Continuing with some of the birds we saw in our recent visit to Taronga Park Zoo, Sydney, we saw a lifer – The Double-eyed Fig Parrot. This was a bird we pursued when we were last in Far North Queensland, but never laid eyes on. It is a resident of New Guinea, but is also found in the forests coastal Far North Queensland. It is omnivorous enjoying nectar, insects, seeds, berries and of course, figs, which are numerous in that part of the country. The zoo has several which appear to be mainly female or immature. There are eight subspecies. The double-eye name comes from New Guinea, where when the bird was first named, the very large nostrils on the top of its beak near its lores, appeared to resemble a second set of eyes, but of course this was not true, but the name stuck.

Another bird we saw, which we did see when last in Far North Queensland, in the wild, was the Crimson Finch. It is also found in New Guinea. Males are almost entirely crimson and the females mostly on the face, both with white dots on body. There are three races, and the one we saw in the Zoo was the rarer white belly race, evangelinae. It is found at the very top of Cape York.

The race we saw in the wild several years ago was Phaeton at the TYTO Wetlands in Ingham, QUE. Notice these are non banded wild birds.

Another bird found in the rainforests along the east coast of Australia’s mainland is the Noisy Pitta. This bird is found in southern New Guinea and found in small patches all the way down to just past Sydney. We have not seen it in our local rainforest, but have seen them in the Port Macquarie Sea Acres Rainforest centre, where my books are also sold.

These birds hop quickly about in the undercover of the forest foraging for worms and other insects in the leaf mold. Though they are noisy, most of the time I have seen them they have been fairly quiet.

Juveniles have much less red on their under tail and no black or very little on their bellies. Though these birds are not threatened in the far north coast they are becoming so around the populated areas of Newcastle and Sydney, due to loss of habitat and ferule animals. These birds only fly when they need to migrate or escape danger, spending most of their time foraging on the ground.

One of my favorite birds, I have spend many fruitless hours stalking in my early birding days is the Eastern Whipbird. You just have to know where you will see them and when, which is helped by their very loud whip-like call which rings through the forest being amplified on the eucalypt leaves. I watched the one at the zoo, it was a young adult, and spent its time earnestly foraging for worms and grubs. They similar to the Pitta, run along the forest floor turning over leaves and sticks, and poking their beaks into tree crevices as well as peeling off bark to find food underneath. However, these birds, aided by their long tail are able to move extremely fast almost running in the air with head down in an almost flat appearance of their body. They are one of the fastest moving birds I have seen, which can be a challenge to photograph if they see you. Here is what we saw on the day…

They have a crest on their head, and similar to Cockatoos, they raise when aroused or calling, but most of the time it is not apparent. These birds are only found on the east coast of Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

The best footage of this bird calling is in the promo video for my first book What Birds Teach Us, which was filmed in the Queensland rainforest. Remember that the female responds to the male’s whip immediately following with a quick “tse tse”.

More about this interesting bird can be found in my book:

In the sound file below notice in the male’s call to the female that she only answers every second call. She probably thinks he is a bit bossy and being a little anxious about her whereabouts, or she is too busy to answer.

Last of all for this week another bird found in Queensland, western NSW, north & west WA, SA/Victoria border (smallest flocks) and central NT is the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo of which there are 6 races (sub species). I featured the NSW race graptogyne, and here is the Queensland race banksii. Notice the males have all bright red tails and female with striped orange tails and white spotted head and necks.

Have a most enjoyable week. The weather has been bitterly cold here as the first days of winter kick in, and snow in places where it seldom falls. Birding remains a challenge as tracks continue to dry out and many birds have fled the cold and wet, at our poorest birding months of the year. Stay warm and safe as Covid in its now several variants, rampantly stalks, along with influenza, throughout our city.

We identify birds by their plumage, shape, size of their bodies and beak. These aid visual identity, however for birders, often the main characteristic that identifies and draws attention to the bird is their audio identity, i.e. the unique call the bird makes. This can also at times indicate the state of mind or action the bird is pursuing. The development of acute hearing and recognition of bird calls is of great assistance to those seeking out birds. In a similar manner it is easy for us to think that when we speak to one another, that by saying what we want to say, we have said it and so we have successfully communicated to the hearer what we are conveying. However, there is another dimension which is acutely more importantly – felt rather than telt, which is that of the manner and attitude that is put behind the words and the expression of them. We can at times say what we mean, but miss the mark in communicating it because the way we have said it side tracks the issue to become the subject of the response. As Maya Angelou is rightly quoted saying: people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. This principle applies in the positive also. I find when I engage with people, especially clients, it is the very tone and inflections of the first words of greeting, and always including their name, which prepares the mode and manner of the the conversation which follows to be warm. cheerful and positive. Our words are powerful and with the same mouth we can bless or curse, which can a profound long term effect on the emotional, spiritual and physical health of their hearer, without us even being aware. As the Good Book rightly says: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” – Proverbs 18:21 (NIV).

Jesus himself said: “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words, you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12:37 That is why it is important to keep short accounts when we have offended others, either by our words or our attitude, to apologize and ask their forgiveness earlier rather than later, and lovingly reassure them with healing words of compassion and restoration, so they do not continue to suffer, rebuilding trust in the relationship.


