Fantastic Birds and Where to Find Them, Part #2

Painted Honey Eater – Grantiella picta Meliphagidae

The male medium-sized honeyeater would fit right in with a gaggle of Emperor Penguins, sporting a similar black and white suit and yellow trim.  And real men do wear pink bills……  The duller, streak-less girls must get very excited at his arrival in mating season!

As Mistletoe fruit is its favourite diet, alongside nectar and invertebrates, this little fellow gets to do a lot of kissing…..

This species is sometimes called a Georgie, from the sound of its calls. Although similar in size and colour to the White-cheeked Honeyeater, and the New Holland Honeyeater, the Painted Honeyeater is plumper with a much shorter tail, and is the only yellow-winged honeyeater with almost completely white underparts. Found throughout #OutbackQueensland in small numbers, we enjoy seeing them in Queensland along rivers, on plains with scattered trees, in dry open forests and woodlands and on farmland with remnant vegetation.

Freckled Duck – Stictonetta naevosa

“The lady will have a Freckled Duck please……shaken, not stirred….”

As well as being a great name for a new cocktail, this web-footed friend’s fine freckly feathers may well have found their way into the hands of milliners over the years…..

Hey Hot Lips! Not averse to donning some red lippie on his lower bill during mating season, FD likes to keep his lady friends happy with this fashion statement. FD is also known as Canvasback, Oatmeal Duck, Speckled Duck and, our favourite, the Diamantina Duck (now, there’s a cartoon character just waiting to happen!). Whilst found primarily in the south east and south west of Australia, FD likes to pop over to large temporary swamps created by floods in our Bulloo and Lake Eyre Basins; the perfect for anyone adventuring around Thargomindah.

In prolonged drought conditions, FD may venture as far south as coastal New South Wales and Victoria during such times so it can continue its favourite pastime of munching on algae, seeds and vegetative parts of aquatic grasses and sedges and small invertebrates. Whilst father duck stays with females during early incubation, he soon bores of this domesticity and bids his farewell –  “Quack you later mate…..”

Crested Bellbird – Oreoica gutturalis Pachycephalidae

Hey punk, where did you learn to sing like that?

With its little punky headfeathers, one of Crested Bellbird’s best features is its rich, musical call. A series of staccato, bell-like notes, followed by a loud ‘plop’, it can be heard in many dry habitats on mainland Australia. It’s also a bit of a ventriloquist, playing tricks by throwing its voice all over the place to confuse everyone.

A medium-sized bird, the adult males sport a punky black crest, a white forehead and throat and orange eyes.  The females are again just in their plain house-dresses lacking the male’s deep colours or head crest.

This species is also known as the Crested Thrush, as well as having names such as ‘Dick-Dick-the Devil’.

Endemic to mainland Australia, it occurs west of the Great Dividing Range, in the south of tropical northern Australia, and through South Australia to the west coast of Western Australia.  It loves the semi-arid coastlines to the arid Australia interior. They are found in acacia shrublands, eucalypt woodlands, spinifex and chenopod (saltbush) plains or dunes.

The Crested Bellbird feeds on invertebrates and some seeds, foraging on the ground or in shrubs alone or in pairs during breeding season.


Night parrot – Pezoporus occidentalis Psittacidae

An Australian Avian Mystery! Secretive in behaviour,  this night-loving bird at home in remote country had eluded bird-watchers for nearly 100 years.   Thought to be extinct since 1913, a long-sought-after sighting in May  2013 in our very own Western #OutbackQueensland, set aviarists’ hearts a-flutter the world over.

So keen was global interest that the location of the sighting is a well-guarded secret to protect the bird from disturbance.  (I’m imagining a guarded safe somewhere with an uncrackable code….”). Adapted to life in the outback, Night Parrots seem to need little water, hiding in clumps of spinifex by day and emerging after sunset to forage for food and this has made them masters of survival.

Bearing a resemblance to the popular Budgerigar, the Night Parrot is shorter, plumper, has shorter wings and tail, and lacks the yellow plumage of the budgie or the green underparts of its much more gregarious cousin.

Have you spotted any of these birds will in Outback Queensland? And in case you missed it, check out Part 1 for more bird spotting.

By Sandra Beynon