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Did you know Australia is home to about 830 different species of birds, 45% of which are endemic (only found in Australia). This diversity of bird life comes with full surround sound but amidst the backdrop of so many calls its sometimes hard to pick out the individuals from the crowd, however here at AWA we’ve picked out our top 5 distinctive birds sounds.
Topping our list is the Laughing kookaburra, named for its loud chuckling call, this bird is an icon of Australia. With a tendency to call more at dawn and dusk Kookaburras are also nicknamed the ‘Bushmans Clock’.
Kookaburras are believed to pair for life and make their nests in tree hollows where they lay between 1- 5 eggs. Kookaburras also tend to stay in family units with the young birds often sticking around for a year or two to help raise the next years chicks.
Natively found along Eastern Australia the Laughing Kookaburra feeds on insects and small mammals or reptiles and are known to drop or ‘bash’ larger prey such as small snakes and frogs.
Laughing Kookaburras are a mainly brown and white bird with a brown bandana across the eyes and speckled spots on the wings. The largest member of the Kingfisher family, they also have the distinctive trait of a larger head and bill relative to the rest of their body. But did you know there’s actually more than one type of Kookaburra? There’s also the Blue winged Kookaburra that lives further north and, as you may have guessed, has more blue in its colouring!
Claudine has captured the ‘king of the bush’ in her artwork.
On their own these guys sound like a typical parrot but they make the list based on sheer volume than can create in large groups. Rainbow Lorikeets are known to nest in mass communities and sometimes tens of thousands of birds will roost together overnight resulting in a cacophony of noise around dusk if you have a roost nearby (insert sound). These city slickers are just as happy in urbanised settings and live in close proximity to humans.
During the day they tend to travel in much smaller groups seeking nectar from flowers as colourful as they are. Common food for a Rainbow Lorikeet includes the native Grevilleas, Banksias, and Eucalypts. They have a special brush tipped tongue for getting the nectar, which means they can go through about 30-40 flowers per minute, but they will also happily snack on fruit or the occasional insect. Captured beautifully below by Alan Young.
Rainbow Lorikeets can be natively found across northern and eastern Australia, but did you know in Western Australia they are actually considered a pest? It’s thought the population there grew from just 10 birds accidentally released back in the 1960s.
These quirky colourful characters may be boisterous and noisy, but we love to watch them caper about. Check out some of the art inspired by them.
Sometimes, when out walking in the bush along the east coast of Australia, you will come across the unique sound of the Eastern Whipbird. Sounding like the sound effect in a Star Wars movie, the male Eastern Whipbird makes a long sounding whistle ending with a laser-like whip sound. that’s usually followed by the females two short chirps in response.
Often heard but not seen, Eastern whipbirds are a dark olive green with a white patch on the face and like to live in wet habitats like rainforests and eucalypt forests.
Another bird that likes to keep us up at night is the ghostly ‘Wer-ooo’ of the Bush Stone Curlew, however as they are mainly a nocturnal species we won’t begrudge them doing their thing at night.
Other than their night time screams, these curlews are probably most well known for their ground nesting habits. They breed between July and January to produce a clutch of between 1-3 eggs in a shallow scrape on the ground. Both parents protect the nest, giving a warning hiss and raising their wings to any who come near. (insert video option). Curlews mate for life and, although rarely witnessed, are thought to have an intricate courtship dance that goes on for about an hour or more, complete with vocals.
Sadly these birds, once common are now in decline as they are increasing facing threats from foxes, domestic animals, nest disturbances and habitat loss.
A slim grey-brown bird with a white belly, these birds are designed to blend into the ground but one of our artists Tracy Church managed to pick one out from its camouflage.
Interested to find out more? We found these websites useful:
When we moved from the UK we were first woken up constantly by the birds, it was so loud. But then you realise you much prefer that than the traffic noises back home. Now it is such a pleasure to wake up with the birds in North Queensland…