  1. Hello Ash,
    It is always a joy to learn more about your resident birds – we never fail to be surprised at how so many different species live in your beautiful country. My husband loved especially the rich green colour of the Double-eyed Fig Parrot, but we loved learning about all the lovely birds you “met” on your trip to the zoo.
    We continue to keep you and all your family in our thoughts and prayers.


    • Thanks Takami, I am sorry to only just find your comment in my Span folder, which fills with hundreds weekly. Since another couple of bloggers have alerted me to the problem I have been checking my spam before deleting and found this comment there. I am not sure what is going on in WordPress but it is unacceptable and I apologize my friend. Thank you for you welcome comment, and for your faithful prayers and thoughts, as likewise you are in ours also. Yes, our country has so many different species spread out over its vast expanse and many habitat types. We are looking forward next month to visit some of our desert and more arid birds when we finally have our long awaited top end holiday.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hello Ash,
        Thank you so much for your reply.
        I am glad and relieved that you discovered my comment in your spam. I am sorry that most of my comments to your more recent blog articles disappeared due to the WordPress hiccup, but hope you know how much we enjoy and look forward to your bird articles each week.

        Keeping you and your wife in our prayers and look forward to catching up on your most recent blog article and sending an update soon.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the pics of the red tailed black cockatoo, a magnificent bird, I remember seeing them when I lived on the Gold Coast. And the noisy pitta is so cute! Enjoy your weather up there, it is definitely winter down here, the wind is icy and cuts right through you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks HJ, yes we are out and about post Covid and post floods and rain, but only just, as we have had very wet, cold and windy weather for weeks, and this is the first week where we have 3 consecutive days of sunshine. We are hoping to get out more now, but bird numbers are not great this year. We are looking forward though to next month when we are away for most of July touring the top end of our country in the desert regions of WA. Enjoy you Summer weather my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Just fascinating, all. I thoroughly enjoy your posts. Are those Red Tail Black Cockatoos always so sociable with humans?
    I really appreciate the audio bird calls. I’m considering a bird call app to try and decifer those around me. They’re hard to find in trees or ally ways, using binoculars would provoke people in adjacent buildings like I’m a peeping Tom.
    One bird always calls outside my window at 5:15 am, whooooop che-che-che-che. One day I’ll find him.
    Thanks again brother for this beautiful post and encouraging words. I hope the words of wisdom reach many hearts. Stay well and warm!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lisa-Beth, I always enjoy hearing from you, and I am so glad you alerted me to your comments straying into the spam, I managed to save this one. No the Red-tails are normally not in contact much with humans and usually keep away. They are not in close contact as much as the Sulphur-cresteds, which are far more numerous and more widespread. Red-tails are in more scattered flocks throughout our vast country. I do hope you find an app which will help put a name to the calls. I use one for the birds in our country on my iphone and it is very helpful as it gives ID of the bird’s appearance and info about it and its location also. Hopefully you will find your mystery bird soon, and reap the joy of discovering it. I do hope you both enjoy your Summer weather and get out to do some birding.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much for your kind replies and finding my comment! When I find my mystery bird, I also want to know why he calls at the same time, 5:15 am. Is he making some announcement every morning?
        When I find out, I’ll surely let you know! Thank you again brother.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The good thing is that this comment did come into my comment mail and not spam Lisa Beth.:-) Most birds take part in what is known as the morning chorus, which is the time they wake up and start feeding after their long sleep. They often call as part of the procedure to indicate to other birds of their family as to their location, as well as warding off other birds of similar species, if they are territorial in nature. There is a morning and evening chorus, which are the best time to see, hear and photograph birds, providing it is not too dark. Some birds start very early and others a little later whch means the first few hours of the day may reveal many species in the bush. The evening chorus is when they busily have their last feed before roosting, and call to one another as they locate and find their roost for the night.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Every morning I take ny neighbor’s 5 yr old to school, walking about 8 blocks. Along the way we catch the ‘finale’ of this “morning chorus”. Day after day it impresses me and I try to engage Riley, “Who made the birds Riley? What are they saying this morning?”
        I am learning a lot as I hone in on my chirping visitors. Already this morning I’ve heard nearly 20 NY birds online, not yet my mystery bird. But this will help me over the weekend to recognize others in my stroll thru the Cloisters.
        Thank you Ashley for all you share. If everyone would just stop and listen they would start the day with heaven made music! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • That is encouraging to hear Lisa Beth, so glad you are enjoying the birds, and so true, if only we were all more mindful of God’s creation worshipping around us, we can join in with them.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting to see such an elusive little bird. Beaut rich colours on the Scarlet Finch. The best we have is the Red-browed variety or the Diamond Firetail. But they only show a small colouring.

    Very impressive to be upclose to the Red-tailed Blacks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks David, It lovely to see birds we never see locally, and the red on them always stands out against the green and blue backgrounds. The red tails of the Firetails are quite stunning, even from a distance when they are in flight, but the Red-Tailed Cockies steal the show especially when landing.


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