|Australian birds - an Introduction
Australia has over 670 bird species. Some, especially seabirds and waders, are the same species as occur in Europe. Some of them are so like European and American birds that they were given the same name, eg Pipits, Swallows. Some are indeed closely related to European or American species. Lots are very, very different.
Seabirds: These include gulls, albatrosses, and a lot of birds that migrate to and from the Northern Hemisphere each year. People gather on the beach at Broome, in the North-west, and wave them goodbye each year. We put tags on their legs or wings, so researchers know they have visited Australia. Have you seen any birds with wing or leg tags / flags?
Waterbirds: Some familiar faces here in the duck family, the moorhens and coots, and some of the wading birds you can see everywhere..
High Flyers: A good collection of eagles, kites, kestrels that are distinct species, but would not look out of place in an eerie (that's an eagles nest) near you. The Wedge-tailed Eagle can get to be REALLY big. This is a Letter-winged Kite and a Brown Falcon:
Photos © Copyright to Graham Cam
Big birds: The Emu is everywhere once you get out of the city. To see one close up, hide behind a bush and wave your hat on a stick. They get curious, and come up to see what it is. Well, that's what I've been told. One egg equals forty hen's eggs.
The Southern Cassowary lives in the rainforest jungles of North Queensland. It has a big horny projection on its head - very like a solid mohawk haircut! No-one really knows what it's for.
Birds from your backyard: White people with their ships and trade have brought with them the European Starling, the House Sparrow, the Goldfinch, and now the Indian Myna, which is regarded as a pest in our cities and towns - it aggressively replaces native birds. Pigeons are pigeons the world over. The European Blackbird and a host of others have made their home here.
Weirdos: These birds have a problem with the cute, small brown twittering of their overseas cousins. They prefer serious deviant behaviour:
The Satin Bowerbird collects blue things to decorate its "bower" - a sort of tunnel of upright twigs, and scattered with its treasures - always blue - milk bottle tops, straws, pegs, paper. The milk vendors had to change the colour of the milk bottle tops. All this is to impress the lady bower birds, who, when impressed enough, have to go off and raise the chicks alone, while Mr waits for the next visitor to the bower. Not fair!
Missing: We don't have woodpeckers, but we do have flowerpeckers.We don't have nightingales. Or hornbills.
Parrots: Couldn't go without bragging about the greatest collection of colourful squawkers you could find anywhere. Who hasn't seen a Budgerigar? The original budgie is yellow and green, and forms huge flocks in the inland. The Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo has been described as a cross between an air-raid siren and a pair of boltcutters! They can break open a pine cone. I bet you can't!
As in the rest of the world, we have lots of people doing banding studies, where birds have a band put around a leg. If it is caught a second time, we know a bit about how far it has travelled, and how long it has lived. Some resident birds are caught many times in their lives.
From these studies, we know that many of the little bush birds live much longer than the equivalent species in Europe or America. Some tiny (6 gram) birds can live over 10 years.
New techniques are starting to be used, such as radio tagging, and satellite tracking, which gives much more, and accurate information, but is expensive.
Many people enjoy just getting out into the bush (that's what we call countryside), and just looking at them. A good way to spend an afternoon.
The rest of the website is about the things our Association does, as it supports research into our birds, so that we can make sure we never lose them.
To learn more about what researchers do, click here.
To see some more pictures of Australian birds, click here.
To read about the effort to protect the Regent Honeyeater, click here.
Here is a Yellow-billed Kingfisher. The researcher has caught it so as to band it for identification.