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 20 of 75

19 March 2016 | Birder's Guide to Travel common, including urban parks in the east, where it sometimes harasses picnickers by stealing shrimp right off the barbie! #15 • Chowchilla (Orthonyx spaldingii) Observing a family group of these odd birds scratching through the leaf litter in Atherton Tableland's ancient rain forest is like bird- ing in a land before our time. These gloomy forests have persisted for millennia, and unfamiliar sounds emanate from the shadows. Chowchillas forage in family groups which regularly utter their namesake call before slipping into the shadows of the wet forest. The birds mainly run and are so well-adapted to ground-dwelling that they hide beneath leaves if disturbed. One of the best ways to locate a group is to listen for their busy rustling. Males are white underneath, and females have an orange throat and breast. The species belongs to Orthonychidae, a small, obscure family restricted to Australia and New Guinea. #16 • Spinifex Pigeon (Geophaps plumifera) Among the two dozen species of large, ornamented pigeons and gaudy fruit-doves that call Australia home, the small Spinifex Pigeon gets my top vote. Flocks scurry quail-like across sandy fats, hurrying from one clump of tussock grass to the next. With patience, they are fairly approachable. The crest, adding three head lengths to the bird, is unmistakable. Upon closer inspec - tion, the red facial skin, a black band across the red-brown breast, and a black throat pop out as distinctive feld marks. Depending on subspecies, the belly is either white or red-brown. Spinifex Pigeons can be observed near one of the continent's most iconic landmarks, Uluru. The sight of a Spinifex Pigeon fnally emerging from its hiding place and wandering along the edge of quiet dirt track is quite incredible. #17 • Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) The largest Australian owl hunts in the tall forests of the south- east coast, where pairs maintain large territories in which they prey mainly on gliders and possums. Occasionally they will even take fying-foxes. They have impressive, piercing yellow eyes and formi- dable talons. If prey is abundant, these owls move into urban parks and green spaces, which gives birders a good opportunity to come # 13 # 14 # 16 # 15 Photo © Stephan Lorenz Photo © sunphlo Photo © Dan Armbrust Photo © Mark Sanders (EcoSmart Ecology)

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