Rich Bird Life of Tasmania

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Tasmania, the island state of Australia, offers an array of picturesque landscapes — from mountain ranges to temperate rainforests and crystal-clear waters. The rich bird life of Tasmania includes some that are found nowhere else on Earth.

Bird Watching, birding, or twitching, in Tasmania is a rewarding endeavor, with the island offering habitat to a fascinating range of avian species that attract enthusiasts from all over the world. Bird watching is one of the best activities to do in Tasmania as the area has over 250 species of birds, 12 of which are only found on the Apple Isle.

Endemic Bird Species of Tasmania

The 12 endemic species are: Tasmanian native-hen, green rosella, dusky robin, Tasmanian thornbill, scrubtit, Tasmanian scrubwren, yellow wattlebird, yellow-throated honeyeater, black-headed honeyeater, strong-billed honeyeater, black currawong, and forty-spotted pardalote.

tasmania_bird_selection
A selection of birds only found in Tasmania
  1. Tasmanian Native-hen (Tribonyx mortierii) – A flightless bird that is known for its distinctive appearance and rapid ground movement.
  2. Green Rosella (Platycercus caledonicus) – The largest of the Australian rosellas, this bird sports a combination of green and yellow plumage with blue cheeks.
  3. Forty-spotted Pardalote (Pardalotus quadragintus) – An endangered species, it is named for the distinct spots on its plumage, although the number of spots can vary greatly.
  4. Yellow Wattlebird (Anthochaera paradoxa) – As Australia’s largest honeyeater, this bird is easily recognized by its yellow belly and the fleshy yellow wattles hanging from the sides of the back of its head.
  5. Yellow-throated Honeyeater (Nesoptilotis flavicollis) – Named for its yellow throat and chest, this honeyeater primarily feeds on nectar and insects.
  6. Strong-billed Honeyeater (Melithreptus validirostris) – This bird, with a strong bill as its name suggests, is known to feed by tearing off the bark of trees to find insects.
  7. Black-headed Honeyeater (Melithreptus affinis) – Sporting a distinctive black head and white throat, this honeyeater is often found in wet eucalypt forests and woodlands.
  8. Dusky Robin (Heteromyias armiti) – This robin species is typically found in dry eucalypt forests and is known for its subdued brown plumage.
  9. Tasmanian Thornbill (Acanthiza ewingii) – A small bird that primarily dwells in the subalpine scrubs and forests, it has a distinctive white iris.
  10. Scrubtit (Acanthornis magna) – A small, inconspicuous bird that is typically found in wet forests, and is known for its skulking behavior.
  11. Tasmanian Scrubwren (Sericornis humilis) – Usually found in the wetter forests, this bird is known for its dull plumage which aids in camouflage.
  12. Black Currawong (Strepera fuliginosa) – Larger than other currawongs, this bird is recognizable by its deep black plumage and white-tipped tail and wings.

These birds make Tasmania a unique destination for birdwatching, allowing enthusiasts to witness species that are truly one-of-a-kind. It is essential for both locals and tourists to engage in responsible birdwatching to help in the conservation of these species, many of which are endangered or vulnerable.

Other Bird Species

Aside from the endemic species, Tasmania is home to many other birds, some of which are migratory and others that are residents year-round. Here are 12 other birds that can be found in Tasmania:

wedge_tailed_eagle
The magnificent Wedge-Tailed Eagle
  1. Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax) – A large bird of prey, easily recognized by its impressive wingspan and wedge-shaped tail.
  2. White-bellied Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) – A large raptor found along the coastal areas, recognized for its white and gray plumage.
  3. Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor) – A migratory bird with bright green plumage, which breeds in Tasmania and migrates to mainland Australia during the non-breeding season.
  4. Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) – A critically endangered parrot species that migrates between Tasmania and the mainland.
  5. Hooded Plover (Thinornis cucullatus) – A shorebird that is usually found along the coast, characterized by a black “hood” on its head.
  6. Pink Robin (Heteromyias rodinogaster) – A small robin with distinctive pinkish-red plumage on the lower parts, found in the wet forests of Tasmania.
  7. Forest Raven (Corvus tasmanicus) – A common raven species in Tasmania, it is a large black bird often seen in various habitats including urban areas.
  8. Flame Robin (Petroica phoenicea) – A small robin with a vivid orange-red breast and throat, generally found in the forests and woodlands.
  9. Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris) – A honeyeater with striking black, white, and chestnut plumage, and a distinctive down-curved bill.
  10. Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus) – A large cockatoo with a yellow patch on its tail, known for its eerie, drawn-out call.
  11. Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata) – A dabbling duck found in grasslands, open woodlands, wetlands, and often seen grazing on grass.
  12. Brown Falcon (Falco berigora) – A bird of prey with varied plumage, generally brown, and it is found in a wide range of habitats.

Remember that the availability of these species can vary seasonally and based on the specific habitats you visit. It’s always a good practice to refer to the latest regional bird field guides or apps to help identify and learn more about the birds you encounter

Prime Locations for Birdwatching

Bruny Island
The-Neck-Bruny-Island
The Neck Bruny Island. Credit Tourism Australia

Bruny Island is a prime location for birdwatching. The island’s diverse ecosystems, from rainforests to coastal reserves, provide a habitat for a variety of bird species. “Birders can expect to witness endemics like the Yellow Wattlebird, the largest of the Australian honeyeaters, and the Tasmanian Thornbill. Bruny Island, classified an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International, doesn’t just have penguins – 150 species are found here including all 12 of those endemic feathered friends. So twitchers flock here too, especially during the biennial Bruny Island Bird Festival.” (https://www.spiritoftasmania.com.au/blog/a-birdwatchers-guide-to-tassie)

Maria Island

A natural wildlife sanctuary, Maria Island promises an extraordinary birdwatching experience. The island has recorded about 125 bird species including the Swift Parrot, an endangered species that migrates between mainland Australia and Tasmania.

Mount Field National Park
mount_field_national_park
Mount Field National Park

As Tasmania’s first national park, Mount Field offers bird enthusiasts a diverse habitat range, from eucalyptus temperate rainforests to alpine moorlands. This park houses several endemics such as the Tasmanian Scrubwren and the Black Currawong.

Seasonal Variations in Birdwatching

The birding experience in Tasmania varies significantly with seasons. The summer months from December to February are particularly enticing as many birds are in their breeding season. During the winter, migratory species from the northern hemisphere make Tasmania their temporary home.

Preparation and Etiquette

While venturing into the wild, birdwatchers should be equipped with essential birding gear including binoculars, a field guide, and a notebook for recording observations. Following ethical birdwatching practices such as maintaining a safe distance from the birds and not disrupting their natural habitat is vital.

Conservation Efforts

Conservation organizations and the Tasmanian government are continually working to preserve the pristine habitats that house these extraordinary bird species. These efforts include habitat restoration, research, and implementing laws that protect endangered species and their environments.

Conclusion

Tasmania offers a rich and unique birdwatching experience, with a plethora of endemic and migratory species gracing its skies and forests. From the rugged landscapes of Bruny Island to the serene environments of Mount Field National Park, bird enthusiasts are guaranteed an adventure filled with awe-inspiring moments in the company of Tasmania’s avian residents. Whether you are a seasoned birder or a novice, the birdwatching paradise of Tasmania awaits you, promising a rich bounty of experiences and discoveries.

Read more about the Ancient Forests and Unique Wildlife of Tasmania

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