Top 3 Special Birds


1.Golden bowerbird


Special Birds: Another member of the bird of paradise family that resides in the Wet Tropics area is the golden bowerbird. Like the attention-seeking riflebird males, the bowerbird males also go to great lengths to attract many females each breeding season. Rather than glitzy feathers, these birds use their construction and decorating skills to impress. The golden bowerbird (Prionodura newtoniana) is the only Australian member of a small group of bowerbirds, otherwise restricted to New Guinea, that build ‘maypole’ bowers. The bower is based around two tall towers that may be up to three metres high and one metre apart with a display pole perched between them. The completed structure is then adorned with flowers, lichen and berries. Males are so intent on ‘being the best around’ that they even go to the trouble of raiding other males’ bowers to steal their decorations – sounds more like human behaviour than a bird’s! The golden bowerbird only occurs in upland forests above about 900 metres.

2.Chowchilla or northern logrunner


Special Birds: The chowchilla or northern logrunner (Orthonyx spaldingii) is endemic to the Wet Tropics and a significant ancient songbird (see Chowchilla male
Photographer: Ian Montgomeryanimal evolution). The former common name comes from the bird’s early morning raucous call which sounds a little like ‘chow-chowchilla’. The chowchilla is an insect eater, scratching through the leaf litter in groups. It lays a single egg in a stick and debris nest on the forest floor after the wet season has finished. A most unusual characteristic of this medium sized upland species (usually above 450 metres) is that the quills of its tail feathers end in a short spine.

3.Buff-breasted or paradise kingfisher


Special Birds: One of the migratory species to the Australian tropical lowland forest is the buff-breasted or paradise kingfisher (Tanysiptera sylvia), distinctive for its streaming white central tail feathers. This colourful blue and buff bird arrives locally in November for breeding. Nests are tunnels excavated by the pair in active termite mounds growing on the rainforest floor. The young hatchlings develop quickly and fledge in only 24 days. The adult paradise kingfishers  return to New Guinea in March but the fledgings follow afterwards. This poses the question: how do the youngsters know where to go if there are no adult birds to guide them?

Daniel Richards

Daniel Richards

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