Birds of Merri Creek

Here are some of the birds we have spotted along Merri Creek at our quarterly Merri BirdWatch. We visit a number of sites along the creek, so it's a great opportunity to find out more about our local birdlife, and explore the parklands.

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Australasian Pipit

Scientific name: Anthus novaeseelandiae

A slender bird, 16 to 19 cm long. The plumage is pale brown above with dark streaks. The underparts are pale with streaks on the breast. There is a pale stripe over the eye and dark malar and moustachial stripes. The long tail has white outer-feathers and is often wagged up and down. The legs are long and pinkish-brown while the bill is slender and brownish. It has a sparrow-like chirruping call and a drawn-out tswee call.

More on the Australasian Pipit.
Australasian Pipits

Photo: Summerdrought. Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.

Brown Falcon

Scientific name: Falco berigora

Small to medium-sized raptors (birds of prey). The female is larger than the male. The Brown Falcon has a range of plumage colours, from very dark brown to light brown above and off-white below. Generally, the upperparts are dark brown and the underparts are pale buff or cream.

More on the Brown Falcon.

Brown Falcon

Photo: John O'Neill, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Brown Goshawk

Scientific name: Accipiter fasciatus

Its upperparts are grey with a chestnut collar; its underparts are mainly rufous, finely barred with white. It has similar colouring to the collared sparrowhawk but is larger. The flight is fast and flexible.

More on the Brown Goshawk.

Brown Goshawks

Photo: Aviceda, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Chestnut Teal

Scientific name: Anas castanea

A small elegant (40 - 48cm) duck, outside the breeding season the green-headed male looks like the brown female. Feeds by dabbling and up-ending in water. The Grey Teal is similar to the female, but with a whitish throat.

More on the Chestnut Teal.

Chestnut Teal 2

Chestnut Teal 1

Photo: P. Mollison

Collared Sparrowhawk

Scientific name: Accipiter cirrocephalus

The Collared Sparrowhawk is a small, slim bird of prey in the family Accipitridae found in Australia, New Guinea and nearby smaller islands. As its name implies the collared sparrowhawk is a specialist in hunting small birds. It is characterised by its slight brow ridges and slender feet.

More on the Collared Sparrowhawk.

Collared sparrowhawk

Photo: Sunphlo, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

Common Blackbird

Scientific name: Terdus merula
The adult male of the Common Blackbird is all black except for a yellow eye-ring and bill and has a rich, melodious song; the adult female and juvenile have mainly dark brown plumage.

More on the Common Blackbird.

Common Blackbird

Photo: Andreas Trepte, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic

Common Myna

Scientific name: Acridotheres tristis

The Common Myna is readily identified by the brown body, black hooded head and the bare yellow patch behind the eye. The bill and legs are bright yellow. There is a white patch on the outer primaries and the wing lining on the underside is white. The sexes are similar and birds are usually seen in pairs.

The Common Myna is increasing at such a rapid rate that in 2000 the IUCN Species Survival Commission declared it one of the world's most invasive species.

More on the Common Myna.

Common Myna

Photo: Melindra12, Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.

Common starling

Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris

It is about 20 cm (8 in) long and has glossy black plumage with a metallic sheen, which is speckled with white at some times of year. The legs are pink and the bill is black in winter and yellow in summer; young birds have browner plumage than the adults. It is a noisy bird, especially in communal roosts and other gregarious situations, with an unmusical but varied song.

Starlings are found at most Merri birdwatch sites but were seen in large numbers at Galgi Ngarrk and Galada Tamboore in 2019.

More on the Common Starling.

Common starling

Photo: Melindra12, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Crested Pigeon

Scientific name: Ocyphaps lophotes

A native pigeon (30-35cm), feeds on seeds on open ground, and has whistling wingbeats.

More on the Crested Pigeon.

crested pigeon

Photo: M. Potter

Dusky Moorhen

Scientific name: Gallinula tenebrosa

This water-loving ‘hen’ is often noisy, with shrieks, ‘kerk’s or repeated ‘kok’s. Flicks tail to show white under-edges. Jerks head when swimming.

