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Birds of Australia

Birds of Australia: A Photographic Guide

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    Birds of Australia
    Book Description:

    Australia is home to a spectacular diversity of birdlife, from parrots and penguins to emus and vibrant passerines.Birds of Australiacovers all 714 species of resident birds and regularly occurring migrants and features more than 1,100 stunning color photographs, including many photos of subspecies and plumage variations never before seen in a field guide. Detailed facing-page species accounts describe key identification features such as size, plumage, distribution, behavior, and voice. This one-of-a-kind guide also provides extensive habitat descriptions with a large number of accompanying photos. The text relies on the very latest IOC taxonomy and the distribution maps incorporate the most current mapping data, making this the most up-to-date guide to Australian birds.

    Covers all 714 species of resident birds and regularly occurring migrantsFeatures more than 1,100 stunning color photosIncludes facing-page species accounts, habitat descriptions, and distribution mapsThe ideal photographic guide for beginners and seasoned birders alike

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6510-9
    Subjects: Zoology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
    (pp. 7-7)
    (pp. 8-10)

    Australia is a vast country with more than 700 regular bird species, most of which are found nowhere else. Cassowaries, chowchillas, sittellas, and other names are unfamiliar to many visitors from North America or Europe, and this can make bird identification seem daunting. This guide, with its easy-to-understand writing style, detailed photos, and clear distribution maps, is designed to help you identify the birds you see—and make your experience of the Australian bush much more fulfilling.

    The goal of this book is to make birding and bird identification accessible to the vast majority of people, while still providing a...

    (pp. 11-11)

    A basic understanding of climate and rainfall patterns within Australia helps us comprehend why habitats and hence Australian birds are distributed the way they are. Australia’s climate is primarily influenced by its position under the belt of high pressure that encircles the globe at latitude 30° south, a result of the earth’s orientation relative to the sun. Furthermore, the earth’s rotation around the sun throughout the year causes this belt to move and creates the regular seasons and rainfall patterns we are familiar with.

    The primary impact of the high-pressure belt is stable, dry conditions that do not promote rainfall....


      (pp. 12-16)

      The following habitats are those associated with Australia’s extensive coastline and offshore waters. As an island continent Australia’s mainland has around 35,000km (22,000mi) of beaches, bays, inlets, estuaries, and rocky coastlines, plus many offshore islands. The coastline of Australia’s temperate south is quite different from that of the tropical north. Australia’s n. coastline generally experiences calmer waters due to features such as the Great Barrier Reef in the east and the sheltered Torres Strait across the north. This results in larger areas of open mudflats and sand flats and in some areas extensive mangrove forests. In the temperate south the...

      (pp. 17-24)

      This section covers those habitats found across n. Australia in an area generally experiencing a monsoonal climate. The habitats in this region are generally dependent on the regular and often large amounts of rain associated with the annual wet season. The region affected by this monsoonal climate extends across n. Australia and down the e. coast of QLD to around Brisbane. At this southern limit the summer rainfall is not as regular or extensive, but it does locally support subtropical rainforest and tropical wetland habitats.

      Tropical rainforest is confined to the lowlands of coastal ne. QLD, where warm weather and...

      (pp. 25-31)

      These habitats predominate in the cooler, s. parts of the continent, including sw. WA, se. SA, VIC, TAS, and se. NSW. The climate here is Mediterranean, characterised by warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters. This regular cycle can sustain tall, dense forests and even rainforests in the wettest areas around the mountains, but away from the mountains this changes to drier, open woodlands.

      Wetlands are widespread in temperate s. Australia and take a variety of forms, including permanent depressions, river floodplains, oxbow lakes (billabongs), man-made lakes, and the ephemeral lakes of inland SA and WA, such as Lake Eyre....

      (pp. 31-35)

      The majority of the Australian continent, around 70 percent, is considered arid or semiarid, and so the habitats in this section cover most of Australia. These habitats have all evolved to make the most of the nutrient-poor soils and low rainfall that typify the interior of Australia, and while many do not have what would be considered a rich bird fauna, they shelter a number of species that are found nowhere else on earth. Typically, the vegetation in the arid inland is sparse and hardy. Many areas are too poor in moisture and nutrients to support trees, and hardy shrubs...

      (pp. 36-37)

      Although their underlying natural habitat is severely altered, urban parks and gardens in cities across Australia still provide habitat for many birds. The warm weather and summer rainfall of many of the n. cities, including Brisbane (QLD), Cairns (QLD), and Darwin (NT), mean they can support quite a variety of birdlife. Centenary Lakes in downtown Cairns is a fantastic birding destination, and Australasian Figbirds, Australian Brushturkey and Rainbow Lorikeets are common in a number of Brisbane suburbs. The planted parks and gardens of many of the s. cities, such as Sydney (NSW), Melbourne (VIC), Hobart (TAS), Adelaide (SA), and Perth...


      (pp. 40-41)

      A massive, heavyset, flightless rainforest bird weighing up to 86kg (190lb), Southern Cassowary (family Casuariidae) has a coarsely feathered black body and a striking blue and red naked neck and head, which bears a distinctive, large triangular knob or helmet on top. Cassowaries have powerful legs with three-toed feet that possess a 13cm-(5in-) long claw on the innermost toe. Juveniles are buff-coloured with chocolate stripes. The adult’s black colouration and the habitat separate this bird from the only other large flightless bird in Australia, Emu, which is never found in rainforests. Southern Cassowary is a shy and very local bird...

