The wedge-tailed eagle or bunjil, sometimes known as the eaglehawk, is the largest bird of prey in Australia, and is found in southern New Guinea, part of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. It has long, fairly broad wings, fully feathered legs, the wedge-tailed eagle is one of 12 species of large, predominantly dark-coloured booted eagles in the genus Aquila found worldwide. A large brown bird of prey, it has a wingspan up to 2.84 m, the wedge-tailed eagle was first described by the English ornithologist John Latham in 1801 under the binomial name Vultur audax. Length varies between 81 and 106 cm and the wingspan typically is between 182 and 232 cm, in 1930, the average weight and wingspans of 43 birds was 3.4 kg and 204.3 cm. The same average figures for a survey of 126 eagles in 1932 were 3.63 kg and 226 cm, the largest wingspan ever verified for an eagle was for this species. A female killed in Tasmania in 1931 had a wingspan of 284 cm, reported claims of eagles spanning 312 cm and 340 cm were deemed to be unreliable.
Young eagles are a mid-brown colour with lighter and reddish-brown wings. As they grow older, their colour becomes darker, reaching a dark blackish-brown shade after about 10 years, adult females tend to be slightly paler than males. Although it rarely needs to be distinguished from other Aquila eagles, its long and its range and habitat sometimes overlap with the white-bellied sea eagle, which is similar in size and shape, and has a somewhat wedge-shaped tail, although rather smaller and less distinctive. In silhouette and poor light, the two can look somewhat similar, closer examination reveals the belly colour or tail size to distinguish the two. In New Guinea, the birds can be found in the Trans Fly savanna, as the breeding season approaches, wedge-tailed eagle pairs perch close to each other and preen one another. They perform dramatic aerobatic display flights together over their territory, the male dives down at breakneck speed towards his partner. As he pulls out of his dive and rises just above her, she ignores him or turns over to fly upside down.
The pair may perform a loop-the-loop, the wedge-tailed eagle usually nests in the fork of a tree between one and 30 m above the ground, but if no suitable sites are available, it will nest on a cliff edge. Before the female lays eggs, both birds either destroy the large stick nest or add new sticks and leaf lining to an old nest, nests can be 2–5 m deep and 2–5 m wide. The female usually lays two eggs, which are incubated by both sexes, after about 45 days, the chicks hatch. At first, the male does all the hunting, when the chicks are about 30 days old, the female stops brooding them and joins her mate to hunt for food. The young wedge-tailed eagles depend on their parents for food up to six months after hatching and they leave only when the next breeding season approaches
The emu is the second-largest living bird by height, after its ratite relative, the ostrich. It is endemic to Australia where it is the largest native bird, the emus range covers most of mainland Australia, but the Tasmanian emu and King Island emu subspecies became extinct after the European settlement of Australia in 1788. The bird is common for it to be rated as a least-concern species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Emus are soft-feathered, flightless birds with long necks and legs, Emus can travel great distances, and when necessary can sprint at 50 km/h, they forage for a variety of plants and insects, but have been known to go for weeks without eating. They drink infrequently, but take in copious amounts of water when the opportunity arises, breeding takes place in May and June, and fighting among females for a mate is common. Females can mate several times and lay clutches of eggs in one season. The male does the incubation, during this process he hardly eats or drinks, the eggs hatch after around eight weeks, and the young are nurtured by their fathers.
They reach full size after around six months, but can remain as a unit until the next breeding season. The emu is an important cultural icon of Australia, appearing on the coat of arms, the bird features prominently in Indigenous Australian mythology. The birds were known on the eastern coast before 1788, when the first Europeans settled there, total length seven feet two inches. The long spines which are seen in the wings of the sort, are in this not observable. The legs are stout, formed much as in the Galeated Cassowary, the species was named by ornithologist John Latham in 1790 based on a specimen from the Sydney area of Australia, a country which was known as New Holland at the time. In his original 1816 description of the emu, the French ornithologist Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot used two names, first Dromiceius and Dromaius. Most modern publications, including those of the Australian government, use Dromaius, another theory is that it comes from the word ema, which is used in Portuguese to denote a large bird akin to an ostrich or crane.
