Some of the birds in Australia are not found anywhere else. The brightly colored Rainbow Lorikeet and the Laughing Kookaburra are just two of these special Aussie animals.
Australia is a large continent that is separated from much of the world and so many of the wildlife that are found in Australia are unique and not found in other countries around the world.
Aussie native birds are also special and unique to this unusual country. This article will look at just a few of the different birds that can be found around this vast land.
For now let’s begin with Australia’s flightless birds.
One of Australia’s best-known birds is the emu. Emus live throughout most of Australia. They can survive in the hot deserts, warm tropical forests and even cold snowfields.
Emus can grow to about 190 cm (75 inches) tall, with the average male around 148 cm (58 inches) and the average female about 156 cm (61 inches).
Usually emus travel around in pairs to keep each other company. They can travel long distances to find enough food to eat. Emus like to eat some plants and grasses as well as insects and some seeds.
Emus can certainly move fast! They can run at speeds up to 48 kilometers per hour, that is 30 miles every hour!
The emu has been used to name about 600 different places around Australia, including towns, creeks, lakes, hills and mountains. For example, Mount Emu, Emu Apple Creek, Emu Bush Rockhole and Emu Gully.
There is no doubt that the emu is a true Aussie icon and unique bird species.
Cassowaries live in north-eastern Australia. They are also found on some islands in the region and in New Guinea. Tropical rainforests are the favorite home of this large flightless bird.
The head and neck on the Cassowary is quite distinctive and consists of vibrant, bright blue skin.
On the top of the head is what looks like a flat horn, but this is actually quite soft. This is called a casque, which means “helmet”. The casque is made from foam-like material covered with a layer of skin.
There are three toes on the cassowary’s feet with very sharp claws. The main inside claw can be inches long. They also have lots of power in their feet and can easily kick any animals that are annoying them!
Cassowaries love to eat fruit. They also eat insects, birds, mice, fish, frogs and flowers.
In some parts of Australia you will even see different road signs that warn you to be careful of Cassowaries on the road!
03. Fairy Penguin
One of the cutest animals and flightless birds in Australia has to be the penguin! The Fairy penguin (also called the Little penguin) is totally adorable and is the only penguin species that is native to Australia’s coastline. They are found in the cooler, southern parts of the nation and also in New Zealand.
Though the fairy penguin cannot fly through the air, its little flippers work very well in the ocean. It is just like the little penguins are flying in the water when they swim out to find some food. They love to eat fish, small sea creatures and squid.
Little penguins like to build their nests close to the sea in burrows or in rock crevices. During the breeding season both of the parent penguins look after the needs of the chicks, including keeping the eggs warm in order to hatch.
04. Australian Pelican
Pelicans can be found throughout much of Australia where large bodies of water are found, including along the coast in salt water and also inland in fresh water.
This large wetland bird can often be seen sitting on the top of streetlights, which brings a smile to those passing by as it looks funny seeing such a big bird sitting on a light.
The pelican can open up its bill really wide so that it can easily swallow fish.
In fact, the pouch under the bill can hold about three times the amount of fish as the pelican’s tummy can! Quite an amazing fact!
05. Australian White Ibis
Different ibis species can be found in many parts of the world, including Africa, America and Australia. These are birds that like to wade in shallow waters looking for insects to eat.
One bird that Aussies are very familiar with is the white ibis. This bird has learned to adapt and to live in the suburbs eating almost anything that they can find, from insects to garbage!
Many people consider the white ibis a pest, but others believe that they are actually vulnerable as they no longer live in their natural habitat.
Ibis like to build their nests from grass, reeds or sticks in trees near to a river, lake or swamp. Often they nest near other water birds. When the eggs hatch the baby ibis is totally naked and helpless and needs to be protected and fed by its parents.
06. Black Swan
The Australian black swan is an elegant creature that can be seen throughout much of southern Australia.
Like other swans around the world, black swans are monogamous, which simply means that they have the one partner for life. Together they breed, raise, protect and feed their young.
When the young swan cygnets are learning to swim it is common to see a cygnet sitting up on the back of one of their parents.