      (pp. 42-43)

      Malleefowl is a megapode, a member of the Megapodiidae, a family of birds also known as mound-builders. It builds a large earth mound, in which it lays its eggs, and lets rotting vegetation provide the heat to incubate them. It moderates the temperature by regularly adding and removing vegetation over the eggs. If seen well, Malleefowl is easy to identify: cryptically marked above with intricate chestnut, white, and black markings across the upperparts, though much plainer and pale below, with a distinctive black stripe running down the throat to breast. The best way to see these shy birds is to...

      (pp. 44-45)

      This quail is usually found in drier, more open, and shorter grasslands than the other two species. It is generally brown, with usually prominent, heavy pale streaks on the back and breast. If the bird is seen well on the ground the obvious white eyebrow and perhaps the male’s buff-coloured throat may be seen. In flight it has relatively long wings and usually flies away fast and low over the grass, rocking gently from side to side. The streaking on the back is usually quite obvious. It is found across Australia except the humid tropics, occasionally irrupting in large numbers,...

      (pp. 46-47)

      A small, compact grebe with a relatively short bill and with a large blackish-grey head streaked or frosted with white in breeding plumage. That head pattern is distinctive, but this species can be easily confused with the smaller Australasian Grebe when both are in non-breeding plumage and appear as greyish grebes with a two-tone neck and head; in Hoary-headed the frontal section of the neck is all whitish while the nape is dark, and the head is clean whitish in the lower third but has a dark cap. Both species display a pale bill at this time, while when breeding...

      (pp. 48-57)

      A huge pied goose with some odd physical features, such as the hooked bill and a strange, helmet-like knob on its crown, which leads to its classification within its own, one-species family, Anseranatidae. It is a large waterbird with a wingspan of over 1.5m (5ft), especially conspicuous in the tropical north of Australia, where it often congregates in truly massive numbers, sometimes flocking in groups of thousands. Although currently still most abundant in the tropical north (n. WA, n. NT, and n. QLD), it is slowly spreading southward and can be found in smaller numbers in s. QLD and n....

      (pp. 58-59)

      Australasian Gannet is the only regularly occurring gannet species in Australia; like the boobies, it is in the family Sulidae. It is almost all white, except for a broad black border to the trailing edge of the wing and a mainly black, pointed tail, both of which are best viewed in flight. It also has a black outline to the front of the face and a yellow head. These birds are superficially similar to some of the graceful albatrosses when seen at distance, most notably Wandering Albatross. They are best separated by shape: Albatrosses have longer, narrower wings that are...

      (pp. 60-69)

      A large forest pigeon with a prominent dirty-white head and underparts, contrasting with a sooty-black back and tail. It is a fairly common species in a narrow strip along the e. coast. It prefers rainforests and wet sclerophyll forests but may venture into country towns to feed if decent patches of forest occur nearby. Far ne. NSW appears to be a stronghold and a good place to find these birds.

      A large, very long-tailed, all rusty-brown dove that feeds both in trees and on the ground. In its range there are no other all-brown pigeon species. This is the only...

      (pp. 70-71)

      Frogmouths are a nocturnal group of birds in cryptic camouflage that sit dead still to hide their presence during the day, much in the same way that potoos (Nyctibius) do in the Neotropics. They hunt in similar ways to large kingfishers, taking prey from the ground. Tawny is the only frogmouth species in Australia with big yellow eyes. The most widespread of the three Australian species, it is found throughout the mainland and also in TAS, occurring in all habitats except within dense rainforests. The other two frogmouth species are confined to e. rainforests. Tawny Frogmouths are best found when...

      (pp. 72-73)

      A tiny, cat-faced, cryptically patterned night bird, this is the smallest of all the nocturnal species in Australia. Unlike the eyes of other nocturnal birds (frogmouths, nightjars, and owls), the eyes of Australian Owlet-Nightjar do not glow in a spotlight, which makes them especially tricky to find. The sole representative of its family (Aegothelidae) in Australia, Australian Owlet-Nightjar is fairly widespread across the continent, found throughout the mainland and TAS wherever there are wooded areas or even small clusters of trees in open country. These birds are not readily found however, and dedicated searches are usually required to locate them....

      (pp. 74-75)

      White-throated Needletail is a huge migrant swift from Asia, occurring in Australia between October and April. Swifts have narrow, scythe-like, pointed wings, and tiny feet that prevent them from perching on anything but vertical surfaces; they mate, drink, and feed in flight. This boldly patterned species is unlikely to be confused with any other aerial bird: Larger than other swifts, it is dark brown with a bright white horseshoe shape on the undertail and a clean white throat. The ‘needles’ on the tail are fine and unlikely to be seen. The needletail is found in open skies above a variety...

      (pp. 76-77)

      A small and compact, all blackish-brown storm petrel with a short, square-cut black tail. A bold white V shape on the rump extends to vent sides on the otherwise all-dark body. The inner webs of the feet, although seldom seen, are distinctively yellowish. Flight is direct and undeviating, undertaken with shallow, swallow-like wing beats. The bird stops frequently to forage, dangling its feet in the water and holding its wings aloft in a shallow V shape. One of the most common and widespread of all birds, this species can be seen on many autumn, winter, and spring pelagic boat tours...

