Ep 14: Australian Wildlife Australian Birds

Australian Birds

Australia has an incredible variety of Birds, with almost 900 recorded species found across both the mainland and its islands. They range in size from 8cm to 190cm and come in a numerous, colours, shapes and sizes.

Before we get started, let’s go over what makes a bird, a bird:
• All birds have feathers, they vary greatly and may be adapted for different purposes, but all possess them in some form.
• They all have wings, even flightless birds with vestigial (meaning, left over from evolution and no longer serving a real purpose) or adapted wings.
• They all have a bill/beak. This is a bony projection which forms their mouth, although they come in many shapes, sizes and colours.
• They are endothermic (meaning they can maintain their own body heat, unlike the ectothermic reptiles).
• They are bipedal (meaning they have two legs).
• They all lay eggs.

Birds first evolved from reptiles in the Mesozoic Era, around 150 million years ago. If you’d like evidence of their ancestry, just look at their scaly legs! And their feathers are also modified scales.

So, now that we’ve covered what a bird is and where they came from, let’s take a look at five of the most interesting and diverse birds that call Australia home.

Emus

Emus are possibly Australia’s most iconic bird species. One appears alongside a Kangarroo on the Australian Coat of arms. They were both chosen as symbols of progress, as both animals have trouble moving backward.

Emus are definitely the largest species of bird in Australia, and the second largest in the world! (The largest being the ostrich). They are found across mainland Australia. A subspecies which existed on Tasmania, Kangaroo Island and King Island became extinct sometime after European settlement. Unfortunately, they aren’t very common along the East Coast these days.
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