And Australia's Favourite Bird is...
The Superb Fairy-wren
As Australia’s Favourite Bird, the Superb Fairy-wren will feature on the cover of BirdLife Australia’s
magazine in December 2013, and the true blue Aussie, often described as a fearless charmer, is bound
to appear in backyards and gardens across the country.
It was a very close race between the Superb Fairy-wren and the Australian Magpie with the final decision coming down to postal votes. The Hooded Plover made a late surge to take third place from the better known Rainbow Lorikeet
and Laughing Kookaburra.
State by state results....
New South Wales' Favourite Bird: Superb Fairy-wren
Northern Territory's Favourite Bird: Bush Stone-curlew
Queensland's Favourite Bird: Superb Fairy-wren
South Australia's Favourite Bird: Hooded Plover
Tasmania's Favourite Bird: Superb Fairy-wren
Victoria's Favourite Bird: Hooded Plover
Western Australia's Favourite Bird: Carnaby's Black-Cockatoo
Our international voters' Favourite Bird: Spotted Pardalote
Australia's Favourite Bird Vote saw more than 8,000 people vote throughout October. Thank you to all voters, campaigners and the 52 birds who put themselves up for scrutiny.
The BirdWeek Team
Give a flying fig about the figbird! These spunky birds with their red bandit masks don’t just eat figs, they love anything fruity. Cast your vote for the healthy candidate in this election.
Taking the temperature of the electorate would be easy for Brush-turkeys, who lay their eggs inside a giant heap of composting leaves and make sure the nest stays not too hot and not too cold by checking the warmth of the mound with their beaks.
One of the favourites to win the vote, the splendid Maggie is an indispensable part of life in Australia, warbling her beautiful song in city parks, suburban backyards, farm paddocks and bush blocks across the nation. If elected, she is likely to rule a la her namesake, the Iron Lady, by violently swooping opponents.
Another darling of the Australian public, the pelican is the bird of choice for those who enjoy long-haul flights – it’s been recorded flying non-stop for up to 24 hours, soaring at altitudes of up to 3000 metres! And of course, it’s famous for a beak that can hold more than its belican!
These guys are smart! A vote for the Aussie Raven (or crow as it’s often known), is a vote for our brainiest bird. Ravens are great problem solvers, have incredible language skills, astonishing memories and it’s entirely possible that they have higher IQs than some humans. Quoth the raven, ‘vote for me!’
Australian Ringneck (28 Parrot)
Feeling sad? Cast your vote for the Aussie Ringneck and turn that frown upside down. Known as a bringer of happiness to the Noongar people of south-west WA, this jolly little fellow is also known as the 28 Parrot after its call, which sounds like it’s crying out the number “28!”
“Kookawook, Kookawook” calls the Bar-shouldered Dove, this friendly inhabitant of Australia’s north. If you’re after a charming yet unassuming candidate, they’re ready to shoulder the burden of your vote!
The international challenger! Black Kites are found across the world, swirling in flocks like tornadoes as they float in the thermals searching for food. Aussie Black Kites are rumoured to spread fires by picking up burning twigs and dropping them on dry grass, feasting on the small birds and animals escaping from the flames.
Close to the hearts of all (but especially West) Australians, the Black Swan is a genuine contender. Graceful, handsome and picturesque, the Black Swan is a bird we can identify with as truly Aussie – it’s as far from the snowy-white Mute Swan of the northern hemisphere as is possible to be. And although Queen Elizabeth claims ownership of Britain’s white-feathered swans, she has no such sovereignty over ours.
Shuffle your preferences and vote 1 for our most confusingly-named candidate – the Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. Also known as the Shufflewing, after the fussy way this little grey guy arranges his feathers on landing, this is a bird with a lot of strange aliases, including the Blue Pigeon, the Black-faced Crow, the Blue Jay and the Cherry-hawk. And while he’s not a pigeon, a crow, a jay or a hawk, in a baffling turn, neither is he a cuckoo or a shrike!
