Top 10 Australian Birds

My Top 10 Classic Australian Birds

  1. Galah
  2. Kookaburra
  3. Emu
  4. Bowerbird
  5. Rainbow Lorikeet
  6. Black Swan
  7. Pelican
  8. Penguin
  9. Fairy Wren
  10. Honeyeater

So this is my Top 10 list of classic Australian Birds and, hopefully, I’ll eventually get to see them all.  I’ve chosen birds that I closely associate with Australia, and so will many other people.  It isn’t in any order in particular, and there are several birds (such as the lyrebird or the zebra finch) that could easily have made it onto the list, if only there was space.

Galah at Joondalup Lake



1  The Galah.  Very common, very easy to see and a classic Australian bird.  Gregarious, loud and amusing, and they always make me smile.




2  Like many people, I can remember singing ‘Kookaburra’ in junior school and learning about his laugh, so I’ve always associated him with Australia.  His ‘laughing’ is fantastic to hear.

Emu Face




3  Rod Hull.  Need I say more.




4  One of my favourite David Attenborough documentaries was on bowerbirds and their amazing ‘bowers’, so I associated them with Australia long before I came here.  Much less common and much harder to see than many of the birds on the list, but hopefully one day I will get to see one.

Lorikeet in tree


5  The rainbow Lorikeet is surely one of the most colourful birds on the planet.  Like the Galah, it is confident, easy to spot and never fails to make me smile.


6  Many people from the UK will have seen black swans there, but they make it onto the list partly because they are the only swans in Australia, and partly because they are the state symbol for Western Australia.

7  The Pelican.  We all seem to know what one looks like even if we’ve never seen one in the wild.  The reason pelicans so often feature in cartoons is that they look so comical.  So wouldn’t it be great to see one in its ‘home’.

Little Penguin

Little Penguin


8  I’ve always wanted to see wild penguins but I also hate the cold.  Imagine my delight in finding that I can see them in sunshine and 30 degrees C – who’d have thought it?  And they also live just one hour’s drive from me so I don’t even have to go on a plane to see them.



9  To be honest, before I arrived here, I hadn’t actually heard of the fairy wren.  It turns out that it is very dear to the Australians’ hearts.  It features in people’s homes on ornaments and on mugs etc much as a robin or a blue tit would in Britain.  Very pretty and very Australian.

10  Until I came out here, honeyeater was just a name of an Australian bird.  It wasn’t until I looked it up in my bird book that I discovered just how many different honeyeaters there are.  They almost warrant a separate book.  So I wonder how many types I’ll be able to see.


Pelicans Flying

Pelicans Flying

2 responses to “Top 10 Australian Birds”

  1. 1. White-browed Babblers – these delightful birds don’t babble. They chortle, chuckle and prattle. They’re always busy, looking after family, building nests for having young, as well as purely residential dwellings. They bounce, rather than walk, and get very excited after rain, going after grubs, etc.. Unfortunately they don’t live in towns, but on our farm, they’re prolific.
    2. Crimson Rosellas – the most gloriously coloured birds of all. I love watching them in the bird bath, where they seem to go into a deep reverie while they enjoy splashing water everywhere!
    3.Superb Fairy Wren – We have lots of these little darlings as we planted prickly native shrubs they need for protection from bigger birds. At present, four males in their bright opal-blue plumage, after several little ladies. Their sounds make me feel good.
    4. Grey Shrike Thrush – their melodic song is gorgeous, a crystal call that varies from place to place but the sound is unmistakable.
    5.New Holland Honey-eater – gorgeous, sassy, bossy birds who are not afraid of anything or anyone. They think they own the place.
    6. Pelicans – my heart turns somersaults when I see them flying, especially when they’re coming in to land and they skim along, just centimetres above the water, wings still. Awesome.
    7. Willy wagtails – delightful birds. When there’s a full moon, they seem to sing all night. Real characters. They make me smile.
    8. Wedge-tailed eagles – These imperious majestic birds are amazing to watch as they follow the thermals higher and higher. It’s like very slow dancing.
    9. Wattle birds – their brassy call from the tops of our flowering gums is so different from other birds. And their chicks, calling from the nest, sound like wheezy dogs. Unbelievable sound.
    10. Scissors grinders – similar in appearance to willy wagtails but when they call, it’s an indescribable sound that seems to shiver on the air. Aerobatically, they are spectacular fliers.

  2. Sue says:

    Thanks Ellie. There are several birds in your list which I’ve never heard of or seen – I’ll have to look them up. The fairy wrens are out here too and looking great. I love their rolling warble.

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