In Victoria, some terms for the emu were Barrimal in the Dja Dja Wurrung language, myoure in Gunai, the birds were known as murawung or birabayin to the local Eora and Darug inhabitants of the Sydney basin. The emu was long classified, with its closest relatives the cassowaries, in the family Casuariidae, however, an alternate classification was proposed in 2014 by Mitchell et al. based on analysis of mitochondrial DNA. This splits off the Casuariidae into their own order, the Casuariformes, the cladogram shown below is from their study. Two different Dromaius species were present in Australia at the time of European settlement, the insular dwarf emus, D. baudinianus and D. n. minor, originally present on Kangaroo Island and King Island respectively, both became extinct shortly after the arrival of Europeans
The Australian brushturkey has been introduced to Kangaroo Island in South Australia. It is the largest extant representative of the family Megapodiidae and is one of three species to inhabit Australia. Despite its name and their similarities, the bird is not closely related to American turkeys, or to the Australian bustard. It is a bird with black feathers and a red head. Its total length is about 60–75 cm and a wingspan of about 85 cm, the subspecies A. l. purpureicollis from the northern Cape York Peninsula is smaller than the more widespread nominate subspecies. It has a prominent, fan-like tail flattened sideways, and its plumage is blackish, but with a bare red head. The males wattle becomes much larger during breeding season, often swinging from side to side as they run, the males heads and wattles become much brighter during the breeding and nesting season. The underside of the body is sprinkled with white feathers, more pronounced in older birds. The brushturkey is a flier and cannot fly long distances, only taking to the air when threatened by predators or to roost in trees at night.
They build large nests on the ground made of leaves, other material and earth,1 to 1.5 metres high. Mound-building is done by a dominant male, and visited by a succession of local females, the male works tirelessly, collecting material from all around, and diligently repelling rival males, who are keen to usurp his position. The effort involved eventually wears him down, and he will ultimately be defeated by a new king, the eggs are very large, and the young are fully-fledged on hatching. They can fly within hours, as soon as the feathers are dry, the Australian brushturkey checks the temperature by sticking its beak into the mound. The sex ratio in brushturkeys is equal at incubation temperatures of 34 °C and it is unclear whether the parents use this to manipulate the sex of their offspring by, for instance, selecting the nesting site accordingly. Warmer incubation results in heavier, fitter chicks, but how this is linked to gender is unknown, the same nesting site is frequently used year after year, with the old nests being added to each breeding season.
The average clutch of eggs is between 16 and 24 large white eggs, which are laid September to March, sometimes up to 50 eggs laid by several females may be found in a single mound. The eggs are placed in a circle roughly 60–80 cm down, 20–30 cm apart, the newly hatched young dig themselves out of the mound and have to care for themselves. Brushturkey eggs are a food of goannas and dingoes
Plumed whistling duck
The plumed whistling duck, called the grass whistle duck, is a whistling duck that breeds in Australia. It is a predominantly brown-coloured duck with a neck and characteristic plumes arising from its flanks. The sexes are similar in appearance, described by English naturalist Thomas Campbell Eyton in 1838, its specific epithet honours its namer. Its generic name is derived from the Ancient Greek terms dendron tree, alternate common names include, Eytons plumed, red-legged or whistling tree-duck, and grey or red-legged whistler. Measuring 42–60 cm and weighing around one kilogram, it is a duck with brown upperparts, paler underparts. The chest is chestnut with black bars, while long black-margined plumes arise from its flanks. Its bill and legs are pink, and its iris is yellow, the male and female are similar in appearance. The species has a characteristic lowered neck and short, the call is a characteristic whistle which gives the bird its common name. It is found in New Guinea, the preferred habitat is tall grassland and savanna, often near bodies of water.
Rather than diving for food in bodies of water like other ducks, the plumed whistling duck breeds during the wet season, generally in January to March, although it can be in April or, in a few cases, May. One brood is raised per season, the nest is a mattress of grasses or similar material in tall grass, or in or near vegetation as cover. 10 to 12 oval eggs are laid, measuring 48 x 36 mm,14 or more have recorded on occasion. Initially shiny and creamy-coloured, they may become stained, the incubation period is around 30 days
The brolga, formerly known as the native companion, is a bird in the crane family. It has given the name Australian crane, a term coined in 1865 by well-known ornithological artist John Gould in his Birds of Australia. The brolga is a common, gregarious bird species of tropical and south-eastern Australia. It is a tall, upright bird with a head, long beak, slender neck. The plumage is grey, with black wing tips. It is well known for its intricate mating dance, the nest is built of sticks on an island in marshland and usually two eggs are laid. Incubation takes 32 days and the hatched young are precocial. The adult diet is plant matter, but invertebrates and small vertebrates are eaten. It is the bird emblem of the state of Queensland. The brolga is a bird with a large beak, long slender neck. The sexes are indistinguishable in appearance though the females are usually a little smaller, the adult has a grey-green, skin-covered crown, and the face and throat pouch are featherless and are coral red.