A frequent visitor to many backyards in the warmer parts of Australia, this little honeyeater will win votes with its family-oriented behaviour. While mum builds an intricate nest neatly bound with spider webs, dad stands guard and sings to defend his territory. Once the babies hatch, both parents share the hard yards of feeding the kids and bringing them up in the proper honeyeater fashion.
Another pro-family candidate, Brown Thornbills enjoy long-term partnerships, a thick (preferably prickly) bush in which to nest in, and monogamy. These tiny little birds are strict parents, refusing to tolerate the Gen-Y tendency to overstay its welcome, chasing their kids out of the home territory once they can take care of themselves.
This dorky-looking bird with big googly eyes and an eerie, wailing scream is the number one choice for those who love to boogie. When they’re in the mood for romance, Bush Stone-curlews perform an amazing courtship dance, standing with their wings outstretched, their tail upright and their neck forward, stamping their feet up and down, like a soldier marking time.
The rock stars of the bird world! These birds might be an Endangered species but they still party hard all over Perth, ripping flowers off trees and bushes in backyards and squawking and screaming all over the suburbs from dusk til dawn, charming everybody in the process. Sadly, like some rock stars, they often die too young, run over by cars, shot illegally or taken by poachers. There’s also barely any room left for them to breed or find food, with ongoing land clearing for housing and agriculture pushing these charismatic cockies closer and closer to extinction.
If Carnaby’s are the rock stars then Crested Pigeons are the punks! Actually, while these birds have amazing mohawks they are nothing but gentleman – during courtship the male performs a charming dance, bowing and spreading his lovely metallic purple and green feathers like a fan for his lady to see. And once the deed is done, this guy isn’t the sort to just cut and run, he’ll stick around for a good old-fashioned preening – the bird version of a hug!
Is the Crimson Rosella a bird we can really trust? For a candidate that makes such firm claims about its colour, it sure comes in a lot of different shades – it’s yellow in the Riverina, orange around Adelaide and green when it’s young... Still, can we blame this cheerful bird? After all, we’re the idiots who named it!
If you reckon you’ve seen these guys on the dinner table, you wouldn’t be wrong – Eastern Rosellas are Australia’s very own Tomato Sauce Bird! So if you love getting on the sauce, vote for these spectacularly coloured parrots, they won’t let you down...
Don’t vote for any old Galah this election – vote for the real thing! These noisy, happy, playful birds are true blue Aussies, as much a part of our lives as thongs and vegemite. And don’t believe the hype that they’re stupid fools, these guys can learn to talk and mate for life – they’re not flamin’ Galahs you know!
Golden Whistler by name, golden whistler by nature. This accurately (for once!) labelled bird has a beautiful golden chest, a lovely whistle and a robust neck, which is spot on, given that his family name (Pachycephalidae) means thickhead! Elect this brightly coloured bird and he’ll sing you a song.
Grey Butcherbird duets are showstoppers, and they are top contenders for the best bird song in Australia. But don’t be fooled, these birds will seduce you with their calls, then gross you right out! They’re named after butchers for a reason, often hanging their prey in a handy tree to devour at their leisure later on.
If you’re a fan of cheeky little birds, then the Grey Fantail is a fan-tastic choice! These cuties are inquisitive little fellows, and they love checking out any passing humans, wiggling their tail feathers and performing daring aerial manoeuvres in their quest for delicious insect dinner.
The Grey Shrike-thrush is the GST that doesn’t cost you a cent! With a melodious voice that echoes through forests and woodlands across Australia, this little bird makes up for what it lacks in looks with its beautifully rich call. Even if you haven’t seen one of these guys, you’ve probably heard ‘em – so cast a vote for the invisible candidate!
Wanna hang out with the cool kids this summer? Then vote 1 for the beach bum in this election! The Hooded Plover loves life on our surf beaches - so much so that she lays her eggs right on the sand! But bringing up tiny, camouflaged babies can be tough when you’re sharing the beach with thousands of humans, plus our dogs, cars and horses, so there aren’t too many Hoodies left. Keep your eyes peeled and your dog on a leash when you’re on the beach this summer, and you’ll help these little birds keep on keepin’ on.
