Speciality birds

Endemics are species only found in that locality. There are 13 endemic bird species in Tropical North Queensland. At Rose Gums 12 endemic species have been recorded.

These are: Lesser Sooty Owl, Grey-headed Robin, Bower’s Shrike-thrush, Pied Monarch, Chowchilla, Fernwren, Atherton Scrubwren, Macleay’s Honeyeater, Bridled Honeyeater, Tooth-billed Catbird, Mountian Thornbill and Victoria’s Riflebird.

The one endemic species not recorded is the Golden Bowerbird.

Resident birds are those birds seen or heard most of the year round.

Here is a little about some of our birds:

Southern Cassowary
Cassowaries are seen at Rose Gums when rainforest trees are fruiting eg the purple fruit of the quandong. More often we see the droppings(scat) and footprints of the adult and perhaps with chick. The female lays the eggs but it is the male that raises it. It feeds mostly on the fruits of the forest. It can travel great distances through the dense rainforest in a short period of time. It is now classified as an endangered species.

Australian Brush-turkey
This mound building bird has quickly become quite domesticated.They like to brush their feet about the leaf litter looking for titbits to eat. The male inflates the skin around its neck to create a booming sound. Only the male builds the mound spending 5-7 hours, raking about 56 kg of material, each day for over a month. The female devotes her energies to the production of what are particularly big eggs with very large yolks, needed during the long incubation. The shells are also particularly thin, allowing the embryo to more easily obtain oxygen underground and also allowing it to make a quick escape at hatching time. The male tends the mound.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
These comical birds eat the seeds from trees and paddocks in the farming areas. They roost at night in the rose gums in large groups.

Australian King Parrot 
The male has a vivid red head and body with green wings. The female is nearly all green. They have a high-pitched call like a squeaky wheel and are a common sight at Rose Gums.

Channel-billed Cuckoo
This large cuckoo breeds here in summer by laying its eggs in other bird’s nests, such as Currawongs or Crows. They migrate from New Guinea to breed here. The first storms of the wet season seem to prompt them to emit a loud raucous call...a habit which has earned them the name ‘storm-bird’. These birds eat figs and sometimes gather on the fig trees in small feeding parties when they have finished breeding.

Laughing Kookaburra
Kookaburras like to chorus. Family groups of up to a dozen together produce a cacophony, which proclaims their territory. The more birds, the louder the chorus and the stronger the territorial claim. Kookaburras therefore benefit from living in large families.

Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher
These orange-billed kingfishers nest in ground-level termite mounds,creating a tunnel often less than half a metre from the ground.Not often seen, yet heard in summer.

This dark brown bird has a very loud melodious call early in the morning and at dusk.

Eastern Whipbird
This common but difficult to see bird is easily recognised by its call. It is usually a combined effort. It starts with a thin piercing (but hard to locate) whistle and (easier to locate)whip crack whereupon the partner adds several sharp chirrups.

Lewin’s Honeyeater
It is a very common bird here, which has a call like a machine gun. It likes the nectar from flowers and will eat spiders. A very helpful cleaner by eating spiders on the outside walls of the treehouses and house. It is best identified by a yellow spot behind its ear.

Blue-faced Finch
This elusive finch is only seen in summer. It is often seen with Red-browed Firetails but tend to hang back in the greenery of the lantana bush or in the rainforest trees. Finches like to eat grass seed so some areas around the treehouses have been retained and not reforested.

Lesser Sooty Owl
This dark coloured owl makes a call at night similar to a bomb whistle and sometimes followed by a trill. It nests in the tall rose gums, a very important habitat.

Victoria’s Riflebird
This is one of 3 birds of paradise in Australia. Though not spectacular like the other species in New Guinea it has an amazing courting ritual. This glossy black bird has an iridescent neck and chest feathers and a yellow gape. Male riflebirds slap their wings together as they arch them above their head in dramatic courtship displays.

Tooth-billed Bowerbird
These bowerbirds make the simplest bower, which is not a nest but a display area to attract females for mating. The male clears an area one to three metres in diameter, returning to exactly the same patch of forest floor each season. He then decorates his stage with fresh leaves (sometimes stealing them from neighbours).What the male lacks in bower-building he makes up for in mimicry(imitating other birds) spending almost every daylight hour at his bower.

Satin Bowerbird
These birds build avenue bowers. Thin sticks are neatly arranged in an upright position, forming two parallel walls, looking almost like a couple of old-fashioned brooms sticking out of the ground with a narrow passage between. Decorations are arranged at each end. Satin Bowerbirds prefer blue feathers, berries, flowers, glass, etc.

Wildlife images copyright Martin Willis PHOTOGRAPHS