AUSTRALASIAN Tropical & Subtropical Savanna

The beautiful non-passerine birds of the tropical and subtropical savanna woodlands grasslands and dry forests of northern Australia and southern New Guinea...

Family Megapodiidae

Family Columbidae: Pigeons & Doves 

Native species of pigeons are found over much of the planet, with a peak of species around Australasia and the oceanic islands. They are common and diverse in the tropical woodlands of northern Australia.  

(Pajinka, Cape York)

Geopelia humeralis, 'Bar-shouldered Dove'. Call is a familiar rolling "cool-i-coo" similar to the smaller Peaceful Dove. Common in open woodlands, edge of mangroves and towns across northern Australia, and along warmer parts of east coast.

Eastern White-bellied Spinifex Pigeon (Bladensberg, Queensland)
(Brown-bellied Spinifex Pigeon, Millstream, Western Australia)

Geophaps plumifera, 'Spinifex Pigeon'. A squat pigeon coloured rich brown to blend in with its rocky and sandy habitat. Found in the more open and arid habitats across the top half of Australia. There are several subspecies; Geophaps plumifera ferruginea, 'Brown-bellied Spinifex Pigeon' found in the north-west, Geophaps plumifera leucogaster, 'Eastern White-bellied Spinifex Pigeon' found in the  central and east.

White-quilled Rock Pigeon (image by Damon Ramsey)(Talbot Bay, Australia)

Petrophassa albipennis, 'White-Quilled Rock-Pigeon'. Endemic to the north west of Australia. There is a similar species called the 'Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pigeon' which is endemic to Arnhem land in the top end of Australia.

Order Otidiformes

Family Otididae: Bustards

(Winton, Queensland)

The bustard family includes some of the heaviest of all flying birds. The males often have a bizarre display where they fluff out their feathers and/or inflate their throat. The males are much bigger than females, and they are one of the most extreme examples of sexual dimorphism in birds. They are found in open areas across the Old World, but are most obvious in Africa, with one species in Australia.

(Winton, Queensland)

Ardeotis australis, 'Australian Bustard'. Large bird, about a metre in height, although often unnoticed by cars as they race by on northern highways. These days, usually found in tropical grasslands and open woodlands, although previously widespread across continent. It was referred to as a 'bush turkey' by Aboriginal people;not to be confused with 'Brush Turkey'.

Order Caprimulgiformes

Family Caprimulgidae

(Pamela Reserve, Mt. Isa)

Eurostopodus argus, 'Spotted Nightjar'. Striking patterns. Distinguished from other nightjars by white patches in wing, only seen in flight. Like most nightjars, they are active at dawn, dusk and night, and during the day they sit in camouflage on the ground. (This one pictured was flushed out of the bush and landed here). Found in various open habitats across much of Australia and some Indonesia islands to the north, except in wet or cold areas. They hawk for insects and can sometimes be seen sitting on roads at night.

Order Accipitriformes

Family Accipitridae: Eagles, Hawks & Kites

Eagles and their relatives specialise on catching and feeding on other animals.

(Mt. Isa, Queensland)

Aquila audax, 'Wedge-tailed Eagle'. Australias largest bird of prey. Distinguished by size and diamond-shaped tail. 

Whistling Kite (image by Damon Ramsey)(Clem Walton Lake, Queensland)

Haliastur sphenurus, 'Whistling Kite'.

Order Coraciiformes

Family Meropidae: 'Bee-eaters'

(George Brown Botanical Gardens, Darwin)

Merops ornatus, 'Rainbow Bee-eater'.

Family Alcedinidae: Kingfishers

(Telstra Hill, Mt.Isa)

Todiramphus pyrrhopygius, 'Red-backed Kingfisher'. Found in drier habitats across most of Australia. When seen from behind, the red rump is obvious.

Order Psittaciformes: Parrots, including Cockatoos & Lorikeets

(Clem Walton, Queensland)

Aprosmictus erythropterus, 'Red-winged Parrot'. A bright lime green with bright crimson red on the wings, darker on back and a blue rump exposed during flight. Bright red bill. They have a pleasant metallic 'ching-ching' call. Common in the tropical woodlands of northern Australia and southern New Guinea, where it is usually seen in the canopies of Eucalyptus trees.

(Bladensburg National Park, Queensland)

Barnardius zonarius, 'Ringneck Parrot'. The Australian Ringneck parrot is very widespread and pops up in many habitats across the continent, and thus it is split into various subspecies. Three of these can be found in tropical woodlands; the Port Lincoln Ringneck extends to the north-west of the country, and the above Barnardius zonarius barnardi ''Mallee Ringneck' and Barnardius zonarius macgillivrayi 'Cloncurry Ringneck' in the drier parts of the east.

Family Cacatuidae: Cockatoos

This family includes about 21 species. They are mostly found in Australia and New Guinea, and are commonly seen in the tropical woodlands across northern Australia.

(Lake Clem Walton, Queensland)

Cacatua galerita, 'Sulphur-crested Cockatoo'. The most familiar of the cockatoos. Noisey screeching call. Erect yellow crest atop head. Found in tropical woodlands and other habitats across much of Australia.

Birds continue on the page Songbirds of the Australian tropical savanna
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