      (pp. 78-83)

      Enormous size and pinkish bill distinguishDiomedeaalbatrosses from mollymawks (Thalassarche). This is the largest and whitest species of the ‘wandering albatross complex’, a series of very closely related birds regarded as a variable ‘superspecies’ by some and as a range of different species by others (Antipodean is the other Australian representative). Possessing the most massive bill of the group, this long-winged seabird has an effortless, dynamic soaring flight. The mature adult always has an almost entirely white back; its upper-and underwings are white with a black trailing edge on the two-thirds nearest the body and are strongly, contrastingly black...

      (pp. 84-99)

      This large, albatross-sized petrel is told from dark albatrosses by appearing bulkier and less elegant in flight, with more frequent flapping. The adult typically has a paler head and breast than similar Northern Giant Petrel. Southern also has a unique, rare white colour morph. Immatures of the two giant petrels, which are more commonly seen than adults, have almost identical plumage. However, at close range the Southern’s pale bill tip is diagnostic in all age groups, although it can be difficult to detect in younger birds. Southern Giant Petrel is primarily an offshore pelagic species that likes to follow boats...

      (pp. 100-101)

      The smallest and one of the most distinctive of the penguins. The upperparts are all blue-grey in the adult, and the underparts are white. The bill is narrow and black, the eye pale, and the feet pink. Immatures have bluer upperparts; juveniles have downy, brown-grey plumes. Singles or small parties are seen at sea. The species commutes from breeding colonies to open ocean under cover of darkness. This species is found from s. WA eastward around the coast to s. NSW (rarely to n. NSW). It can be seen easily at colonies at Phillip Island (VIC) and Bruny Island and...

      (pp. 102-103)

      One of two very similar species of frigatebird in Australia. It is a distinctively shaped bird, with a long, hooked bill, narrow, sharply pointed wings, and a deeply forked tail, the combination of which gives it an unmistakeable silhouette. The male is all glossy black with a green sheen. Its red pouch, used in courtship, is always deflated when flying. Females lack the pouch, and have a white chin and breast but no white in underwing. Immatures have a mottled white head, chin, and breast, sometimes with an incomplete darker chest band. Great Frigatebird differs from Lesser in never having...

      (pp. 104-105)

      Brown Booby is a brown seabird with a dark brown hood, chest, and upperparts, and contrasting white underparts and wing linings that make it a striking bird, even at some distance. It has a prominent, bone-coloured bill that is blue at the base in male birds (concolourous with the rest of the bill in females), and has a piercing yellow eye. Immatures are almost all dark brown, except for a slightly paler brown belly and underside, and have dull-coloured bills. Immature Masked Booby could be confused with Brown Booby, as it also possesses a brown hood, although from above Masked...

      (pp. 106-107)

      Male darters are all glossy black with a bold white line that runs from the bill onto the upper neck. They have white streaking on the wings, which is more prominent when birds are drying themselves. Females have an off-white chin and underparts. Young birds are strikingly buff-coloured. In all plumages darters (family Anhingidae) are best identified by their distinctively sinuous necks and slender build. Australasian Darter is a common bird around freshwater areas in e. Australia and coastal w. Australia, and absent from the Great Sandy Desert, Great Victoria Desert, and the Nullarbor Plain.

      Cormorants are in the family...

      (pp. 108-109)

      Australia’s only pelican (family pelecanidae) and its largest waterbird. It is mostly white, with contrasting black markings on the wings (most visible in flight), and carries a distinctive, instantly recognisable, large pink bill with a huge throat pouch for catching fish. Like many birds that live on this desert-like continent, which undergoes massive shifts in the availability of water through the years and seasons, Australian Pelican can be highly nomadic, travelling vast distances in search of water. Permanently found throughout most coastal areas, it moves inland during flood years to breed within vast colonies.

      This eye-catching bird is the only...

      (pp. 110-115)

      A massive brown bittern, similar to American (B. lentiginosus) and Eurasian (B. stellaris) Bitterns. Its upperparts are chocolate brown mottled and vermiculated with fawn, producing extremely good camouflage. It has a buff throat, a chocolate moustachial streak, and nankeen underparts streaked with chocolate arrow marks. Rather than flushing when disturbed, bitterns tend to stand dead still with the bill held upward, and are very difficult to see on the ground when not feeding. Australasian Bittern is found in large marshlands, sometimes in irrigation ditches, of se. and sw. Australia. An uncommon and secretive species, it is rarely seen on the...

      (pp. 116-117)

      Glossy Ibis is distinct from the other Australian ibis species in being wholly dark in colouration, with almost no white at all. The Glossy Ibis generally appears all black in colour, although is actually deep reddish brown and glossed with purple-green on the back and wings, which can usually be discerned only in strong sunlight. It is most often found in single-species flocks probing in shallow wetlands for frogs and fish or foraging in pastures for insects. It occurs throughout most of tropical and e. Australia, is absent from most of the inland south and west, and is generally uncommon....

      (pp. 118-127)

      A distinctive fish-eating hawk occurring along most Australian coastlines. Unlike the other species shown on this page (all in family Accipitridae), it is in the osprey family, Pandionidae. From underneath Eastern Osprey appears largely white, with a dark line through the eye and faint, scattered dark markings on the underside of its white wings. Perched it is very distinctive, with a chocolate-brown back, white underparts, white crown, and brown face, which gives it a masked appearance. Ospreys often perch prominently and construct huge, highly visible nests of sticks in open places, such as on the tops of power poles. Eastern...

