If you’ve been following me on social media, you’ve likely noticed a lot of brightly coloured parrot-esque birds. No, I’m not at a zoo and no I haven’t decided to buy a menagerie of pet parrots! I’m in the land down under birding my face off. I’m also in a constant state of awe and amazement at the wildlife here.
Where am I?
My boyfriend and I are staying with his parents in Yarra Glen, Victoria. It’s a beautiful wine region about an hour’s drive from Melbourne’s CBD. CBD? Central Business District, aka downtown for you North Americans.
Here is a photo of the view. It is seriously beautiful!
Let’s Talk About the Parrots
Parrots and Cockatoos are loud, squawky and everywhere here! My boyfriend’s Mum has two feeders in her yard and Rainbow Lorikeets, Crimson Rosellas, Galahs and King Parrots are regular visitors at the moment.
On a recent visit to the grocery store in Yarra Glen, we heard some loud squawking coming from a park across the road. Luckily I had my camera in the car (you need your camera at all times here) and I was thrilled to see Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Long-billed Corellas.
What’s Australia Birding Like?
If you’re able to look beyond the brightly coloured parrots (a serious challenge!), birding in Australia is pretty amazing. It’s autumn here and I’ve noticed many of the birds are in mixed flocks and frantically eating. This reminds me of Ottawa during fall migration.
There are also lots of juveniles around which makes sense given the time of year.
From what I understand, there isn’t migration here on the grand scale that we have in North America. Some species migrate to northern Australia in winter for the warmer weather (north in Australia = warm, south = cold… weird!). Shorebirds, or waders as they call them here, spend their summers in Australia, but migrate up to Asia and Alaska in the winter. Aside from that, many species stay put year round, or live a nomadic lifestyle dependent on the availability of food.
What About the Honeyeaters?
Aside from parrots, another species that I’m really enjoying is the honeyeaters. This is a large family of birds with down-curved bills and brush-tipped tongues used to extract nectar from trees and shrubs. They are also really brightly coloured (for the most part) and fun to watch feeding.
LBJ’s (little brown jobs). These birds remind me of warblers during the fall. They’re small, very active and have plain markings so can be hard to id. I love them anyway!
Hopefully I’ve correctly identified the following Thornbills:
Aussie Bird Names
Australian birds have some of the best names! Here are a few of my favourites so far:
As the name suggests, this bird wags its tail back and forth! I’ll try to take a video for you because it’s beyond cute.
Unlike North America’s shrikes, Aussies use a name that aptly describes the bird’s ability to skewer its prey.
These birds look like little fairies running along the ground. Outside of the breeding season, only dominant males retain the full blue striking plumage. I’ve yet to see one, but I have found individuals who’ve kept their blue tails:
A classic. Their “laughter” is hilarious and I hope to capture it on video!
Over the next few weeks we plan to visit Phillip Island where you can see Little Penguins coming in to a beach at dusk. These are the smallest species of penguins and look adorable! Next weekend I’m joining the Melbourne Bird Photographers on an outing to Woodlands Historic Park. I’m promised good birds and lots of Kangaroos!
If anyone has tips for me, please send me a message or leave me a comment! I’m in Australia until May 20th so I have plenty of time to find my target birds.
Week 1 in Australia has definitely been a success! After spending countless hours poring over field guides, I feel like I’m slowly starting to get on top of the species here. Stay tuned for more of my Australia birding adventures in the coming weeks.