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Australian bird habitats: forest & forest birds

Aboriginal names: "bambara"

Description of habitat

Forests are subdivided into various categories, depending on growth and average annual rainfall.

In "tall" forests, tree crowns reach up to 40 metres. Of these, rainforests and monsoon forests have canopies that are so dense that little light penetrates through to the ground. They are therefore usually called tall "closed" forests. Under the dense canopies there can be areas with little undergrowth. Where there is less overlap between tree crowns, light can penetrate to the ground and there will be more undergrowth. These are called tall "open" forests.

Often tall forests grow in areas with high amounts of rainfall, the wettest of which are rainforests. Rainforests are defined to receive at least 1750-2000 mm/year of rainfall. It is beyond the scope of this page to describe in detail the distinction between dry and wet forest.

Forests that are not that high, with tree crowns of about 25 m maximum height (which accordingly are not called "tall"), are usually less dense and therefore categorised as "open forest". Most "sclerophyll" forests (dominated by eucalypts) are open forests.

Areas with tree growth up to a maximum height of about 20 m are called woodland.

Tall closed forest

An example of tall closed forest is rainforest. We show below temperate rainforest found on the NSW North Coast.

Bird species found in this type of habitat or plant

This is not necessarily a complete list. We display here some examples of bird species found by us in this kind of habitat or plant. Hover your cursor on thumbnails to see names of species; click on thumbnail to go to the page describing the species.

Photos

View from above of the upper canopy of temperate rainforest at Dorrigo National Park, NSW; especially where strangler figs have taken over, the canopy can be so dense that there is little light penetrating and therefore little undergrowth

Example of a tree whose canopy can be so dense that there is little light penetrating and therefore little undergrowth: a Strangler Fig, which has disposed of its former host

Tall open forest

Some eucalypt forests in the interior can be very tall. But since they receive less rainfall than, e.g., coastal rainforest, they are usually less dense, i.e. "open", with undergrowth. As an example we show the very tall Snow Gum forest of Coolah Tops NP in inland NSW. But there are other species that can form such open tall forest, trees that can grow very tall, but don't always have massive crowns, such as e.g. Bunya pines (see the page about Bunya Mountains NP in inland QLD).

Bird species found in this type of habitat or plant

This is not necessarily a complete list. We display here some examples of bird species found by us in this kind of habitat or plant. Hover your cursor on thumbnails to see names of species; click on thumbnail to go to the page describing the species.

Photos

An example for tall open forest can be found in Coolah Tops National Park, NSW, where 30-35 m high Snow Gums let through enough light for undergrowth, for example grass trees

Tall open forest in Carnarvon National Park, QLD, where 30-35 m high eucalypts let through enough light for undergrowth, for example Cabbage Palms

Tall open forest in Bunya Mountains National Park, QLD, where Bunya pines let through enough light for vigorous undergrowth

Open forest

Many sclerophyll forests, i.e. forests dominated by eucalypts, are less tall than described above, with maximum canopy heights of up to 25 m. They are usually also "open", often with abundant and varied undergrowth (e.g. grass trees, wattles, banksias, various types of shrubs and grass).

Bird species found in this type of habitat or plant

This is not necessarily a complete list. We display here some examples of bird species found by us in this kind of habitat or plant. Hover your cursor on thumbnails to see names of species; click on thumbnail to go to the page describing the species.

Photos

Example of sclerophyll forest, i.e. open eucalypt forest, in Royal National Park, NSW

View over open forest in the Pilliga scrub, NSW, which is dominated by eucalypts that are less than 30 m high and spaced far enough apart for significant undergrowth of wattles, grass trees and other species to develop

Open sclerophyll forest in Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, which is dominated by ironbark eucalypts

Littoral rainforest

Although often less than 20 m in height, dense coastal growth that - by its height - would normally be classified as scrub, is called "littoral rainforest", if subject to sufficient rainfall. Plants in such (usually dense) forests can remain quite low because, especially on the sea side, exposed to salty air. With increasing distance from the sea the height of vegetation in littoral rainforest usually increases, leading to a wedge-like height profile when viewed with a viewing direction parallel to the coastline.

Bird species found in this type of habitat or plant

This is not necessarily a complete list. We display here some examples of bird species found by us in this kind of habitat or plant. Hover your cursor on thumbnails to see names of species; click on thumbnail to go to the page describing the species.

Photos

Example of re-emerging littoral forest at Manning Point, NSW; from the low coastal scrub on the seaside the height of vegetation increases

Walking track through the largest remaining piece of littoral rainforest in NSW: Iluka NR

Example of a bird living in littoral rainforest: Lewin's Honeyeater searching for food
[Manning Point, NSW, July 2013]

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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