Pelicans in Australia

Pelicans in Australia

Australia is a huge continent but there is one species of Pelican which ranges the entire continent. Pelicans visit the salt lakes of central Australia when they have water and will be seen in large numbers when inland river systems are flooding. Even when there is little water a few pelican remain.

Pelican at an inland creek system near the town of Chinchilla
Pelican at an inland creek system near the town of Chinchilla
Pelican at coastal fresh water
Pelican at coastal fresh water

Notice the birds’ large pink bill and throat pouch. The pelican are excellent at fishing. Pelican’s legs and feet are grey.

Pelican fishing in the ocean
Pelican fishing in the ocean

Pelicans breed in colonies which are wide spread some are permanent and some arise by opportunity.

Pelican in flight
Pelican in flight

Several years ago we travelled to Lake Eyre in central Australia to see the water filling the salt lake and the pelican colony and other birds pouring in. Such an event is a once in a lifetime occurrence. If anyone knows how the birds know the weather conditions thousands of kilometres away and how to get to a place they have never been please let me know.

I hope you enjoyed the photos

Amanda

Clumping in the bird world

These birds are White-breasted Woodswallows clumping in the winter sun on a branch on the banks of Bungeworgorai Creek Queensland, Australia.

IMG_5966 (2)

Clumping is the animal behaviourists’ term for cuddling behaviour in birds. These guys are really packed in together. The white chests show on the birds to the left and the white rumps on the rest. Bird watchers say these white features gleam in the sun.

See how bright their blue beaks are. Their beaks are tipped with black. Darker feathers around their eyes make them stand out. These birds are widespread in eastern Australia.

By Amanda Jackson

The Beautiful Australian White Ibis

The beautiful Australian White Ibis is also known as the “Sacred Ibis” and the “Dump Chook.”

The sacred ibis
With the majesty and peacefulness of the Australian White Ibis flying against that perfect sky it is no wonder it is known as the Sacred Ibis.

Sacred Ibis
Sacred Ibis
Australian White Ibis
Australian White Ibis

How the Australian White Ibis got the name dump chook?

The influence of man has meant in some locations these birds rely on refuse dumps as a food source – and they have been given the derogatory name “Dump Chook.”

Dump Chook
Dump Chook

Distinctive characteristics of the Australian White Ibis
The call of this beautiful bird is a series of croaks. Notice the red naked skin which shows under the wing along to the breast. Ibis are social and will usually be with other ibis.

Where can the Australian White Ibis be found?
Australian White Ibis can be found throughout Australia except the most arid parts of Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern territory.
By Amanda Jackson

PS ‘Chook’ is Australian slang for chicken or hen

Australian Python Species

 

Australian Python Species

Carpet snakes or Carpet Pythons are harmless despite their looks and they are extremely diverse in colour and pattern.  Most adults will be an olive green or brown colour, with pale, dark-edged blotches, stripes or cross-bands.  The juveniles are similarly patterned, but often in shades of brown rather than olive green.

“The Place of the Carpet Snake”

Carpet snakes grow to more than 3 meters. Carpet snakes are named after the distinctive patterned skin of the species. The patterns in the photos show blotches, cross bands, stripes and combinations of these markings.

carpet snake living in Caboolture
Close up of the markings of the Carpet Snake

 

 

This member of the Australian Python species is one of beige or brown colour and has grey, blackish, rust, yellow or gold markings.

The carpet snake is nonvenomous however bites are often followed by infection and tetanus cover is recommended. A number of races or subspecies of carpet snake are recognised in different geographic regions of Australia.

Caboolture is a city North of Brisbane on the way to Sunshine Coast.

Kabultur (Caboolture) is the tradition language word in that area for “Place of the Carpet Snake”

Photo: Carpet snake by Amanda
Camouflaged Australian Carpet Python

 

While we were living in Caboolture we found a very large carpet snake feeding out of our wheelie bin. These snakes are often found around farms where they enjoy easy hunting and eat the mice and rats. They will eat chickens and their eggs if they can get them.