      (pp. 128-129)

      Also called Australian Kestrel. Nankeen Kestrel has a characteristic hovering hunting style. Males and females are quite different: Both are rufous birds, but the male has a contrasting dove-grey head and tail that stand out in flight especially. Both sexes have a strong dark subterminal tail band and contrasting black tips to the upperwings, which are striking features in flight. The rufous colouration and hovering behaviour make this falcon easily recognisable. It is common and widespread throughout the mainland and TAS in open country.

      An agile, narrow-winged, long-tailed falcon that hunts at high speed, scything through the air to swoop...

      (pp. 130-135)

      This large rail is found in large areas of tidal mangroves across the far north of Australia, where it can sometimes be seen feeding at the edge of an ebbing tide. It has a chestnut body, and its wings are chestnut in the e. part of its range (QLD and NT) and olive in the w. portion (WA). The head is grey, and the powerful legs and bill are yellow. Its raucous braying call is often heard, but the bird is usually quite shy. A mangrove species from the coastlines of the Kimberley (WA) to the Gulf Country (Gulf of...

      (pp. 136-137)

      A large, long-legged, heavyset terrestrial bird (family Otididae) with a brown back, a grey face, neck, and underparts, and a black chest band. The male performs a bizarre display, during which he inflates a large gular (upper throat) sac that droops down spectacularly from the neck and touches the ground, fans out his breast feathers, and raises the tails over his back while strutting around slowly and making a number of strange grunts, croaks, and booms. Australian Bustard is found throughout inland Australia in grasslands, tropical savannahs, pasturelands, and open woodlands.

      Also known as Bush Thick-knee; a member of the...

      (pp. 138-139)

      Stilts and avocets make up the family Recurvirostridae. This stilt has a long white neck with a bold black patch on the nape, an all-blackish back, and the incredibly long, bright bubble-gum pink legs that are the defining feature of stilts. It is found in a range of wetland habitats throughout the continent, absent only from the driest part of the interior, and is most often encountered in flocks.

      This species has an all-white head, nape, and upper breast, which contrast with the black wings and the pale red legs. In breeding plumage, adults have a spectacular board chestnut breast...

      (pp. 140-145)

      A short-billed and long-legged shorebird. In breeding plumage, which some birds attain as early as March, it is mottled golden and black above and has striking black underparts from throat to undertail and a broad white supercilium that forms a border around the face and continues down the sides of the neck and breast. In flight, the armpits and inner underwing are plain grey. Similar Grey Plover lacks golden colouring and has a larger bill and striking black armpits. In non-breeding plumage, the two are much more confusing, though Pacific Golden Plover is browner, faintly speckled chocolate, with a faint...

      (pp. 146-147)

      Lapwings are in the plover family, Charadriidae. A scarce, localised lapwing of inland grasslands and agricultural lands, Banded Lapwing has a greyish back and largely white underparts; it differs from Masked Lapwing in having more black in its plumage, including an almost wholly black face except for a white flash behind the eye and a broad black band across the chest, which lends the bird its name. In flight Banded Lapwing displays a bold white band across the upperwing, whereas Masked has plain upperwings. The Banded has a yellow bill and red lores but lacks any extravagant facial wattles. Most...

      (pp. 148-161)

      A very strange-looking wetland bird. Unlike other snipes (which are in Scolopacidae), it is in the family Rostratulidae. Male and female have different plumages. Adult female, brighter than male, has a redbrown breast with a black border separating it from white underparts; green upperparts with a buff V down the back and a red-brown collar bordered white; and a black head with a yellow crown stripe and a white patch around and extending behind the eye. Smaller and less colourful, the adult male has olive-brown upperparts, white underparts, and white eye markings as in female, but has a white collar...

      (pp. 162-165)

      The smallest buttonquail, it is also probably the easiest to identify in flight. Buttonquail are shy birds usually found in grassy habitats, with specific habitat preferences differing slightly among the species. Females are larger and generally have brighter and more distinct plumages than males. The female Little Buttonquail is bright rufous or cinnamon above with pale streaking, and has a white belly and flanks. The male is plainer brown. In flying birds look for the white flanks, which are usually obvious, combined with the small size and rufous colouration. This bird is very widespread and irruptive throughout the inland, sometimes...

      (pp. 166-167)

      Pratincoles are in the family Glareolidae. A medium-sized, lanky wader with sandy-coloured plumage and very long wings. It is often seen scurrying around on open plains or flying gracefully on its long, pointed, black-tipped wings, looking almost like a tern. In summer, when the bird is in breeding plumage, it has a beautiful red bill and chestnut flanks, while in non-breeding plumage it is duller. Although generally found across n. Australia in the winter and migrating to s. inland Australia in summer, the bird can be quite unpredictable in its movements. If conditions are good, inland birds will congregate in...

      (pp. 168-169)

      This bird breeds mostly on sub-Antarctic islands and is a regular winter visitor to waters off s. Australia. It is rarely seen close to the coast, preferring to remain far offshore. First impressions are always of a large, stocky, and powerfully built bird with broad, pointed wings, a short tail, and a large stout bill. Adults are dark brown with some fine pale streaking and in flight have obvious pale patches in the outer wing. Young birds are similar but more uniform brown without streaking. Brown Skua is most likely to be seen on pelagic birding trips off s. Australia....

