is comfortable around people and will eat off your hand if you offer them scraps of meat. But watch out! These mischievous birds can also steal your food if you’re not paying attention. Keep your snacks covered!
- Grallina cyanoleuca
Also known as the Wee Magpie, Peewee, Peewit, and Mudlark.
- Adults are 25-30 cm (10-12 in) long. They have whitish beaks and pale-colored eyes.
- Both sexes are black and white but with unique patterns.
- Females have white throats, while males have black ones. Males also have a white stripe above their eyes.
Confusingly, Magpie-larks are neither magpies nor larks. Rather, they are a species of monarch flycatcher. These birds are abundant in Australia’s cities and suburbs. You can spot groups of them perching on fences and telephone wires. Unfortunately, some homeowners dislike these birds’ piercing shrieks, referring to them as “Peewees” for the sound they make.
Magpie-larks can match each other’s songs so well that it can be hard to tell if it’s only one bird singing or two. Pairs sing melodic duets to announce their territory to other couples. When foraging, they survey the ground for insects and larvae.
Watch your head! These birds can be aggressive towards people who unwittingly approach their bowl-shaped mud nests. Cyclists are prone to accidents if a swooping magpie-lark catches them by surprise. Funnily, these birds sometimes attack windows and car mirrors, mistaking their reflections for rivals.
#7. Masked Lapwing
- Vanellus miles
Also known as the Masked Plover, Spur-winged Plover, and Black-shouldered Lapwing.
- Adults are 30-37 cm (12-15 in) long with wingspans of 75-85 cm (30-33 in).
- Look for their drooping, bright yellow masks!
- They have sharp yellow spurs on the joints of their wings. Males have larger spurs than females.
- Their coloring is grayish-brown on the wings, with a white throat and undersides. They have a black cap.
Masked Lapwings are native birds to the wetlands of Australia. However, many specimens have settled in the suburbs. Be careful where you park your car! Masked Lapwings build their nests out in the open, even in the middle of parking areas. In airports, they pose the risk of getting sucked into plane engines.
Adult Masked Lapwings are always on high alert for potential threats, making loud “kekekeke” calls to warn their young. Long, continuous calls instruct fledglings to come to them. On the other hand, chirps with short pauses tell them to flee while the parent distracts a predator.
Be careful not to disturb these birds! Masked Lapwings defend their nesting grounds by swooping in with their sharp spurs. Normally shy and mild-mannered, these large birds become more aggressive during their nesting season. Several attacks on humans have been recorded.
#8. Noisy Miner
- Manorina melanocephala
Also known as the Mickey Bird or Soldier Bird.
- Adults are 24-28 cm (9-11 in) long with wingspans of 36-45 cm (14-18 in).
- Their crowns and cheeks are black, while their beaks are yellow-orange. In addition, they have a distinctive yellow patch towards the back of their eyes.
- They have gray tails, backs, and breasts. Their wings have a streak of yellow in the middle.
Noisy Miners occupy dry woodlands close to suburbs in Australia.
They forage in groups of five to eight among trees and on the ground. Their diets consist of insects, fruits, and nectar. It’s not uncommon for these birds to visit your garden. Listen for their sharp calls, which sound like “pwee pwee.”
As social creatures, Noisy Miners form colonies of several hundred individuals. They are fiercely territorial, working together to drive away other birds encroaching on their homes. This results in the decline of other species’ populations.
Living up to their names, Noisy Miners flaunt a wide range of vocalizations. These calls serve different functions, from alerting others of danger to coordinating feeding among groups and fledglings. Despite their small size, these birds won’t back down against humans. They will chase you out of their forests without hesitation!
#9. Rainbow Lorikeet
- Trichoglossus moluccanus
Also known as the Lory, Rainbow Bird.
- Adults grow 25-30 cm (10-12 in) long. The average wingspan is 17 cm (7 in).
