Birds of Tasmania
The Australian Magpie is black and white, but the plumage pattern varies across its range. Its nape, upper tail and shoulder are white in males, grey in females. Across most of Australia, the remainder of the body is black. In the south-east, centre, extreme south-west and Tasmania, the back and rump are entirely white. The eye of adult birds is chestnut brown.
The Australian Owlet-nightjar is the smallest of the nocturnal birds (night birds) found in Australia. Its large brown eyes are non-reflective when exposed to a torch or spotlight (other nocturnal birds give a red reflection). The Owlet-nightjar has two different plumage colourations: russet-brown (rufous), and the more common grey.
|Australian Wood Duck|
The Australian Wood Duck is a medium-sized 'goose-like' duck with a dark brown head and a pale grey body with two black stripes along the back. Males have the darker head and a small dark mane, with a speckled brown-grey breast and a black lower belly and undertail. The females have a paler head with two white stripes, above and below the eye, a speckled breast and flanks, with a white lower belly and undertail.
|Azure Kingfisher (T)|
The Azure Kingfisher is a small kingfisher with a long slender black bill and a short tail. The head, neck, upper parts and breast sides are deep azure blue with a violet (purplish) sheen. The neck has a distinctive orange stripe on each side and there is a small orange spot before each eye. The throat is pale orange-white, grading to orange-reddish on belly and undertail. The flanks and sides of the breast are washed purple to violet. The legs and feet are red.
The Bassian Thrush is a secretive bird. Its plumage is mottled brown to olive-brown, heavily scalloped with black crescent-shaped bars on the back, rump and head. The paler underparts all have brown-black scalloping. It has a white eye-ring. In flight the Bassian Thrush shows a broad dark diagonal bar across the white underside of its wing.
The Beautiful Firetail is a small thick-set finch with an olive-brown body and a white breast with dark fine barring. The head has a black mask with pale blue eye ring and fairly thick, red bill. The rump is crimson. The legs and feet are pink-cream. The wings are short and rounded and the tail short and square-tipped.
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes have a black face and throat, blue-grey back, wings and tail, and white underparts. They are slender, attractive birds.
The Black-headed Honeyeater is the smaller of the two Melithreptus honeyeaters in Tasmania, with a wholly black head and throat, a fine black bill and a very pale blue to white crescent of bare skin over the eye. It has olive-green to brown upperparts and off-white underbody.
The Black Currawong is a medium-sized bird, with a heavy, black bill, black body and white tips to the flight-feathers and tail. It has a bright yellow eye. Immature birds are similar but duller in appearance.
In adult Black Swans the body is mostly black, with the exception of the broad white wing tips which are visible in flight. The bill is a deep orange-red, paler at the tip, with a distinct narrow white band towards the end. Younger birds are much greyer in colour, and have black wing tips. Adult females are smaller than the males.
Brown Falcons are small to medium-sized raptors (birds of prey). The female is larger than the male. The Brown Falcon has a range of plumage colours, from very dark brown to light brown above and off-white below. Generally, the upperparts are dark brown and the underparts are pale buff or cream. The sides of the head are brown with a characteristic tear-stripe below the eye.
Brown Goshawks are medium-sized raptors (birds of prey). They have a brown head, slate-grey to brown upperparts with a red-brown collar across the upper nape of the neck, and finely barred underparts of red-brown with white. The rounded wings are dark brown to grey above and buff to reddish brown below with darker wingtips, and the long rounded tail is grey with dark bars. The long legs are yellow, with reddish brown feathering about the thighs. The eye is bright yellow.
The Brown Quail is a small, plump ground-dwelling bird. It is variable in colour, ranging from red brown to grey brown with fine white streaks and black barring above, and chestnut brown below. The eye is red to yellow, the bill black and the legs and feet orange-yellow.
The Brown Thornbill is a small bird, but is one of the medium-sized and more common of the thornbills. It has olive-brown to grey upperparts, with a warm reddish-brown forehead scalloped with paler markings.
The Brush bronzewing is a plump pigeon with the upper part of the body a rich olive-brown with chestnut-brown shoulders, neck and back. The underparts are blue-grey with two curved metallic blue-green bands on the wings. A dark chestnut stripe runs from the back of the neck through the eyes.
