We saw all kinds of cool critters in Australia, but from the moment we stepped out of the airport, the birding was epic! We didn’t even make it into town before I got my first new bird. As we rode out of the parking lot in the city bus, we passed a green field spattered with what looked like discarded grocery bags. But on closer inspection, I saw that the bags were actually birds; specifically, a scattered crackle of wild Cockatoos. From that point on, every bird we passed was new and interesting.
After two months in Victoria, Australia, I was able to add 24 new birds to my life list, wrapping up June with a total of 136.
Birds of Victoria – Group One
These were some of the more common birds I came across during the fall months near Melbourne, Australia. I particularly enjoyed the Dusky Moorhens and the Purple Swamphens. I often spotted them together, so it took me a while to really convince myself that they were, in fact, two separate species of birds.
The Australian Coot, also known as the Common Coot or Eurasian Coot, is my second coot (I spotted an American Coot in Oregon in 2015). The other eight coot species live in either Hawaii, Africa, or South America, so it may be a while before I see any others.
I don’t know about you, but I listened to this song a lot as a kid. And, like most things from my childhood, I didn’t really understand it at the time. “Laugh, kookaburra, laugh. Kookaburra, gay your life must be.” To my surprise, this line actually means something; click on the video below to see what I mean.
Not knowing this in advance lead to yet another:
Jen and Josh’s Close Encounters of the Critter Kind
“Hey, Hun…. Josh?!… JOSH???!!!!”
“I’m on the phone!”
“Well get off! There’s something outside.”
“It’s probably just a kangaroo.”
“It’s not a kangaroo! … Are there monkeys in Australia?”
“No, there are no monkeys in –“
“Well, I don’t know what it is then, but it’s loud and it’s big and I think it’s trying to eat me!”
“It’s not going to –“
“Oh my God. There it is again. Do you hear it?! That. is. a. f*cking. herd of monkeys!”
“It isn’t called a ‘herd’ of –“
“We’re going to die!”
It took me three days of being constantly afraid and on edge before I realized that the loud thump I heard was simply a pigeon dropping to the roof after being chased away by a screaming/laughing/monkey-calling kookaburra. Yet again, I was fooled by the adorable creatures of nature into thinking I was under attack.
Birds of Victoria – Group Two
I did not see the top three birds very often, but the bottom three birds were daily sightings. The Masked Lapwings were really interesting. They have yellow claws at the hinge of their wings and weird yellow flaps down the sides of their face. They reminded me a lot of dinosaurs.
The other two bottom birds had very interesting calls. The Australian Magpie sounds a little bit like a robot. We laughed almost every time we heard an Australian Raven because it sounded like he was mocking us with an Australian accent.
They may be a bit hard to see, but that tree has over a half dozen, beautiful Rainbow Lorikeets. I squealed with excitement when I woke up to this out my window on my second day in Australia. I sat and watched them eat for nearly an hour. After that, I saw them pretty regularly and was even able to get fairly close to a couple to get a better view of those colorful feathers.
Birds of Victoria – Group Three
I have never seen so many beautiful, colorful birds in one place before. It was truly amazing to be hiking through the bush, or walking out to check the mail, or even parking the car at the grocery store and see a splash of color on a nearby branch.
Lorikeets or Loris are parrots with a brush-tip tongue used for eating nectar. I saw them most often jumping from branch to branch in flowering bushes. They would hop to the very tip of a branch, then swing upside-down to the nearest flower to eat.
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There are six species of Rosella, all of which live in Australia or Tasmania. There are only two species that live in Victoria, the Eastern and Crimson Rosellas, and I found both of those. I was usually able to spot two or three each morning in the front yard tree. They enjoyed whatever seeds were growing there.
That’s right, my birding friends, be jealous. I have officially collected a wild penguin!!!
The Little Penguin is the smallest species of penguin and is found on the Southern coasts of Australia. I spotted this little cutey while I was visiting St. Kilda Beach. Most evenings, it is possible to see at least a couple of these “fairy penguins” marching home after a long day of swimming and eating. We ran over to the pier around 7:00PM and saw our first penguin within 15 minutes of waiting.
Birds of Victoria – Group Four
This is the final set of my random bird sightings. Besides for the Kookaburra and the cormorant, I didn’t see these birds very often. The Australian Pied Cormorant usually caused some laughs from Josh and I as we almost always thought it was a penguin sighting at first glance. It is a small cormorant with a black back and white front.
I am not sure what the bottom center duck is. Please leave a comment if you have any ideas. It had a large, flat beak similar to a shoveler. The brown/red belly was very bright.
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