Ferns beside a still pool


Earth has few secrets from the birds.

William Beebe

There is a wide array of birds found on the river, from Kosie all the way down to the Coorong and I have listed around 50 of the larger or spectacular species that I personally saw on the way down. Various bird watching sites checklists list more than 300 species along many areas of the river.

Parrots Psittaciformes

Cockatoos Cacatuidae

The Cockatoos are definitely one of the most vocal birds on the trip, sometimes congregating in flocks of 100 or more.

Birds on a cliff
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) have adapted well to life one Murray, commonly using the cliffs for nests.
Birds in a tree
A flock of Little Corellas (Cacatua sanguinea) make for a great yet noisy encounter. Some of the most affectionate birds you will ever see.
Birds on ground
Small flocks of Long-billed Corellas (Cacatua tenuirostris) were occasionally seen, usually around towns.
Birds on a tree
Galahs (Eolophus roseicapilla) are commonly seen around the water's edge.

New World Parrots Psittacidae

bird in a tree
The vulnerable Superb Parrots (Polytelis swainsonii) was occasionally seen near the water's edge, often seen alongside Rosellas.
bird in a tree
Tame Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) expecting some feed.
Bird in a tree
Red-rumped Parrot (Psephotus haematonotus) can be common around the water's edge, both regularly feeding and drinking.
Bird in a tree
Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) watching me pass by.
Bird in a tree
Yellow (Crimson) Rosella (Platycercus elegans flaveolus) were often seen feeding on seeds by the shore.

Ducks, Geese, Swans Anseriformes

Ducks were definitely the most common birds seen along the waterways, especially the Australian Wood Ducks. All Ducks, Geese, Swans shown belong to the family Anatidae.

Two birds
A pair of Australian Wood Ducks (Chenonetta jubata).
family of ducks on water
Pair of Grey Teals (Anas gracilis) and the next generation.
two birds on the water
Pair of Australian Shelducks (Tadorna tadornoides). One of the more handsome ducks along the waterways, often in very large flocks.
Black Swan on water
Black Swans (Cygnus atratus) are usually in pairs or small flocks.
Birds on water's edge
A flock of Cape Barren Goose (Cereopsis novaehollandiae) in the Coorong. A fairly large and heavy-set bird.

Cranes, Rails & Coots Rallidae

All Rails, Crakes & Coots shown belong to the family Rallidae.

bird on water lilies
Eurasian coot (Fulica atra) in among the lily pads.
bird by shoreline
Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa) foraging on everything from leaves, seeds, molluscs and invertebrates.
Australasian swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus). The NZ Māori name of Pūkeko seems more fitting for such a colourful bird.

Kingfishers and Bee-eaters Coraciiformes

Kookaburras and Kingfishers Alcedinidae

Bird in a tree
Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) is the largest kingfisher in Australia.
Bird on stump
Sacred Kingfishers (Todiramphus sanctus) are commonly seen along open sections of the waterways.
Bird in a tree
Azure Kingfishers (Ceyx azureus) is more common along closed in sections and anabranches.

Bee-eaters Meropidae

Colourful bird on branch
This gorgeous Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) is easily overlooked but is one of the most colourful birds that you are likely to encounter.

Rollers and Dollarbirds Coraciidae

Bird on a tree
Oriental Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) is named after the distinctive pale blue or white, coin-shaped spots on its wings.

Vultures, Eagles, Kites and Ospreys Accipitriformes

Kites, Hawks, Eagles Accipitridae

bird on tree
White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) patiently scanning the water for dinner.
bird in a tree
Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax) about to take to the air.
Whistling Kite
Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus).

Pigeons, Doves Columbiformes

Contains the singular family Columbidae.

Bird on log
Common Bronzewing (Phaps chalcoptera) is known for its haunting deep 'oom' repeating call.
two small doves on a tree
Peaceful Doves (Geopelia placida) are a very small dove species.

