Australian Magpies are regularly seen at Taperoo Dunes following our volunteers around searching for insects when we pull up weeds. They can actually hear the sound of grubs and worms under the ground, turning their head to the side to locate them. They will often mate for life, although if a male is killed while the young are in the nest, the female will take a new partner. Groups of up to 24 birds live year round in territories that are actively defended by all group members especially during the breeding season. They also have one of the world's most complex bird songs.
The Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike feeds on insects and other invertebrates caught in the air, taken from foliage or caught on the ground. In addition to insects, some fruits and seeds are also eaten. The bird has a curious habit of shuffling its wings upon landing, a practice that gave rise to the name "Shufflewing", which is often used for this species.
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes may mate with the same partner each year, and may use the same territories year after year. Outside the breeding season, large family groups and flocks of up to a hundred birds form.
The Brown Quail is a small, plump ground dwelling bird and is often difficult to see, as it inhabits dense vegetation such as here at Taperoo Dunes. When disturbed, it prefers to hide among the grass or run off quickly; it rarely flies, but when it does, it flies low to the ground. It feeds in the early morning or evening mainly on seeds and green shoots, but also on insects. It has a characteristic mournful two-note call whistle often heard at dawn and dusk.
The Crested Pigeon's diet consists mostly of native seeds, as well as those of introduced crops and weeds. Some leaves and insects are also eaten. The whistling sound heard when it is flying is made by air passing over a modified primary feather on its wing. This bird is not to be confused with two other pigeons which possess a crest: the Spinifex Pigeon, smaller than the Crested Pigeon, or the Topknot Pigeon which is larger.
The Galah is generally unmistakable with its rose-pink head, neck and underparts. They form huge, noisy flocks and feed on seeds, mostly from the ground. Galahs form permanent pair bonds, although a bird will take a new partner if the other one dies. There is high chick mortality amongst this species with up to 50 % of chicks dying in the first six months.
The Golden Whistler belongs to the Family Pachycephalidae, which means 'thick-head' after the group's robust necks and heads. It is one of Australia's loudest and most beautiful songsters.
The Golden Whistler feeds on insects, spiders and other small arthropods. Berries are also eaten. Feeding is usually done alone and most food is obtained from the lower or middle tree level, where it is picked from leaves and bark.
The Grey Shrike-Thrush is considered to be one of the best songsters in Australia and is often heard around Taperoo Dunes. It has a varied diet mainly consisting of insects, spiders, small mammals, frogs and lizards which it searches for on the ground around fallen logs and trees. It is also a notorious predator at nests, regularly eating eggs and nestlings. Grey Shrike-Thrush pairs mate for life and maintain breeding territories of up to 10 hectares.
The Little Corella is widespread throughout Australia and often feeds in large noisy flocks. It forages mainly on the ground, and has to drink on a daily basis. The most common foods are grains and grass seeds although some bulbs and fruits may also be eaten.
The Little Corella is thought to pair for life and will start breeding at the start of a long period of rain. The nest site is a suitable tree hollow, lined with shavings of wood. This is normally used for several years in row.
The Little Raven is smaller than the Australian Raven and is entirely black but with a white eye. It has an omnivorous diet comprising insects, small birds, eggs, nestlings, carrion, occasionally seeds and fruit, and often forms large flocks that roam freely over wide areas in search of food. It builds large nests of sticks, built by both sexes, and feeding young is shared. Little ravens are intelligent birds, and have been recorded using tools as well as having innovative methods of seeking out food.
The Little Wattlebird is the smallest of the wattlebird species found in Australia. It is so called due to its wattle, a bare fleshy appendage hanging from its cheek, neck or throat. It feeds on nectar, which is obtained using a long, brush-tipped tongue, specially adapted to probing deep into flowers. Other food includes insects, flowers, berries and some seeds. Most feeding is done while perched, but some insects are caught in mid-air.
The name Magpie-lark is quite misleading it has no link with either magpies or larks. It is a mostly ground-dwelling bird and is usually seen slowly searching on the ground for a variety of insects and their larvae, as well as earthworms and freshwater invertebrates. The adult male can be identified by black feathers on his forehead whilst the female has white feathers on her forehead.
