Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Birds of our region

We have an abundance of colourful birdlife in this area, so I thought I would show a few images of those.

This is a crimson rosella, one of the many colourful parrots in this region. Sadly, the 'superb parrott', a close relative of it that was found in the Boorowa region has been almost completely wiped out by domestic ,cats, feral cats and foxes.

Correction offered following Steve Bennett's advice:

Noisy Miner, Scientific name: Manorina melanocephala, Family: Meliphagidae, Order: Passeriformes.

The Noisy Miner is a bold and curious bird. It is identified by its mostly grey body and black crown and cheeks. The bill is yellow, as are the legs and the naked skin behind the eye. The name is well suited as the common calls are uttered repeatedly by the members of the colony.

Similar species
The similar Yellow-throated Miner, Manorina flavigula, has a grey crown, white rump, and a line of bare yellow skin on the sides of the throat. People often confuse miners with the introduced Common Myna, Acridotheres tristis. The Common Myna is quite different in plumage (mostly dark brown) and, although it has similar facial markings, belongs to the starling family, while the miners are honeyeaters.

You have to look close to locate this dollar bird in the undergrowth of this bush where it is feeding on small insects. This bird type are very fussy about their nesting and hygeine and will find pools of water and wash themselves each afternoon. Leave out a basin of water for them and they will be regular attendants around your residence.

In the foreground is a black and white magpie - scientific name: Gymnorhina tibicen, Family: Artamidae, Order: Passeriformes.  The Australian Magpie is black and white, but the plumage pattern varies across its range. Its nape, upper tail and shoulder are white in males, grey in females. Across most of Australia, the remainder of the body is black. In the south-east, centre, extreme south-west and Tasmania, the back and rump are entirely white. The eye of adult birds is chestnut brown.

In breeding season the male magpie can become very aggressive and is known to 'swoop' and peck ferociously at passers-by. One way to avoid this is to regularly feed magpies near your residence so that they learn to trust you. Small pieces of minced meat are their favoured meal.

The ducks behind them are domestic ducks that have been released by their owners and taken up residence on the river pond at Yass. Visitors regularly feed the ducks bread and the magpies will also come in for some crumbs. They have been breeding and have largely learnt how to avoid the cats and foxes.

Correction as offered by Steve Bennett:

Red Wattlebird, Scientific name: Anthochaera carunculata, Family: Meliphagidae, Order: Passeriformes. The Red Wattlebird is a large, noisy honeyeater. The common name refers to the fleshy reddish wattle on the side of the neck. The plumage is grey-brown on the body, with prominent white streaks and yellow on the belly. The face is pale and the tail is long with a white-tip. Young Red Wattlebirds are duller than the adult and have a brown, rather than reddish, eye. The wattle is also very small and pale.

Similar species
The Red Wattlebird is among the largest of the Australian honeyeaters. In Tasmania it is replaced by the larger Yellow Wattlebird, Anthochaera paradoxa. This species is identified by its long, yellow wattle.

This particular type is identified by its shrill shreiking call. Aggressive to smaller birds it will gather in twos and threes and try to eat the young nestlings. 

The Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) is a wading bird of the ibis family Threskiornithidae, also known as the "Sheep bird". It is widespread across much of Australia. It has a predominantly white plumage with a bare, black head, long downcurved bill and black legs.

Historically rare in urban areas, the Australian White Ibis has immigrated to urban areas of the east coast in increasing numbers since the late 1970s; it is now commonly seen in Wollongong, Sydney, the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Townsville. Debate continues on whether to consider it a pest or vulnerable species. Populations have disappeared from natural breeding areas such as the Macquarie Marshes in northwestern New South Wales. Despite this, the species has been culled in parts of Sydney due to their smell and at times obtrusive nature.

Around urban areas they gather at garbage tips to scrounge for food.

This group of Ibises are nesting on stick and mud mounded nests in a ponded area.
The Laughing Kookaburra, scientific name: Dacelo novaeguineae, Family: Halcyonidae, Order: Coraciiformes. It is instantly recognisable in both plumage and voice. It is generally off-white below, faintly barred with dark brown, and brown on the back and wings. The tail is more rufous, broadly barred with black. There is a conspicuous dark brown eye-stripe through the face. It is one of the larger members of the kingfisher family.

Myth of "The Bush" has it that if the Kookaburras laugh before noon than rain will follow that afternoon.