- These birds are as colorful as their name suggests! Their heads and bellies are blue, while their wings and tails are green. Their breasts are a mix of yellow and orange.
- Adults have bright red beaks, while juveniles have black ones.
Rainbow Lorikeets are one of the most popular birds in Australia.
Originally inhabiting rainforests, they have since adapted to urban environments with tree coverage. Listen for their high-pitched chattering and squawking!
Rainbow Lorikeet couples do everything together. They travel, feed, and care for their children as pairs. But their cooperative nature doesn’t extend to other individuals! Sensing rival birds, they will ferociously defend their nesting and feeding grounds.
This species isn’t picky when it comes to dinnertime. Their tongues specialize in collecting nectar and pollen, but they also eat insects. You can even attract Rainbow Lorikeets to your backyard feeders with cut fruit and sunflower seeds.
#10. Superb Fairywren
- Malurus cyaneus
Also known as the Blue Wren or Fairy-Wren.
- Adults grow up to 14 cm (6 in) long with a wingspan of 30-35 cm (12-14 in).
- Males have light blue crowns, cheeks, and collars. The rest of their heads and throats are black, with white bellies and brown wings.
- Females and juveniles are dull brown, with white undersides.
Superb Fairywrens thrive in habitats where low-lying shrubs are plentiful. Go to a city park, and you might find a family of these wrens among bushes! They’ll likely give a series of loud “chit chits” in alarm if you startle them. Most of the time, however, these birds are comfortable around people.
In their courting rituals, male Superb Fairywrens try to win over females by presenting them with yellow flower petals. However, despite their romantic gifts, they aren’t faithful partners. Even after bonding as a pair, these birds will still mate with others.
Mating with multiple partners leads these birds to live in groups in Australia with specific hierarchies. For example, a group contains one male, several females, and the females’ fledglings. All of them cooperate in caring for hatchlings.
#11. Australian White Ibis
- Threskiornis molucca
Also known as the Australian Ibis.
- Adults are 65-75 cm (26-30 in) long with wingspans of 110-125 cm (43-49 in).
- Their heads are bald and covered with black skin. They also have very long bills that curve downwards.
- Most of their plumage is white. However, their tail feathers and wing tips are black.
- Females are smaller and have shorter bills than males.
Farmers love seeing these birds in Australia!
As a flock, Australian White Ibises feed on locusts in infested farmlands. Once a feeding ground has been depleted, they travel great distances searching for a new one. Look to the sky for a V-shaped formation of these birds.
Interestingly, you can tell that a wetland has a healthy ecosystem if it’s visited by many Australian White Ibises. These smart birds only stay in areas with plenty of healthy wildlife. Using their long bills, they probe murky waters for crayfish and mollusks. Then, they bash their prey’s hard shell against a rock to expose the soft flesh.
Australian White Ibis populations have been steadily increasing in urban areas. People often refer to them as “bin chickens” or “tip turkeys” because they like to dig in garbage bins to find food. They have croaky voices and are especially noisy during their mating season.
#12. Crimson Rosella
- Platycercus elegans
Also known as the Red Lowry or Mountain Lowry.
- Adults are about 36 cm (14 in) long and have a wingspan of 44-53 cm (17-21 in).
- True to their name, they typically have crimson feathers on their heads, breasts, and bellies.
- They have long, blue tails. Their cheeks are blue as well.
- Juveniles are olive green with red and blue mottling.
You can easily spot these vibrant birds in Australia!
Crimson Rosellas prefer wet forests with tall trees. Gathering in social groups, they love to chatter when foraging for food. Listen for “cussik cussik” sounds and metallic whistles.
Putting up seed trays or bird baths will attract Crimson Rosellas to your garden. They readily grow accustomed to humans and may even accept handheld treats. Besides seeds, they eat tree buds, fruits, and insects.
Competition is fierce among Crimson Rosellas during their mating season. Females regularly destroy the eggs from other nests to make room for their own. After hatching, baby birds remain dependent on their parents for about a month.