If you have any photos of carpet snakes we would love to see them – just reply in the comment box below

Thanks

Amanda

Zebra Finch building a Nest

Zebra Finch building a Nest

Tiny Zebra Finch
Pair of Zebra Finch – Photo by Amanda Jackson

These gorgeous grey and orange birds are Zebra Finches.

The males have orange cheeks, spot the one on the left with his female mate on the right (above)

 

You can see the zebra reference comes from the striped tail markings in this second photo below.

They are small birds at only about 10 cm and they fly quickly from bush to bush.

 

This is:

Nest building time for the Zebra Finch

Zebra Finch getting a nest ready
Zebra Finches building a nest

 

Photo’s by Amanda Jackson

Where does the Dingo live?

Australian Dingo Facts

Where does the Dingo Live?

More details below in the Habitat section of this article. This map colour codes where the free-roaming Dingo lives.

Dingo_fence_in_Australia

 General Information:

The dingo (Canis lupus dingo) is a free-roaming dog found mainly in Australia. Its exact ancestry is debated, but dingoes are generally believed to be descended from semi-domesticated dogs of either East or South Asia, which returned to a wild lifestyle when introduced to Australia. As such, the Dingo is currently classified as a subspecies of the grey wolf, Canis lupus. The Australian name has therefore sometimes been applied to similar dogs in South-East Asia, believed to be close relations. As free ranging animals, they are not considered tame, although tame dingoes and dingo-dog hybrids have been bred in a domestic lifestyle. First Australians also “domesticated” the dingo within their communities for over 40,000 years.

The dingo is the largest terrestrial predator in Australia, and plays an important role as an apex predator. However, the dingo is seen as a pest by livestock farmers due to attacks on animals such as sheep. For many Australians, the dingo is a cultural icon. The dingo was seen by some as being responsible for thylacine extinction on the Australian mainland about two thousand years ago, although recent study challenges this view as does common sense because both land animals co-existed for many thousands of years before European settlement.

Dingoes have a prominent role in the culture of Aboriginal peoples and feature in many age old stories and ceremonies. Dingoes are depicted as human companions on rock carvings and cave paintings.

Despite being an efficient hunter, the dingo today is listed as vulnerable to extinction. It is proposed that this is due to susceptibility created by genetic pollution: a controversial concept according to which interbreeding with domestic dogs may dilute the dingo’s unique adaptations to the Australian environment.

 Physical description:

Domestic and pariah dogs in southern Asia share so many characteristics with Australian dingoes that they are now considered to be members of the same taxon Canis lupus dingo, a particular subspecies of Canis lupus. While the relationship with humans varies widely among these animals, they are all quite similar in terms of physical features. A dingo has a relatively broad head, a pointed muzzle and erect ears. Eye colour varies from yellow over orange to brown. Compared to other similarly sized familiaris dogs, dingoes have longer muzzles, larger carnassials (large teeth found in many carnivorous mammals), longer canine teeth, and flatter skulls with larger nuchal lines.

Size

The average Australian dingo is 52 to 60 cm (20 to 24 in) tall at the shoulders and measures 117 to 154 cm (46 to 61 in) from nose to tail tip. The average weight is 13 to 20 kg (29 to 44 lb); however, there are a few records of outsized dingoes weighing up to 27 to 35 kg (60 to 77 lb). Males are typically larger and heavier than females of the same age. Dingoes from northern and northwestern Australia are larger than central and southern populations. Australian dingoes are invariably heavier than Asian ones. The legs are about half the length of the body and the head put together. The hind feet make up a third of the hind legs and have no dewclaws. Dingoes can have sabre-form tails (typically carried erect with a curve towards the back) or tails carried directly on the back.

Fur

Fur of an adult dingo is short and soft, bushy on the tail and tend to  vary in thickness and length depending on the climate. The fur colour is mostly sandy to reddish brown, but can include tan patterns and sometimes be black, light brown, or white. Completely black dingoes might have been more prevalent in Australia in the past, but have only been rarely sighted in recent times. They are now more common in Asia. Most dingoes are at least bi-coloured, with small, white markings on the chest, muzzle, tag, legs and paws being the most common feature. “Pure” dingoes are also found in white or cream (not albinism). They are also found in black and tan colourations. In the case of reddish individuals, there can be small, distinctive, dark stripes on the shoulders.

photo4 photo3Sitting Dingo

Communication:

Like all domestic dogs, dingoes tend towards phonetic communication. However, in contrast to domestic dogs, dingoes howl and whimper more, and bark less. Eight sound classes with 19 sound types have been identified.