Have the last laugh – vote 1 Kookaburra! The merry king of the Aussie bush is a jolly fellow, spending his days chuckling with his family and kicking back in an old gum tree (or on an electric wire with his pants on fire!). Legend has it that his laughter is the signal for the sun to come up – why wouldn’t you vote for a candidate with that much pull?!?
Little Wattlebirds don’t need to be showy to get noticed. We don’t need gaudy colours or catchy songs or outlandish displays. What we have is charisma. What more can you say? Little Wattlebird, big personality.
These days the world is full of choices, with so many shades of grey that affect every decision you make. Confused? Don’t be — in this election the choice is clear: vote Magpie-lark, because sometimes things really are black and white.
There’s something reassuring about hearing the characteristic wap-wap-wap calls of a Masked Lapwing on a dark winter’s night. And during the day, although Lapwings spend much time standing about like decorative garden gnomes in the wetland, or park or sportsfield or paddock, keeping an eye on things, and if danger appears, they spring into action, bravely flying at the intruder to keep the local inhabitants safe. Vote for the Masked Lapwing — the safe option.
Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door. Or so they say, but there is no better predator of those pesky mice than the humble Nankeen Kestrel. Hovering in the wind, appearing totally motionless until it makes a deadly drop onto a rodent — it’s what a kestrel does better than anything else. So if you don’t like mice, you should be keen on kestrels.
New Holland Honeyeater
Insipid is not a word that describes New Holland Honeyeaters. They’re energetic. They’re feisty. They’re pugnacious. They’re full of life. They’re anything but dull. They brighten up our lives. Add a splash of colour and vote NHHE!
They say that Noisy Miners are aggressive. They say we pick on defenceless little birds who try to enter our territory and that we vigorously and relentlessly exclude them by any means possible. They say that we ruin habitats through our activities. We’ll let you know about our virtues some time closer to the poll, but in the meantime, vote for us or we’ll come and get you!
Pacific Black Duck
Wherever you live, there’s almost certainly a Pacific Black Duck swimming somewhere nearby. They’re on the east coast, the west coast; they’re in the tropics and in Tasmania; they’re up the mountains and on desert waterholes. Pacific Black Duck — your local candidate.
There is something evocative about the haunting calls of a Pied Currawong drifting through the trees on a winter evening. Once they were heard in the lowlands only during the cooler months, but now they often grace us with their presence throughout the year. If you’re going to vote, vote for the currawongs.
Sometimes you can see a Powerful Owl during the day, perched motionless in a tree, hoping not to be noticed, but they are active at night, spending the darkest hours on the lookout for possums or flying-foxes in gardens and forests alike. Don’t leave us in the dark — switch on the power!
Purple is the strongest wavelength of the rainbow. Purple is the colour of magic. Purple is the colour of spiritual fulfilment. Purple is the colour worn by Roman emperors. Purple is the colour of Barney the Dinosaur. Purple is the colour of the Purple Swamphen. If any of this strikes a chord with you, vote purple.
We all agree that elections are pretty dull affairs, so we’re here to add a little colour into your day. We Rainbow Lorikeets are so conspicuous and bright that we can’t be ignored. Some visitors to our shores literally weep with delight at seeing our spectacular plumage. We make you feel good. Vote Rainbow Lorikeet — the colourful candidate.
They say that good things come in small packages, and there are few shorebirds smaller than a Red-necked Stint. And we love Australia so much that, despite being so tiny, we are willing to fly for thousands of kilometres just to spend the summer here. How’s that for commitment? Red-necked Stints — here for the long haul.
Of all of Australia’s parrots, the Red-rumped Parrot is surely one of the most under-rated. And yet its plumage is beautifully colourful, its sweep, sweep calls are pretty and they’re easy to see, often being quite tame, even when seen feeding in the grass of city parks and gardens. What’s not to like?
Sometimes birds are so annoying. Their squawking wakes us up before sunrise. They poop on our freshly washed cars or the washing on the clothesline. They eat the fruit off our trees. Some of them even dive-bomb us during the springtime. It’s enough to make you really, really angry. If the others make you see red, VOTE FOR SCARLET!