      (pp. 170-179)

      Brown Noddy is one of the more distinctive terns, all chocolate brown, including the underparts, except for an off-white cap. The main confusion species in its range is Black Noddy, which is smaller and sooty coloured and has a more distinct, cleaner cap. Brown Noddy occurs across tropical Australian waters from s. WA around to Brisbane (QLD). It breeds on islands off QLD and WA, but it may be seen anywhere between these points, as it is a widely wandering oceanic bird. It is most likely to be seen from a boat trip to the sandy cays of the Great...

      (pp. 180-185)

      A massive black cockatoo with a conspicuous red facial-skin patch and an almost ridiculously long, shaggy crest. The head shape, facial pattern, and lack of colouring other than black on the body or tail make this bird very easy to identify. It is a fairly common and noisy cockatoo of n. Cape York Peninsula (QLD). It prefers rainforests and rainforest edges but also occurs in vine forests, heavy riverine environments, mangroves, and adjacent tropical savannahs dominated byEucalyptus tetrodonta.

      A huge black cockatoo with yellow ear patches, yellow tail panels, and a laboured, almost pterodactyl-like flight. In the s. part...

      (pp. 186-201)

      A long-tailed bright green parrot with a deep blue hood and a large dark blue belly patch, very similar to Rainbow Lorikeet. Red-collared differs in having an orange breast patch (not red and yellow), and a deep orange nape (not lime). Found from the Kimberley (WA), across the Top End (NT) to w. Cape York Peninsula (QLD), it occurs in tropical savannahs, melaleuca woodlands, and monsoon vine forests. It is a noisy and common bird in Darwin (NT), familiar to many, as groups regularly visit blooming shrubs within town parks and gardens.

      A stunning, long-tailed bright green parrot with a...

      (pp. 202-207)

      In breeding plumage this cuckoo is all black below and has heavily streaked brown upperparts and a heavily barred, very long tail. When not breeding it is a brown bird, heavily streaked all over, lacking the solid black underparts. Generally a skulking species, it can be observed for long periods from a distance, but when approached it often drops to the ground from a perch and runs away much in the manner of the Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) of North America. Pheasant Coucal is found commonly through the tropical north and down the e. coastal region into n. NSW in...

      (pp. 208-209)

      This large owl often appears small-headed. It is brownish above with some white spotting, and shows heavy streaks on the pale breast. It has large, staring eyes that are brilliant yellow, not greenish-toned as in Southern Boobook, which usually displays obvious dark markings (rather like black-eye bruises) around the eyes that are absent in the larger Barking Owl. Its call sounds exactly like the double-bark of a dog and is often given in duet:woof-woof . . . woof-woof. Less common than the more widespread Southern Boobook, Barking Owl is usually found in tropical woodlands and along wooded watercourses, mainly...

      (pp. 210-211)

      A large sooty-grey owl with a massive mask bordered in black. The upperparts are very dark, spotted with pale grey. In the northern Lesser Sooty Owl subspecies the facial disc is pale grey and the underparts are pale grey finely barred with dark grey, giving almost a pied look to the bird when it is seen in a spotlight. The southern Greater Sooty Owl subspecies has a breast the same colour as the upperparts with fine pale grey barring. The Lesser occurs only in rainforests of the Wet Tropics of ne. QLD and can be found in several places on...

      (pp. 212-215)

      A small, dumpy kingfisher with a very short, stumpy tail and a relatively massive bill. It has deep azure-blue upperparts and differs from Little Kingfisher, with which it sometimes occurs, in its bright apricot underside and prominent red feet. Azure Kingfisher is fairly common along rivers, creeks, small shady pools, and mangroves in n. and e. Australia. It usually hunts for fish from a low creek-side perch in the shade of an overhanging tree; it bobs its head regularly in order to pinpoint its prey and then suddenly plunges into the water, afterwards darting off at high speed to another...

      (pp. 216-217)

      The species is named for the large, silver coin-shaped markings on its dark wings, which can be seen only in flight. It is the only representative of the roller family (Coraciidae) in Australia and therefore is a distinctive bird quite unlike any other. It is a stocky, well-built bird that is all deep blue-green glossed on the body, and has a bright, carrot-coloured bill and feet. It has a strange, rolling flight action that, along with the harsh cackling call, observers will find distinctive with experience. It occurs in all habitats within its range and uses exposed perches above the...

      (pp. 218-219)

      A spectacularly colourful stub-tailed, long-legged ground-feeding bird. It is forest green above with a brilliant blue shoulder patch, which can glisten spectacularly when the sun hits it; pale buff underneath with a dark smudge on the lower belly and a deep scarlet vent; and black-headed with a conspicuous, broad chocolate-brown brow. It is especially striking in flight, when the bright iridescent blue forewings, bold white ‘commas’ in the primaries, and overall shape give it the impression of a tail-less kingfisher. The shape combined with the vivid colouration make it unlikely to be confused with any other bird, other than another...

      (pp. 220-221)

      Albert’s is the smaller of the two lyrebirds. It is a large chestnut bird with a reddish throat and a long tail found on the forest floor, where it scratches in the leaf litter with its powerful feet and claws for invertebrates and seeds. It is a poor flyer, and more often runs swiftly than flies from danger. Albert’s does not have quite the extensive arsenal of vocal mimicry that Superb Lyrebird is famous for, but it is known to regularly imitate Green Catbird and Satin Bowerbird among others, mixing these into a long sequence of calls with its own...