More on the Dusky Moorhen.

dusky moorhen

Photo: K. Zonnevylle

Eastern Rosella

Scientific name: Platycercus eximius

The eastern rosella is 30 cm (12 in) long. It has a red head and white cheeks. The beak is white and the irises are brown. The upper breast is red and the lower breast is yellow fading to pale green over the abdomen. The feathers of the back and shoulders are black, and have yellowish or greenish margins giving rise to a scalloped appearance that varies slightly between the subspecies and the sexes. The wings and lateral tail feathers are bluish while the tail is dark green. The legs are grey. The female is similar to the male though duller in colouration and has an underwing stripe, which is not present in the adult male.

More on the Eastern Rosella.

Eastern Rosella

Photo:  JJ Harrison, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Eastern Spinebill

Scientific name: Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris

A hineyeaster, feeding on nectar and insects, the Eastern Spinebill is a small bird - up to 15cm long and lives in forests and woodlands. They also settle in urban ares with suitable habitat.





Photos: JJ Harrison, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International; Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

More on the Eastern Spinebill.

Eastern Whipbird

Heard much more often than seen, it is dark olive-green and black in colour with a distinctive white cheek patch and a crest. The male and female are similar in plumage.  A highly unusual species for Merri Creek is Eastern Whipbird, normally a resident of wet forests of the eastern ranges.

Listen here to its distinct call.

More on the Eastern Whipbird.

Eastern Whipbird

Photo: A. Johnson

Golden Headed Cisticola

Scientific name: Cisticola exilis

Also known as the bright-capped cisticola, is a species of warbler in the family Cisticolidae, found in Australia and thirteen Asian countries. Growing to 9–11.5 centimetres (3.5–4.5 in) long, it is usually brown and cream in colour, but has a different appearance during the mating season, with a gold-coloured body and a much shorter tail. It is an omnivore and frequently makes a variety of vocalizations. It constructs nests out of plants and spider threads.

More on the Golden Headed Cisticola.

Golden Headed Cisticola

Photo: JJ Harrison, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Grey Butcherbird

Scientific name: Cracticus torquatus

The Grey Butcherbird’s loud, melodious and rollicking call is most often heard in autumn. Juveniles are dark brown above, off-white below. The name comes from the habit of wedging large prey (insects, lizards, mice, small birds) into a tree fork or spike. Length: 24 – 32cm.

More on the Grey Butcherbird.

grey butcher bird

Photo: P. Mollison


Scientific name: Dacelo novaeguineae

Generally off-white below, faintly barred with dark brown, and brown on the back and wings.

More on the Kookaburra.


Photo: JJ Harrison. Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported


Scientific name: Gymnorhina tibicen

A medium-sized black and white passerine bird native to Australia and southern New Guinea. The adult Australian magpie has distinctive black and white plumage, gold brown eyes and a solid wedge-shaped bluish-white and black bill. The male and female are similar in appearance, and can be distinguished by differences in back markings. The male has pure white feathers on the back of the head and the female has white blending to grey feathers on the back of the head. With its long legs, the Australian magpie walks rather than waddles or hops and spends much time on the ground.

More on the Magpie.


Photo: JJ Harrison, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Magpie lark

Scientific name: Grallina cyanoleuca

The adult male Magpie-lark has a white eyebrow and black face, while the female has an all-white face with no white eyebrow. Young birds have a black forehead, a white eyebrow and a white throat. The Magpie-lark is often referred to as a Peewee or Pee Wee, after the sound of its distinctive calls.

More on the Magpie Lark.

magpie lark

Photo: JJ Harrison, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Musk Lorikeet

Nectar lovers, the Musk Lorikeets congragte around flowering time for eucalypts and other flowering trees. Medium in size, it often mixes with parrots and other birds.

More on the Musk Lorikeet.

musk lorikeet

Photo: Adi Tudor

Nankeen Kestrel

Scientific name: Falco cenchroides

A small, slim falcon 28 to 35 cm long with a wingspan of 66 to 78 cm. It has pale rufous upper-parts with contrasting black flight-feathers and is finely streaked white below, with a black subterminal band.

More on the Nankeen Kestrel.

nankeen kestrel

Photo: JJ Harrison. Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Nankeen Night Heron

Scientific name: Nycticorax caledonicus

The species is 55 to 65 cm in length, with rich cinnamon upperparts and white underparts. It is primarily nocturnal and is observed in a broad range of habitats, including forests, meadows, shores, reefs, marshes, grasslands, and swamps.

More on the Nankeen Night Heron.