#13. New Holland Honeyeater
- Phylidonyris novaehollandiae
Also known as the Yellow-winged Honeyeater, Long-billed Honeyeater, and Fuschiabird.
- Adults grow to about 18 cm (7 in) long with a wingspan of about 23 cm (9 in).
- Their beaks are long and slender. They have a blend of black and white plumage throughout their bodies and yellow accents on their wings and tails.
- Females are identical to males but are slightly smaller.
The New Holland Honeyeater occupies forested areas close to populated suburbs. Interestingly, this curious bird in Australia doesn’t shy away from people. Follow the sound of metallic “chik chiks” and whispery “pseets” to find one. When predators are in the vicinity, this bird will call out loud to its neighbors in alarm.
Taking photos of New Holland Honeyeaters can be a challenge. Due to their sugar-rich diets, these birds hardly stay still! You can usually find them in large groups darting from flower to flower to drink nectar. They also feed on fruits and small insects.
New Holland Honeyeaters have an unusual habit during the mating season. They steal silk from spider webs to bind their cup-shaped nests. They often hide their nests in dense thickets or high up on trees.
#14. Red Wattlebird
- Anthochaera carunculata
Also known as the Gillbird, Wattled Honeyeater, Barking Bird, and Mutton-bird.
- Adults are 33-37 cm (13-15 in) long with an average wingspan of 49 cm (19 in).
- As their name suggests, they have red wattles on opposite sides of their necks.
- They have dark brown crowns, gray-brown plumage, and a bright yellow patch on their lower bellies.
Red Wattlebirds in Australia live where flowering trees and plants are abundant.
Like other honeyeaters, they use their slender beaks for drinking nectar from tubular flowers. They also feed on flying insects.
These fierce birds don’t like to share. Red Wattlebirds will aggressively protect the feeding grounds they claim. They won’t hesitate to attack larger birds, including currawongs, crows, ravens, and hawks. They will even swoop down as a group on cats, so keep your pets indoors!
It’s easy to miss a Red Wattlebird’s nest because it’s just a loose pile of grass and twigs huddled against a tree fork or bush. You’re better off listening for its call. However, these birds aren’t musically talented. Instead, you’ll hear cough-like sounds and rigid “yac a yac” calls.
#15. Willie Wagtail
- Rhipidura leucophrys
Also known as the Black-and-white Fantail, Black-and-white Flycatcher, Frogbird, and Chitti Chitti.
- Adults are 19-22 cm (7-9 in) long, with a wingspan of up to 31 cm (12 in).
- Their feathers are mostly black but they have white bellies and a thin white “eyebrow” stripe.
Willie Wagtails are among the most widely distributed birds in Australia.
Typically, you can find them in wooded regions close to freshwater sources. However, they are also regular visitors to parks and suburban lawns. Shepherds are especially fond of them because these birds feast on ticks that infest livestock!
As their name implies, Willie Wagtails have a habit of wagging their tails. Perched on a branch, they sway their bodies side to side as they search for prey. However, they don’t stay perched for long. Once they lock in on an insect, they will pluck it out of midair with outstanding speed and accuracy.
If you enter the territory of one of these little birds, you will hear a brisk sequence of melodic “chit chit chits.” This is their way of alerting their partners to potential threats. It also serves as a warning for you and rival birds to leave their territory. Back away if you don’t want to get mobbed!
#16. Australasian Swamphen
- Porphyrio melanotus
Also known as the Pukeko or Purple Swamphen.
- Adults grow to 48 cm (19 in) long with a wingspan of 88 cm (35 in).
- They have large, red beaks and long toes.
- Their plumage is dark overall, with purple undersides.
Australasian Swamphens are clumsy animals! Ungraceful with lift-off and landing, they prefer flying short distances or staying on the ground. They thrive in wet habitats like swamps and marshes, though you might spot one loitering around ponds in a park.