Perching birds or Songbirds Passeriformes

This order contains over half of the world's species of birds and these birds are characterised by three toes pointing forward and one toe pointing back that facilitates perching.

Currawongs & Australian Magpie Artamidae

bird on ground
Australian magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) feed mostly on invertebrates along with small animals and grains / fruits.

Australian Mudnesters Corcoracidae

Birds on the ground
White-winged Chough (Corcorax melanorhamphos) are a very social bird.

Flycatchers & Magpielarks Monarchidae

two small birds on a branch
Magpie-larks (Grallina cyanoleuca) are known to sing as a duet, albeit the human ear often can not pick up the notes from individual birds.

Australasian Wrens Maluridae

birds on grass
Superb Fairywren (Malurus cyaneus) searching for insects.

Swallows, Martins Hirundinidae

Birds on branch
Welcome swallows (Hirundo neoxena) resting during the heat of the day.

Grebes Podicipediformes

Contains the singular family Podicipedidae.

bird on water
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) would usually dive into the lake well before you would get close to them.

Boobies, Cormorants, Darters Suliformes

Cormorants, Shags Phalacrocoracidae

Bird in a tree
Little Black Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) made a number of appearances, sometimes in large flocks and commonly seen with occasional Little Pied Cormorants and Australasian Darters.
Two birds on a tree
Australian Pied Cormorants (Phalacrocorax varius)
Birds on shore
The Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) is one of the largest species of Cormorant.
Bird on a tree
Australasian Darter (Anhinga novaehollandiae) is commonly known as the Snake Bird for its long and slender neck that is often seen popping up out of the water.

Stilts, Waders and Gulls Charadriiformes

Gulls, Terns, Skimmers Laridae

seagulls by the water
Silver Gulls (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) scavenging on the shoreline.
Flying bird
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida) searching for its next meal.
Bird on shoreline
Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus) is one of the largest gull species.

Sandpipers Scolopacidae

Birds on ground
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata) of the family Scolopacidae (Sandpipers, Snipes) is a summer migrant from Arctic Siberia.

Stilts, Avocets Recurvirostridae

Bird by water
Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) of the family Recurvirostridae (Stilts, Avocets)foraging by the shore.

Plovers, Dotterels, and Lapwings Charadriidae

Bird on rock standing on one leg
Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) on a rock.

Herons, Ibises, Spoonbills and Pelicans Pelecaniformes

A large order of water birds that typically have four webbed toes.

Herons, Bitterns Ardeidae

Herons were less common on the river than I expected. The White-faced Heron was the most frequently seen followed by the Night Heron all along the river, with small flocks of Eastern Great Egrets and White-necked Herons seen sporadically.

Bird in water
Eastern Great Egret (Ardea alba modesta) making use of its long legs.
Bird in a tree
White-necked Heron (Ardea pacifica) watching from up high.
Bird on shoreline
White-faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae) feed on crustaceans, fish, frogs, insects and worms.
Bird on branch
Eastern Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis coromandus) with bright orangish breeding plumage.
Bird on branch
Nankeen Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus) were often found around willow trees roosting in small groups.

Ibises, Spoonbills Threskiornithidae

Two birds on a tree
Yellow-billed Spoonbills (Platalea flavipes) use sensors on their wide bill to help find small fish and aquatic invertebrates.
Many birds on a nest in a tree
Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis moluccus), the Bin Chicken, is also at home feeding along the shoreline where it can form large colonies.
Bird on paddock
Straw-necked Ibis (Threskiornis spinicollis) hunting for grass-hoppers.

Pelicans Pelecanidae

Bird feeding from the water
A pair of Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) watching me.

Cassowaries and Emus Casuariiformes

The family Casuariidae contains the three species of Cassowaries and the Emu being the only member of the family Dromaiidae.

Large flightless bird
Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) feeding on seaweed and sea-grasses in the Coorong.