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 21 of 75

20 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2016 20 Best Birds in Australia face-to-face with them. Powerful Owls pre- fer to roost in shaded gullies, and if spot- ted they usually just glare at the observer without fying off. Depending on taxono- my, the second endemic owl in Australia is the Lesser Sooty Owl. Think of a small Barn Owl dipped in ashes. Some authori- ties lump the Lesser with the Greater Sooty Owl, which would leave the Powerful Owl as Australia's only endemic owl. #18 • Inland Dotterel (Peltohyas australis) This well-marked shorebird prefers the arid, inland plains, where its chestnut un- derparts and streaked back provide per- fect camoufage. It also has a black collar that extends in a line onto the breast and a vertical black bar through the eye. Inland Dotterels are diffcult to spot during the day, even in the open habitats they pre - fer. They are instead much easier to see at night, when birds become more active—of- ten standing in the middle of gravel roads! Birders driving slowly along out- back roads at night, a practice rec- ommended anyway due to jumpy kangaroos, may fnd a few pairs. #19 • Rufous Bristlebird (Dasyornis broadbenti) This species is the easiest to see of a secretive trio that comprises another bird family restricted to Australia, the Dasyornithidae. It lives in dense coastal heath, where its loud call is easily heard. Being a relatively weak fyer, it scurries through thickets of dense vegetation. With luck and persistence, you may eventually see one pop into view and display its rufous crown, scalloped underparts, and long tail. For family listers, this is an important bird to target since the other two members of the family, Eastern and Western bristle- birds, are much more diffcult to see. Searching for the species within its limited range likely means experiencing the dra- matic coastline and seascape of the Great Ocean Road. The road follows the sinu- ous southern coastline, marked by steep, wave-battered cliffs and distinct rock for- mations such as sea stacks and natural arches, making a search for this bird a highlight of Australian birding. #20 • Australian Owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles cristatus) This small, nocturnal species looks like a cross between…well, I'm sure you can guess. The owlet-nightjar family is restrict- ed to New Guinea, the Molluccas, and Australia. This is the one non-endemic spe- cies on the list, but coming across a bird in the middle of night on an untraveled road in the Kimberly is one of my most cher- ished Australian birding moments, so it gets a pass. Just look at those eyes! The 80 Best Birds of Australia would still be challenging to pick because the continent's avifauna is so rich. I encourage readers to learn more about Australian birds and of course create their own top 20 list. # 17 # 18 # 19 # 20 Photo © David Lochlin Photo © Ron Knight Photo © Nick Leseberg Photo © Stephan Lorenz

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