  1. Barking

Compared to most domestic dogs, the bark of a dingo is short and monosyllabic, and is rarely used. Barking was observed to make up only 5% of vocalisations. Australian dingoes bark mainly in swooshing noises or in a mixture of atonal and tonal sounds. In addition, barking is almost exclusively used for giving warnings. Warn-barking in a homotypical sequence and a kind of “warn-howling” in a heterotypical sequence have also been observed. The bark-howling starts with several barks and then fades into a rising and ebbing howl and is probably (similar to coughing) used to warn the puppies and members of the pack.

  1. Howling

Dingoes have three basic forms of howling (moans, bark-howls and snuffs) with at least 10 variations. Usually, three kinds of howls are distinguished: long and persistent, rising and ebbing, and short and abrupt. Observations have shown that each kind of howling has several variations, though their purpose is unknown. The frequency of howling varies with the season and time of day, and is also influenced by breeding, migration, lactation, social stability and dispersal behaviour. Howling can be more frequent in times of food shortage, because the dogs become more widely distributed within their home range.

  • Other forms of communication

Growling, making up approximately 65% of the vocalisations, is used in an agonistic context for dominance, and as a defensive sound. Similar to many domestic dogs, a reactive usage of defensive growling is only rarely observed. Growling very often occurs in combination with other sounds, and has been observed almost exclusively in swooshing noises (similar to barking). During observations in Germany, dingoes were heard to produce a sound that observers have called Schrappen. It was only observed in an agonistic context, mostly as a defence against obtrusive pups or for defending resources. It was described as a bite intention, during which the receiver is never touched or hurt. Only a clashing of the teeth could be heard.

Aside from vocal communication, dingoes communicate, like all domestic dogs, via scent marking specific objects (for example, Spinifex) or places (such as waters, trails and hunting grounds) using chemical signals from their urine, feces and scent glands. Males scent-mark more frequently than females, especially during the mating season. They also scent-rub, whereby a dog rolls its neck, shoulders, or back on something that is usually associated with food or the scent markings of other dogs. Unlike wolves, dingoes can react to social cues and gestures from humans.

Diet:

Dingoes prey on a variety of animals. Most of its prey species are small or medium in size, including lizards and rodents. However, the dingo will also take larger prey, including sheep and kangaroos. The dingo is opportunistic, and in addition to hunting is also known to eat fruits and plants and scavenge from humans.

Habitat:

Modern day dingoes are distributed primarily in small pockets of forests in Southeast Asia and in many portions of Australia. In Australia, they live mostly in the north. The “Great Dingo Fence” was begun in the 1880s and was meant to keep dingoes out of the relatively fertile southeast of Australia and to protect the vast sheep populations. Although the fence has managed to stem the dingo from existing in larger numbers, some dingoes can still be found in the southern portions of the continent today.

The dingoes habitat ranges from deserts to grasslands and the edges of forests. Dingoes will normally make their dens in deserted rabbit holes and hollow logs close to an essential supply of water.

 Natural Behaviour:

Dingoes tend to be nocturnal in warmer regions, but less so in cooler areas. Their main period of activity is around dusk and dawn. These periods of activity are short (often less than one hour) with brief times of resting. Dingoes carry out two kinds of movement: a searching movement (thought to be associated with hunting) and an exploratory movement (probably for contact and communication with other dogs). In general, dingoes are shy towards humans and avoid them. However, from time to time there are reports of dingoes becoming agitated by the presence of humans, such as around camps in national parks and near outlying or semi-rural streets or suburbs.

Hunting Behaviour:

Dingoes often kill by biting the throat, and they adjust their hunting strategies to suit the specific circumstances. For larger prey they hunt together due to the strength needed and the potential risk to them of injury.  These group formations are unnecessary when hunting rabbits or other small prey.