While they’re accomplished swimmers, Australasian Swamphens would rather wade through shallow water to inspect floating vegetation. They eat reeds and snails and occasionally raid duck nests for eggs and hatchlings. They use their unusually long toes to grab food.
Their wild “kak-kak” and “kee-ow” calls are unmistakable! To repel predators, up to a dozen Australasian Swamphens will gather and scream in unison.
#17. Australian Brushturkey
- Alectura lathami
Also known as the Gweela, Scrub Turkey, or Bush Turkey.
- Adults are 60-75 cm (24-30 in) long with a wingspan of 85 cm (33 in).
- They have bald, red heads and yellow throat wattles.
- Their tails are flat and oriented upright.
- Their body feathers are black, but the underparts have pale mottling.
Australian Brushturkeys are usually shy and elusive, but some have become comfortable around people, moving into suburban areas. These large birds scour forest floors for fallen fruits and insects. You might find them in dry shrublands too. They are quiet birds, though they sometimes make soft grunts.
Australian Brushturkeys have a strange way of incubating eggs. Instead of sitting on them like other birds in Australia, they use their large feet to make a pile of decaying plant matter. The heat from the decomposition process promotes hatching. Sadly, not many chicks survive until adulthood. They are left to fend for themselves after hatching, meaning they often starve or get picked off by predators.
Put up gates in your backyard! Australian Brushturkeys can damage unfenced gardens and crop fields. Additionally, be alert when going on picnics in parks. These sneaky birds will steal your food when you’re not looking!
#18. Australian Pelican
- Pelecanus conspicillatus
Also known as Australian Pelican Catalan.
- Adults are 160-180 cm (63-71 in) long, with a wingspan of 230-250 cm (91-98 in).
- They have large eyes and long necks, but their most noticeable features are long bills and huge throat pouches.
- Their plumage is mostly white, with black feathers at the edges of their wings.
These birds soar throughout Australia in search of robust feeding grounds.
Australian Pelicans prefer environments with an extensive body of water. Since they can’t flap their wings for too long, they ride thermals instead. Incredibly, they can glide for an entire day and cover over a hundred miles.
Australian Pelicans have the longest bills of any bird in the world! They use these bills to scoop up fish and crustaceans as they plunge into the water. These birds are clever swimmers and hunters. Huge flocks will chase schools of fish into shallow depths, then swoop down to catch them easily.
You might have a hard time finding Australian Pelicans during the breeding season. They retreat to secluded islands, with colonies consisting of several thousand individuals. However, they coexist with humans outside the breeding season near big water reserves. Don’t give them handouts! While they’ll readily accept food, it’s best to leave them be so they don’t lose their natural hunting skills.
#19. Black Swan
- Cygnus atratus
- Adults are 110-142 cm (43-56 in) long with a wingspan of 160-200 cm (63-79 in).
- Like most swans, they have long, slender necks. Their bills are red-orange.
- Their feathers are black with slight white mottling and a white streak on the wings.
- Juveniles have fluffy, light gray feathers and black bills.
These widespread birds in Australia favor permanent wetlands and bay areas.
Black Swans are plant-eaters. They plunge their long necks up to a meter below the water’s surface to graze on weeds and algae. When traveling to new territories, they fly at night and rest during the day.
When listening to these water birds, you might mistake them for a jazz band’s warmups! Black Swans have distinct trumpet-like calls you can hear from far away.
Watch out, or these feisty swans may nip at your ankles! They fiercely protect their nests, attacking anything that gets too close for their liking. But, despite their parents’ protectiveness, chicks can swim and feed themselves right after hatching. And by three months of age, they’re ready to thrive on their own.
#20. Crested Pigeon
- Ocyphaps lophotes
Also known as the Topknot Pigeon or Crested Bronzewing.
- Adults are 30-34 cm (12-13 in) long with wingspans of 45 cm (18 in).
