Backyard Buddies

Water Birds

Eurasian Coot

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Photo credit: Rosie Nicolai

Eurasian Coot

You've probably spotted this black bird gliding effortlessly over the surface of a pond or river - but do you know what it is? The white beak and shield on its face give it away, as do its red eyes. It's a Eurasian Coot. If you go for a walk near some water and hear 'kow-kow-kow' or 'kwok', you're close to spotting a Coot. At the beginning of August, Coots are looking for a mate and pairing up. They breed right up until February ..

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Little Penguin

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Photo credit: FNPW Image Library

Little Penguin

Australia's Little Penguin is the world's smallest penguin. It is also known as the Fairy Penguin. A lightweight of just about 1kg, it is also called the Fairy Penguin. By comparison, the Emperor Penguin, the largest of the world's 18 penguin species, weighs up to 38 kg. The Little Penguin's Latin name Eudyptula minor means 'good little diver', an accurate description of this species. With a body shaped like a torpedo, its wings t..

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Night Heron

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Photo credit: Peter Sherratt - OEH

Night Heron

On still summer nights, you may come upon a feathered hunter standing hunched and still in your local dam or paperbark swamp, watching the dark water with a large, baleful eye. The Nankeen Night Heron is a large bird up to 60 cm in length and with a one metre wingspan. It has rich cinnamon plumage, huge eyes adapted to night vision, and a petrol-blue beak and cap. It lives throughout Australia, wherever there is a permanent water source...

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Purple Swamphen

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Photo credit: R Nicolai

Purple Swamphen

If you think you have seen a purple chicken, chances are you've actually spotted a Purple Swamphen, Porphyrio porphyrio. The Purple Swamphen is a large waterhen with a distinctive heavy red bill and forehead shield. They have red eyes and a deep blue head and breast, with black upper parts and wings. In bright sunlight the plumage shines with an intense blue sheen. Long reddish legs with long slender unwebbed toes help it walk and f..

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White Ibis

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Photo credit: Rosie Nicolai

White Ibis

The Australian White Ibis is in many places considered a pest, as a result of their bold behaviour - they are not above sticking their beaks into your lunch if you are sitting in the park. They tend to cluster in groups and it is not unusual to find up to 50 of them gathered on your front lawn. The White Ibis usually breeds from August through to April, although it does vary from location to location. For instance, ibises in Sydney br..

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Wood Duck

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Photo credit: Tim Riding/OEH

Wood Duck

The Wood Duck is Australia's most common duck and lives throughout Australia with the exception of particularly arid areas. Their distinctive brown and white feathers make Wood Ducks easy for you to distinguish from other waterbirds, as they look completely unique. Male and female wood ducks are easy to tell apart because the male's feathers are much darker and more distinctive than the females. As well as looking unusual, the Wood D..

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