Other parts of the head are green and clothed in dark bristles. The gular pouch, which is pendulous in adult males, is covered with such dense bristles as to make it appear black. The beak is greyish-green and slender, and the iris is yellowish-orange, the ear coverts appear as a grey patch of small feathers surrounded by red naked skin and the body plumage is silvery-grey. The feathers on the back and the wing coverts have pale margins, the primary wing feathers are black and the secondaries grey. The legs and feet are greyish-black, juveniles lack the red band and have fully feathered heads with dark irises. A fully-grown brolga can reach a height of 0.7 to 1.3 metres and has a wingspan of 1.7 to 2.4 metres, adult males average slightly less than 7 kilograms with females averaging a little under 6 kilograms. The weight can range from 3.7 to 8.7 kilograms, the brolga can easily be confused with the sarus crane, however the latters red head colouring extends partly down the neck while the brolgas is confined to the head
Lizards are a widespread group of squamate reptiles, with over 6,000 species, ranging across all continents except Antarctica, as well as most oceanic island chains. The group is paraphyletic as it excludes the snakes which are squamates, Lizards typically have four legs feet and external ears, though some are legless, while snakes lack both of these characteristics. Lizards and snakes share a movable quadrate bone, distinguishing them from the sphenodonts, Lizards form about 60% of all the species of extant non-avian reptiles. Some extinct varanids reached great size, The giant monitor Megalania is estimated to have reached up to 7 m long, including color vision, is particularly well developed in most lizards. Most lizards communicate using body language, using specific postures and movements to define territory, resolve disputes, some species of lizards use pheromones or bright colors, such as the iridescent patches on the belly of Sceloporus. These colors are visible to predators, so are often hidden on the underside or between scales and only revealed when necessary.
The particular innovation in this respect is the dewlap, a colored patch of skin on the throat. When a display is needed, a lizard can erect the hyoid bone of its throat, anoles are particularly famous for this display, with each species having specific colors, including patterns only visible under ultraviolet light, as many lizards can see UV light. Lizard tails are often a different and dramatically more vivid color than the rest of the body so as to potential predators to strike for the tail first. Many lizards, including geckos and skinks, are capable of shedding part of their tails through a process called autotomy. This is an example of the pars pro toto principle, sacrificing a part for the whole, the detached tail writhes and wiggles, creating a deceptive sense of continued struggle, distracting the predators attention from the fleeing prey animal. The lizard partially regenerates its tail over a period of weeks, a 2014 research identified 326 genes involved in the regeneration of lizard tails.
The new section contains cartilage rather than bone, and the skin may be discolored compared to the rest of the body, most lizards are oviparous, though in some species the eggs are retained until the live young emerge. Parthenogenesis occurs in at least 50 species and may be more widespread in the group. Sexual selection in lizards shows evidence of mate choice, favouring males display fitness indicators. However, doubt has been raised over the age of Tikiguania because it is almost indistinguishable from modern agamid lizards, the Tikiguania remains may instead be late Tertiary or Quaternary in age, having been washed into much older Triassic sediments. Lizards are most closely related to the Rhynchocephalia, which appeared in the Late Triassic, mitochondrial phylogenetics suggest that the first lizards evolved in the late Permian. It had been thought on the basis of data that iguanid lizards diverged from other squamates very early on
Indigenous Australians are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia, descended from groups that existed in Australia and surrounding islands prior to European colonisation. In present-day Australia these groups are divided into local communities. At the time of initial European settlement, over 250 languages were spoken, it is estimated that 120 to 145 of these remain in use. Aboriginal people today mostly speak English, with Aboriginal phrases and words being added to create Australian Aboriginal English, a population collapse following European settlement, and a smallpox epidemic spreading three years after the arrival of Europeans may have caused a massive and early depopulation. Since 1995, the Australian Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Strait Islander Flag have been among the flags of Australia. The word aboriginal has been in the English language since at least the 16th century, to mean, first or earliest known and it comes from the Latin word aborigines, derived from ab and origo.
