Osprey

Pandion haliaetus

Ospreys are highly specialised fish-eaters with a reversible outer toe and spicules on the soles of their feet to hold slippery fish. They also have closable nostrils for diving, and a flexible ‘wrist’ (carpal joint) to allow powerful thrusts to pull the bird and its prey out of the water after a dive. Ospreys have a world-wide distribution, and occur along major river systems and the coast. In Australia, though, they are found mainly along the coast. Ospreys are almost exclusively fish-eaters but occasionally they take other birds, crustaceans, reptiles…

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White-bellied Sea Eagle

Haliaeteus leucogaster

The White-bellied Sea Eagle is a worthy member of the genus Haliaeteus, which includes some of the most iconic of birds, including the American Bald Eagle, the African Fish-Eagle and the giant Stellar’s Sea-eagle. White-bellied Sea Eagles are found all along the coast of Australia and on inland waters in northern, eastern and southern Australia. In South Australia, their populations are in a parlous state with the species classified as ‘Endangered’. Sea Eagles feed on a wide variety of vertebrate prey, particularly fish but including rabbits, wallabies, fruit-bats, reptiles and…

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Black Kite

Milvus migrans

The Black Kite is a widespread species found throughout the Old World. It is easily recognisable from its long, deeply-forked tail, dark body and flight habits consisting of wide circles interrupted by highly-manoeuvrable side-slipping to catch prey. They are found in large numbers in northern Australia with numbers decreasing towards the south. Black Kites are omnivorous. They predate all manner of small vertebrates, many types of invertebrates, and will take carrion. Their catholic diet has led them to become commensal with man, and they visit rubbish dumps, piggeries, abattoirs and…

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Whistling Kite

Haliastur sphenurus

Whistling Kites are named after their high-pitched whistle call consisting of a descending “seeeeo” followed by a fast ascending sequence of 4 – 7 staccato notes. Often one can tell there are Whistling Kites in the area from their whistle before a bird is seen. They are frequently  seen  circling lazily overhead, uttering their characteristic whistling, and displaying a distinctive underwing pattern with white “windows” (pictured above).   Whistling Kites predate small vertebrates, particularly rabbits, and are even recorded as taking a fledgling Welcome Swallow on the wing. They also…

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Australian Hobby

Falco longipennis

A dashing small falcon usually seen perched on tall trees but sometimes seen engaged in high-speed chases. Hobbies feed on small birds, bats and flying insects. They are very fast and can often be seen perched at the top of tall trees from which they swoop down onto their prey. Also hunt by high quartering or by low fast flight. Hunting may be done during the day, dawn or dusk and even by night where there is artificial light.   Breeding occurs from August to January with peak laying in…

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Black-shouldered Kite

Elanus notatus

Black-shouldered Kites are commonly seen hovering over open areas. The pure white tail lacks the dark band found on the other common hovering bird of prey, the Nankeen Kestrel. The Black-shouldered Kite is one of four very similar species in the genus Elanus found throughout the tropic and semi-tropics, although only the Letter-winged Kite (E. scriptus) is also found in Australia. Their prey is mainly small rodents but also take other small vertebrates (reptiles and birds) and large insects such as grasshoppers. They hunt mainly by hovering and then dropping…

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Nankeen Kestrel

Falco cenchroides

Nankeen Kestrels are the best known small raptor in Australia. Masters of the wind they are often observed hovering over open fields, or along cliff or dune edges particularly near the coast. Nankeen Kestrels live mainly on arthropods such as insects, centipedes and spiders but also take small mammals, reptiles and birds. Breeding is concentrated in the spring months of August to December. Nests may be found in a variety of sites all inaccessible to ground predators – mine shafts, tree hollows, old nests of other birds, and on cliffs…

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Peaceful Dove

Geopelia placida

One of the most delightful sounds of the Australian bush is the gentle “coo-luk” of the Peaceful Dove. Unfortunately, in most urban areas they have been displaced by Feral Pigeons, Spotted Turtle Doves and seagulls. They feed on small seeds, especially from grasses and sedges. They forage on the ground usually in pair or small flocks. Breeding can take place in all months but less so during the dry months of summer. Two white eggs are laid on a small platform of twigs. Incubation is by both sexes.

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Diamond Dove

Geopilia cuneata

This tiny dove is the smallest dove in the world. The calls are distinctive One call consists of long coos which may be repeated up to five times. The other call is of two notes, the first of which is often burry and the second clear. Diamond Doves feed almost entirely on the seeds of grasses and legumes, but eat some leaves and insects. They take very small seeds. Breeding is strongly influenced by food and rainfall and may occur throughout the year but the peak is usually in spring…

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