Thursday, July 7, 2011

Australian birds - Alissa Duke

Three birds drawn today on a visit to the Australian Museum , with Wendy and Annie. Two hours flew by in no time. We left just as it was getting busy and loud as it is school holidays.

Spur-winged Plovers
The southern subspecies of Maskd Lapwing is also known as the Spur-winged Plover
Average size: 36 cm
Masked Lapwings are large, ground-dwelling birds that are closely related to the waders. The Masked Lapwing is mainly white below, with brown wings and back and a black crown. Birds have large yellow wattles covering the face, and are equipped with a thorny spur that projects from the wrist on each wing. The spur is yellow with a black tip. The Masked Lapwing is common throughout northern, central and eastern Australia. Masked Lapwings are also found in Indonesia, New Guinea, New Caledonia and New Zealand.

Honestly – most people know this bird for it’s defence of its nest. They nest in open areas (such as sports grounds, parks) and will aggressively attack people walking by. I have not had much experience with them, but have seen them in parks. If you mention plovers, people will immediately know the bird you are talking about !
Call : A loud "kekekekekekekek". (I can't seem to insert the audio link)

Cattle Egret
A relatively small snowy-white egret, the Cattle Egret is distinguished during breeding season by its orange crown, neck and breast, with similarly tinted long loose neck plumes. Originally found in Africa, Europe and Asia, the Cattle Egret is now found on nearly every continent, with birds in Australia originating from Asia.

White-browed Scrubwren
Average size: 12 cm

The White-browed Scrubwren is the most common and widespread of Australia's five species of scrubwren. Its range extends from northern Queensland, in a broad coastal band through South Australia to the mid Western Australian coast, and Tasmania.
The White-browed Scrubwren lives in rainforest, open forest, woodland and heaths. It is usually seen in pairs, low down in the thick vegetation. I am sure I would have heard them scurrying in the undergrowth of rainforest, but thy would blend in to the forest floor and look like they would be very active,
The call is an almost persistent harsh chattering of scalding notes, especially when disturbed. White-browed Scrubwrens are also accomplished mimics.


  1. These are so good! I especially like the drawing of the Scrubwren - somehow the style matches the name perfectly! I am also very taken with your sketches of the birds' feet.

  2. It always amazing me how people are able to draw something that flits and flys about. Do you take pictures first? Your drawings are extremely good.

  3. Thanks !

    Ahh - Sandra - I cheat - these are from taxideried models at the local Musuem. I wonld nevr dare to go near a plover. Egrets do stay still for a long time and you could probably draw one from life. But I am sure that I have been near scrubwrens many times when hiking in National Parks, but only hear them as they disturb the leaf litter

  4. Alissa, I don't consider that cheating, at all! They're wonderful...and you'd never get that close to a live bird.


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