The Chestnut Teal is a small dabbling duck with a high forehead and rounded head. Males are distinctive, having a glossy green head, chestnut brown neck, breast and flanks, dark brown upper body and wings, and a black undertail with contrasting white patch. Females are mottled dark brown and grey, with a pale throat streaked brown and a dark eye stripe. In both sexes the eye is a deep red, the bill is blue-grey and the legs and feet are green-grey. The wings have a dark glossy green to purple speculum (panel) edged white and the underwing is brown, with white wing pits.
The Collared Sparrowhawk is a medium-sized, finely built raptor (bird of prey) with wide staring bright yellow eyes. The upperparts and side of the head are slate- grey, with a complete chestnut half-collar. The underparts are finely barred pale rufous on white and the rounded wings are rather short. The bill is black, with a pale yellow cere (fleshy bill base). The Collared Sparrowhawk has long fine yellow legs and very long toes, especially the middle toe. The tail is long and generally squared at the tip.
The Common Blackbird was introduced to Australia at Melbourne in the 1850s. The male is the 'black' bird, with deep orange to yellow bill, a narrow yellow eye-ring and dark legs. The female is a brown bird, with some streaks or mottling, and has a dark bill and legs. Immature birds are similar to the female with lighter underparts.
Common Bronzewings are medium-sized, heavily built pigeons. The male has a yellow-white forehead and pink breast. Both sexes have a clear white line below and around the eye and patches of green, blue and red in the wing, characteristic of all bronzewings.
The Common Starling has a wide variation in plumage. Both sexes are similar, although the female is less glossy than the male. In autumn, when the plumage is new, birds are glossed black, with a purple and green shine, and the tips of the body feathers have large white spots. At this time the bill is dark and the legs are brown. With wear, the white spots are lost, while the bill and legs turn yellow. During the breeding season adults become glossy-black without any spots. Young birds are dull grey-brown.
The Crescent Honeyeater is a medium to small honeyeater with a long down-curved bill and a red-brown eye.
The Dusky Moorhen is a medium-sized, dark grey-black water bird with a white undertail. It has a red bill with a yellow tip and a red facial shield. Young birds are much duller and browner than adults, with a greenish bill and face shield.
The Dusky Robin is an olive-brown bird, with an indistinct white wing-bar. The underbody is mostly light grey-brown. There is a slight dark eyeline and a whitish mark at the bend of the wing. It has a short, slender bill and moderately long, square-shaped tail.
The Dusky Woodswallow is a smoky deep brown to grey bird. The wings are dark blue grey, edged white, the tail is black with a broad white tip and the underwings are silvery-white. The bill is blue tipped black and the eye is dark brown.
Eastern Rosellas are medium-sized colourful parrots with distinctive white cheek patches. It has a red head, neck and breast, with yellowish to greenish upper parts, a yellow underbody and a yellow-green to blue-green rump, with a red undertail. The shoulders are bright blue.
The Eastern Spinebill is most easily recognised by its very long, fine, down-curved beak and energetic flight, during which its white outer tail feathers are prominent.
Introduced to Australia in the nineteenth century. It has a red face, with a black crown and shoulders. The sides of the head are white. The upperparts and flanks are brown, the abdomen and rump are white. The black wings have conspicuous yellow bars and a white trailing edge in flight. The tail is black, tipped with white.
The introduced European Greenfinch is a stout, yellow-green to olive-green finch with large yellow wing and tail patches. The bill is pale brown above, whitish below and the eye is brown. Females are duller and browner than males with less yellow on the wings and tail.
The Fan-tailed Cuckoo is a slender cuckoo and the adult bird is easily identified by a yellow eye ring (slightly greenish in young birds), its generally dark slate-grey back and wings, becoming pale rufous below, with a boldly barred black and white under tail.
Male Flame Robins have a bright orange breast and throat, and are white on the lower belly and undertail. The top of their head and back is dark slate grey and there is a clear white stripe on the folded wing. The bill is black and the legs dark brown.
