Whether you’re a keen twitcher or completely clueless when it comes to bird watching, you can’t help but be completely entranced by the incredible bird life at Talaroo. From the majestic Wedge Tailed Eagle, the totem and symbol of Ewamian people often seen soaring over the Hot Springs boardwalk, to the colourful flocks of Galahs greeting the sunrise and sunset, Talaroo is a birders’ paradise.
The global birding database eBird, hosted by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, currently lists Talaroo as a hotspot with 93 bird species but in our own surveys we’ve seen over 200 species on the property and are always finding more.
In fact our Ewamian Rangers have been working for many years with bird specialists from BirdLife Northern Queensland to identify and record our diverse bird life. Here are some of our favourites and the most commonly seen birds at Talaroo.
Wedge-tailed eagle – “Gurridjala” in Ewamian language.
The magnificent Wedge-tailed eagle is Australia’s largest bird of prey with a wing span up to 2.3m and a long wedge-shaped tail. Ewamian Elder, Lewis Richards, describes the wedge-tailed eagle as “The eagle who sees all, and watches over our people and keeps us strong, The eagle who is very powerful, and rules the birdlife of our country, his keen and eager eyes forever watching over the land and its people, keeping us safe”
Emu – “Bərri”
You’ll find emus year-round at Talaroo, so keep a look out on the drive in. At close to 2m tall, they are the second largest bird in the world after the ostrich, but without the need for flight their wings have been reduced to about the size of a human hand, so there’s no chance they’ll be taking off. They also nest at Talaroo so you may even spot one of their stripey chicks.
Red-tailed black cockatoo – “Garraŋgarri”
One of Australia’s five black cockatoo species, the red-tailed black cockatoo is recognisable for its gorgeous orange/red tail feathers and its striking crest which extends regally beyond its bill. These noisy birds roost in large trees along the Einasleigh River and are often seen flying high in flocks at sunset.
Australian bustard – “Darrguy”
Also known as the Plains turkey, this stately looking bird stands about 1 metre tall and walks sedately with its head and neck held high. It is often seen on the road from the highway to Talaroo campground, particularly around twilight.
Although there isn’t a Ewamian word that we know of for the Galah – also known as the pink and grey cockatoo - they are certainly one of our favourites, and are seen in great, colourful and noisy flocks around the campground and old Homestead and photobomb many of our guests’ sunset photos.
Beyond these commonly seen birds, experienced birders should keep their eyes peeled for the Endangered Black-throated finch which we’ve been lucky enough to find at Talaroo.
We also have good habitat for the spectacularly coloured but Endangered Gouldian Finch (pictured below) so we’d love to hear if you spot one. They used to be seen in flocks of thousands but now there are believed to be less than 2500 birds in total. The finches have suffered since colonisation of their habitat and modification for cattle pastures. Since Talaroo became an Indigenous Protected Area and Nature Refuge in 2012 and we removed most of the cattle, we have been laying the groundwork for this species through cultural burns, encouraging native grasses and protecting old hollow trees where they nest.
Knowledge is power so we’d love our guests to help our conservation efforts by letting us know what you see, or by uploading your sightings to eBird, Questagame or by getting involved in the annual Aussie Bird Countwhich takes place every October.
And if you’re travelling more widely throughout the region, check out the birdwatching opportunities across the whole of Tropical North Queensland.