Desert birds

Much of Australia is desert. These are just a few of the birds that populate some of the driest places in Australia.


This way that

Spinifex pigeon

Sporting an outrageous ‘do’, the spinifex pigeon struts this way, that way, bobbing its head and keeping an eye on what’s happening on the ground. As the name suggests, spinifex country is their favoured habitat and they spend most of their time on the ground, fluttering away only when alarmed.

Fortunately, we didn’t alarm them when we camped at the Devil’s Marbles where they graciously posed for photographs that formed the inspiration for this design. 


Wedge tail eagle

Circling up high on thermal drafts, these huge birds perform acrobatics in mating pairs. In Central Australia they often build their huge nests in trees that look far too small for such responsibility.

While they occur across much of Australia – I even see them sometimes on my way to collect the mail – they are synonymous with the desert as anyone who has driven through the centre of Australia along the Stuart Highway will testify. They congregate along the bitumen corridor in search of an easy meal – and are often rewarded for their efforts.


Splendour blue

Splendid fairy wren

A flash of vivid blue against the desert, these tiny birds are not exclusively found in the desert although it is with the desert that I associate them. When we lived on the Anangu Pitjatjantjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in Central Australia these gorgeous little birds were nesting on the other side of our back fence, providing much entertainment and delight for my sons and I.


zebra finch

Zebra finches are widespread across much of the Australian mainland but prefer hotter climates and so are known best as desert dwellers. When we lived on the Anangu Pitjatjantjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in Central Australia, flocks of them kept us entertained with their constant flitters between the tree across the road and the trees in our front yard. They flock in groups of up to 100 birds but pair for life, with the female choosing the nesting site and then building the nest from materials supplied by the male bird. They share caring for the eggs and the young birds, adding insects to their almost-all seed diet while raising chicks.

This design also features in finches.


Rosie cap


The galah is widespread across much of Australia, the desert being no exception. We certainly saw a lot of them when we lived in the desert and the photos I took of a large gathering in a bare tree at a remote waterhole remains one of my favourite bird photos.

This design also features in cockatoos and parrots.