A Wombat at Healing Dreams Retreat Flinders Island Australia
A Wallaby at Healing Dreams Retreat Flinders Island Australia

Bird Life

Each type of bird brings its own story, the characteristic behavior of its type and often individual differences.

We have a flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos that live in our valley and it always amazes us to marvel how slow these grand birds fly - how do they stay up? When they come close, their burbling chatter to one another endears them to anyone. They can be seen taking the hard fist-size Banksia nuts apart, which we find difficult to do even with a hammer and chisel.

The Australian Magpie seems plain enough until you hear its enchanting call, as if it were calling loudly from a great distance, with echoes in its voice that send shivers up the spine.

The Laughing Kookaburra was introduced from mainland Australia and has taken a toll on the nests of smaller birds, as it robs their nests of eggs. We often think of it as a thug, but it brings a special magic. This member of the Kingfisher family creates powerful sound waves with each call. We caution not to label it as 'laughing,' but to hear each call as if for the first time - you will discover that they are all different. As tempting as it is to imitate the 'laugh' of the Kookaburra, Aboriginal children were cautioned not to do so, for the story went that the shock-waves of the Kookaburra's call awoke the world at dawn and put it to sleep at dusk, for that is when they call most frequently. Thus to imitate it would be to mock its important role in keeping the world turning in a regular fashion.

The grand wing-span of the White-breasted Sea Eagle is astounding to behold, cruising high overhead. Our beaches usually have a nesting pair close by.

The night-time call - "Mo-poke! Mo-poke!" - of the Southern Boobook owl gives depth to the entire valley, and calls you out, perhaps with a flashlight, to hear and see the evening activity of all the wildlife.

The Short-Tailed Shearwaters (also called Muttonbirds) are best seen on a boat trip, as they return at late dusk from feeding miles out to sea on krill. Each bird is not remarkable, but they come in flocks of tens of thousands. They alight on the water, waiting to return to their burrows until after predators are likely to be less active - then arise, thousands of them at once, beating the water with their wings, sounding like distant thunder, and fly up and around, led by who-knows-what, in great swirling patterns, only to alight again in the sea, a bit closer to home.

Each bird has its story - the flash of color of a Green Rosella diving through the trees, the grand display of the Cape Barren Goose (the largest goose in the world), the extraordinary color unmatched by any human artifice of the Beautiful Fantail - and you can become intimate with all of them.

Philosophers have compared birds to thoughts - each with its own color, pattern of movement, and quality. Some suggest that we should look at the traces left behind in the bird's flight - what trail it has left in the air as it weaves and interweaves the sky-stuff together each day, and we recommend this suggestion for your contemplation, sitting on the porch of Healing Dreams Retreat!

Following is a check-list by general category. We use common names and have the guide books at Neagarra to help you with the Latin names if you wish. Non-Australian Birds that have been introduced are marked by an asterisk (*). This list has only the most frequent birds known. Many others - rare visitors - have been found in ones or twos.

We can arrange a talk with a local naturalist - there are several who have spent years understanding the birds and have taken many injured birds in to heal them and become more intimate with them - which gives them many tales to tell.

Land Birds

  • Australian Magpie
  • Australian Owlet-Nightjar
  • Australian Warbler
  • Beautiful Fantail
  • Black Currawong
  • Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike
  • Black-headed Honeyeater
  • Brush Bronzewing
  • Cape Barren Goose
  • Clinking Currawong
  • Common Blackbird*
  • Common Bronzewing
  • Common Pheasant*
  • Common Starling*
  • Crescent Honeyeater
  • Dusky Robin
  • Dusky Woodswallow
  • Eastern Spinebill
  • European Goldfinch*
  • European Greenfinch*
  • Flame Robin
  • Forest Raven
  • Forty-spotted Paradote
  • Green Rosella
  • Grey Fantail
  • Grey Shrike-Thrush
  • Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo
  • House Sparrow*
  • Indian Peafowl*
  • Laughing Kookaburra
  • Little Grassbird
  • Little Raven
  • Mallard*
  • New Holland Honeyeater
  • Olive Whistler
  • Painted Button-Quail
  • Pallid Cuckoo
  • Pink Robin
  • Richard's Pipit
  • Satin Flycatcher
  • Scarlet Robin
  • Scrubtit
  • Shining Bronze-Cuckoo
  • Silvereye
  • Skylark*
  • Spotted Paradote
  • Straited Paradote
  • Strong-Billed Honeyeater
  • Stubble Quail
  • Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo
  • Superb Fairy-Wren
  • Swamp Quail
  • Swift Parrot
  • Tasmanian Scrubwren
  • Tasmanian Thornbill
  • Tawny Frogmouth
  • Tawny-crowned Honeyeater
  • Tree Martin
  • Welcome Swallow
  • White's Thrush
  • White-Fronted Chat
  • White-Throated Needletail
  • Wild Turkey*
  • Yellow-Tailed Cockatoo
  • Yellow-Throated Honeyeater

Birds of Prey

  • Barn Owl
  • Brown Falcon
  • Brown Goshawk
  • Collared Sparrowhawk
  • Grey Goshawk
  • Little Falcon
  • Nankeen Kestrel
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Southern Boobook ("Mopoke")
  • Swamp Harrier
  • Wedge-Tailed Eagle
  • White-Breasted Sea Eagle


  • Arctic Jaeger
  • Australasian Gannet
  • Australian Pelican
  • Black-Browed Albatross
  • Common Diving-Petrel
  • Fairy Prion
  • Little Penguin
  • Short-Tailed Shearwater
  • Shy Albatross
  • Wandering Albatross
  • White-Faced Storm-Petrel

Shore, Estuary, and Lagoon Birds

  • Australasian Bittern
  • Australasian Grebe
  • Australasian Shoveler
  • Australian Crake
  • Australian Shelduck
  • Banded Lapwing
  • Bar-Tailed Godwit
  • Black Swan
  • Black-Faced Cormorant
  • Blue-Billed Duck
  • Caspian Tern
  • Cattle Egret
  • Chestnut Teal
  • Crested Tern
  • Curlew-Sandpiper
  • Double-Banded Plover
  • Dusky Moorhen
  • Eastern Curlew
  • Eurasian Coot
  • Fairy Tern
  • Great Cormorant
  • Great Egret
  • Greenshank
  • Grey Teal
  • Grey-Tailed Tattler
  • Hardhead
  • Hoary-Headed Grebe
  • Hooded Plover
  • Kelp Gull
  • Latham's Snipe
  • Lesser Golden Plover
  • Lewin's Rail
  • Little Egret
  • Little Tern
  • Little-Black Cormorant
  • Little-Pied Cormorant
  • Maned Duck
  • Masked Lapwing
  • Musk Duck
  • Pacific Black Duck
  • Pacific Gull
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
  • Pied Oystercatcher
  • Purple Swamphen
  • Red Knot
  • Red-Capped Dotterel
  • Red-Necked Stint
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Sanderling
  • Sharp-Tailed Sandpiper
  • Silver Gull
  • Sooty Oystercatcher
  • Whimbrel
  • White-Faced Heron
  • White-Fronted Tern