The Masked Lapwing is a large, ground-dwelling bird easily identified by its large yellow wattles covering the face. It also has a thorny spur that projects from the wrist on each wing.
It feeds on insects and their larvae, and earthworms with the majority of food obtained from just below the surface of the ground, but some may also be taken above the surface. It is notorious for its defence of its nesting site and is very wary of people, seldom allowing close approach.
The Musk Lorikeet is an active and noisy bird and is identified by its bright red forehead and green body. It roosts in tall trees away from its feeding site and is considered nomadic, following the flowering or fruiting of food trees, travelling widely for seeds, fruits and insects and their larvae. The bird in this photo appears to have been feeding on the fruit of a Myoporum tree (Native Juniper or Common Boobialla) as the juice has wet the feathers around its beak.
The New Holland Honeyeater is one our most energetic birds. Striking in appearance, it fuels up on high-energy nectar from the flowers of banksias, eucalypts, grevilleas and other trees and shrubs. With a long, slender beak and a tongue which can protrude well beyond the end of its beak, it is easily able to reach deep into a flower to get to the sweet nectar inside. Being highly active, it is seldom seen sitting still, busily darting from flower to flower, dashing in pursuit of a flying insect or chasing other honeyeaters away.
The Red Wattlebird is a large, noisy honeyeater which feeds on nectar obtained by probing flowers with its thin curved bill. Some insects are also eaten, taken either from foliage or caught in mid-air. Berries and the honeydew produced by some insects add to the bird's diet. The common name refers to the fleshy reddish wattle on the side of the neck. Breeding season is from July to December.
The Rock Parrot is the least colourful of any Australian parrot. Seldom seen more than a few hundred metres from the sea, it frequents windswept coastal dunes, mangroves, saline swamps and rocky islets. It is tame and quiet and rarely forms large flocks, preferring small groups. It feeds on seeds and fruits of a wide variety of grasses, shrubs and salt-tolerant plants, foraging quietly, mainly in the early morning and late afternoon. It is almost exclusively terrestrial but commonly perches in dense shrubbery and occasionally shelters under rocks.
The Sacred Kingfisher is common and familiar throughout coastal regions. It forages mainly on land, only occasionally capturing prey in the water, feeding on crustaceans, reptiles, insects and their larvae and, infrequently, fish. It perches on low exposed branches on the lookout for prey and once located swoops down and captures it in its bill, returning to the perch to eat it. For most of the year Sacred Kingfishers are mainly solitary, pairing only for the breeding season, and they spend the winter in the north of their range, returning south in the spring to breed.
The Silvereye is one of our smallest birds and obtains its name from a ring of white feathers surrounding the eye; it belongs to a group of birds known as white-eyes. It is a sociable bird with a diet that includes insects, berries, fruit and nectar, making them occasional pests of commercial orchards. When food is scarce in winter it may be seen taking food from bird tables.
The Singing Honeyeater is one of our most widespread species of honeyeater, although it feeds at lower levels than most other honeyeaters. Its diet consists of insects and nectar which it forages for in shrubs, along with fruit. Its delicately woven nest is built among the foliage of shrubs and the bird forms monogamous pairs, with some long-term bonds.
The Welcome Swallow is widespread in the south and partially migratory, moving around in response to food availability which consists of a wide variety of insects. It catches prey in flight, using its acrobatic flying skills, which is then guided into the bird's wide, open mouth with the help of short rictal bristles bordering the bill. These bristles also help protect the bird's eye. Where insects are in large supply, Welcome Swallows feed in large flocks.
The Willie Wagtail is very active and rarely still for more than a few moments during daylight hours. It has a long fanned tail which it swings from side to side or up and down whilst foraging for insects on the ground. Insects are also captured in the air in active chases.
It is said that indigenous people would be cautious to tell any personal secrets in the presence of a Willie Wagtail as the bird was believed to be a gossiper who eavesdropped around the camps.