Bird of the week – Hardhead Aythya australis

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The Hardhead is a medium-sized duck. It is usually seen swimming in large ponds and swamps. The female’s call is a croak and the male’s call is a whistle.

What the Hardhead looks like

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The Hardhead is 45-60 cm in length. It is dark brown with a white patch on its breast and white feathers under its tail. The male has a black beak with a blue-grey bar on the tip, white eyes and grey feet. The female has a black beak with a pale blue-grey bar near the tip, brown eyes and grey feet.

Where the Hardhead lives

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The Hardhead lives in most parts of Australia, except for the hottest, driest parts. It also lives in Indonesia and New Guinea. It is found in freshwater swamps.

What the Hardhead eats

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The Hardhead eats water plants and their seeds, mussels and shellfish. It feeds by diving under the water.

How the Hardhead breeds

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Hardheads form pairs in the breeding season.

The adults breed in spring, especially after there are heavy rains. The adults mate.

The female lays nine to twelve eggs in a nest of plants and sticks built in very dense plants. She sits on the eggs to keep them warm.

The chicks hatch after three and a half to four and a half weeks.

The chicks grow into adults.

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Bird of the week – Chestnut Teal Anas castanea

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The Chestnut Teal is a small duck. It is commonly seen resting on logs or rocks at the water’s edge. The female’s call is a ‘quack’. The male’s call is a grunt or whistle.

What the Chestnut Teal looks like

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The Chestnut Teal is 35-50 cm in length. The male has a glossy green-black head, a chestnut breast and belly and a dark brown back. The female is covered in feathers that are dark brown edged with light brown. The Chestnut Teal has a blue-grey beak, red eyes and olive-grey legs and feet.

Where the Chestnut Teal lives

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The Chestnut Teal lives in south-western and south-eastern Australia. It also lives in New Guinea. It is found in brackish coastal lagoons and estuaries and in freshwater swamps.

What the Chestnut Teal eats

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The Chestnut Teal eats plants and their seeds, insects, worms and snails. It feeds by dabbling at the water’s edge or water surface, or by putting its head underwater.

How the Chestnut Teal breeds

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Chestnut Teals form pairs that stay together out of the breeding season.

The adults breed from winter to summer. The male whistles and walks around to attract a female. The adults mate.

The female lays seven to ten eggs in a scrape on the ground, in grasses or reeds or in a hole in a tree. She sits on the eggs to keep them warm.

The chicks hatch after four weeks. They leave the nest after one day.

The chicks can swim after one day. Both parents defend them until they can fend for themselves. The chicks grow into adults.

Bird of the week – Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa

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The Pacific Black Duck is a medium-sized duck. It is common around streams, lakes and swamps. The female’s call is a loud ‘quack’. The male’s call is a soft warble.

What the Pacific Black Duck looks like

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The Pacific Black Duck is 50-60 cm in length. It is covered in feathers that are brown edged with buff. It has a brown stripe through each eye and a cream stripe above and below this brown stripe. The top of its head is brown. It has a bright green patch on each wing. The Pacific Black Duck has an olive-grey beak, brown eyes and olive-grey legs and feet.

Where the Pacific Black Duck lives

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The Pacific Black Duck lives throughout Australia, except for inland deserts. It also lives in Sumatra, New Guinea, New Zealand and on many islands in the Pacific Ocean. It is found in freshwater swamps and lakes and also around brackish water.

What the Pacific Black Duck eats

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The Pacific Black Duck eats water plants and their seeds, and insects, yabbies and shrimps. It feeds by dabbling at the water surface, dredging the swamp bottom and putting its head and neck underwater.

How the Pacific Black Duck breeds

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Pacific Black Ducks form pairs for the breeding season.

The adults breed in winter to spring in the south, summer to autumn in the north and when the rivers are flooding in the inland. The male preens, bobs and flaps his wings to attract a female. The adults mate.

The female lays seven to thirteen eggs in a scrape on the ground, a cup-shaped nest in reeds or a hole in a tree. She sits on the eggs to keep them warm.

The chicks hatch after three and a half to four and a half weeks.

The chicks grow into adults.

Bird of the week – Buff-banded Rail Gallirallus philippensis

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The Buff-banded Rail is a medium-sized bird. It is usually seen walking between plants that are growing on the edges of wetlands. It is mostly silent but shrieks in the breeding season.

What the Buff-banded Rail looks like

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The Buff-banded Rail is 28-33 cm in length. It has streaked brown upperparts and striped black and white underparts. It has a red-brown head with a grey eyebrow and a red-brown band on its breast.  It has a brown beak, red eyes and light brown legs and feet.