All the sailors like a nice gull, and there is none nicer than a Silver Gull. With their gleaming ruby-red bill and silvery wings, Gould described them as “one of the most beautiful and fairy-like birds I have ever met with.” Take a moment to really look at one and you’ll understand why you should vote for the Silver Gull.
Silvereyes are one of the cutest birds on the ballot. But they’re not just cute, they’re tough too! These tiny birds regularly migrate hundreds of kilometres across the sea and over the mountains. Other birds migrate further, but they’re just showing off. Be realistic — don’t go for gold, vote for silver.
The poor old Singing Honeyeater is definitely one of the underdogs of this election. Nothing much to look at, and with a nice, but undistinguished call, this little brown guy will have to a lot of work to do to make an impact on the electorate. He’s got a great arts platform though – more singing all the time!
You’d have to be a drongo not to vote for the Spangled Drongo. This handsome candidate with the lovely forked tail, is (unlike the racehorse that was named after it) extremely agile and fast, often seen dipping through the air, or perched on a wire keeping a red-eye peeled for passing insects.
You’ll need good eyes to spot this candidate, who loves living life at the top of gum trees, where he gathers sugary gunk and little insects from under the leaves. But though the Spotted Pardalote may be tiny, he’s got a big voice and ain’t afraid to use it – one of his other monikers is the Headache Bird – so called for his incessant three note whistle.
Hello Cockie! This yellow-feathered punk has to be the inside favourite to win the vote with a big supporter base in inner Sydney likely to give the big white cockatoo a boost. Polling all around the country is strong though, and this captivating Aussie charmer may well take home the prize.
The true blue Aussie! These brilliant little birds are fearless charmers, boldly scolding any humans brave enough to cross their path. And if you like a good political sex scandal, then vote these birds into power, the ladies are renowned for their adulterous ways!
Get in fast and cast your vote for the Swifty! Like so many of our parrots, these spectacularly beautiful birds need old gum trees to breed and feed in, which makes it hard for them to survive when we keep chopping the trees down. With only 2,500 Swifties in the wild, this is a bird that needs our help. A vote for the Swift Parrot is a vote to save Aussie forests!
Keep your eyes peeled for the best-camouflaged candidate - the Tawny Frogmouth! Looking a lot like a feathered tree trunk and often behaving like one too, this odd-looking fellow will freeze like a stick to avoid detection. Don’t be fooled though, although he doesn’t want you to stare at him, Froggy wants your vote!
Put out the welcome mat for the Welcome Swallow! These tiny birds are outstanding aerial acrobats, constantly snacking on insects as they swoop and dive through the air. They’re a handy bird to have around the house and a welcome one too – they are known the world over as a harbinger of spring.
They say the early bird takes the worm (or in this case, the nectar), and the White-plumed Honeyeater certainly gets up at the crack of dawn. This little bird is usually one of the first to start singing in the morning and the last to stop before bed. Cast your vote early and well for the bird with the ‘chick-ick-o-wee’ call.
Why is Willie called Willie? Strangely, history doesn’t remember. But there’s no doubt about his last name, for Mr Wagtail has the finest tail wag in the country! Never afraid to take the fight to the big birds, Willie is often seen madly in pursuit of a raven or magpie, fanatically defending his territory. A vote for Willie is a vote for the little guy!
Cast your vote for the voice of the tropics! Though they might not catch your eye with flashy feathers, these little birds are the soundtrack of Australia’s humid north. Their liquid calls drip through the trees, joining the chorus of cicadas, Bush Stone-curlews and screeching fruit bats to create that distinctively north of Capricornia sound.
The apple of the Apple Isle’s eye, the Yellow Wattlebird is the world’s biggest honeyeater and a Tassie native. With its strange, fleshy wattles hanging down from its face (strangely reminiscent of a jowly politician), this bird is for those who like their candidates to have a whiff of Richard Nixon about them.
BirdLife Australia 2014 Calendar
Love birds? Keep up to date with the 2014 BirdLife Australia calendar. With all profits going towards BirdLife Australia’s conservation projects and featuring beautiful photographs of some of our most endangered birds, it’s the perfect gift for family and friends this Christmas. Click here to order your copies now.