Birds of the Wet Tropics Rainforest

Two little birds, Tropical North Queensland

From lush, tropical rainforests, to woodlands, mangroves, grasslands, and pristine beaches, Tropical North Queenslands Wet Tropics’ diverse landscape is a haven for nearly half of Australia’s birds – that’s more than 370 bird species, including nine of Australia’s ten kingfishers, seven of the country’s nine owls, and thirteen birds found nowhere else in the world.

It’s no wonder then that birders and twitchers are flocking to the Daintree and Cape Tribulation rainforests. And they are well catered for with a range of tours led by expert birding clubs and guides.

Best places to see native Australian birds

Where to find our feathered friends in Queensland ? Here are a few suggestions as a starting point:

  • Daintree National Park: Jindalba boardwalk and Mossman Gorge.
  • Cairns Esplanade, Machans Beach, Centenary Lakes and Mt Whitfield.
  • Atherton Tablelands: Mt Lewis, Mareeba Wetlands, Hasties Swamp, Bromfield Swamp, Lake Barrine, Lake Eacham, Malanda Falls, Kuranda.
  • Lacey Creek and Licuala Forest near Mission Beach.
  • Bluewater near Townsville.

Birds endemic to the Wet Tropcs

In addition to the following thirteen birds unique to the Wet Tropics, there are many more you’ll likely encounter during your stay in the tropics. 

You may see the small yellow-bellied sunbird hovering in the garden like a hummingbird, or hear the screeching rainbow lorikeets that get drunk on the nectar of trees and shrubs and can be seen hanging upside down from branches, at times falling to the ground. And then there is the ground-dwelling curlew, that lets out an eerie, high-pitched wailing in the late hours of the night.  

  • Tooth-billed bowerbird (Scenopoeetes dentirostris)
    • During the mating season around September to January the male practices his vocal mimicry. 
  • Golden bowerbird (Prionodura newtoniana)
    • With a bright yellow throat, chest, and tail and olive-green face, these small birds are found within the mountain ranges. Remarkably, the different populations of the mountain ranges have developed its own song routine.
  • Bridled honeyeater (Lichenostomus frenatus)
    • Named after its yellow bridle that goes across the top of the bill, they can be found around the crater lakes (Barrine and Eacham) of the Atherton Tablelands.
  • Fernwren (Oreoscopus gutturalis)
    • A long-billed, short-tailed species similar to a scrubwren.
  • Atherton scrubwren (Sericornis keri)
    • This species was only discovered in 1964. It can be found in pairs feeding quietly on the forest floor.
  • Mountain thornbill (Acanthiza katherina)
    • The nest is a compact dome shape made from fine grass and fibres.
  • Grey-headed robin (Heteromyias cinereifrons)
    • Measuring between 18.5 – 19.5cm this little bird is common in the rainforest, usually found in the higher altitudes of the Atheron Tablelands.
  • Northern logrunner (Orthonyx spaldingii)
    • Also known as the chowchilla, this species sings a loud song. Their chorus is similar to that of a lyrebird’s call.
  • Bower's shrike-thrush (Colluricincla boweri)
    • Another bird that inhabits the higher altitudes of the rainforest.
  • Lesser sooty owl (Tyto multipunctata)
    • There are known to be two mating pairs in the Lake Eacham area where they are commonly seen at night and can be heard making their characteristic call.
  • Macleay's honeyeater (Xanthotis macleayana)
    • Known for its musical sing-song of “to wit,  tooweeee twit”, this bird has a tongue tipped like a paintbrush for collecting nectar.
  • Victoria's riflebird (Ptiloris victoriae)
    • One of Australia’s birds of paradise the male has an iridescent purple plumage which it displays during its mating dance by arching his wings above his head and moving from side to side.  
  • Pied monarch (Arses kaupi)
    • Mostly black with a white collar, belly, and underside. Breeding season is between October and January.  

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