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Nankeen Night Heron

Nycticorax caledinicus

Night Herons are gregarious birds. During the day they congregate in large groups in the canopies of trees from which they fly out at dusk giving sporadic croaks, to forage until dawn. Nankeen Night Herons have a catholic diet. They eat fish, a variety of small vertebrates (amphibians, chicks and eggs of other birds, small mammals such as mice, crustaceans, arthropods of various kinds particularly aquatic insects, and human rubbish. They tend to forage alone using passive techniques such as standing and walking slowly but are sometimes more active, capturing…

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Glossy Ibis

Plegadis falcinellus

The Glossy Ibis differs from other South Australian Ibises in being dark brown and not white. It is also much smaller and rarer. They occur in small flocks and can often be overlooked. The Glossy Ibis feeds on adult and larval insects (aquatic insects. dragonflies. grasshoppers, crickets etc), worms, leeches and small vertebrates. Also feed on seeds of grain crops such as rice. Forages in small flocks by walking slowly and probing with the long bill. Breeding occurs from October to February. Nests colonially often with other waterbirds such as…

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Little Pied Cormorant

Microcarbo melanoleucos

Little pied Cormorants are very common. They may be found on almost any body of water in Australia and large flocks may be found where food is plentiful. The short, hooked bill of Little Pied Cormorants is ideal for feeding on crustaceans. They also take fish, amphibians, and aquatic insects. The claws of yabbies are shaken off before eating. Exotic fish species such as carp Carassius auratus) and perch (Perca fluviatilis) form a large part of their diet. Prey is captured by pursuit-diving. They tend to forage alone even when…

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Black-backed Bittern

Ixobrychus dubius

Black-backed Bitterns are small, well camouflaged bitterns, adept at hiding in reedbeds. Many birders have never seen one. Their presence may be detected by a low, monotonous croak, and then watching for the birds making low flights over the reedbeds, or perching low on reed lined pools. Black-backed Bitterns feed on crustaceans, aquatic insects, tadpoles, and small fish. They forage by standing and waiting at the water’s edge, or perched on emergent vegetation, then stabbing. Black-backed Bitterns breed from mid-October to late January. Typically, they breed as solitary pairs. The…

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Royal Spoonbill

Platalea regia

Spoonbills are among the most distinctive of birds, easily recognised as they stride through shallow water swinging their spoon-shaped bills from side to side. In the breeding season the long, untidy plumes make them even more conspicuous. Royal spoonbills feed mainly on fish but also feed on crustaceans, aquatic insects, molluscs and some plant material taken up during foraging. They forage by day and night, in shallow water, often alone or in dispersed groups. The mode of foraging is distinctive; wading while sweeping the bill from side to side in…

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Yellow-billed Spoonbill

Platalea flavipes

The differences between the two species of spoonbill found in South Australia are interesting. While being of similar size and behaviour, and each possessing the spoon-shaped bill unique to their genus, subtle differences in foraging style enable the two species to partition target prey species between them. Compared to Royal Spoonbills, Yellow-bills take less fish and plant material, and more arthropods of various kinds. Also, Royals prefer marine, or near marine environments which Yellow-bills avoid, preferring small inland water bodies. The style of foraging is similar between Royal and Yellow-billed…

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Australian White Ibis

Threskiornis molucca

Older texts refer to the Australian White Ibis as the “Sacred Ibis”. That is because, the Australian Ibis and the Sacred Ibis of Africa were at one time thought to constitute a single species. Now, however, the Australian Ibis is regarded as a separate species in its own right. Their numbers have increased rapidly over recent years, particularly in towns, where they have learnt to scavenge human waste. In fact they have become a nuisance in certain areas.   The Australian White Ibis eats a wide variety of prey items…

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Straw-necked Ibis

Threskiornis spinicollis

Straw-necked Ibis are the most common ibis in Australia, a fact not always appreciated because the Australian White Ibis has become so common in built-up areas.   Straw-necked ibis feed on large insects (beetles, crickets, grasshoppers), spiders, freshwater crayfish, small vertebrates and human refuse. Generally, they forage in groups which may reach hundreds of individuals. Breeding in South Australia is in the wetter months from August to December. The nest is a shallow cup of sticks, reeds and rushes lined with soft vegetation. The clutch is from 2 to 5…

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Black Falcon

Falco subniger

Black Falcons are very dark, nomadic raptors and often associated with the sparsely treed plains of inland Australia, although they also frequent farmland in South Australia. They are usually seen alone, or in pairs. Black Falcons prey on mammals (rats and rabbits), birds (particularly ground birds such as quail, pipits and larks), large insects, and carrion. They will also take reptiles. They use a variety of hunting techniques: low, fast flight along watercourses or drainage lines, slow quartering, high soaring, or still hunting from a perch. Prey may be seized…

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