Reproduction:

Dingoes breed once per year, generally between March and June. Pups are born after about 63 days and their litter sizes range from 4 to 6 offspring. The young may be left on their own after only a few months or they may stay with their parents for up to a year before going out on their own and living independently. Males reach sexual maturity by the age of one and females become capable of breeding at about the same age as well.

 2 Dingos play

Mortality and Health:

The main cause of death for dingoes is being killed by humans, crocodiles and dogs, including other dingoes. Other causes of death include: starvation and dehydration during times of drought or after strong bush fires, infanticide, snake bites, killing of pups by wedge-tailed eagles and bad injuries caused by cattle and buffalo. Dingoes are susceptible to the same diseases as domestic dogs. At present, 38 species of parasites and pathogens have been detected in Australian dingoes. The bulk of these diseases have a minimal negative influence on their survival.

Where does the Dingo live?

Today, dingoes live free roaming across many diverse habitats; including the snow-covered mountain forests of eastern Australia, the deserts of Central Australia and Northern Australia’s tropical forest wetlands. The noticed absence of dingoes in many parts of the Australian grasslands is probably due to human persecution.

It is worth noting that based on skull characteristics, size, fur colour and breeding cycles, distinct regional populations are recorded to exist between Australia and Asia, but not within Australia alone. The wild dog population of Australia now includes dingoes and a wide range of feral domestic dogs (considered to be mostly mixed-breeds and dingo-hybrids). These wild or feral dogs have been described as having an extensive variety of colours.

Impact of free roaming dogs and dingos:

Reliable information about the exact ecological, cultural and economic impact of wild dogs does not yet exist. It has been described that the impact of wild dogs depends on several factors, and a distinction between dingoes and other domestic dogs is not often made. The appearance of a wild dog is sometimes very important when it comes to the cultural and economic impact of the dog in that environment. It is desirable that the wild dog’s appearance complies to what is described as a “pure” dingo or close to this. In the case of their economic impact, their appearance only seems to be important when “pure” dingoes are used as a tourist attraction or for manufacturing products. Where wild dogs are regarded as pests, their appearance can be ignored or considered of minor importance, which can impact Dingo populations in a negative way.

Dangerous attacks on Humans:

Although dingoes are large enough to be dangerous, they generally avoid conflict with humans. Most dingo attacks are minor in nature, but some can be major, and a few can be fatal. Many Australian national parks have signs advising visitors not to feed wildlife, partly because this practice is not healthy for the animals, and partly because it may encourage undesirable behaviour, such as snatching or biting by dingoes, kangaroos, goannas and some birds.

Special Attributes:

The Dingoes attributes include;

  • Dingoes cannot bark, but they can howl
  • Dingoes have unique wrists in the canine world, capable of rotation. This enables dingoes to use their paws like hands and turn door knobs. Their ability to go where other dogs can’t means dingoes can cause more problems for humans than other wild members of the dog family can
  • A dingo can turn its head through almost 180 degrees in each direction
  • Dingoes have permanently erect ears
  • Wild dingoes can live for up to ten years but usually live for more like five or six years
  • Dingoes cared for by people can live up to 15 years or more
  • Domestication of dingoes has been difficult, dingoes are intelligent animals, they are more independent and harder to train than other dogs
  • Dingoes have larger canine teeth than domestic dog breeds.

Dingo Watch

 

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment if you enjoyed this article or have a question. We really like to hear from our visitors.

Kerrie

Kookaburra Gum Tree

Kookaburra Gum Tree

 

I woke up early this morning!

And I am in such a good mood,

‘Cause of what I saw and heard,

From my daybreak buddy, a special bird,

Can you guess why I think he is so good?

 

 

I will give you some clues to his looks!

He has a stout and compact body,

Short neck, strong pointed bill and 43cms high,

A white neck band and dark strip running through his eye,

He has blue spotted wings and a white downy feather belly.

 

 

How about some of his daily habits,

In the wild he feeds on snakes, insects and lizards,

He will live in pairs or a small group in the gum tree,

He swoops with strong claws, the prey will not get free,

And they nest in hollow tree trunks or excavated termite nests.

 

 

This striking bird is truly amazing.

How special is the Kookaburras laughing call?