Nankeen night heron

Photo: C.Tzaros

New Holland Honeyeater

Scientific name: Phylidonyris novaehollandiae

Active, darting birds, the New Holland Honeyeaters have a rich diet, feeding on bectar from a range of trees and shrubs.

More on the New Holland Honeyeaters.

Screenshot 2021-01-13 211719

Photo: Adi Tudor

Noisy Miner

Scientific name: Manorina melanocephala

Medium-sized (25-28cm) native honeyeater, loud, bold and colonial. Like the introduced brown Common (Indian) Mynah, Noisy Miners are aggressive to other birds. They feed in trees and on open ground.

More on the Noisy Miner.

noisy miner

Photo: K. Zonneville

Pacific Black Duck

Scientific name: Anas superciliosa

A common duck in lakes and ponds, the Black Duck upends to feed on plants and insects below the water surface. (Bread is not healthy food for ducks!) The Northern Mallard, originally from Europe, hybridises with Black Ducks; offspring have orange-yellow legs and feet whereas Black Ducks have dull green-yellow to orange-brown legs and feet.

More on the Pacific Black Duck.

pacific black duck

Photo: P. Mollison

Pied Currawong

Scientific name: Strepera graculina)

A medium-sized black passerine bird native to eastern Australia and Lord Howe Island. It is a robust crowlike bird averaging around 48 cm (19 in) in length, black or sooty grey-black in plumage with white undertail and wing patches, yellow irises, and a heavy bill. The male and female are similar in appearance. Known for its melodious calls.

More on the Pied Currawong.

pied currawong

Photo: D. Gordon E. Robertson. Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Powerful Owl

Scientific name: Ninox strenua

The powerful owl has a long tail and a small head, lending it an atypical silhouette for an owl and imparting a more hawk-like appearance than any other large owl. The protruding bill and distinct brow ridges enhance the hawk-like appearance of the species.

More on the Powerful Owl.

powerful owl

Photo: John Manger, Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

Rainbow Lorikeet

Scientific name: richoglossus moluccanus

The rainbow lorikeet is a medium-sized parrot, with the length ranging from 25 to 30 cm including the tail.  The head is deep blue with a greenish-yellow nuchal collar, and the rest of the upper parts (wings, back and tail) are green. The chest is orange/yellow. The belly is deep blue, and the thighs and rump are green. In flight a yellow wing-bar contrasts clearly with the red underwing coverts.

More on Rainbow Lorikeets.

rainbird lorikets

Photo: Sheba, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

Red-rumped parrot

Scientific name: Psephotus haematonotus

These delicate parrots feed on seeds and grass on open ground, and can be quite tame unless disturbed by a dog. They mate for life, with the grey-green female being much less colourful than the male.

More on Red Rumped Parrots.

red rumped parrot 2

red rumped parrot 1

Photos: P. Mollison, K. Zonnevylle

Red-browed Finch

Scientific name; Neochmia temporalis

A bird of the grasslands, joins other birds feeds on seeds

More on the Red Browed Finch.


Photo: Ian Sanderson, Flickr. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 GenericCC BY-SA 2.0

Red Wattlebird

Scientific name: Anthochaera carunculata

One of the largest honeyeaters, the Red Wattlebird is a noisy, aggressive blossom nomad. The ‘wattle’ is a red skin-flap on side of neck. A patch of yellow on the belly, the wattle and a whitish triangle below the eyes distinguish the Red from the Little Wattlebird, which can also be seen near the Merri.  

More on the Red Wattlebird.

red wattle bird

Photo: P. Mollison

Rock Dove (Pigeon)

Scientific name: Columba livia

More on the Rock Dove.

rock dove

Photo: Diego Delso, Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Rose Robin

Scientific name: Petroica rosea

The male has the rose chest plumage, the female brown, white and grey with occasional splash of pale rose on the breast. Darting as they feed on insects in the higher canopy of trees.

More on the Rose Robin.

Adi Calendar 2020 10 Rose Robin

Photo: Adi Tudor

Rufous Songlark

Scientific name: Cincloramphus mathewsi

The rufous songlark is medium brown passerine songbird with a pattern of streaks on its feathers. A migratory species that come down from northern Australia to the Merri Creek to nest in the spring and returns in autumn.