The Forest Raven is the largest and heaviest corvid (member of the Family Corvidae, the crows and ravens) with a large bill and short tail. In common with all corvids the bird is almost completely black, including its beak and legs. It has a white eye-ring around the pupil. The bill is decurved, with a distinct hook at the tip. It is also known as the Tasmanian Raven.
|Forty-spotted Pardalote (T)|
The Forty-spotted Pardalote is a small bird with a very short bill. It is a dull olive-green above with a pale grey chest and belly. The face and under the tail are olive-yellow. The wings are black, with prominent white spots, twenty on each side, that give the bird its name.
The Galah can be easily identified by its rose-pink head, neck and underparts, with paler pink crown, and grey back, wings and undertail.
The adult male Golden Whistler is bright yellow on the underside, olive-green on the back and wings, and black on the head with a bright yellow collar. The throat is white, separated from the yellow chest by a broad black band. The bill and legs are black.
The Green Rosella is Australia's largest rosella. It is a medium-sized parrot with a broad tail. The upperparts are dark, mottled green and black, in contrast with the yellow head, neck and underbody. When flying the bright yellow body is very obvious. There are distinct blue cheek patches, a red band across the forehead, and blue shoulder patches.
The adult Grey Butcherbird has a black crown and face and a grey back, with a thin white collar. The wings are grey, with large areas of white and the underparts are white. The grey and black bill is large, with a small hook at the tip of the upper bill. The eye is dark brown and the legs and feet are dark grey.
Similar to other currawongs in that it is a mainly dark bird with some white markings and a yellow eye, the Grey Currawong is however a highly variable species, with six distinct subspecies throughout its range. All subspecies have a white-tipped tail.
The Grey Fantail is most easily recognised by its constantly fanned tail and agile aerial twists and turns. Both sexes are similar in appearance: grey above, with white eyebrow, throat and tail edges. This species is quite inquisitive and will closely approach an observer.
The Grey Shrike-thrush is a rather drab coloured bird, although the plumage varies throughout its extensive range. Birds are mostly grey in the east, with an olive-grey back, and pale grey-white cheeks and underparts.
The Grey Teal is almost all grey-brown. Each feather of the body is edged with buff, except on the rump. The chin and throat are white, the bill is dark green and the eye is red. The secondary wing feathers have glossy blue-black patch, broadly bordered and tipped with white. In flight, a large white wedge is visible on the underwing.
|Grey (White) Goshawk (T)|
The Grey Goshawk is a medium-sized raptor (bird of prey), with two colour morphs (forms). The grey morph has a grey head and upperparts, with white underparts barred grey on the chest. The rounded wings are grey above, white below, and have darker wingtips. The medium length tail is grey above and white below, barred grey. The white morph is pure white all over and is often known as the White Goshawk. Both morphs have a dark red eye and yellow legs and feet. However, this species is so variable in colour and size that it can be known as the Variable Goshawk.
Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo is an olive-brown above with pale scaling and a bronze to green sheen on the back and upper tail. It has a prominent dark-brown eyestripe, with a contrasting white eyebrow stripe above, with both curving down the sides of the neck.
House Sparrows are actually large finches.They are usually seen in small to medium-sized groups, but may occur in huge numbers. The male has a conspicuous grey crown, black face and throat, and dark black and brown upperparts. The remainder of the under parts are pale grey-brown.
The Indian (or common) myna is brown with a black head. It has a yellow bill, legs and bare eye skin. In flight it shows large white wing patches. The common myna is a member of the starling family.
Not wanted! The common myna is a highly invasive species that is not native to Tasmania. They pose an extreme risk to native Tasmanian bird species and the environment. Sightings of common mynas should immediately be reported to the Invasive Species Hotline on 1300 369 688.
The Kelp Gull is a large black-backed gull with a white tail and a large yellow bill with a red spot on the lower tip. It is the second largest gull in Australia. The wing has a wide trailing edge and a small white 'window' in the wingtip.
|Laughing Kookaburra (A)|
The Laughing Kookaburra is instantly recognisable in both plumage and voice. It is generally off-white below, faintly barred with dark brown, and brown on the back and wings. The tail is more rufous, broadly barred with black. There is a conspicuous dark brown eye-stripe through the face. It is one of the larger members of the kingfisher family.