      (pp. 222-223)

      A dark-backed and dark-capped tree-hugging bird with a white throat. It has a rufous breast, belly, and vent streaked black and white on the sides. Unless seen well, it can look remarkably like Red-browed Treecreeper but lacks any form of brow and is generally far more common. The upward-spiralling feeding motion distinguishes the treecreeper from birds of all other families. This species tends to be alone or in pairs, rarely forming parties. It has two distinct populations: An uncommon smaller subspecies occurs in the rainforests and wet sclerophyll forests of the Wet Tropics in ne. QLD. The other, much more...

      (pp. 224-227)

      A large, fat-bodied bright green bowerbird with a stout, ivory-coloured bill, lightly white-streaked brownish-green underparts, and a prominent deep red eye. It is very similar in appearance to Spotted Catbird, from which it differs in being plainer-headed, lacking the boldly marked top to the head, and having streaked or spotted, not scalloped, underparts. Green Catbird also displays conspicuous white spotting on the wings compared to Spotted, which has more subdued wing markings. Green is found to the south of Spotted Catbird’s range, in the coastal temperate rainforests of s. QLD and NSW, and is commonly seen around O’Reilly’s, in Lamington...

      (pp. 228-241)

      Some birders consider this the most beautiful bird of them all. The male is an almost entirely cerulean-blue wren with striking powder-blue crown and cheeks and just a few narrow black markings—through the eye, across the nape, and across the breast—breaking up this bright blue colouration. The intensity of the blue varies with subspecies. The eastern bird, known as Black-backed Fairywren, is powdery blue on the crown, its cheeks and belly are paler, and it has a black rump and lower back. All females are plain pale brown on the back, whitish underneath, and have a blue tail...

      (pp. 242-243)

      Good luck! Even when you are close to this bird, it remains exceptionally (and frustratingly) difficult to observe. Rufous Scubbird (family Atrichornithidae) is dark rufous above and finely and indistinctly vermiculated with chocolate brown. It has a white moustachial streak and a black chin merging into the pale rufous breast, all of which are finely barred. The females are more diffusely coloured, dark rufous with a paler rufous throat and bib. To glimpse this bird you should expect to spend many stationary hours waiting for it to peek out from cover. Rare and highly restricted to mountain rainforests of n....

      (pp. 244-259)

      Formerly known as Origma. This is a plain, uniform reddish bird with a whitish throat and a relatively long tail. It really is the featurelessness that makes this bird distinctive. An extremely localised, warbler-like bird, it is confined to areas of Hawkesbury sandstone outcroppings in se. NSW. The entire population occurs within an approximately 250km (155mi) radius of Sydney. It is locally common in its limited range, where it occurs on outcrops and is most often seen hopping over them. It is generally not active until after the sun hits the rocks in the morning.

      A truly dull-looking bird. It...

      (pp. 260-261)

      Striated is a striking bird with many subspecies that vary in appearance. It always displays a plain brown mantle, and it lacks the white spotting on the crown and wings that Spotted Pardalote shows. The crown of Striated varies from solid black to lightly flecked with white. The wings are black, with long flashes of white and a small red mark near the shoulder (yellow in the nominate subspecies that breeds on TAS and Bass Strait islands). It always shows a broad white eyebrow that meets a warm yellow mark over the bill. It is usually encountered feeding in the...

      (pp. 262-297)

      A honeyeater with olive-fawn underparts, grey-brown upperparts, and a grey head with a sooty-black mask and a yellow moustachial stripe bordered above by a purple line ending in a yellow ear plume. The purple gape line (yellowish in juveniles) distinguishes it from the very similar Grey-headed Honeyeater, and it differs from Grey-fronted and Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters in lacking streaking or striping below. An uncommon, somewhat nomadic bird of the s. mallee regions, it is generally a solitary species but congregates during periods of bloom. It can sometimes be found in the mallee reserves of nw. VIC and se. SA, such as...

      (pp. 298-299)

      Grey-crowned Babbler can be distinguished from the other species pictured here by its bold yellow eye and pale grey crown. In parts of its range the breast is reddish brown, unlike the pale breasts of other babblers. It occurs mainly in n. and e. Australia from c. WA eastward to e. QLD and south to VIC. In the north of its range, where noisy bands are most likely to be found scampering across the ground or flushing up from roadside verges, it is a common and confiding species (unlike most other babblers). The species is found in open woodlands, tropical...

      (pp. 300-301)

      Chowchilla is the larger, northern version of the better-known Australian Logrunner and is endemic to the mountain rainforests of the Wet Tropics in ne. QLD. It behaves and is shaped much like its southern cousin: a pot-bellied terrestrial bird most often encountered scratching in the shady forest leaf litter for prey. A plainer species, lacking the logrunner’s intricately patterned upperparts, it is uniform blackish or dull rufous above and has a variably coloured underside. Female Chowchillas have an orange throat and clean white underparts, while males have a white throat and underparts. Both males and females possess a bold cerulean-blue...

