Australia May 2022 : The Birding – it’s Different! (Part 2)

I started my previous post by saying that the casual, non-birder observer could easily come to the conclusion that Australia’s birds fall into three basic groups –

  • black and white or shades in between
  • vividly coloured birds
  • a variety of smaller, often nondescript birds

The author of The Complete Guide to Australian Birds, George Adams, has this to say in his introduction –

Australia is one of the world’s ten mega-diverse countries and is fortunate to have a rich diversity of birds and an unusually high number of endemic species found across its many, equally diverse and beautiful landscapes. The jabbering of parrots, the laughter of Kookaburras, the song of the Magpie or the trilling warble of Fairy-wrens all bestow a real sense of ‘place’ that is uniquely Australian.

Part 1 described some of the more common “black and white” species, which make up a large proportion of the birds that are found in the area of Victoria where our son has settled. In this Part 2 I will be showing some of the other common birds to be found, in particular ….

The Vividly Coloured Birds

Australia is probably best known for its variety of brightly coloured birds, and rightly so! They seem to occur just about everywhere, especially where their favoured habitat occurs – mostly forests of various kinds, but also anywhere else with trees such as gardens, farmlands, woodlands and the like.

Crimson Rosella Platycercus elegans

Corellas are small, ground-feeding cockatoos but are not averse to foraging in eucalypts for insects, seeds, fruit, nectar and larvae.

This endemic species has several colour forms across its range, which includes eastern and south-eastern Australia. Mostly crimson with blue patches on the cheeks as well as some of the wing and tail feathers, it stands out wherever you find it – in the image below it was scratching amongst a thick layer of fallen leaves and had found an acorn or seed of some kind.

Crimson Rosella Platycercus elegans, Bright Victoria

The immature version shows little crimson, which is replaced by dull green, making it far more difficult to spot

Crimson Rosella Platycercus elegans (Juvenile), Wurruk, Sale Victoria

Australian King Parrot Alisterus scapularis

The only endemic parrot with a red head, this is another standout species – the image shows a female with its somewhat duller colouring, with the red limited to the belly, nevertheless unmistakeable. I had seen King Parrots during our previous visit in 2019, but was not able to photograph one, so this opportunity was not to be missed when it posed briefly on a fence before flying off with the rest of its small group.

Habitat is forests, parks and gardens and its feeding preference is the outer foliage of trees where it looks for fruit, nuts, nectar and blossoms. They are found in eastern Australia.

Australian King Parrot Alisterus scapularis (female), Omeo Victoria

Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus moluccanus

Surely one of the most colourful birds you’ll see anywhere, they are easily spotted as they fly around the neighbourhood in small flocks, screeching as they go, then chattering while feeding in the trees. Lorikeets are arboreal feeders that have brush-like tongues for extracting nectar from flowering eucalypts. Favoured habitats are forests, parks and gardens.

Rainbow Lorikeet, Raymond Island, Victoria

Galah Eolophus roseicapilla

More sedately coloured than those above, the Galah makes up for any lack of bright colouring by gathering in flocks, sometimes large ones as will be seen in some of the images below. The Galah occurs across Australia and is usually a ground feeder, taking seeds, herbs and roots or spilt grain and cereal crops.

Galah, Philip Island (race albiceps occurring in southeast Australia, has a white crest and crown)
Galah’s, Bright Victoria
Galah’s, Bright Victoria
Galah’s foraging on the lawn in Wurruk, Sale

Eastern Rosella Platycercus eximius

This is another species that eluded my attempts to photograph it during our previous visit, so I was particularly pleased to get some decent images during an outing to Raymond Island (more about that outing in a future post). It is confined to the south-eastern parts of Australia where it is regarded as common.

As vividly coloured as the Rainbow Lorikeet above, the white throat and bill of the Eastern Rosella stand out against the bright colours of the rest of the bird. Preferred habitat is open eucalypt woodlands (where I found this one), grasslands, parks, gardens and farmland. A ground feeder of grass and fallen seeds, it is surprisingly well camouflaged when among foliage.

Eastern Rosella Platycercus eximius, Raymond Island Victoria

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita

Perhaps I’m pushing my luck including this all white bird under the general description of vividly coloured birds, however it is a spectacular bird that makes its presence known in no uncertain manner with a harsh raucous screech that comes straight out of a horror movie. They move about in small flocks, inhabiting forests, woodland, cultivated lands, parks and gardens and feed mostly on the ground on grass seeds, herbs, berries and fruit.

South Africans of a certain “vintage” will remember this bird well as it featured in adverts for NBS building society

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Wurruk, Sale Victoria

So what’s left? Having covered the “black and white” birds in Part 1 and the “Vividly coloured” birds in this Part 2, there are still a number of other birds to mention under the heading of “the others” – watch this space…

Reference : The Complete Guide to Australian Birds by George Adams

11 thoughts on “Australia May 2022 : The Birding – it’s Different! (Part 2)”

  1. Hi Don!!! Is Ernesto Reyes, I guided you in Cuba!!, thank you a lot for sharing all the pictures and information!! It always is great pleasure to read your comments and histories about birds!!.

    1. Hi Ernesto! So nice to hear from you – I will never forget the couple of days birding with you in Cuba! Very glad you enjoy the posts. Best wishes to you and the family – I am sure your daughter is grown up now – she was just 3 or 4 when we were there.

      1. Hi Don!! Thank you, it was a great pleasure for me to guide you!!. Africa is one of my destinations to visit in the future!!, I am working now to put some itineraries to Central and South America and Taiwan, so if my business grows up for sure I will go birding to South Africa!! My daughter Rocio is 15 years old, now!!! and Mariana is 26 and is working in the German Embassy in Cuba, she studied German languages. I am living in Florida now, planning to bring Rocio to study here, and probably moving here to establish my Birding business in this country.

      2. Thanks for all the further news Ernesto! That’s exciting about your move to Florida – I’m sure that opens up lots of opportunities for you. I am sure you will do well. Best wishes!

  2. WHAT a visual treat to wake up to! You have put this ‘bird report’ together so well … I patiently await the next episode 🙂

    1. Thanks Anne glad you find it a treat! I will try and speed up the posts on our Australia visit (life does tend to get in the way though) so you don’t have to wait so patiently ….. 😉

  3. Really fabulous birds, Don. Love the way you write about them. I am now yearning for another trip to Australia. If only the flight were not so long!

    1. It’s a wonderful country to visit but the long flights are challenging – we’ll have to persuade the family to come here more often!

  4. What a wonderful array of parrots! Strange to see flocks of them visiting lawns and gardens – not something that happens here, in any case with indigenous species.

    1. Very different from here as you say Dries, our indigenous parrots are only really found in game reserves and other wild places and in limited numbers whereas in Australia they are common garden birds – and they let you know they are around with their various screeches and loud calls! Meanwhile our feral species such as the Rose-ringed Parakeet are gradually extending their presence in suburban areas – they have started appearing in the estate we live in in Wapadrand Pretoria and are quite established in some of the other suburbs – I’m sure they are going to make their presence known elsewhere too, along with the feral lovebirds

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