The Little Grassbird is a small, unobtrusive dark brown-grey bird. It has a grey-brown head with a pale eyebrow, chin and throat and the crown and cheeks are streaked dark grey. The upper body is brown-grey, streaked dark grey, the dark wing feathers are edged with white and the paler grey underbody is also streaked. Young birds are more uniform grey with finer streaking.
The Little Wattlebird is a medium to large honeyeater, but is the smallest of the wattlebirds. It is mostly dark grey-brown above, with faint white shafts on each of the feathers. The underparts are grey and are heavily streaked with white. The streaks are finer around the throat, becoming more blotched on the sides of the belly.
Masked Lapwings are large, ground-dwelling birds that are closely related to the waders. The Masked Lapwing is mainly white below, with brown wings and back and a black crown. Birds have large yellow wattles covering the face, and are equipped with a thorny spur that projects from the wrist on each wing. The spur is yellow with a black tip.
|Masked Owl (T)|
The Masked Owl has three basic plumage forms: pale, intermediate and dark. The plumage pattern remains similar in each case. The facial disc is chestnut to white, edged with a darker ring and darker around the bill and below the eyes. The upper parts vary from blackish-brown to grey-white and are liberally spotted with grey and white. The underparts are rufous to white, speckled with dark brown.
The Musk Lorikeet is a medium-sized, sturdy lorikeet, sometimes seen in large flocks when trees are flowering and often in mixed flocks with other parrots and other birds. They are active and noisy. This lorikeet is mostly green, with a yellow patch at the side of the breast. It has a bright red forehead and band through the eye to the ear coverts. The crown is blue, with females having less blue than males. In flight, brown flight feathers and the golden tail are revealed.
|New Holland Honeyeater|
The New Holland Honeyeater is mostly black and white, with a large yellow wing patch and yellow sides on the tail.
The Noisy Miner is a bold and curious bird. It is identified by its mostly grey body and black crown and cheeks. The bill is yellow, as are the legs and the naked skin behind the eye. The name is well suited as the common calls are uttered repeatedly by the members of the colony.
The Olive Whistler is a medium-sized stocky bird. The males have grey heads, with a whitish throat. The upperparts are reddish-brown to grey and the underparts are a lighter reddish-brown. Females are similar, but generally less colourful. Immature birds have more rufous wings and blotches of paler feathers on the head.
|Pacific Black Duck|
The Pacific Black Duck is mostly mid-brown in colour, with each feather edged buff. The head pattern is characteristic, with a dark brown line through the eye, bordered with cream above and below and a dark brown crown. The upper wing colour is the same as the back, with a bright glossy green patch in the secondary flight feathers. The white underwing is conspicuous in flight.
The Pacific Gull is a very large black-backed gull with a massive yellow bill, broadly tipped with scarlet. The upper wings and wingtips are wholly black with a narrow white inner trailing edge, the tail is white with a broad black band near the end. The legs are yellow to orange-yellow.
The painted button-quail is a well camouflaged plump bird with orange shoulders and mostly chestnut-brown back mottled with white and black spots. The face, throat and chest are grey with white mottling. The male is smaller than female and not so colourful.
The Pallid Cuckoo is identified by its grey plumage, which is darker on the wings and back, and its broadly barred black and white undertail. The bill is brown, the legs and feet are grey-brown, and there is a bright yellow ring around the eye.
The Pink Robin is a small tubby bird, and is easily over-looked, being quieter than other robins. Males are brownish-black above, with a black throat and head. There is a small white spot above the bill, which is a buff spot on the female. Males have a diagnostic pink wash on the breast which extends right down under the belly.
The Purple Swamphen is a large rail. It is mainly dusky black above, with a broad dark blue collar, and dark blue to purple below. As the Purple Swamphen walks, it flicks its tail up and down, revealing its white undertail. The bill is red and robust, and the legs and feet orange-red.
|Rainbow Lorikeet (A)|
Rainbow lorikeets are brightly coloured with a blue head (which distinguishes them from other Tasmanian parrots) green wings, tail and back and an orange-yellow breast. Rainbow lorikeets have a swift, direct flight with rapid whirring wing beats. They screech continuously while in flight, what at food sources and at roost sites.
