The Emu

close-up-of-adult-emu_0No collection of Australian bird photgraphs would be complete without the Emu.  The Emu, Australia’s largest bird,  is included in the Australian Coat of Arms, because along with the Kangaroo, it cannot walk backwards.  They serve to remind us that as a nation we will always move forwards. 

The Emu is a large, slightly prehistoric-looking bird.  It is a thrill to come across one or more  in the wild, either as they stroll along or sprint off into the scrub to escape you.  They make a deep, resonant, drumming or booming sound that penetrates the bush.  The first time we heard their sound was in Gundabooka National Park in outback NSW.   It certainly is unlike any other bird sound we have encountered


Australian Magpies, Peewees, Butcherbirds, Currawongs and Crows


Here is the first of our series of photographs of Australian native birds.  It is fitting that these birds should appear first, because the first birds Nirbeeja had in her care were orphaned baby Magpies.

Some members of this group, notably the Pied Currawong and the Crow, are unfairly maligned due to their habit of preying upon the young of other species.  But this is their role in nature, and they have their own young to feed. It is only when, in places like Canberra, human interference disturbs their natural environment that they can become pests and reach unusually high numbers.  Interestingly, Currawong chicks that Nirbeeja once had in her care were among the most affectionate birds we have encountered, yet this species is despised by an enormous number of people.

No doubt any Ornithologists out there will take issue with our inclusion of Peewees (also known as Magpie Larks and Mudlarks) in this group. I believe, strictly speaking, they are classified in the Flycatcher/Wagtail group.  We have included them here because of their colouring, and because their feisty, bossy behaviour seems somehow appropriate to this group.

We have many stories about the Magpies we had the pleasure to have in our care in Canberra.  We hope, eventually,  to share those stories on the website.

We also hope, in time, to add recordings of birdsongs to the site.  The carolling of the Magpie is one of the most beautiful songs in the Australian bush, though it  is matched in beauty by the  fluting, melodic and leisurely paced song of the Butcherbird.   We both love watching the Butcherbird stretch its neck upwards, take a deep breath, and then release its sweet song.

Bird Songs in Alice Springs

The Alice Springs Desert Park is home to many native Australian birds.  Some are housed in large walk-through aviaries, each of which represents a particular desert theme.  The birds must be happy in these enclosures because most are breeding there.  Many other birds fly freely through the extensive natural setting of the Desert Park, which is nestled beneath the spectacular escarpment of Mt Gillen, the start of the West MacDonnell Ranges.  I have included a recording of some of the songbirds in the large Woodland aviary.  The five note descending song is that of the Chiming Wedgebill, the lower metallic sound is that of the Crested Bowerbird and the short melodic burst of notes in the middle of the recording is the Rufous Whistler.  Other softer songs can also be heard.  The Chiming Wedgebill has a song so loud it hurts your ears.

Bird photographs

Australian Magpie showing its beautiful wings

We will post photographs of Australian native birds to this website.  Most of those photos will have been taken of wild birds in the Australian bush. We hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed seeing, listening to and photographing the birds.