A pair of magpies. Magpies keep the same mates, however, if one partner dies than the other, unless aged, will try to mate again with another magpie. They nurse their young, gathering food for them and teach them to fly and forage, however, when next breeding season arrives the young are summarilly evicted and made to fend for themselves and find their own mate at maturity.
Look closely on the rock and you will see a crested pigeon. Scientific name: Ocyphaps lophotes, Family: Columbidae, Order: Columbiformes. The Crested Pigeon is a stocky pigeon with a conspicuous thin black crest. Most of the plumage is grey-brown, becoming more pink on the underparts. The wings are barred with black, and are decorated with glossy green and purple patches. The head is grey, with an pinkish-red ring around the eye. If startled, this pigeon takes to the air with a characteristic whistling flight, and glides with down turned wings. The whistling sound is produced by the air passing over a modified primary feather on the wing. Upon landing, the pigeon swings its tail high in the air.

Their are 25 forms of doves and pigeons native to Australia.

A common native duck. Duck hunting was outlawed in the eastern states over a decade ago and since then their populations have flourished along the waterways. Many of the man-made pondages in rural towns will have resident duck populations.
Another variety of native ducks - this pair were photographed on a ponded creek at Boorowa where they have taken up residence and greatly enjoyed by the towns folk. They are breeding this current season.

The Emu, Dromaius novaehollandiae, is the largest bird native to Australia and the only extant member of the genus Dromaius. It is also the second-largest extant bird in the world by height, after its ratite relative, the ostrich. The soft-feathered, brown, flightless birds reach up to 2 metres (6.6 ft) in height. The Emu is common over most of mainland Australia, although it avoids heavily populated areas, dense forest, and arid areas.

This pair are breeding in captivity at the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra. Their chicks will be moved upon maturity to other Zoos in Australia and even overseas. They walk freely along the pathways and their keeper is seen just behind them.

The Spur-winged plover (Vanellus miles) is so named because it has a sharp, yellow, black-tipped spur on each wing. It is also known as the Masked lapwing and Masked plover. It is a long-legged wading bird with a black head, white belly and yellow facial wattles. Plovers are found Australia-wide. The Spur-winged plover is found mainly in South and Eastern Australia.

Spur-winged plovers are ground-nesting birds, and they usually have two chicks. These birds used to migrate from Australia to Siberia, where they could nest in peace without any predators around. However, they now breed in Australia, and have to constantly defend their chicks against intruders. This pair were part of a family of 5 that were also nesting in the Boorowa parklands. During nesting season they become very agressive and their spurs can inflict head and arm injuries on unwary pedestrians and cyclists who wander too close to their territory.

Adult Satin Bowerbirds, scientific name: Ptilonorhynchus violaceus, Family: Ptilonorhynchidae, Order: Passeriformes. Satin Bowerbirds are medium-sized birds. The adult male has striking glossy blue-black plumage, a pale bluish white bill and a violet-blue iris.

Younger males and females are similar in colour to each other, and are collectively referred to as 'green' birds. They are olive-green above, off-white with dark scalloping below and have brown wings and tail. The bill is browner in colour. Young males may begin to acquire their adult plumage in their fifth year and are not fully 'attired' until they are seven.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, scientific name: Cacatua galerita, Family: Cacatuidae, Order: Psittaciformes. The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is a large white parrot. It has a dark grey-black bill, a distinctive sulphur-yellow crest and a yellow wash on the underside of the wings. Sexes are similar, although the female can be separated at close range by its red-brown eye (darker brown in the male). This is a noisy and conspicuous cockatoo, both at rest and in flight. Young Sulphur-crested Cockatoos resemble the adults. In urban areas they have become a pest and frequently attack the woodwork around guttering and eaves, destroying this for no apparent reason.

In rural areas they gather in large flocks of hundreds and even up to thousands. In such numbers they can be very destructive to crops.

The Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) is a bird in the Rail family with an almost worldwide distribution. It is often called the "Common Waterhen".

Waterhen with chicks (one obscured behind the reeds).
Willie Wagtail, scientific name: Rhipidura leucophrys, Family: Dicruridae, Order: Passeriformes. The Willie Wagtail is the largest, and most well-known, of the Australian fantails. The plumage is black above with a white belly. The Willie Wagtail can be distinguished from other similar-sized black and white birds by its black throat and white eyebrows and whisker marks. The name wagtail stems from the constant sideways wagging of the tail. Young birds resemble the adults, but have paler, slightly rusty edges to the feathers of the wings.

This wagtail was protecting his nest from a pair of cuckoo shrikes.


Steve Bennett said...

That Dollarbird looks a lot like a Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala) to me... and your Cuckoo-Shrike photo looks like a Red Wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata).

All the others seem pretty well spot on.

John said...

I bow to your superior knowledge, Steve. I'm only a novice at this and rely on a lot of what 'locals' tell me in may cases.