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 17 of 75

16 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2016 20 Best Birds in Australia mainly restricted to open eucalyptus woodlands and moist forests in the southeast. They also move into suburbs during the winter. The family groups or small focks they usually travel in can be surprisingly inconspicuous (for a cockatoo) until you hear their distinctive "creaky door" call. Birders moving quietly and looking up in the right habitat may spot a party feeding unconcernedly above. #6 • Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) Megapodes are just fantastic, and this Australian endemic is the only member of its family to thrive in temperate regions. An intricate pattern of muted colors renders the Malleefowl a master of camoufage. It easily blends in with the mallee—its threatened, namesake habitat of low-growing eucalypts and shrubs. When you fnally see a bird move, it reveals subtle black and white markings on the neck, a rufous throat, and white bars across a blotchy back. During the breeding sea- son, males tend a nest mound that can exceed 3 feet in height and 12 feet in diameter. Eggs are buried in the sandy center along with rotting vegetation that provides heat for incuba- tion. Watching one of these large birds silently walk through pristine mallee is an unforgettable sight. #7 • Golden Bowerbird (Prionodura newtoniana) I could have chosen any of Australia's bowerbirds to in- clude on this list. Half of the world's bowerbirds occur in Australia, each with a distinctive bower and display. Restricted to the Atherton Tablelands in northeastern Australia, the Golden Bowerbird has one of the smallest ranges of any Australian bowerbird. Males are entirely yellow with a darker, olive mask and wings and a golden crown. Their bower consists of two maypoles three feet apart and a horizontal branch serving as a connection. The bower is also decorated with whitish lichens. Males will tirelessly fx and rearrange their bowers between bouts of uttering their mechanical song. #8 • Rainbow Pitta (Pitta iris) This is Australia's endemic member of a family that is most diverse in Southeast Asia, and what a bird it is! Jet black un- derparts transition into a blood red vent, and an iridescent turquoise shoulder patch pops out from a leaf green back. A rusty crown stripe accentuates the black head. Rainbow Pittas are restricted to monsoon forest and wetter habitats of the Northern Territory. Relatively easy to see for a pitta, individuals hop confdently across leaf litter in search of prey, including small lizards and large insects. This was the frst species of pitta I have seen, so it will always hold a special place for me. #9 • Splendid Fairywren (Malurus splendens) Fairywrens are some of Australia's most beloved birds. Family groups of up to half a dozen individuals move boldly # 5 # 6 # 7 Photo © David Cook Photo © Dave Curtis Photo © Mark Sanders (EcoSmart Ecology)

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