Where the Buff-banded Rail lives

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The Buff-banded Rail lives in coastal Australia. It also lives in south-east Asia, New Guinea and New Zealand. It is found in thick plants growing around swamps and lagoons.

What the Buff-banded Rail eats

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The Buff-banded Rail eats insects, molluscs, seeds, fruits and some plants. It pecks its food from damp ground.

How the Buff-banded Rail breeds

Blog_BW19e_P1160568 Buff-banded Rails breed in pairs and shriek to announce their territories.

The adults breed from spring to summer.

The female lays five to eight (sometimes up to eleven) eggs in a cup-shaped nest of grasses or water plants in a swamp. The adults take turns to sit on the eggs to keep them warm.

The chicks hatch after two and a half weeks.

The chicks are cared for by their parents for some time after hatching. They grow into breeding adults.

Bird of the week – Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa

The Dusky Moorhen is a water bird. It is usually seen swimming in freshwater swamps. Its call is a loud crow or squawk.

What the Dusky Moorhen looks like

The Dusky Moorhen is 34-38 cm in length. It is brown-black to grey-black with white on each side of its tail. It has a red beak with a red frontal shield and a yellow tip. It has brown eyes, red knees and green feet.

Where the Dusky Moorhen lives

The Dusky Moorhen lives in eastern and south-western Australia. It also lives in Indonesia and New Guinea. It is found in swamps and lakes with reeds around the edges.

What the Dusky Moorhen eats

The Dusky Moorhen eats land plants and water plants. It also eats insects, fishes and worms. It puts its head under water to search for water plants.

How the Dusky Moorhen breeds

Dusky Moorhens breed in groups and defend their territories.

The adults mostly breed from late winter to early autumn. The females let the males know when they are ready to mate.

Each female lays five to eight eggs in a nest of water plants in a swamp. The adults take turns to sit on the eggs to keep them warm.

The chicks hatch after two and a half to three and a half weeks.

The chicks are cared for by their parents for four weeks, then partly fed for another five weeks. They grow into breeding adults.

Bird of the week – Eurasian Coot Fulica atra

The Eurasian Coot is a water bird. It is usually seen swimming in the middle of freshwater ponds and swamps. Its call is a loud “kowk”.

What the Eurasian Coot looks like

The Eurasian Coot is 32-39 cm in length. It is grey-black all over. It has a white beak with a white frontal shield, red eyes and grey legs and feet.

Where the Eurasian Coot lives

The Eurasian Coot lives all over Australia, except for the driest parts. It also lives in Eurasia, Indonesia, New Guinea and New Zealand. It is found in lagoons and swamps.

What the Eurasian Coot eats

The Eurasian Coot mostly eats water plants. It also eats some insects, worms and fishes. It dives underwater for food.

How the Eurasian Coot breeds

Eurasian Coots breed in pairs and defend their territories.

The adults mostly breed from late winter to summer. A male calls and strikes the water with his wings to attract a female. The adults mate.

The female lays four to fifteen eggs in a nest of sticks and water plants in a swamp. The parents take turns to sit on the eggs to keep them warm.

The chicks hatch after three to three and a half weeks.

The chicks are partly fed by their parents for about seven weeks. They grow into breeding adults.

Bird of the week – Eastern Great Egret Ardea modesta

The Eastern Great Egret is a water bird. It is usually seen alone, wading in shallow water looking for food. Its call is a low-pitched croak.

What the Eastern Great Egret looks like

The Eastern Great Egret is 70-90 cm in length. Its neck is longer than its body and it has a dark line extending from the base of its beak to behind its eye. It has white feathers. In the non-breeding season, the Eastern Great Egret has a yellow beak, yellow facial skin, yellow eyes and grey-black legs and feet. In the breeding season, it has a black beak, green facial skin, red eyes and brown-black legs and feet. It also has long white plumes on its lower back.

Where the Eastern Great Egret lives

The Eastern Great Egret lives in most parts of Australia, except the driest parts. It is found around lakes, swamps, rivers and dams.

What the Eastern Great Egret eats

The Eastern Great Egret mostly eats fishes. It also eats insects, crayfish, lizards and frogs. It stands still and watches for prey or walks slowly in shallow water. It spears fishes with its pointed beak.

How the Eastern Great Egret breeds

Eastern Great Egrets form pairs during the breeding season and nest in colonies.