Swans are vegetarians (herbivorous). Hence they eat aquatic plants and algae. This is done by immersing the head under the water in search for suitable food. The swan’s long neck comes in especially handy during feeding.
07. Sulphur Crested Cockatoo
A friendly bird that is popular as a pet in many parts of the world is the sulphur-crested cockatoo. One reason that this bird makes a popular pet is that it is relatively easy to teach it to speak.
Aussies like to call this bird a cocky. In fact, if an Aussie is around then you may hear them say, “ello Cocky!” whenever they see a cockatoo. Many times the bird will repeat the words back and also say, “Hello cocky”.
Sulphur-crested cockatoos are white in color with a vibrantly sulphur, yellow crest on the top of the head, hence the name.
These friendly birds can often be seen holding their food in their claw, which they then bring up to their mouth so they can easily eat it. As a pet, cockies also enjoy eating out of their owner’s hand.
08. Rainbow Lorikeet
Visitors from all around Australia, as well as International tourists, love to see these medium-sized, colorful birds. In different places around the country it is possible to get up close and to actually hand feed the rainbow lorikeet.
The Currumbin wildlife sanctuary on the Gold Coast is one such place, where travelers come from near and far to feed these brightly colored feathered Aussies.
Plates full of a special sweet formula are distributed to everyone present and then everyone waits for the birds to fly in. They land on peoples’ heads and arms as well as on the plate and enjoy a delicious meal that tastes like the nectar from native Australian trees and plants.
It is easy to recognize a rainbow lorikeet as they have green wings, back and tail, a bright red beak, a blue head and tummy, and an orange breast.
They love to eat the pollen and nectar from native Australian flowering plants and trees. Other things that rainbow lorikeets enjoy eating include insects, fruit and seeds.
Both parent birds get the nest ready for the eggs and then the female bird sits on the eggs until they hatch. They then both take it in turns to feed the young chicks.
Aussies call this friendly little parrot a Budgie. They are popular as pets in Australia and also around the world. In the USA they are often called a parakeet.
Budgies are very intelligent and can be taught to speak if there is just one in the cage. If other birds are around then it is unlikely that the budgie will talk.
It is important to remember that budgerigars like to have things to do so that they do not become bored. Small toys, mirrors and bells are often used in cages for pet budgies to keep them stimulated.
The wild budgies are green and yellow in color with black markings down the feathers on the wings. Breeders have extended the color range and now a variety of blue, green and yellow budgies are available to have as pets.
10. Laughing Kookaburra
The most well-known of this species is the laughing kookaburra. The bird loves to sit up in a tree and laugh out loud for all to hear. They make this unusual sound to let everyone know that this is their territory. Often other kookaburras will join in to form a choir of loud laughing.
In fact, most Aussie kids know the song, or nursery rhyme, written by Marion Sinclair in 1932, about these unique creatures.
11. Blue Winged Kookaburra
The laughing kookaburra and the blue-winged kookaburra are very similar, but the second is brighter in color with blue on its tail and wings, has a larger beak and a smaller body.
Snakes, lizards, small mammals and insects all form part of the diet for both kookaburra types.
12. Tawny Frogmouth
These birds are able to freeze and stay totally still at the first sign of danger. They blend in so well with the tree that they are sitting in that predators have trouble seeing them. This amazing ability- to camouflage themselves can save them from being attacked.
The tawny frogmouth has feet similar to owls’ feet. However tawny frogmouths use their beak to catch their prey rather than their feet as owls do.
These sweet, grey birds hunt at night and eat mainly insects, snails, slugs and worms. The occasional frog, mouse or small mammal also forms part of the diet.
This article has just touched the surface of Australia’s approximately 800 different bird species. Although some of the birds may be similar to those found in other countries, many are totally unique and only found in Australia.
Not only are the birds unique, but also they are very diverse and different from one another. The fairy penguin swimming through the cooler waters around southern Australia and the emu that cannot fly living in the warmer areas and even deserts.
Then there are the colorful rainbow lorikeets and little budgies. Maybe one day, you can travel and see some of these Aussie birds for yourself!