Why we like ’em: There’s consternation in some quarters about the magpie’s Bird of the Year win due to their terrifying swooping, but the Noisy miner gives them a run for their money in the attitude stakes! Highly social birds, they’re called “Noisy” miners for a reason, and they aggressively defend their patch of trees from other birds. Let’s call it small-bird syndrome.
Where to spot them: Errrrverywhere, feeding on nectar and fruits of the Garden’s plants. Stay vigilant around the Simpson Kiosk where one particularly bold little guy will mock swoop you with impunity if you enter his turf.
Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides)
Why we like ’em: Who doesn’t love a bird of prey? There’s a pair of Nankeen Kestrels – a relatively small and slender raptor that can tolerate a wide variety of habitats – in the Garden that loves hunting unsuspecting prey (e.g. mice, small birds, lizards and insects). Other birds of prey you might spot in the Garden include the commanding Peregrine Falcon and the Black-shouldered Kite.
Where to spot them: We reckon they’re nesting somewhere near North Lodge/the Friends Gate and you might spot them cruising for prey during early mornings or late afternoons.
White-faced heron (Egretta novaehollandiae)
Why we like ’em:These waterbirds are elegant looking things, with beautiful blue-grey feathers and legs like stilts.
Where to spot them: They’re a common sight on the islands in our Main Lake and in the Nelumbo Pond, where they feed on insects and amphibians alongside Ibises (a pretty great and misunderstood bird itself!), Masked Lapwings, Dusky Moorhens and other cool water birds.
Where to spot them: The Drunken Parrot Tree (Schotia brachypetala), just east of the Summer House, is where the birds congregate in late spring/summer, but they’re a common sight in the Garden throughout the year. They love to frolic in the water at the Economic Garden’s Boy and Serpent Fountain on warm mornings, which is classic viewing. Keep an eye out for other beautifully-coloured parrots in the Garden, including the Musk Lorikeet, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Crimson Rosella and Red-rumped Parrot.
Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata)
Why we like ’em: Sure, we get plenty duck species in the Garden (Mallards, Pacific Black, Grey Teal, etc.), but the Australian Wood Duck is just your classic no-frills Aussie bird, often complete with a little brown mullet hairstyle.
Where to spot them: They’re all over the Garden, but head to the Bridge near the Little Sprouts Kitchen Garden and First Creek Wetland to get the full Alfred Hitchcock The Birds experience as rows of them stare at you unflinchingly from either side of the chest-high railings.
Willie Wagtail (Rhipiduraleucophrys)
Why we like ’em: How can you not like these cheeky little cuties? Having said that, not everyone is convinced by their cheery demeanour. The Willie Wagtail features prominently in Aboriginal folklore, with some Aboriginal people considering the birds a bad omen and an eavesdropper of secrets.
Where to spot them: They’re not super common in the Garden, but if you’re quick you might spot one. They’re always on the move and they spend a fair bit of time on the ground.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)
Why we like ’em: Are you kidding, how good are the mowhaks?! These large white parrots with signature yellow crests spend heaps of time in flocks and their calls can be deafening. They love to munch on seeds, nuts, berries and roots around the Garden.
Where to spot them: You’ll often see them flying from our Australian Forest to the First Creek Wetland, stopping to chat in our Little Sprouts Kitchen Garden (much to the chagrin of our curator who endures them stealing onions and breaking flowers!).
Why we like ’em: Watching these handsome birds fly is pretty cool. After just a few flaps, they’ll glide with their wings by their side, losing elevation for a few moments until they flap again, creating a distinctive undulating pattern. Plot twist: they’re not actually related to cuckoos or shrikes.
Where to spot them: They’re around. They like to feed on insects and other invertebrates, so you might spot them rummaging through foliage or catching them on the ground.
Where to spot: The pair was shacked up in the Bicentennial Conservatory (where they helped keep the bug population under control), but they haven’t been spotted for a while. Keep your eyes peeled.
Regent Honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia)
Why we like ’em:Regent Honeyeaters are beautiful birds, with a black head, neck and upper breast atop a bold yellow back and yellow patched wings and tail. They love to eat nectar, native and cultivated fruits, insects and spiders, and they construct thick cup-shaped nests made of bark, lined with other softer materials (they place these in tree forks).
Where to spot them: You’d be very lucky to spot one unfortunately, and records of them being sighted in the Garden are historical. That’s because the Regent Honeyeater is critically endangered due to widespread clearance of their woodland habitat. BirdLife Australia’s website has more detailed information on the Regent Honeyeater and some of Australia’s other threatened birds, as well as ways people can get involved with bird conservation.
SA bird conservation
Closer to home, Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management has some great information on the threatened birds in our region (including the endangered Restless Flycatcher and Black-chinned Honeyeater – both of which have been spotted in Adelaide Botanic Garden), and the projects they’re leading to save them.
Following the devastating 2020 bushfires on Kangaroo Island, scientists at the SA Seed Conservation Centre have visited the island a number of times to investigate what botanical treasures have regrown, and to collect seeds and plant specimens with a conservation aim.