Birds found in Sedgwick, North Harcourt and surrounding districts

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Birds of prey

The Australian Owlet-nightjar is the smallest of the nocturnal birds found in Australia. Its long tail distinguishes it from owls. Its large brown eyes are non-reflective when exposed to a torch or spotlight (other nocturnal birds give a red reflection). Plumage is grey, paler below, and faintly barred with black. There are two wide black stripes that extend over the head from the top of the eyes, and meet on the back of the neck.

The Collared Sparrowhawk is a medium-sized, finely built raptor (bird of prey) with wide staring bright yellow eyes. The upperparts and side of the head are slate-grey, with a complete chestnut half-collar. The underparts are finely barred pale rufous on white and the rounded wings are rather short. The bill is black, with a pale yellow cere (fleshy bill base). The Collared Sparrowhawk has long fine yellow legs and very long toes, especially the middle toe. The tail is long and generally squared at the tip. The sexes are similar in appearance but males are smaller than females. The Collared Sparrowhawk is also called the Chickenhawk.

The Swamp Harrier is a large slim-bodied raptor, with long slender legs and a long tail, rounded at the tip. It is mainly dark brown above and the white rump is prominent. It has an owl-like face mask. The wings are long and broad, with 5 ‘fingers’ on the wing tips in flight. The legs and eyes are yellow. This species has a slow sailing flight on up-swept wings, flying low over water.

The Nankeen Kestrel is a slender falcon and is a relatively small raptor. The upper parts are mostly rufous, with some dark streaking. The wings are tipped with black. The underparts are pale buff, streaked with black, and the under tail is finely barred with black, with a broader black band towards the tip. Females tend to be more heavily marked and have more rufous on the crown and tail. Males have a greyish crown and tail, although the extent varies between individuals. Hovers over grassland

Black-shouldered Kites are medium raptors, and are mostly pale grey above, with a pure white head, body and tail and black shoulders. The wings are white underneath, with dark wing tips. The red eye is marked by a black comma that extends behind it. The nostrils are yellow and the legs and feet are also yellow. The Black-shouldered Kite has a direct flight with quick shallow wing beats interspersed with glides on upswept wings, and is often seen hovering, with feet dangling.

The Whistling Kite is a medium-sized raptor with a shaggy appearance. It has a light brown head and underparts, with pale streaks, and dark sandy-brown wings with paler undersides. The underwings have dark trailing edges and dark wingtips. The head and body are relatively narrow and the tail is long and rounded. The wings are long and well-rounded. They are often seen near water or around farms, soaring in a lazy circling flight pattern.

The Barn Owl is a pale, long-winged, long-legged owl with a short squarish tail. Flies with wavering motions and open dangling feathered legs. It has a light heart-shaped facial disc and black eyes. Upper parts are usually light brown, with fine black and white speckles. The underparts are much paler. It produces the characteristic shree scream, ear-shattering at close range.

The Powerful Owl is a large owl with a relatively small head and a rounded tail. It is dark grey to dark grey-brown above, with white barring, and off-white below, with distinctive dark chevrons. The eyes are yellow, set in a dark grey/brown facial mask. The legs are feathered and the yellow to orange feet are massive, with sharp talons. The sexes are alike but the female is smaller, with a narrower head.

The Little Eagle is a small, powerful stocky eagle, with a short broad head and moderately long tail, square-cut at the tip when closed. The legs are heavily feathered. When perched, the Little Eagle has a short crest. Plumage varies from light to dark brown, with a pale broken ‘M’ across the upperparts, which is visible from a distance. It has long broad wings, spanning over 1m, with dark ‘fingered’ tips. The underwings have dark leading and trailing edges. It soars in tight circles, very high on thermals or up-draughts, gliding on flat wings. The female is larger than the male.