      (pp. 302-305)

      The male is a gorgeous bird with a bold head pattern showing a brown crown, a prominent white eyebrow, a pale blue-grey face, and a black throat patch that contrasts strongly with a large white teardrop below the eye. The underside pattern changes from blue-grey on the breast to a boldly spotted white underbelly. On top the bird is brownish with bold black streaks from the nape to the uppertail. The female is similar but has a pale peach throat and a plainer head, still possessing a white supercilium but lacking the bold markings of the male. Spotted Quail-Thrush is...

      (pp. 306-309)

      A widespread, large powdery-grey bird with a bold black face and throat that forms its most prominent feature. It has a noticeable and distinctive habit of shuffling its wings awkwardly when it lands. Immature birds lack a black throat. The all-black throat and pale grey crown separate adult Black-faced from the smaller White-bellied Cuckooshrike. Black-faced has a sweeping undulating flight, while Whitebellied’s flight is quite direct. Black-faced Cuckooshrike is one of the most widely distributed and regularly seen Australian birds and can be found in a variety of wooded habitats right across mainland Australia and TAS. It is common in...

      (pp. 310-317)

      As the name suggests, this is a variable species encompassing five distinct subspecies found throughout Australia. It is one of three species that make up the family Neosittidae. All Varied Sittellas are generally grey above with streaked upperparts and have paler underparts that can be unstreaked or streaked and either a dark cap, a hood, or a completely white head, depending on subspecies. These birds are very active, constantly on the move and regularly flitting from branch to branch or trunk to trunk. In these short flights they display a broad pale bar in the wing, ranging from rufous in...

      (pp. 318-319)

      Australians Figbirds are colourful flocking orioles with three subspecies. Males in the south (Green Figbird) have a green underside, while the two northern subspecies (both called Yellow Figbird) have lemon-yellow underparts. Males of all subspecies have olive upperparts, a black head with bright red facial skin, and a stout, black bill. The bright yellow or green unstreaked underparts and vivid facial skin help to separate figbirds from other orioles. Females have dull olive-brown upperparts and pale cream underparts with very heavy olive-brown streaking. They have the same area of facial skin as males, though it is dull brown. Females can...

      (pp. 320-323)

      White-breasted Woodswallow is the most familiar and frequently encountered species of woodswallow in n. Australia. It is easily recognised by its grey-brown upperparts, uniform except for a bold white rump patch, its all-grey hood, and pure ghostly white underparts. Male and female are alike. When the bird is in flight the dark-hooded appearance is obvious and a good ID feature, along with the white rump patch and, from the underside, a plain black tail. As it is a generalist, this bird can be found in many habitats throughout its range. Across tropical n. Australia and in coastal areas along the...

      (pp. 324-327)

      The most widespread of the butcherbirds, Pied shows a complete black hood, solid black back, a white collar around the nape, and extensive white wing markings. The black throat differentiates it from Black-backed, Grey, and Silver-backed Butcherbirds. Its black back separates it from Grey and Silver-backed. Pied Butcherbird is a common species throughout the mainland but absent from deserts and rainforests and does not occur in the far south-east and TAS. The bird inhabits open country, including farmlands, open woodlands, scrubby areas, and grasslands, and is most easily seen perched prominently on roadside trees or wires while hunting.

      A pied...

      (pp. 328-329)

      This bird is familiar to most Australians, thanks to its bold and conspicuous nature. It is the only black-and-white fantail and is all black except for a clean white belly and a narrow white line above the eye. It is very widespread and adaptable, found all over Australia (vagrant to TAS) in almost every habitat except for rainforests. These birds are often encountered in gardens, parks, and lawns, where they often hop around on the ground, chattering frequently and wagging their tails conspicuously.

      Northern Fantail has grey upperparts with a white-sided tail, pale off-white underparts, a broad horizontal band across...

      (pp. 330-331)

      This is the only crow species found in far n. Australia and is the most common down the e. coast of QLD. It is the only species likely to be seen in both Brisbane (QLD) and Darwin (NT). There is little to separate it from other corvids by sight; in flight the wings are slightly more rounded, and it doesn’t have pronounced throat hackles. A common call is a rapiduk-uk-uk, higher and more clipped than the call of Australian Raven and higher and less hoarse than that of Little Crow. It often gives more drawn-out calls, which are difficult...

      (pp. 332-337)

      The male is glossy blue-black above from hood to back to tail. Its lower breast, belly, and vent are pure white, giving this bird a very glossy, clean pied look. Females are duller above and have a rufous throat and breast; their plumage shows more contrast than that of both Leaden and Broad-billed Flycatchers, though this is hard to discern in poor light. Satin Flycatcher sits high in the canopy and often calls after completing a successful sally. It is found from the Gulf Country of n. QLD around the e. coast to SA in rainforests, wet sclerophyll, and mangroves....

      (pp. 338-339)

      An odd, oversized long-legged monarch usually seen on the ground. It has black upperparts, a horn-coloured bill, and a piercing yellow eye, and its underparts are largely white apart from a black-bordered white throat in females and a solid black throat patch in males. Magpie-Lark is a very vocal bird, nicknamed ‘Peewit’ after its loud calls. Although now considered an unusual member of the Monarchidae, it was formerly considered more akin to the Australian mudnesters family, as it constructs a large bowl-like nest from dried mud, which leads to its other nickname, ‘Mudlark’. Magpie-Larks are extremely common wherever there are...

