Birds and Mammals

Class Aves: Birds

Family Scolopacidae: 'Sandpipers'

When seen in and around Australian coasts, most sandpipers are in their drab non-breeding colours, and at this time, many of the species look similar. But after some (close) study, there are small differences that aid in identifying species. 

(Hunter River, WA)

Actitus hypoleucos, 'Common Sandpiper'. Small, with curve of white into shoulder. Displays distinctive bobbing up and down movement. Regularly seen across Old World Tropics, including in mangroves in northern Australia during the non-breeding season. During the breeding season it flies north to Eurasia for the northern summer. Unlike many other similar looking waders, when it is feeding out of the breeding season in northern Australia, it is often seen in the vegetation in mangroves rather than in the open mudflats and beaches, and it is usually in it's own small species groups. 

(Cairns esplanade)

Numenius madagascariensis, 'Far Eastern Curlew'. Similar looking to Whimbrel, but this species has a much longer bill.

(Cairns esplanade)

Tringa brevipes , 'Grey-tailed Tattler'. Tattlers have relatively straight bills, and a stripe appears to continue from the bill and across the face to the eye. Breed in Siberia in northern summer and 'winter' in tropical Asia and Australia.

(Cairns esplanade)

Tringa nebularia, 'Commom Greenshank'. Slightly more upright, paler wader, with a bill that appears to be slightly up-turned. As names suggest, the legs are yellow-green. Breed in mostly in northern Europe in northern hemisphere in summer and 'winters' in tropical Africa, Asia and Australia.

Family Laridae: Terns and Gulls

Thalasseus bergii, '(Greater) Crested Tern'. One of the more common terns seen around the world, seen in a variety of marine habitats, including along the edge of mangroves.

Family Sulidae: 'Boobies' (and Gannets)

Red-footed Booby, New Guinea (image by Damon Ramsey)(Alim Island, Papua New Guinea)

Sula sula, 'Red-footed Booby'.

(Alim Island, Papua New Guinea)

Red-footed Boobies gather sticks to make their nests in trees.

Family Ardeidae: Herons

In France it was popular for the women to wear the feathers of white herons in their hats; the southern French term for herons Aigron and then the diminutive Aigrette, which gives us the name 'Egret' for the white herons. Just take the legs off the bird before you put it on your head in a hat, or you might get a toe in your eye.

(Hunter River, north-west Australia)

Egretta garzetta, 'Little Egret'. Black bill and legs. Often has an elegant nuptial plum off the back of head. Widespread, found around water in the warmer parts of Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.

(Prince Frederick Harbour, Australia)

Ardea sumatrana, 'Great-billed Heron'.

(Cotton Tree, Maroochydoore, Queensland, Australia)

Butorides striata, 'Striated/Mangrove Heron'. Often appears dark and plain. But if there is good light, you can seen the three coloured scheme: dark grey cap, light grey back and rufous underparts.

Family Accipitridae: Hawks, Kites, Eagles

(Prince Frederick Harbour, Australia)

Haliaeetus leucogaster, 'White-bellied Sea-Eagle'.

Family Pandionidae: Osprey

Family Alcedinidae: Kingfishers

(Talbot Bay, Australia)

Ceyx azureus, 'Azure Kingfisher'.

(Prince Frederick Harbour, Australia)

Todiramphus sanctus, 'Sacred Kingfisher'. Similar to Torresian/Collared Kingfisher, but usually mainland populations have a rusty belly and patch before eye. A widespread kingfisher in Australia, living in many habitats, including being common in mangroves.

(Kimberley, WA)

Todiramphus sordidus, 'Torresian Kingfisher'. Black cap, clean white underparts, dark blue-green back, clean white neck. Previously considered part of the widespread 'Collared Kingfisher' (Todiramphus sordidus chloris, now found in south-east Asia). Found in mangroves along northern Australia and southern New Guinea coast.

Family Meliphagidae, Honeyeaters

As the biggest family of birds in Australia, it is inevitable that some species have evolved to live in the mangrove habitat

(Cairns esplanade)

Gavicalis versicolor, 'Varied Honeyeater' Found in mangroves along the northern part of Australias east coast and up into New Guinea.

Class Mammalia


'Dugong'. Often look like a formless lump. Flesh coloured. Found in tropical shallow waters across Indo-Pacific, including along the edges of mangroves.

Back to the page on Australasian mangroves

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