- They have long, wispy head crests.
- Their plumage is gray-brown and lighter at the breast and belly. Their primary feathers have colorful patches of bronze and purple, and their wings have black stripes.
Look overhead if you hear a whistle! While in flight, the Crested Pigeon generates a high-pitched noise using a special feather in its wings. This noise distracts predatory birds and alerts their flock of danger, giving them a chance to escape. It’s almost unbelievable that this sound comes from their wings!
Crested Pigeons inhabit lightly wooded grasslands, though populations have also expanded to cities and suburbs. Here they feed on seeds, crops, insects, and food scraps. Large flocks often congregate in trees around watering holes, making a cooing noise like other pigeons and doves.
Crested Pigeons are accustomed to humans and easy to approach when on the ground. In fact, they might even approach you first. These birds frequently beg people for food, going so far as to visit households. Get your birdfeeder ready!
#21. Pacific Black Duck
- Anas superciliosa
Also known as the Grey Duck, Brown Duck, or Wild Duck.
- Adults are 50-60 cm (20-24 in) long with a wingspan of 82-93 cm (32-37 in).
- They got their common name from the black stripes on their head which extend past the eyes.
- Their body plumage is gray-brown, though they have an iridescent blue-green patch on their wings. Their underwings are white.
Pacific Black Ducks thrive in most habitats with bodies of water. They’re able to adapt to people very well! For example, ducks that live far away from civilization will flee if approached. Meanwhile, suburban specimens are tamer and more comfortable with people. Don’t go near their children, though! Adult ducks will hiss at you if you get too close.
Their favorite meal is aquatic plants, but they also eat insects and mollusks. Pacific Black Ducks will dip their heads into the water to forage for food. These social, gregarious waterfowl tend to do everything in pairs or small groups.
Listen for a call similar to that of a mallard. If you hear a stereotypical “quack-quack,” you’re listening to a female duck. Males sound more like “rhaab-rhaab.”
#22. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
- Cacatua galerita
Also known as the Greater Sulphur-crested Cockatoo or White Cockatoo.
- Adults are 44-55 cm (17-22 in), with wingspans up to 103 cm (41 in).
- Their most prominent feature is the lemon-yellow crest at the back of their head.
- They are uniformly white-feathered aside from their yellow underwings, black beaks, and feet.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are one of the most recognizable birds in Australia.
You might spot a single cockatoo perched on a high tree branch, acting as a lookout while the rest of its flock eat. Cover your ears! This bird will let out a deafening shriek if it perceives you as a threat.
If you live in the suburbs, you might notice growing numbers of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. These birds are becoming well-acquainted with people, and they openly accept food from humans. They have strong beaks that can crack open nuts, and they also forage for roots and berries.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoos have an interesting “dental” habit! To keep their beaks from growing too big, they wear them down by biting off small tree branches. The hard branches act as a file, keeping their beaks from becoming large and cumbersome.
#23. Tawny Frogmouth
- Podargus strigoides
Also known as the Mopoke or Mopawk.
- Adults measure 34-53 cm (13-21 in) long with a wingspan of 64-97 cm (25-38 in).
- They have large heads and eyes and silvery plumage, though some females are chestnut brown.
- Their mouths, especially when open, resemble a frog’s– hence their common name.
Tawny Frogmouths are often mistaken for small owls, but these birds in Australia aren’t closely related. They make their homes in most woodlands except rainforests. Throughout the breeding season, you’re likely to see couples roosting on the same branch. Adorably, the male expresses affection by combing through the female’s feathers with his beak.
Upon sensing danger, Tawny Frogmouths squint their eyes, stiffen up, and sit motionlessly. In this position, they camouflage among broken tree branches or loose bark. Since these birds can be hard to spot, listen for deep “oom-oom-oom” sounds.