      (pp. 340-341)

      Male is very similar in appearance to Paradise Riflebird: a stout-bodied, short-tailed bird with a long, decurved bill and striking iridescence. It has a glistening green gorget and brow, and an olive-glossed belly apparent only in strong sunlight. Females are brownish above and have a conspicuous off-white eyebrow and lightly scalloped warm buff underparts. Victoria’s Riflebird has an extraordinary display in which the male uses a large snag to dance for females. He fans his wings over the top of his head, opens his bill to reveal a vivid yellow gape, and then jerks his head from side to side,...

      (pp. 342-351)

      A relatively indistinct flycatcher of the family Petroicidae, this bird is usually seen on a prominent perch high in the canopy. It is unobtrusive and quiet, so it can be difficult to track down, and the bright, melodic song is often the first cue to its presence. It is dull olive brown above and has a faint eyebrow, a pale throat, and a yellowish breast and belly. It is fairly common across far n. Australia and easiest to see in the NT, where it can be found around Darwin and in Kakadu NP. It seems less common in ne. QLD...

      (pp. 352-353)

      Songlarks have fluttering spring display flights that make them more visible in this season. Adult breeding male Brown Songlark is plain dark brown all over, unlike the other Australian species. However, females and non-breeding males are brown streaky birds quite similar to Rufous Songlark, although lacking the rich rufous rump patch of that species and having more extensive dark markings on the upperparts. Both songlarks, members of the Locustellidae (grassbirds and allies), can be told from pipits by their plain unstreaked underparts. Brown Songlark is widely distributed in open-country habitats such as farmlands and scrubby country on the s. mainland...

      (pp. 354-355)

      A small bird of the family Cisticolidae, much warmer-toned than Zitting Cisticola, with mouse-brown upperparts heavily streaked with chocolate brown and fawn underparts with a rich golden wash to the upper sides of the breast and flanks. Females and non-breeding males have a streaked crown, as does Zitting, but have a dull golden nape and a diffuse white throat patch. The breeding male develops a golden crown and nape, quite unlike Zitting. A very common bird across the north of Australia and around the east to SA, Golden-headed Cisticola is found in most wet grasslands, marshes, and irrigation channels. Where...

      (pp. 356-357)

      An offshore white-eye with pale olive upperparts, off-white underparts, and a lime-yellow chin, forehead, and vent. Like all Australian white-eyes (family Zosteropidae), it has a solid white eye ring. It occurs in Torres Strait islands and small islands off the ne. coast of Cape York Peninsula (QLD). This is a difficult bird to get to but easily found within its territory.

      A small, group-feeding bird, this species is uniform bright lemon yellow below and bright yellow-green above and has a solid white eye ring. Canary White-eye is a coastal species in the north, found from the c. WA coast around...

      (pp. 358-359)

      Welcome is the common Australian swallow. It is similar to the familiar Barn Swallow of the Northern Hemisphere, glossy blue above with a rusty face, but lacks the dark chest band Barn has. Welcome Swallow has a deeply forked tail and a scattering of pale spots on the uppertail, usually visible only at close range. Frequently encountered over urban areas and in many different habitats, this swallow is numerous and very likely to be seen by any visitor. It is one of the most common birds over all of s. and e. Australia (including TAS), absent only from portions of...

      (pp. 360-361)

      An introduced thrush species from Europe, Common Blackbird has a beautiful melodic song. The male is distinctive, all glossy black with a prominent yellow bill and eye ring. The female is all brown with a duller yellow bill. Within the bird’s Australian range it is strongly associated with urban areas and is fairly common in the suburbs of VIC, TAS, and se. NSW, spreading to Sydney and even Brisbane (QLD) and to SA.

      A thrush with olive-brown upperparts and cream underparts, both heavily scalloped with chocolate brown. This species is nearly identical to Russet-tailed Thrush, from which it differs in...

      (pp. 362-369)

      Very similar in appearance to Long-tailed Finch. Both are largely brown in colour and display a long, pointed black tail and a white rump. However, the smaller Masked lacks the powder-blue hood of Long-tailed and shows a continuous black mask around the face, not only a clean black bib. Masked Finch is also uniformly brown over the body, lacking the warm peach flush to the underside shown by Long-tailed. In the e. part of its range Masked further differs in bill colour: Its relatively heavier bill is yellow, while in this area Long-tailed Finch shows a coral-red bill. Masked is...

      (pp. 370-371)

      A rather similar species to the male House Sparrow (both are Old World sparrows, family Passeridae). Sexes are alike: streaked brown birds with a rufous cap, rufous nape, black throat, and black bill. The species differs from the male House Sparrow in having black ear coverts separated from the black throat and mask by a grey border. An uncommon introduced species with its population centred on Melbourne and e. VIC, it appears to be slowly spreading.

      A familiar Old World species now found widely across e. Australia. The male is a streaked brown bird with a grey cap, rufous nape,...

      (pp. 372-373)

      A familiar starling species (family Sturnidae) introduced from Europe to Sydney and Melbourne in the 1800s. In breeding plumage it is a glossy black bird with a bright yellow bill and reddish legs. In winter dress the body is boldly spotted with buff and the bill is dark. Young birds are all brown. Originally introduced to control crop pests, this aggressive species has now come to be a pest itself, consuming valuable farmed fruits and crops and also adversely affecting cavity-nesting native birds, which it outcompetes for nesting sites. An aggressive, adaptive, and familiar bird, it is very common over...

    (pp. 374-374)
    (pp. 375-379)
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    (pp. 381-392)