Heard as they roost in the gum tree tops,

kookaburra gum tree
Large Kingfisher

Throughout Australia they are known as the “bushmans clock”

With a song every day, dusk and dawn, enjoyed by one and all!

 

Kookaburra Gum Tree is a Poem written by Kerrie Thomsen

July 2015

Please leave me a comment in the comment box, I would really enjoy that!

Emu Bird Facts

Emu Bird facts

australian emu

Specifications:

Emu is the common name for our large but flightless and tallest Australian native bird.

The scientific name is Dromaius novaehollandiae.

Emus reach between 1.6 m and 1.9 m when standing erect. Adult Emus are characterized by long legs with three-toed feet, stout body, small vestigial wings, brown to gray-brown shaggy plumage, and black-tipped feathers with black shafts, except for the neck and head, which are largely naked and bluish-black. The wings are greatly reduced, but the legs are long and powerful. Each foot has three forward-facing toes and no hind toe.

The Emu is the largest bird native to Australia and the second-largest bird in the world by height, after its ratite relative, the ostrich.

Opportunities to View:

Most people see Emus along roadsides, near fences or other barriers, giving the impression of close association. However, Emus are not really social, except for young birds, which stay with their father.

Similar species:

The Emu (30-45 kg) is lighter than its closest living relative, the Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) but is taller and less heavy set in appearance. It is also much more widely distributed throughout Australia.

emus
ready to run

Distribution:

The Emu is found only in Australia. It lives throughout most of the continent, ranging from coastal regions to high in the Snowy Mountains. Emus were once found in Tasmania, but were exterminated soon after Europeans arrived. Two dwarf species of emus that lived on Kangaroo Island and King Island also became extinct.

Habitat:

The main habitats of the Emu are sclerophyll forest and savanna woodland. These birds are rarely found in rainforest or very arid areas.

Seasonal movements:

Emus move within their range according to climatic conditions. If sufficient food and water are present, these birds will reside in one area. Where these resources are more variable, Emus move as needed to find suitable conditions. They are known to move hundreds of kilometres, sometimes at rates of 15 km to 25 km per day.

Feeding:

Emus eat fruits, seeds, growing shoots of plants, insects, other small animals, and animal droppings.

Breeding Young:

Nesting takes place in winter. The male and female remain together for about five months, which includes courtship, nest building and egg-laying. The nest consists of a platform of grass on the ground, about 10 cm thick and 1 m – 2 m in diameter. The large eggs (130 mm x 90 mm) are laid at intervals of two to four days. These are dark bluish-green when fresh, becoming lighter with exposure to the sun. The shells are thick, with paler green and white layers under the dark outer layer. The female dominates the male during pair formation but once incubation begins, the male becomes aggressive to other Emus, including his mate. The female wanders away and leaves the male to perform all the incubation. Sometimes she will find another mate and breed again. The male incubates the eggs without drinking, feeding, defecating or leaving the nest. During this time, eggs often roll out of the nest and are pulled back in by the male.
Newly hatched chicks are cream-coloured with dark brown stripes. They leave the nest when they are able to feed themselves. Young birds stay close together and remain with the male for four months. They finally leave at about six months. During this period, the stripes fade and the downy plumage is replaced by dull brown feathers. Emus are nearly fully grown at one year, and may breed at 20 months. Sometimes eggs that have not hatched remain in the nest after the male and young have left and become sun-bleached. Bleaching takes about three months.

fast running bird

 

Other Facts

There are few natural predators of adult emus living in Australia. Predators are more likely to eat emu eggs or emu chicks. Wedgetail Eagles, Goannas, Dingoes and the Buzzard are the animals and birds that pose the greatest threat to survival for Emus.

Emus have a long history with the tradition, people and culture of First Australians. They are featured in numerous mythological stories by Aboriginal people. The “Dinewan” is the name for Emu by some clans in NSW. The Dinewan is in a story by Naiura from “Tales of my Grandmother’s Dreamtime” 2002.

Emus are inquisitive and curious creatures. In certain circumstances emus may approach people to investigate them. It is important to remember when traveling in Australia that as wild animals emus may be dangerous and should not be approached in the wild.

Thanks for visiting our site. Please send me a comment as I love to hear from readers.

Nina