When people think of Australian wildlife, they usually picture the island continent’s unusual mammals–the kangaroos, wallabies, and egg-laying platypus. But, the bird life in Australia is among the world’s most interesting and colorful. Australia has a plethora of parrots, ranging from the diminutive Fig Parrots to the massive Palm Cockatoo. If you want a splash of color, try the Eclectus and King Parrots; with their vivid reds, oranges and greens, they are among the most attractive birds on the entire planet. Among my favorites are the Crimson Rosella and the Rainbow Lorikeet (pictured here), remarkably beautiful birds with brightly-colored red and blue, and blue, orange and green feathers, respectively. At the famous O’Reilly’s Resort in the highlands just west of Brisbane, I’ve had flocks of habituated Crimson Roselleas and King Parrots land on my head and shoulders while I was trying to photograph them. Being used to our drab pigeons in the United States, you won’t believe your eyes when you set sight on the colorful Wompoo Pigeon of northeastern Australia.
One of the most beautiful and interesting birds I’ve ever seen was on undeveloped Hinchinbrook Island off the Queensland coast (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinchinbrook_Island). Hiking through the tropical forests there I was lucky enough to observe a Magnificent Riflebird (Ptiloris magnificus). Males of this species have an iridescent blue-green crown, nape and central tail feathers. The dappled sunlight streaming through the forest canopy and reflecting off the crown and nape of this bird reminded me of a precious living jewel. Of course, there are many other unique birds to see Down Under. Of the 720 known species, 329 are endemic to the island continent. I’ve heard the unique calls of the Eastern Whipbird and Green Catbird and observed a mother Cassowary–a large flightless bird–with chicks strolling through the rainforest. I once took a hike with a friendly Emu, another large flightless bird, in a remote Australian national park. The bird had been raised by a ranger and loved to hang out with people. Whether you are a serious birdwatcher or a beginner, Australia is the place to go. Let World Safaris help you add to your life list.