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  • Photograph of Southern Cassowary

    Southern Cassowary in Australia by Mark Harper.

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    Photograph of Victoria's Riflebird

    A great image of a displaying male Victoria's Riflebird at Lake Eacham by Francesco Veronesi.

    Best Birds and other wildlife in Eastern Australia


    Endemic Bird Families
    Five of the seven bird families endemic to Australia occur in Eastern Australia (with a sixth; Emu, also possible) and they are represented by Albert's and Superb Lyrebirds; White-winged Chough and Apostlebird; Rufous Scrub-bird; Eastern Bristlebird; and Red-browed, Spotted and Striated Pardalotes. All eleven families shared only with New Guinea occur in Eastern Australia and they are represented by Southern Cassowary; bowerbirds including Regent and Satin, and Green and Spotted Catbirds; fairywrens such as Superb; Eastern Whipbird; Spotted Quail Thrush; Grey-crowned Babbler; butcherbirds, Pied Currawong and Australian Magpie; Yellow-breasted Boatbill; treecreepers; Varied Sittella; and Australian Logrunner and Chowchilla.

    Queensland Wet Tropic Endemics
    Lesser Sooty Owl, Golden (most likely during breeding season Nov-Jan) and Tooth-billed Bowerbirds, Spotted Catbird, Pied Monarch, Bridled and Macleay’s Honeyeaters, Fernwren, Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Chowchilla, Bower’s Shrike Thrush, Victoria’s Riflebird and Grey-headed Robin.

    Other Specialities
    Magpie Goose, Australian Bustard, Brolga and Sarus Cranes, Squatter Pigeon, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher (mostly Nov-Mar), Noisy Pitta, (Eastern) Crested Shrike Tit and Paradise Riflebird. Also a chance of Regent Honeyeater.

    Wandering (Gibson's), Shy (White-capped), Black-browed, Campbell and (Indian) Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Great-winged and Providence Petrels, Flesh-footed, Short-tailed and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Fairy Prion (mostly Oct-Mar), Brown Booby, Australian Pelican, Australasian Darter,Lesser and Great Frigatebirds, Red-tailed Tropicbird, Black Swan, ducks, Australian Brush Turkey, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Royal and Yellow-billed Spoonbills, Black-necked Stork, Brahminy Kite, Wedge-tailed Eagle, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Buff-banded Rail, Bush Thick-knee, Masked Lapwing, Red-capped Plover, Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterels, Red-necked Avocet, Comb-crested Jacana, wintering shorebirds (mostly Oct-Mar) including Latham's Snipe, Great Knot, Grey-tailed Tattler, Far Eastern Curlew, Red-necked Stint, and Sharp-tailed and Terek Sandpipers, Black-naped, Bridled and Sooty Terns (all three mostly Oct-May), Black and Brown Noddies, pigeons, Superb and Wompoo Fruit Doves, Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Glossy, Red-tailed and Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, lories, lorikeets including Rainbow, rosellas including Crimson, parrots including Australian King and Turquoise, Double-eyed Fig Parrot, Channel-billed Cuckoo (mostly Oct-Mar), Australian Owlet Nightjar, Marbled, Papuan and Tawny Frogmouths, White-throated Needletail (mostly Nov-Mar), Laughing Kookaburra, Azure and Forest Kingfishers, Rainbow Bee-eater, many honeyeaters including Eastern Spinebill, woodswallows, whistlers, monarchs, Magpie-lark, robins and Diamond Firetail. Also a chance of many seabirds, Great-billed Heron, Ground Parrot, Southern Emuwren, Plum-headed Finch and Beautiful Firetail.