The word was used in Australia to describe its indigenous peoples as early as 1789 and it soon became capitalised and employed as the common name to refer to all Indigenous Australians. Strictly speaking, Aborigine is the noun and Aboriginal the adjectival form, use of either Aborigine or Aboriginal to refer to individuals has acquired negative connotations in some sectors of the community, and it is generally regarded as insensitive and even offensive. The more acceptable and correct expression is Aboriginal Australians or Aboriginal people, the term Indigenous Australians, which includes Torres Strait Islander peoples, has found increasing acceptance, particularly since the 1980s. The broad term Aboriginal Australians includes many groups that often identify under names from local Indigenous languages. Anindilyakwa on Groote Eylandt off Arnhem Land, Palawah in Tasmania and these larger groups may be further subdivided, for example, Anangu recognises localised subdivisions such as Pitjantjatjara, Ngaanyatjarra and Antikirinya.
It is estimated that prior to the arrival of British settlers, the Torres Strait Islanders possess a heritage and cultural history distinct from Aboriginal traditions. The eastern Torres Strait Islanders in particular are related to the Papuan peoples of New Guinea, they are not generally included under the designation Aboriginal Australians. This has been another factor in the promotion of the inclusive term Indigenous Australians. Six percent of Indigenous Australians identify themselves fully as Torres Strait Islanders, a further 4% of Indigenous Australians identify themselves as having both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal heritage. The Torres Strait Islands comprise over 100 islands which were annexed by Queensland in 1879, eddie Mabo was from Mer or Murray Island in the Torres Strait, which the famous Mabo decision of 1992 involved. The term blacks has been used to refer to Indigenous Australians since European settlement, while originally related to skin colour, the term is used today to indicate Aboriginal heritage or culture in general and refers to people of any skin pigmentation.
In the 1970s, many Aboriginal activists, such as Gary Foley, proudly embraced the term black, the book included interviews with several members of the Aboriginal community including Robert Jabanungga reflecting on contemporary Aboriginal culture
A wallaby is a small- or mid-sized macropod found in Australia and New Guinea. They belong to the taxonomic family as kangaroos and sometimes the same genus. The term wallaby is an informal designation generally used for any macropod that is smaller than a kangaroo or wallaroo that has not been designated otherwise, there are 11 species of brush wallabies. Their head and body length is 45 to 105 cm and the tail is 33 to 75 cm long, the six named species of rock-wallabies live among rocks, usually near water, two species are endangered. The two species of hare-wallabies are small animals that have the movements and some of the habits of hares. Often called pademelons, the three species of scrub wallabies of New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, and Tasmania are small and stocky, with hind limbs. They are hunted for meat and fur, a similar species is the short-tailed scrub wallaby, or quokka, this species is now restricted to two offshore islands of Western Australia. The three named species of forest wallabies are native to the island of New Guinea, the dwarf wallaby is the smallest member of the genus and the smallest known member of the kangaroo family.
Its length is about 46 cm from nose to tail, the name wallaby comes from Dharug walabi or waliba. Young wallabies are known as joeys, like many other marsupials, adult male wallabies are referred to as bucks, boomers, or jacks. An adult female wallaby is known as a doe, flyer, a group of wallabies is called a court, mob, or troupe. Forest-dwelling wallabies are known as pademelons and dorcopsises, although members of most wallaby species are small, some can grow up to approximately two metres in length. Their powerful hind legs are not only used for bounding at high speeds and jumping great heights, the Tammar wallaby has elastic storage in the ankle extensor tendons, without which the animal’s metabolic rate might be 30–50% greater. It has found that the design of spring-like tendon energy savings. Wallabies have a tail that is used mostly for balance. Wallabies are herbivores whose diet consists of a range of grasses, leaves. Due to recent urbanization, many wallabies now feed in rural, wallabies cover vast distances for food and water, which is often scarce in their environment.
Mobs of wallabies often congregate around the water hole during the dry season