Birds of The Diamantina
It is a rich tapestry of vast gibber and grass plains stretching to the distant horizon, undulating red sand dunes, and life sustaining billabongs. The Diamantina Shire lies in the heart of this diverse region. The vast flood plain not only contains some of the best cattle fattening land in the country, but also supports an amazing and often surprising diversity of habitats and associated birdlife. Eyrean grasswrens scuttle about along the sand dunes, rufus-crowned emu-wrens dart amongst the spinifex, while grey grass-wrens hide out in the lignum swamps of Cuttaburra Crossing. Gibberbirds as well as the elusive yellow chat can be found among the gibber plains and wetlands, often with their orange and crimson brethren. Rare grey falcons have been recorded hunting over the Channel Country flood plain, and the nomadic letter-winged kite can also be found here in good years.
The White-plumed Honeyeater (scientific name: Lichenotomus pencillatus) is found in open forests and woodlands, often near water and wetlands. It is scarce or absent in arid regions unless water is artificially supplied (e.g. water troughs for stock).
The Zebra Finch (scientific name: Taebiopygia guttata) is commonly found in large flocks in drier wooded grassland areas in Australia. Adult Zebra Finches are mainly grey, with black and white barring on the rump and upper tail. Throat and upper breast are pale grey and with a characteristic black ‘tear drop’ eye strip. The sides of the belly are chestnut with white spots. Zebra Finches are very romantic and pair for life. The female Zebra Finch selects and constructs the nest while the male collects all nesting material.
The Rainbow Bee-eater (scientific name: Merops ornata) is most often found in open forests, woodlands, shrublands and cleared areas, usually near water throughout the mainland of Australia. Rainbow Bee-eaters eat insects, mainly catching bees and wasps, as well as beetles and months. They catch flying insects on the wing and carry them back to a perch to beat them against it before swallowing them.
The Diamond Dove (scientific name: Geopelia cuneata) can be found only in Australia and is widely distributed in arid and semi-arid grassland savannah. The Diamond Dove is the smallest dove in Australia. The head and breast are grey-blue, the wings are brown with little white spots and they have a distinctive red eye ring. The Doves feed on the ground from herbs, grass and seeds close to the water.
The booklet Birds of the Diamantina Shire is available at the Wirrarri Visitor Information Centre Birdsville and the Bedourie Outback Visitor Centre or online.