notes are written principally for inclusion in master
booklets, but short notes are available with accompanying
photographs for promotional use such as habitat information
boards, school birding programs, club activities and 'property
developers advertisements' etc.
Here are behavioural
notes of two selected species in different formats
Red-legged Pademelon (Thylogale stigmatica) Size by
weight: males 4–7 kg; females 2–4.3 kg.
- Small macropod inhabiting wet forests such as
rainforest and vine forests along the eastern
seaboard as far south as northern New South Wales
- diet consists of fresh leaves, fallen fruit and
- mostly forage late afternoon through to morning.
• vocalizations include soft tsk, tsks and sharp
rasping sounds, also thump their legs on the ground
to signal alarm or danger • rest with tail between
hind legs and often prop body against a tree trunk
Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) Size by weight: males
(northern and southern dwellers) 4.5–15 kg ; females:
4–11 kg the northern koala are usually smaller than
southern koala • Tree dwelling marsupial; active mainly
at night • sleepiness of the koala related to it’s slow
basal metabolic rate; energy conservation and a
minimally nutritious diet • smell is one of its keenest
senses— used to locate food trees and scent markings
from other koalas • females sexually mature by two years
of age and males around age four • eat mainly eucalyptus
but will supplement diet with leaves of a few other tree
species • joeys (koala young) eat pap (special faeces
excreted by mother ) that is rich in microorganisms that
help them digest toxic gum leaves.
Leaf-curling Spider (Phonognatha graeffei) Size: body
length 1–1.4 cm • Curiously attach a leaf to their web
by hoisting it from the ground • it sits within the leaf
with legs dangling—feeling for the vibrations of
captured prey • an adaptation thought to have evolved to
provide protection from birds and other predators •
females lay eggs in another curled leaf away from food
Lace Monitor ( Varanus varius) Size: snout to tail
tip 100–200 cm • Large lizard that is richly patterned
with blotches and bands; markings cream or yellow on
blue-black body • largely arboreal—living in a range of
habitats from rainforest to coastal scrubland • diet
consists of birds, reptiles,insects, eggs and carrion •
males do ritual combat to impress females • females lay
eggs in termite mounds, rotting logs on among buttress
roots in deep leaf litter.
behaviours of White-faced Heron (Ardea
occur throughout Australia except for the very arid
region of east south-east of Western Australia.
They require shallow water for foraging and consequently
frequent watercourses such as swamps, tidal mudflats
and salt and fresh water wetlands.
Their mating system
is unknown, but observations of courtship behaviour
describe nuptial flights in which one bird pursues
the other weaving through woodland. During these
flights their necks are outstretched and they
call throughout the flight. They also perform
twig shaking and back biting when courting. Nuptial
plumage of the neck and back is erected to enhance
all visual displays.
are solitary nesters, choosing trees some distance
from water. Both sexes build the nest; one delivering
twigs while the other inserts them using a trembling
pushing movement. Incubation is shared by both
parents over a 21–24 day period.
..Chicks beg for food
by erecting their neck feathers drooping their
wings and wagging their body and tail; parents
feed them by incomplete regurgitation. Young fledge
by week five.
are catholic in their diet eating most aquatic
invertebrates and vertebrates. Techniques used
to procure a meal include; standing and waiting,
slow walking through shallow water, wing flicking,
foot raking and pursuit with wings open.
they squat with their neck retracted and stab
at passing prey. Their style of foraging is,
in most part, determined by the prey that
they are stalking. Fish are stalked with the
heron maintaining a low crouched position
with the head and neck parallel to the water’s
surface; they lunge quickly and capture prey
which is then swallowed whole.
..When fish are
too large to be swallowed, the herons take
them ashore and pick them over. When standing
and waiting the neck is extended and they
peer downwards into the water. Crustaceans
are shaken to dislodge legs and then swallowed.
White-faced Herons have been observed foraging
in the direction which avoids the glare of
quiet birds, White-faced Herons may perform
forward display, upright display
and chasing if feeding territory is breached.
On occasions assailants will fight using
wings and bills to strike at each other.
aerial attacks White-faced herons assume
a different flight silhouette by flying
with their necks stretched out, thus confusing
gather around permanent water after breeding.
They may form foraging associations with
Herons are known to regurgitate food and
adopt a pointing, (bittern-like), pose if
distressed or an intruder is close by. During
the ’bittern pose’ birds stand
fully erect and stretch their head and bill
skywards. During this pose they remain motionless,
however because of the position of their
eyes in their head they have a wide field
of view directly below them and are thereby
able to see the movements of intruders.
Heron nest predator species include Laughing
Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae),
Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen)
and Harriers (Circus spp).
green foliage is added to the nest. It is
unknown why White-faced Herons do this,
but in other species green foliage is used
to help in nest sanitation—GRH.
Whipbirds (Psophodes olivaceus)
Whipbirds (Psophodes olivaceus) found in rainforests
and other somewhat drier forests of the eastern
seaboard are more often heard than seen. Studies
have shown that this species perform duets between
a male and female (his mate).Their distinctive
call, likened to a whip crack appears to serve
two functions 1) males and females maintain contact
as they forage in dense undergrowth, perhaps a
form of mate-guarding and 2) the duet amplifies
ownership of territory. A stringent study also
revealed that males lead the duet.
It appears that when
females outnumber males (the most usual state)
competition among them is particularly vigorous.
Eastern Whipbirds are socially monogamous and
divorce is uncommon. Breeding roles are clear,
females incubate the eggs and brood the nestlings.
A pair extends care of the young to about six
weeks post fledgling, it is thought that by foraging
together young learn which prey to search for.
Families can sometimes be seen foraging on the
forest floor where they scratch and dig at rotting
tree trunks, flinging leaf litter or tearing at
bark to reveal insects, beetles and larvae. These
can be noisy events. A curious behavior is that
of each parent feeding one chick solely.
birds, Eastern Whipbirds have their fair load of
ectoparasites. To exclude these unwanted freeloaders
from their plumage, Eastern Whipbirds indulge in
sunning and or anting. During this activity they
| select a spot
on the forest floor that is bathed in sunlight
spread their tail and wings, ruffle their
feathers and lay about letting the sunlight
and ants act upon the parasites. While these
activities are not well understood plausible
explanations are at hand. In the case of sunning,
the heat generated by the sun may drive the
ectoparasites from within the feathers thereby
allowing the birds to pick them off more easily
and in the case of anting the birds may benefit
from insecticidal, fungal and bacterial properties
contained in the ant’s defensive secretions
acting upon the ectoparasites.