Australian Magpies are a national icon and all have their own character. When I lived in Australia I had a couple of pairs of Magpies that come to the house each morning and afternoon. They were very friendly and could be hand fed. These particular pairs did not attack during the nesting season. Magpies are well known for swooping during this time. Magpies defending their territory from much larger birds of prey is an impressive display – the Magpies get above the birds and then swoop down on them, often trying to take out a tail feather. I used to spend many hours watching the dog fights between the white-bellied sea eagle and Magpies.
The Australian Pelican is a magnificent bird which can be found up and down the coast. The specimen below was resident on Lake Barrine (a volcanic crater) up in the Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland.
These noisy little creatures are quite shy. The juveniles have more of a green face which turns blue as they mature. Most commonly found in a family group, they communicate with rather coarse shrieks. These birds are often found perched upside down or clinging to the side of tree trunks.
Love them or loathe them, laughing kookaburras make their presence heard loud and clear – especially at five o’clock in the morning. The kookaburras down at Louisa Creek move up and down the beach front during the course of the day. It is not uncommon to come across a kookaburra who has been stationary for a considerable period of time.
Smaller than the Magpies, the butcher-birds are also very friendly and can be hand fed. When gardening, the butcherbirds will often jump down from their perch to take insects from the soil that you are digging. Young ones often call out to you as they would do to their parents demanding to be fed.
Rainbow Lorikeets visit in large groups. They are very noisy and fly very fast. On the ground, they are clumsy and have a strange hop. In the centre of Mackay their are huge flocks of rainbow lorikeets which make a huge amount of noise in the evening as they head to their roosts. Small flocks have also established themselves in London.
The red-tailed black cockatoos roam up and down the beach front screeching as they move from tree to tree. Their distinctive red tail feathers easily distinguish them from other large black birds.
The Spangled Drongo is a black bird with a greenish shimmer. They fly beautifully and are often very vocal. I had a pair of Spangled Drongo’s who hung around the yard when I lived in Louisa Creek. They would only take food if you threw it up in the air – they then swooped down on to it from a nearby perch and caught it mid-air.