Behavioural 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 grasses
  • 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 or rock.

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 web.

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.

Notable behaviours of White-faced Heron (Ardea novaehollandiae)
Location & Habitat
White-faced Herons 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.
..White-faced Herons 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.

Food and Foraging
White-faced Herons 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.

Preening White-faced Heron
Occasionally 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 the sun.

Agonistic behaviour
Usually 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.
..To counter aerial attacks White-faced herons assume a different flight silhouette by flying with their necks stretched out, thus confusing their attacker.


Flocks may gather around permanent water after breeding. They may form foraging associations with White Ibis.
..Young White-faced 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.
..White-faced Heron nest predator species include Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae), Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) and Harriers (Circus spp).
..During incubation 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.

Bittern-like pose of
White-faced Heron
Eastern Whipbirds (Psophodes olivaceus)
Eastern 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.

Like all 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.  
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