Featherdale Wildlife Park - Sydney Australia

Sydney’s Hands-On Wildlife Experience

Cassowary

LARGE BIRDS

Interesting information about some of the large birds you will meet at Featherdale.

At Featherdale Wildlife Park we care for a wide range of Australian native species. We intend to document them in detail for your reference on our website. This is a work in progress. Please let us know if you would like to learn more about a specific species that is not yet listed and we'll add them to the top of the list.

brolga

Grus rubicunda

facts & figures

KINGDOM

Animalia

PHYLUM

Chordata

CLASS

Aves

ORDER

Gruiformes

FAMILY

Gruidae

GENUS

Grus

SPECIES

rubicunda

Conservation Status

Species status information sourced from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.


Did you know?

  • Derivation: Gru= crane; rubicund= red

  • Brolgas are listed as Vulnerable in New South Wales.

description

Brolgas are one of Australia’s largest flying birds, standing at 80-120cm tall and a wingspan of almost 2.5m. They are a grey bird, with a red “mask” of bare skin across the face, with a bare grey crown and ear coverts, and yellow eyes. They have a black dewlap under the chin, and black primary wing feathers and legs.


Habitat

Brolgas are native to Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, as well as vagrant to New Zealand. They prefer swamp or coastal regions with wetlands, saltmarsh, open grasslands and/or crops.


Diet

Brolgas are omnivorous, feeding on a diet of insects, small rodents, frogs and reptiles, as well as herbage and grain crops.


Social organisation and Reproduction

Brolgas are usually found in pairs or, especially during non-breeding season, in large flocks. During the breeding season of September-December, males and females will stand opposite each other and perform a bonding and mating dance. Both will spread out their wings and jump, turn and dance around each other, sometimes jumping up to a metre in the air then using their wings to parachute back to the ground. They will also emit loud trumpeting vocalisations. Nests can be as simple as a shallow dip in the ground, or more a more complex platform consisting of grass-tussocks, reeds and other swamp plants. 2-3 eggs are laid, which are whitish in colour, with purplish-red spots. Males and females share the responsibility of incubating the eggs for the 28-30 day duration.

Black-necked Stork

Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus

facts and figures

KINGDOM

Animalia

PHYLUM

Chordata

CLASS

Aves

ORDER

Ciconiiformes

FAMILY

Ciconiidae

GENUS

Ephippiorhynchus

SPECIES

asiaticus

Conservation Status

Species status information sourced from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Did you know?

  • Black-necked Storks are also known as a Jabiru in Australia; however this name is the common name used for another bird species found in South America.

  • Derivation: Ephippio = saddle, horseback; rhynchus = beak (nose); asiaticus = Asiatic

  • Black-necked Storks are listed as Endangered in New South Wales.

Description

Black-necked Storks are a striking, tall waterbird, and the only species of Stork found in Australia. Black-necked Storks stand at up to 1.2m tall with a wingspan of up to 137cm, and have a large, thick, straight black bill. Their head, neck, tail and broad wing-stripes are glossy black with an iridescent shine. The rest of their feathers are white, and their legs are red. Females have a bright yellow iris, whereas males have a dark-brown iris.


Habitat

Black-necked Storks inhabit swamps, freshwater wetlands, tidal flats, saltwater creeks, floodplains, billabongs and floodwaters, as well as adjacent grasslands, paddocks and open woodlands.


Diet

Black-necked Storks feed on a diet of aquatic vertebrates such as fish, eels, frogs and turtles, as well as aquatic invertebrates such as crabs and insects.


Social organisation and Reproduction

Black-necked Storks can be found individually, in pairs or in small flocks. The breeding season is generally anytime from March-October. Pairs will build a platform nest 1-2m in diameter, in a dead or alive tree near water. Females will lay 1-4 white eggs, which both parents will incubate. Chicks will remain in their natal territory for 14-18 months, but have been known to stay for up to 28 months.

Australian Bustard

Ardeotis australis

facts and figures

KINGDOM

Animalia

PHYLUM

Chordata

CLASS

Aves

ORDER

Gruiformes

FAMILY

Otididae

GENUS

Ardeotis

SPECIES

australis

Lc_Status

Species status information sourced from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Did you know?

  • Australian Bustards are also known as the Plains Turkey

  • The genus Ardeotis comes from the Latin ardea, meaning “heron”, and the Greek otidos, meaning “bustard”.

  • Australian Bustards are listed as Endangered in New South Wales.

Description

Standing at up to 1m tall, Australian Bustards are a heavy-set, erect bird with a wingspan of up to 2.3m. They have a brown back, wings and tail with fine buff markings, a white abdomen and chest. The crown, upperwing coverts and breast band are black, and the legs are pale yellow, grey or olive. Males have an off-white neck and face; females have an off-white to grey neck and face.


