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A Walker's Guide to Bird Observation

Home > Melbourne > Free | Outdoor | Walks
by Neil Follett (subscribe)
I'm a retired photographer living in Lilydale mainly researching and writing on Australian aviation history. Now writing more on general subjects.
Published September 1st 2021
It's an Avian Experience Par Excellence
As you wander along your own street or others in your neighbourhood, you will see many birds. Almost every street has trees on the nature strip and in front gardens, making them a haven for those birds, as does nature strips and lawns.

Plover flexing their wings.

Magpies. These would be the most common and easiest ones to recognise, with their unmistakable black and white plumage. They are ground feeders, looking for grubs and insects. They often vocalise with a melodic warble.

Up, up and away.

More magpies.

magpie on nest.
Sometimes you see something special. Magpie and chicks.

Crows. Crows are a black bird, quite large as suburban birds go. Often seen ground feeding and will depart the scene when approached, spreading their magnificent huge wings.

Crows can be animated.

Nice to watch.

Currawongs are often mistaken for crows as they are about the same size and are all black, except for white tail feathers. Another distinguishing feature is a yellow circle around the iris of their eyes. With these larger birds, it is a unique opportunity to see these birds with wings extended.

Currawongs are also nice to watch.

Noisy miners. These medium-sized, pesky birds are very common, always seeming to be on the move and often living up to their noisy name, particularly when in numbers. They have a grey body, darker wings and a slight touch of yellow on some of their wing feathers. They are of the honeyeater family and when feeding in trees, their antics are a joy to behold, often hanging upside down to get at their food.

noisy miners
These are even nicer to watch.

noisy miners in flight.

They can be aggressive to other birds and I have noticed them harassing magpies and cockatoos, definitely punching above their weight.

Noisy miners harassing cockatoos.
Noisy miners harassing cockatoos.
cockatoo & noisy miner.
A stare off.

Indian Myna. The Indian myna is a native of Asia and is an introduced species and considered a pest. They have a brown body, a black hooded head with a yellow patch behind the eyes.

Indian myna
Indian myna.

Wattlebirds. These are honeyeaters. They have a liking for banksia and bottlebrushes. Their name comes from a wattle or piece of skin hanging from their neck. Only the red and yellow species have this wattle. The smaller little wattlebird has no wattle.

Small wattlebird and red Wattlebird.

Crested pigeons. These somewhat distinctive-looking birds are usually seen perched on overhead wires and seem to like staying in one spot for extended periods, making for easier observing and photographing, if that is your intention.

crested pigeons
Nice head dress.

Spotted doves. An introduced species and easily identified by a spotted area on the neck.

spotted doves
Always on high.

Sulphur crested cockatoos. Named after their yellow crest. Often seen in flocks. Usually very noisy, but individual birds are often sitting quietly in trees.

cockatoo in flight.
Cockatoos often seen overhead.

cockatoo portrait.
Nice pose.

Yellow-tailed cockatoo. Not seen as often as the sulphur crested ones, but is a pleasant surprise to see them feeding in trees.

Yellow-tailed cockatoo.
Makes any walk worthwhile.

Corellas. Another bird that is very noisy in flocks and likes to ground feed searching for grass seeds and digging for bulbs.

Corellas in trees and flying away.

Galahs. These grey and pinks birds are a delight to watch, as they often feed in numbers in grass, digging up small bulbs.

many galahs
Groups often seen in large open grassed areas.

Having a cuddle.

Mudlarks. Sometimes confused as a small magpie because of its colouring. Its name comes from building their nests from mud.

Mudlarks can usually be closely approached.

Less common observations are rainbow lorikeets and crimson rosellas and my all-time favourite sighting of two juvenile tawny frogmouths.

Rainbow lorikeet and crimson rosella.
Rainbow lorikeet and crimson rosella.

tawny frogmouths
A wonderful sight.

My observations come from street walks in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

tree full of corellas.
When a group of ground feeding corellas are disturbed they often retire to nearby trees and watch you.

If you have children on your walk, play 'spot the bird' with them. It will make their walk more interesting and educational.
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Why? It's an avian observation bonanza.
When: Daylight.
Where: Anywhere.
Cost: Free
Your Comment
I truly could not think of a better reason to go for a walk than birdwatching.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|9635) 342 days ago
Wonderful photos, keep up the weekend notes.
by (score: |) 340 days ago
We’ve have tawnys nesting in our backyard right now!
by 23and (score: 1|89) 340 days ago
I love the flocks of Corellas. They love getting into the liquid ambar seed pods along the street.
by Lou (score: 1|58) 99 days ago
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