Not wanted! Rainbow Lorikeets are an emerging invasive species that is not native to Tasmania. They pose an extreme risk to native Tasmanian bird species and the environment. Sightings of rainbow lorikeets should be reported to the Invasive Species Hotline on 1300 369 688.
The Satin Flycatcher is a small blue-black and white bird with a small crest. The sexes are dimorphic (have two forms). Males are glossy blue-black above, with a blue-black chest and white below, while females are duskier blue-black above, with a orange-red chin, throat and breast, and white underparts and pale-edged wing and tail feathers.
The Scarlet Robin is a medium-sized robin, with a plump and compact appearance. Males have a black head, neck and upperparts with a conspicuous white patch above the bill (frontal patch). The breast is scarlet red and the lower underparts are white. The wings are barred white and the outer tail is also white.
The endemic scrubtit (Acanthornis magnus) occurs in rainforest and wet eucalypt forest. Although common, it is often difficult to see due to its secretive nature, and can be easily confused with the Tasmanian thornbill or scrubwren. It has a light cream coloured throat, breast and belly and a brown head which assists in distinguishing the species.
The Shining bronze-cuckoo has shiny metallic green-bronze back and upper wings with the cap and neck of the head copper. The underparts are white with copper-bronze bars across.
The Silver Gull has a white head, tail and underparts, with a light grey back and black-tipped wings. In adult birds the bill, legs and eye-ring are bright orange-red.
The Silvereye is a small bird with a conspicuous ring of white feathers around the eye, and belongs to a group of birds known as white-eyes.
The Skylark was introduced into Australia and Tasmania from Britain during the mid-1800s. It is a small bird with pale brown upperparts with dark streaks. The feathers on the cap are raised in a pale brown crest. The underparts are pale cream with the upper chest with dark brown streaks.
The Southern Boobook is the smallest and most common owl in Australia. It is identified by its plumage, which is dark chocolate-brown above and rufous-brown below, heavily streaked and spotted with white. The bill is grey with a darker tip, and the feet are grey or yellow. The facial disc is chocolate brown and the eyes are large and yellowish.
The Southern Emu-wren is a tiny bird with a long (10 cm) filamentous tail, made up of six feathers, which is usually held upright.
The Spotted Pardalote is a tiny bird that is most often high in a eucalypt canopy, so it is more often detected by its characteristic call. The wings, tail and head of the male are black and covered with small, distinct white spots. Males have a pale eyebrow, a yellow throat and a red rump. Females are similar but have less-distinct markings.
The preferred habitat of the Striated fieldwren is native grasslands, sedges and heaths. The Striated fieldwren is a small lark-like bird often with its tail held upwards. The upperparts are grey-brown with dark prominent black streaks with yellowish underparts with dark black streaks. There is a white strip above the eye.
The Striated Pardalote is more common than people usually think, with its call the first indication of the presence of this brightly coloured little bird. There is considerable variation in plumage characteristics across the range of this species. All birds have white eyebrows with a yellow spot in front of the eye, olive-grey backs and a white stripe in the wing.
The Strong-billed Honeyeater is the larger of the two Tasmanian Melithreptus honeyeaters. It has a large, almost straight black bill with a heavy base and sharply pointed tip, as well as a strongly built neck and shoulders.
The Stubble quail is now rarely seen in Tasmania, but is still common on King Island. Male has grey-brown back with black streaks and bars, the breast and flank are whitish with thick black streaks. Female is larger than male with fawn underparts with dark streaks and mottling.
The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is a large white parrot. It has a dark grey-black bill, a distinctive sulphur-yellow crest and a yellow wash on the underside of the wings. Sexes are similar, although the female can be separated at close range by its red-brown eye (darker brown in the male). This is a noisy and conspicuous cockatoo, both at rest and in flight.