The Wedge-tailed Eagle has long wings (wingspan 2.3 m), a characteristic long, wedge-shaped tail, and legs that are feathered all the way to the base of the toes. The bill is pale pink to cream, the eye brown to dark brown, and the feet off-white. Young Wedge-tailed Eagles are mid brown in colour with reddish-brown heads and wings. They become progressively blacker for at least the first ten years of their lives; adults are mostly dark blackish-brown. The only difference in plumage between the sexes is that a female adult is generally slightly paler than her mate. Females (4.2 kg – 5.3 kg) are also larger and heavier than males (3.2 kg up to 4.0 kg). Wedge-tailed Eagles are Australia’s largest raptors (birds of prey).

Brown Falcons are small to medium-sized raptors. The female is larger than the male. The Brown Falcon has a range of plumage colours, from very dark brown to light brown above and off-white below. Generally, the upperparts are dark brown and the underparts are pale buff or cream. The sides of the head are brown with a characteristic tear-stripe below the eye. Younger birds resemble dark adults, but have less obvious barring on the tail, and a buff-yellow colour on the face, throat and nape of the neck.

The general plumage of the Tawny Frogmouth is silver-grey, slightly paler below, streaked and mottled with black and rufous. The eye is yellow in both forms, and the wide, heavy bill is olive-grey to blackish. Tawny Frogmouths are nocturnal birds. During the day, they perch on tree branches, often low down, with a rigid branch-like posture.

Brown Goshawks are medium-sized raptors. They have a brown head, slate-grey to brown upperparts with a red-brown collar across the upper nape of the neck, and finely barred underparts of red-brown with white. The rounded wings are dark brown to grey above and buff to reddish brown below with darker wingtips, and the long rounded tail is grey with dark bars. The long legs are yellow, with reddish brown feathering about the thighs. The eye is bright yellow, with a beetle-brow. Males are smaller than females. Young birds have grey-brown eyes, with brown, streaky plumage.

The Grey Goshawk is a medium-sized, stocky raptor, with two colour forms. The grey form has a grey head and upperparts, with white underparts barred grey on the chest. The rounded wings are grey above, white below, and have darker wingtips. The medium length tail is grey above and white below, barred grey. The white form is pure white all over and is often known as the White Goshawk. Both forms have a dark red eye and yellow legs and feet.

The Southern Boobook is the smallest and most common owl in Australia. It is identified by its plumage, which is dark chocolate-brown above and rufous-brown below, heavily streaked and spotted with white. The bill is grey with a darker tip, and the feet are grey or yellow. The facial disc is chocolate brown and the eyes are large and yellowish. Young Southern Boobooks are almost entirely buff-white below, with conspicuous dark brown facial discs. Like other owl species, the Southern Boobook is nocturnal. Birds are often observed perched on an open branch or tree-top. It is also known as the ‘Mopoke’.

Black, Grey & White Birds

The Willie Wagtail is the largest, and most well-known, of the Australian fantails. The plumage is black above with a white belly. The Willie Wagtail can be distinguished from other similar-sized black and white birds by its black throat and white eyebrows and whisker marks. The name wagtail stems from the constant sideways wagging of the tail. Young birds resemble the adults, but have paler, slightly rusty edges to the feathers of the wings.

The Grey Shrike-thrush is a rather drab coloured bird, although the plumage varies throughout its extensive range. Birds are mostly grey, with an olive-grey back, and pale grey-white cheeks and underparts. Adult males are browner on the mantle than the female and young birds have varying amounts of rufous on the cheeks and wings. Males have a black bill and white lores (between the bill and the eye). Glorious song.

Australian Ravens are black with white eyes in adults. The feathers on the throat (hackles) are longer than in other species, and a bird tends to extend these when calling, while holding its head and body in a horizontal position. Australian Ravens are usually seen in pairs. Another aid to identification of this species is the absence of wing-flicking while calling. Young birds resemble the adults, but have dark eyes, shorter throat hackles and often the presence of a pink, fleshy gape. This species is sometimes incorrectly called a crow. Long wailing call.