Bird watching in Australia

Australia offers bird-enthusiasts a very special treat. You could spend a lifetime learning about this island-continent’s 770 species of birds.

One popular Australian bird is the 6-foot tall, flightless Emu. Another, a favorite of Aussie residents, is the much-smaller Willy Wagtail– this cheeky black-and-white songbird is found in most towns.

In forests, listen for the loud song of the Superb Lyrebird. This gracefully-plumed bird mimics other birds’ songs. Its mimicking abilities are so adept, that near urban areas they’ve been heard mimicking car alarms and camera shutter clicks.

In the drier country, look for the native yellow-crested cockatoos, Cockatiels, Budgerigars and Zebra Finches. These birds have become popular pets, around the world.

Visitors may be surprised to learn that many of Australia’s birds, like its wrens and rose-breasted robins, are not closely related to their European or Asian look-alikes. Australia’s birdlife evolved separately from Europe and Asia- the first English colonists here named these birds for the ones they missed from back home.

Ready to bird-watch in Australia? Visit the many National Parks, or the surprising number of wild areas near big cities like Sydney, Darwin, and Perth.

Cairns is a great place to start. The Esplanade, a cement walkway bordering the downtown beach, is one of the best places in the world to watch shorebirds like sandpipers or curlews! Just inland from town, the bird-rich Atherton Tablelands offer tropical rainforest habitats. And just off-shore, in the Great Barrier Reef, tropical seabirds coexist with snorkeling tourists.