Birder's Guide

MAR 2016

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 16 of 75

15 March 2016 | Birder's Guide to Travel common and easily observed. Watching a group of Emus sprint across desert fats is an iconic Australian birding experience. How the second-largest bird on the planet survives and thrives in some of the arid outback regions is truly remarkable. #3 • Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) Made famous by David Attenborough's Life of Birds, this is one of the most well-known and cherished of Australia's avifauna. One of the frst questions locals inevitably ask visiting birders is whether they have yet seen a lyrebird. Despite its pheasant-like appearance, lyrebirds belong to one of the most ancient songbird lineages. The spe - cies uses its powerful feet and legs to dig through litter on the forest foor in search of food, while trailing an impressive set of plumes and twisted tail feathers. The Superb Lyrebird's most remarkable talent is only revealed on its display court, where males give one of the most complex vo - cal displays of any bird on Earth. Superb Lyrebirds are masterful mimics, and the calls of an entire forest seemingly emanate from the syrinx of a single male. Singing lyrebirds are often hidden among dense vegetation, so it is best to sit back, wait, and let the songster perform. Along with the scarcer Albert's Lyrebird, the two-species family, Menuridae, is endemic to Australia. #4 • Letter-winged Kite (Elanus scriptus) An irruptive ghost of the remote out- back, this species superfcially resembles the more common Black-shouldered Kite but is more graceful in fight. In addi - tion, the extensive black bars across the underwings and exceptionally large eyes are distinctive. Letter-winged Kite popu- lations fuctuate dramatically in response to rodent populations, especially those of long-haired rats. In a given location, the species can range from fairly common to completely absent. It breeds colonially fol - lowing good rains, but this is not the spe- cies's most unusual feature. It is the world's only fully-nocturnal member of the hawk family, and by day, birds usually roost among dense foliage. It could show up almost anywhere in the center of the con- tinent, but far-fung desert routes, like the Birdsville or Strzelecki tracks, have been especially good areas in the past. Keep an eye on the sky: the species is occasionally seen in fight during the day! #5 • Gang-gang Cockatoo (Callocephalon fmbriatum) With 14 species, Australia supports two- thirds of the world's cockatoo diversity, and each species is more spectacular than the next. For me, the Gang-gang Cockatoo takes the top spot among the group and trumps its larger, louder cousins. Its slate- gray plumage is fnely edged with silvery white, imparting an overall scalloped ap- pearance. Males sport a scarlet hood ac- centuated by a wispy crest. Gang-gangs are # 3 # 4 Photo © Mikael Bauer Photo © Kim Waring Photo © Mark Sanders (EcoSmart Ecology)

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