More on the Rufous Songlark.

rufous songlark

Photo: flagstaffotos, Wikimedia CommonsAttribution NonCommercial Unported 3.0

Sacred Kingfisher

Scientific name: Todiramphus sanctus

A medium-sized woodland kingfisher that occurs in mangroves, woodlands, forests, and river valleys in Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of the western Pacific. They are mostly blue-green to turquoise above, with white underparts and collar feathers, a black mask and buff lores.[12] Both sexes are similar, but females are usually greener, duller and less buff beneath.

More on the Sacred Kingfisher.

sacred kingfisher

Photo: Adi Tudor

Silver Gull

Scientific name: Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae or Larus novaehollandiae

Silver Gulls were mostly found at the Coburg and Edwardes Lakes in 2019.

More on the Silver Gull.

silver gull

Photo: Vicki, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

Spotted Pardalote

Scientific name: Pardalotus punctatus

The Spotted Pardalote is a tiny, active bird (8-10cm) that forages for insects in the leaves of trees, mainly eucalypts. Calls sound like: ‘deedee’, or ‘sleep, deedee.’ The female lacks yellow on throat.

More on the Spotted Pardalote.

spotted pardote

Photo: P. Mollison

Superb Fairy-wren

Scientific name: Malurus cyaneus

Only the male in breeding season is blue, but all tiny Superb Fairy-wrens have a long, cocked tail that wobbles as if on a spring as they hop around on the ground or in low dense vegetation, in pairs and small groups. 14 cm.  

More on the Superb Fairy Wren.

Male Superb Fairy-wren on wire PMollison

Photo: P.Mollison

Tawny frogmouth

Scientific name: Podargus strigoides

Tawny frogmouths are big-headed, stocky bird, often mistaken for an owl, due to its nocturnal habits and similar colouring. They can measure from 34 to 53 cm long.

Tawny Frogmouths were most often seen at the Egan Reserve (East Coburg) site. The data for the past five years confirmed this as a general trend.

More on the Tawny Frogmouth.

tawny frogmouths

Photo: Adi Tudor

Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo

Scientific name: Calyptorhynchus funereus

A large bird, these cockatoos nest in tree hollows. They feed on the seeds of native trees and pine cones and some insects.

More on the Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo.

Adi Calendar 2020 01 Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo(1)

Photo: Adi Tudor

Wedge-tailed Eagles

Scientific name: Aquila audax

The largest bird of prey in Australia, The wedge-tailed eagle is one of 12 species of large, predominantly dark-coloured booted eagles in the genus Aquila found worldwide. A large brown bird of prey, it has a wingspan up to 2.84 m (9 ft 4 in) and a length up to 1.06 m (3 ft 6 in).[2]

More on the Wedge-tailed Eagle.

wedge-tailed eagle

Photo: David Paul,Museums Victoria, Copyright Museums Victoria / CC BY-NC (Licensed as Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International

White Ibis

Scientific name: Threskiornis molucca
In urban areas bin and tip foragers, the White Ibis is often seen at picnic grounds. In agricultural areas they feed on insects such as locusts.

More on the White Ibis.

white ibis

Photo: Adi Tudor

White-plumed Honeyeater

Scientific name: Lichenostomus penicillatus

These active small-medium birds have a loud, cheery ‘chick o wee’ call, and an urgent piping alarm call that alerts other birds about predators nearby. Their diet is insects from foliage or captured in flight, nectar and lerps. Found across inland Australia; mostly sedentary (stays in one location). 

More on the White-plumed Honeyeater.

white-plumed honeyeater

Photo: P. Mollison

White-winged Triller

Scientific name: Lalage tricolor

A small, compact bird with a short slender bill, long wings and a rather long tail with a rounded tip. A migratory species that come down from northern Australia to nest in the spring and return in autumn.

More on the White-winged Triller.

white winged triller female

Photo: A female white-winged triller, JJ Harrison Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

white winged triller male

Photo: A male white-winged triller by JJ Harrison, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Willy Wagtail

Scientific name: Rhipidura leucophrys

An active insect catcher, often on the ground, the Willie Wagtail is well-named. He can sing ‘sweet pretty creature’ repeatedly on moonlit nights. Willie Wagtails are found all over mainland Australia. The white brow, black throat and upper breast distinguish them from other black-and-white flycatchers.
More on the Willy Wagtail.


Photo: Jason Girvan, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported