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Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Cacatua galerita

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are striking white birds with a spectacular yellow erectile crest. This has led them to becoming well known, and often found in captivity. However, Australia’s answer to the nightingale has a loud, harsh grating call that is equally well-known. The call is sounded by “sentries” who post themselves around feeding flocks. The damage they cause to crops has led them to be regarded as a nuisance by farmers. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos consume a wide range of seeds, fruits and buds gathered from the ground and from trees, and, to…

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Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo

Calyptorhynchus funerea

Sightings of small groups of these magnificent birds became increasingly common in suburban and rural areas after they learnt to exploit the cones of exotic pines as a food source. Their distinctive flight silhouette with a large rounded head, deep leisurely wing beats, and echoing “whee-la” calls make them easy to recognise. Although regarded as “Vulnerable”, large flocks of up to 200 birds or more may nevertheless be regularly seen in winter in the Mount Lofty Ranges.   Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos feed on seeds and insect larvae. They have learnt…

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Long-billed Corella

Cacatua tenuirostris

Long-billed Corellas are mainly to be found in the south-east of South Australia and western Victoria. At first their populations suffered severely after European settlement from human persecution, the changes in the environment following the establishment of agriculture, and from the loss of habitat caused by the invasion by rabbits. However, more recent changes in agricultural practices which favoured the spread of onion grass, and control of rabbit numbers by myxomatosis have allowed their numbers to build up again. The major long-term threat is a lack of tree hollows for…

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Little Corella

Cacatua sanguinea

Little Corellas are often found in country towns where they form large noisy flocks which are often regarded as a nuisance. They can cause considerable damage to trees and shrubs by stripping the leaves and to human installations by chewing off the outer insulation of electrical cables etc. Because of their habits and numbers they are often persecuted and culled. However, for those who care to watch them, they can provide considerable entertainment with their exuberant playful behaviour such as dangling from overhead wires by the bill or one foot,…

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Australasian Grebe

Tachybaptus novaehollandiae

The two small grebes found in South Australia are an interesting example of two similar species using different habitat types to reduce competition. The Australasian Grebe prefers small freshwater bodies, feeds mainly on fish, keeps close to the shore and seldom forms large flocks. The Hoary-headed Grebe tolerates both fresh and brackish waters, likes large bodies of water and spends much time in the middle where it feeds mainly on invertebrates. It often gathers in large flocks. The Australasian Grebe feeds mainly on fish which it pursues underwater after diving,…

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Hoary-headed Grebe

Poliocephalus poliocephalus

Hoary-headed grebes feed mainly on arthropods (insects, crustaceans and arachnids) rather than fish. They take a wide variety of prey and so can utilise those that appear in temporary waters. Foraging is mainly by deep diving and feeding on the bottom. They are the most gregarious of grebes forming groups and large flocks. In non-breeding plumage the two small grebes in our area (Hoary-headed and Australasian) can be hard to tell apart and good views are needed to be certain. The Australasian has a golden iris, the dark cap does…

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Antigone rubicunda

Brolga congregate in huge flocks in the tropical north, but they penetrate as far as the south-east of South Australia in small numbers. Much of their earlier habitat has been drained and converted to cultivated pastures and cropland. Brolga have a widely varied diet. Major food items are the tuberous roots of sedges, but they also take insects, crustaceans, small vertebrates, and in cultivated areas, cereal grains and nut crops. They feed by digging with their large bill in drier areas, and foraging in shallow waters and wetlands. Breeding is…

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Great Crested Grebe

Podiceps cristatus

Great Crested Grebes are readily identified from their spectacular crest and facial ruff. They are well known for their elaborate breeding displays. The most common display is a simple ‘head-shaking’ but there is also a ‘discovery ceremony’. Here one bird makes a two-note call, while the other spreads its wings and facial ruff. The first bird then approaches the other in a shallow underwater ‘ripple dive’ at the end of which it rises up in a ‘ghostly penguin’ display. Both birds shake their heads and turn away. This is followed…

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Brown Quail

Coturnix ypsilophora

Quail are difficult to spot until they flush, often from almost under the birder’s feet, however, they can  be detected by their distinctive calls, a loud, rising, double-note whistle in the case of the Brown Quail. Brown Quail feed mainly on the seeds of grasses and herbs, and some leaves. They will also take insects and, worms. They forage on the ground in pairs or small groups. Breeding takes place from August to January. Brown Quail are monogamous. The nest is a simple scrape in the ground in which a…

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