Kakadu is home to more than 280 different types of birds – around a third of all bird species in Australia.
Some birds range across different habitats, but many are found in only one environment.
The tropical summer signals the beginning of the breeding season for waterbirds as they spread throughout Kakadu’s rapidly filling wetlands.
Stately brolgas, jabirus and egrets patrol the shallows while comb-crested jacanas stride across lily leaves and birds of prey cruise the skies. The largest of these, the white-bellied sea eagle, glides over the billabongs plucking fish from the water with large talons.
White-bellied sea eagle. Photo by Anne O’Dea
As the water recedes during the dry season, the birds congregate on shrinking billabongs and deep waterholes. Late in the dry season, large flocks of magpie geese, plumed whistling-ducks and other waterbirds crowd the few remaining billabongs such as Mamukala and Yellow Water.
White-throated grasswren. Photo by Luke Paterson
Blue-winged kookaburras perch on trees in the woodlands while lorikeets and honeyeaters feast on the nectar of eucalypt flowers and black kites fly overhead.
Peaceful doves and partridge pigeons can be seen feeding on road verges. Flocks of red-tailed black cockatoos eat seeds from recently burnt ground. Crimson finches build their nests at the base of the spiky leaves of the pandanus.
Chestnut-quilled rock-pigeons are found on rock ledges of the escarpment and outliers such as Ubirr and Nourlangie (Burrungkuy). The Arnhem Land escarpment is also home to the elusive white-throated grasswren, which can sometimes be seen darting between clumps of spinifex.
Monsoon rainforests support the orange-footed scrubfowl and rainbow pitta as well as seasonal visitors such as the Torres Strait imperial pigeon.
Owls, frogmouths and curlews call out in the night and may be visible from roads.