    Over 80% of Australia's 360 mammal species are endemic and in Eastern Australia they include Koala, Platypus, Eastern Grey Kangaroo, wallabies, gliders, possums and bandicoots, while more widespread species include Short-beaked Echidna, Musky Rat Kangaroo, and Black, Grey-headed and Spectacled Flying Foxes. Also a chance of the endemic Common Wombat, Lumholtz's Tree Kangaroo and Spotted-tailed Quoll, as well as more widespread species such as Dugong, Australian Humpback and Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins (all three in Moreton Bay, Brisbane), Bryde's (mostly Aug-Dec), Humpback (mostly Jul-Sep), Dwarf Minke (mostly Aug-Dec) and Sperm Whales, and (Oceanic) Bottlenose, Common, Risso's and (Pantropical) Spotted Dolphins.

    Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
    Whale Shark, Manta Ray (both mostly Aug-Dec), and Green, Leatherback and Loggerhead Turtles (all three mostly Oct-Nov although Nov-Feb on Lady Elliot Island). Also a chance of Tiger Shark (mostly Aug-Dec).

    The many butterflies and moths include Cape York Birdwing Butterfly, one of the largest butterflies in the world, and Hercules Moth, one of the largest moths in the world.

    Other Natural Wonders of Eastern Australia

    Great Barrier Reef The largest structure ever built by living things (stony corals) which is over 3000 km long and covers over 300,000 sq km. It is not actually a single reef, but consists of thousands of smaller reefs, built up over the course of about 18 million years.

    Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in Eastern Australia

    Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in Eastern Australia

    October-November, the start of the southern spring, is the best time to look for birds and mammals, when many resident birds are breeding and therefore at their most active, although this is not true for the two lyrebirds which are most likely to be heard singing and seen displaying in the southern autumn and winter. Migrant birds from the north, including Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, also arrive in October-November which falls into the June-October period when the greatest variety of seabirds are present. Spring also overlaps with the August-December period which is the best time for scuba-diving and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef.

    Recommended Bird Books etc. for Eastern Australia

    The Australian Bird Guide by P Menkhorst. PUP, 2017.

    The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds by P, P and R Slater. Reed/New Holland, 2009 (Revised Edition).

    The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by G Pizzey and F Knight. Harper Collins, 2012 (Ninth Edition).

    Birds of Australia by K Simpson and N Day. PUP, 2010 (Eighth Edition).

    Field Guide to Australian Birds by Michael Morcombe: complete compact edition. Steve Parish Publishing, 2016.

    Field Guide to Australian Birds by Michael Morcombe. Steve Parish Publishing, 2003.

    The Complete Guide to Australian Birds (Photographic) by George Adams. Viking Australia, 2019.

    Finding Australian Birds by T Dolby and R Clarke. CSIRO, 2014.

    The Complete Guide to Finding the Birds of Australia by R Thomas et al. CSIRO, 2011 (Second Edition).

    Field Companion to the Mammals of Australia by S Van Dyck et al. New Holland, 2012.

    A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia by P Menkhorst and F Knight. OUP, 2010 (Third Edition).

    Field Guide to Australian Mammals by C Jones and S Parish. Steve Parish Publishing, 2006.

    The Complete Guide to Finding the Mammals of Australia by D Andrew. CSIRO, 2015.

    A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia by S Wilson and G Swan. New Holland, 2013 (Fourth Edition).

    The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia by M Braby. CSIRO, 2004.

    Wildlife of Australia: Princeton Pocket Guides by I Campbell and S Woods. PUP, 2013.

    Wildlife of Australia by L Egerton and J Lochman. Allen and Unwin, 2009.

    Bradt Travel Guides: Australian Wildlife by S Martin. Bradt, 2010.

    Apps etc.

    The Michael Morcombe and David Stewart eGuide to the Birds of Australia.

    Pizzey and Knight Birds of Australia.

    Where to watch birds in Australasia & Oceania by N Wheatley. Helm, 1998.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Australasia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for Eastern Australia

    Many trip reports, some for Eastern Australia, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Eastern Australia. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Eastern Australia' below.

    Local bird and wildlife guides in Australia

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation for birders in Eastern Australia

    Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to Eastern Australia

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Eastern Australia include the following.