Nature’s Gems – What Waterbird is that?

Australian Waterbirds
Australian Waterbirds

In the last few weeks I have been back out in the Lockyer Valley around Gatton doing some birdwatching. 

At this time of the year, there are many bird species utilising the areas in the region that have water. 

I thought it would be interesting to do an article which helps with the identification of some of these bird species. 

My Country Escape

For people who are familiar with bird species in South-East Queensland, this might seem easy but for beginners it can be a little daunting. 

In the photograph that I have provided, there are five recognisable bird species that inhabit watery surroundings in the Lockyer Valley. 

They are the Magpie Goose, Plumed Whistling Duck, Purple Swamphen, Australian White Ibis and Royal Spoonbill. 

The first question that a novice birdwatcher would ask is how would one tell these separate species apart. 

My response would be to look at the colour of the plumage (feathers), size of the bird and shape of the bill of the bird. A good example from this picture would be the Magpie Goose and Royal Spoonbill.  Both bird species essentially look black and white in colour but what sets the two species apart is the shape of the bill. 

The name of a Royal Spoonbill says it all. Also, the Magpie Goose has a shape that does essentially resemble a goose where as the Royal Spoonbills are a taller bird with thinner legs.

Identifying different duck species can be a challenge especially when they are on the water and a long distance away. 

The things I always keep in mind for duck ID is the colour of the plumage, bill and eye features and the overall shape of the bird. 

The Plumed Whistling Duck in the photo is easy to identify by its light brown colour and the upswept white feather near the flank. 

The last two birds in the photo are known by most people around urban environs. 

The Australian White Ibis or “Bin Chicken” is a household Australian icon, and the Purple Swamphen is distinctive with its characteristic blue plumage and red bill. 

Birdwatching is a hobby where people should start with learning common species and progress to less distinctive species. 

It is something that I never tire of doing and I hope there are others who read this article who feel the same! 

About Keer Moriarty 253 Articles
Editor, journo, social media manager and tea lady with Canungra Times.