If you have a garden, you’ll love Tawny Frogmouths! These nocturnal birds are among the best at pest control, preying on destructive worms, moths, and slugs. Small mammals and lizards aren’t safe either. Additionally, they have grown comfortable with humans, so they aren’t alarmed by our presence.
#24. White-faced Heron
- Egretta novaehollandiae
Also known as the White-fronted Heron.
- Adults are 60-70 cm (24-28) long, with a wingspan of about 106 cm (42 in).
- They have slender necks and long, pointed beaks.
- Their white face is distinct from the rest of their gray or steel-blue bodies.
These majestic birds in Australia live in any environment with a body of water.
Look for them on mudflats and beaches. White-faced Herons also frequently visit towns, often perching on roofs and telephone poles. And don’t forget to listen! A heron returning to its nest will announce its arrival with a booming “gow-gow-gow” call. But most of the time, it makes gravelly “graaw-graaw” croaks.
If you see a White-faced Heron standing still in the shallows, it’s likely hunting for food! It observes the movement of fish and frogs, waiting for the right chance to spear one with its beak. If that doesn’t work, it will wade through the water to disturb its prey, then strike. Clever!
#25. Australian King-parrot
- Alisterus scapularis
Also known as the Green-winged King Parrot, King Lorie, or Scarlet Parrot.
- Adults reach 43 cm (17 in) long with a wingspan of up to 45 cm (18 in).
- They have long tails, comprising about a third of their lengths.
- Both sexes have green backs, wings, and tails. They also have red-orange bellies.
- Males have red-orange heads and breasts, while females have green ones.
The Australian King-parrot in flight is truly amazing to watch. It doesn’t rise above the canopy. Instead, this bird weaves through the tangle of trees with powerful wing beats and acrobatic twists. It lives in heavily forested habitats, foraging for fruits and seeds.
Australian King-parrot populations are becoming abundant in suburbs with plenty of tree cover. You might see pairs or families eating at feeding stations. But don’t sneak up on them! When disturbed, these parrots will let out a sharp “charrak” screech before flying out of view.
Australian King-parrots hide their nests deep at the bottom of a hollowed tree trunk. Parents have designated tasks. For example, the female guards and cares for the eggs and hatchlings. Meanwhile, the male collects fruits, nuts, leaf buds, seeds, and flower nectar and brings it back to the nest for his family.
#26. Dusky Moorhen
- Gallinula tenebrosa
Also known as Black Gallinule, Black Moorhen, Waterhen.
- Adults are 34-38 cm (13-15 in) long with wingspans of 55-65 cm (22-26 in).
- Their face shields and bills are reddish-orange with a yellow tip.
- They have plump bodies covered by black plumage. Their tails have a white patch underneath.
Dusky Moorhens spend most of their time in swamps and marshes, but they’re also a regular sighting in park grounds, wading through the reeds of ponds. Listen for their territorial “kerk-kerk” calls. Moorhens in parks have gotten used to humans and might even approach you to beg for food.
With long legs, Dusky Moorhens can easily walk across slippery mud banks and floating water lilies. They use their long toes to grasp food and forage in small groups for grasses, algae, snails, and fish. Strangely, they also feed on dead animals and bird droppings.
Dusk Moorhens build several nests instead of one when they breed, and the reason might surprise you! The first nest carries the eggs and is carefully hidden. The other nests, which are placed afloat in deep water, act as a nursery for chicks. Young Dusky Moorhens leave their “nurseries” and go on trips with their mothers to learn survival and hunting skills.
#27. Grey Fantail
- Rhipidura albiscapa
Also known as the White-shafted Flycatcher, Snapper, Mad Fan, Cranky Fan, Devil-bird, and Land Wagtail.
- Adults are 16 cm (6 in) long, with 23 cm (9 in) wingspans.
- They have long, fan-like tails that comprise half of their body lengths.
- Look for their white “eyebrow” streaks above the eyes.
- They have mostly gray or brown plumage, while their underparts are paler. Their throats are white.