Habitat

Australian Bustards are found almost Australia-wide, though are absent in Tasmania, south and south-east New South Wales and Victoria, and south-west Western Australia. They inhabit tussock and hammock grasslands, as well as low shrublands and open woodlands. 


Diet

Australian Bustards are an omnivorous species, feeding on native fruits, berries, and seeds, as well as chicks, lizards, insects and rodents.


Social organisation and Reproduction

Australian Bustards have been found in small groups of 2-6 individuals, pairs, individually and in large flocks of over 100 individuals. During favourable conditions, Australian Bustards form a “lek”- a gathering of males displaying for female attention. Males lower their large breast sac to the ground, fanning their breast feathers and lifting their tail up over their back. They also utter a low roar. Females choose males according to their display, plumage and position in the lek. After breeding, the female takes sole responsibility of incubating the eggs on the ground in long grass for 21-24 days. Chicks are precocial at hatching, and leave the nest soon after.

Emu

Dromaius novaehollandiae

Facts and Figures

KINGDOM

Animalia

PHYLUM

Chordata

CLASS

Aves

ORDER

Struthioniformes

FAMILY

Dromaiidae

GENUS

Dromaius

SPECIES

D. novaehollandiae

Conservation Status

Species status information sourced from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Did you know?

  • Emus have the ability to communicate by using an inflatable neck sack

  • There are three subspecies of emus in Australia. 

  • Plumage varies regionally, matching the surrounding environment and improving its camouflage.

  • During times of drought, Emus suffer terribly due to lack of greenery

  • Emu eggs weigh an average of 700g each!

Description

Standing at 150-190cm and weighing in at up to 65kgs, Emus are the world’s second tallest bird, and third heaviest. They are a flightless species- however they do have small wings which they use to cool themselves. Their feathers are quite remarkable, as they are ‘double shafted’, meaning that 2 feathers grow from one follicle. This gives Emus their ‘shaggy’ appearance. Male emus have a blue head and throat, whereas females have only a blue ‘ear’. They have powerful longs legs, with large, 3 toed-feet, and can reach speeds of up to 50km/h.


Habitat

Emus are native to most of Australia, excluding Tasmania. They most commonly inhabit grassy plains, open woodland, arid inland plains, tropical woodland, heathland, and coastal dunes.


Diet

Emus are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and meat. They eat fruits, flowers, insects, seeds and green plants. As they peck at the grass, they pick up snails, slugs and other grubs as well. They are opportunistically nomadic and may travel long distances to find food; they feed on a variety of plants and insects, but have been known to go for weeks without food. 


Social organisation and Reproduction

Emus may live in flocks, pairs or individually, and do not have any sort of structural hierarchy. Breeding season is from April to November, during which time females may mate with several males. Emus will build flat bed nests, and lay an average of about 9 dark green eggs. After a female has laid her eggs, it is up to the male to incubate and raise the chicks. The female will then leave and join another flock and find another mate. Males incubate the eggs for 8 weeks, and will raise the chicks for up to 2 years. 

Southern Cassowary

Casuarius casuarius

facts and figures

KINGDOM

Animalia

PHYLUM

Chordata

CLASS

Aves

ORDER

Struthioniformes

FAMILY

Casuariidae

GENUS

Casuarius

SPECIES

casuarius

Vu_Status

Species status information sourced from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Did you know?

  • Southern Cassowaries are strong runners and excellent swimmers!

  • Southern Cassowaries will ‘spar’ with each other and predators, jumping up and kicking both feet forward. This kick is extremely powerful and can be deadly to humans.

Southern Cassowary

Description

Standing at 170-180cm tall, and weighing up to 65kg, Southern Cassowaries are the world’s third tallest bird and second heaviest. Southern Cassowaries have a thick, tall casque on top of their head, with blue head and neck skin, red skin down the sides of the neck, and a double red and blue wattle. They have double-shafted, long black feathers that give them a shaggy appearance, and short, thick, powerful legs.  Each foot has 3 toes with sharp claws, especially the medial claw, which measures at up to 12cm long and can tear through flesh. 


Habitat

Southern Cassowaries inhabit tropical rainforests in far-north Queensland, as well as Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Occasionally they will inhabit fruit plantations, savannah forests and mangroves. 


Diet

Southern Cassowaries are omnivorous, feeding primarily on fruits, seeds and berries, as well as fish and carrion.


Social organisation and Reproduction

Southern Cassowaries are solitary birds, coming together only during breeding season from July-September.  Females will lay 1-6 light pear-green eggs in a large flat nest made of sticks, leaves and other debris. She will then leave to find another mate, and the male will be responsible for incubating the eggs and raising the chicks.