Adult male Superb Fairy-wrens are among the most brightly coloured of the species, especially during the breeding season. They have rich blue and black plumage above and on the throat. The belly is grey-white and the bill is black.
|Swift Parrot (T)|
The Swift Parrot is a slim, medium-sized parrot with a streamlined shape in flight, angular pointed wings and a long pointed purple-red tail. The body is mostly bright green, with a dark blue patch on the crown. The forehead to throat is crimson and there is a crimson patch at the bend of the wing.
|Tasmanian Native Hen|
The Tasmanian native hen is a distant relative of the domestic hen. It is found only in Tasmania, being distributed throughout the state except for the west and southwest. It ranges from the coast to areas 1000 m above sea level.
The Tasmanian Scrubwren is a small bird with a short, slender straight bill, short legs and a short tail. Tasmanian Scrubwrens are mostly dark olive-brown above with russet on the back, rump and upper-tail. They are dull cream below with greyish streaking.
The Tasmanian thornbill is endemic to Tasmania and found mostly in rainforest or wet eucalypt forest. It is a small bird with pale olive-brown upper parts with whitish-grey streaks on the breast and throat. The flanks and under the tail are white.
Tawny-crowned honeyeaters are mostly coastal and are shy birds. They have a slender body with pale brown upper body with tawny coloured crown with white eyebrow and chin and black curve from below the bill through the eye and down to the breast. The underparts are dull white. It has a slender curved black bill.
The general plumage of the Tawny Frogmouth is silver-grey, slightly paler below, streaked and mottled with black and rufous. A second plumage phase also occurs, with birds being russet-red. The eye is yellow in both forms, and the wide, heavy bill is olive-grey to blackish. South-eastern birds are larger than birds from the north. Tawny Frogmouths are nocturnal birds (night birds). During the day, they perch on tree branches, often low down, camouflaged as part of the tree.
The Wedge-tailed Eagle has long wings (wingspan 2.3 m), a characteristic long, wedge-shaped tail, and legs that are feathered all the way to the base of the toes. The bill is pale pink to cream, the eye brown to dark brown, and the feet off-white.
The Welcome Swallow is metallic blue-black above, light grey below on the breast and belly, and rust on the forehead, throat and upper breast. It has a long forked tail, with a row of white spots on the individual feathers. The outer tail feathers (streamers) are slightly shorter in the female.
|White-bellied Sea eagle|
The white-bellied sea eagle, often just known as the sea eagle, is the second largest raptor species in Australia after the wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax). The sea eagle has a wing span of approximately 2 m and can weigh up to 4.5 kg. Adults are grey over their wings and back and white under with a white head and tail. Young birds are mottled pale brown colour, developing their adult plumage when they mature at 4-5 years. They have a distinctive call which sounds like ‘ang-ank’ and are often heard long before they are seen.
The White-faced Heron is mostly light blue-grey in colour, with a characteristic white face. In flight, the dark flight feathers of the wing contrast with the paler grey plumage, making this bird easily identifiable when viewed from below. It has a long, slim neck and a pointed grey-black bill. The legs are long and dull yellow in colour.
The Yellow-rumped Thornbill is the largest and probably the best-known thornbill, with a striking yellow rump. It is mainly grey-olive to grey-brown above to cream below, with a white-spotted black crown and a dark eye stripe. The tail is black, with white tips.
The Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo is a large cockatoo. It is easily identified by its mostly black plumage, with most body feathers edged with yellow, not visible at a distance. It has a yellow cheek patch and yellow panels on the tail. The female has a larger yellow cheek patch, pale grey eye-ring (pink in males), white upper bill (grey-black in males) and black marks in the yellow tail panels.
The Yellow-throated Honeyeater is a medium to large slim-bodied honeyeater with a relatively long tail and a distinctive bright yellow chin and throat.
The Yellow Wattlebird is Australia's largest honeyeater. It is a slim bird with a long tail, a short strong bill and distinctive yellow-orange wattles on the sides of the head. These wattles become larger and brighter during the breeding season. Adults are dark brown above, with a pale face, strongly streaked brown and white head, and white below with heavy dark streaks on the breast and sides.The belly has a prominent yellow patch.