The adults breed from spring to summer in the south and in autumn in the north. The male snaps his beak and stretches his neck to attract a female. They mate.

The female lays two to six eggs on a platform of sticks in a tree near water. Both parents sit on the eggs to keep them warm.

The chicks hatch after about three and a half weeks. Both parents feed them.

The chicks fly after about six weeks. They grow into breeding adults.

Herons, ibises and spoonbills

Bird of the week – Australian White Ibis Threskiornis molucca

The Australian White Ibis is a water bird. It is usually seen walking on damp or wet ground looking for food. Its call is a croak.

What the Australian White Ibis looks like

The Australian White Ibis is 69-76 cm in length. It has a white body and a black head and neck. It has black tips and black plumes on the edges of its wings. In the breeding season, the naked stripe on each underwing darkens to red. The Australian White Ibis has a black down-curved beak, brown eyes, pink legs and purple-brown feet.

Where the Australian White Ibis lives

The Australian White Ibis lives in northern and eastern Australia. It also lives in Africa, southern Asia and New Zealand. It is found in swamps, wet pastures, wet grasslands and parks.

What the Australian White Ibis eats

The Australian White Ibis eats crayfish, mussels, insects, fishes, snails and frogs. It probes for food with its beak.

How the Australian White Ibis breeds

Australian White Ibises form pairs during the breeding season and nests in large colonies.

The adults breed from spring to autumn. The male perches on a branch and bows to attract a female. He offers her a twig and they preen each other. They mate.

The female lays two to five eggs on a platform of sticks on low plants. Both parents sit on the eggs to keep them warm.

The chicks hatch after three to three and a half weeks. Both parents feed them.

The chicks fly after about four weeks. They are fed by their parents for a few weeks after leaving the nest. They grow into breeding adults.

 Flying birds

Bird of the week – Brown Falcon Falco berigora

 

The Brown Falcon is a small to medium bird of prey. It is usually seen perched on high branches or power lines. Its call is a loud cackling sound made when flying.

What the Brown Falcon looks like

The Brown Falcon is 41-51 cm in length. It is mostly brown, but there are six colour forms which range from very dark brown to light brown above and brown to cream below. It may have bars or spots. The Brown Falcon has a brown tear-stripe below the eyes. It has a blue-grey beak, brown eyes and pale grey legs and feet with black talons.

Where the Brown Falcon lives

The Brown Falcon lives throughout Australia. It also lives in New Guinea. It is found in woodlands, grasslands and farmlands with trees or power lines for perching.

What the Brown Falcon eats

The Brown Falcon eats small mammals, small birds, lizards, snakes and insects. It usually hunts by sitting on a high perch then dropping onto prey. It picks up and carries prey with its feet.

How the Brown Falcon breeds

Brown Falcons breed at different times in different places.

The adults breed from winter to spring in the south and spring to autumn in the north. Courting birds fly in circles and glide with their wings held in a V-shape. They mate.

The female lays two to six (usually three) eggs in an old stick nest of another bird. Both parents sit on the eggs to keep them warm.

The chicks hatch after about four and a half weeks.

The male hunts and the female feeds the prey he catches to the chicks. The chicks leave the nest after six and a half weeks. They grow into breeding adults.

Australian daytime birds of prey

birds of prey

Bird of the week – Long-billed Corella Cacatua tenuirostris

The Long-billed Corella is a medium-sized white cockatoo. It is usually seen in trees, such as gum trees, or feeding in flocks on the ground. It makes a two-syllable yodelling call and also shrieks when alarmed.

What the Long-billed Corella looks like

The Long-billed Corella is 38-41 cm in length. It is white with pale yellow under its wings and tail. The Long-billed Corella has red markings between its beak and eyes and across its throat. It has a long bone-coloured beak, a bare blue ring around its dark brown eyes and grey legs and feet.

Where the Long-billed Corella lives

The Long-billed Corella lives in south-eastern Australia. It is found in open forests, woodlands, grasslands, farmlands and parks in towns and cities.

What the Long-billed Corella eats

The Long-billed Corella eats seeds, roots, bulbs and insects. It feeds on the ground.

How the Long-billed Corella breeds

Long-billed Corellas usually mate for life.

The adults breed from winter until summer. Both parents prepare the nest.

The female lays one to four (usually two) eggs in a hole in a tree. Both parents sit on the eggs to keep them warm.

The chicks hatch after three and a half weeks. Both parents feed them.

The chicks leave the nest after seven to eight weeks. Both parents feed them for another three weeks.

Australian parrots