These curious birds in Australia like to follow people.
They are highly energetic, constantly darting around. Even while perched, Grey Fantails always make skittish motions. However, they make delightful squeaks, chirps, and whistles when they sing.
Grey Fantails have erratic flight patterns, almost like they’re losing control. But don’t worry! These tiny birds are acrobatic fliers skilled at hunting down fast insects such as bees and dragonflies. During a chase, their “whiskers” (which are really bristle-like feathers) protect them from aggressive insects.
Spiders hate Grey Fantails! These birds steal large amounts of spider webs, using the silk to tie grass blades together for their nests. Then, cleverly, they set up abandoned nests as decoys to lure predators away from their actual nests.
#28. Kelp Gull
- Larus dominicanus
Also known as the Dominican Gull, Black-backed Gull, Mollyhawk, Karoro, or Cape Gull.
- Adults are 54-65 cm (21-26 in) long with a wingspan of 128-142 (50-56 in).
- They have large yellow beaks and long yellow legs.
- Their plumage is mostly white, though their upper wings and backs are black.
Kelp Gulls are particularly plentiful along coastlines in Australia. They take shelter in inlets, where they avoid harsh weather. You might even see large flocks traveling inland to coastal towns, where they raid garbage bins and landfills for food. Listen for their harsh “ki-och” screeches.
Their diets consist primarily of crustaceans and fish. Creatively, these gulls drop mollusks from great heights to break their shells. In rare instances, if there’s a shortage of food, Kelp Gulls may parasitize breaching whales, biting off chunks of their blubber. However, other gulls do this much more frequently. This species prefers shellfish!
#29. Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
- Calyptorhynchus banksii
Also known as the Banksian, Banks’ Black Cockatoo, or Great-billed Cockatoo.
- Adults are about 60 cm (24 in) long with a wingspan of up to 110 cm (43 in).
- They have robust beaks and mostly black plumage.
- Males have dark gray beaks and red tail bands.
- Females have pale beaks and yellow-orange stripes on their breasts and tails.
You’ll likely notice empty seed pods littering the ground below eucalyptus trees after Red-tailed Black Cockatoos finish eating. This bird uses its large beak to crack open the hard pods. Look for these birds all across Australia, in habitats ranging from dry shrublands to tropical rainforests. Before dusk, flocks return to their roosting trees along streams and riverbanks.
Red-tailed Black-cockatoos are a loud and noisy species. You might get startled by their high-pitched “kree-kree” shrieks!
In the wild, Red-tailed Black-cockatoos are shy and wary of humans. However, hand-reared birds, like those in zoos, tend to be friendly. They are curious animals that enjoy constant attention. In fact, if you ignore them for too long, these birds can become depressed!
#30. White-bellied Sea-eagle
- Haliaeetus leucogaster
Also known as the White-breasted Sea Eagle or White-breasted Fish-hawk.
- Adults are 66-90 cm (26-35 in) long, with wingspans of 178-220 cm (70-87 in).
- They have large, hooked beaks and powerful legs.
- Their bodies and chests are white, while their backs and wings are dark gray.
It’s easy to mistake the call of a White-bellied Sea-eagle for the honking sounds of a Canada Goose. However, these birds live on Australia’s coasts, lakes, and freshwater swamps. On occasion, you might find large groups scavenging in dump sites.
White-bellied Sea-eagles circling the skies mean bad news for fish and sea snakes. They are raptors with excellent eyesight that allows them to spot prey on the water’s surface from great heights. Then, they descend with astounding speed.
You might see a White-bellied Sea-eagle nest atop a telephone pole or cliff face. Amazingly, these birds don’t abandon their nests. Rather, they build upon them continuously throughout the years. As a result, some nests grow over 200 cm (79 in) wide!
Which of these birds in Australia have you seen before?
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And, check out this field guide for even more information on birds in Australia!
Check out these guides to other animals found in Australia!