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Australian bird habitats: river/creek

Aboriginal names: "pillyi", "bindaree" = River; "bagay" = Rivers/Creeks [gamilaraay]

Description of habitat

Habitats around rivers and creeks in Australia are very diverse. Vegetation along the courses of near-coastal rivers is often lush and dense, whereas - often dry - river beds in the interior tend to be lined mostly with a double row of River Red Gums (and little else). Accordingly, the bird life along rivers and creeks is also diverse, depending on the nature of the habitat. This is the reason why we separate two general types of areas here: near-coastal and inland rivers. At the end of this page there are also a few examples of (semi-)permanent waterholes in inland rivers.

Note that there is a separate page on billabongs, i.e. often reed-lined and waterlily-covered (semi-)permanent waterholes of tropical Australian rivers and creeks. Rivers can also be lined with reeds, which are described briefly on the page about lakes.

Near-coastal rivers and creeks

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 a near-coastal creek with a very shallow gradient, lined with lush vegetation: Baffle Creek, QLD

River emerging from the Great Dividing Range towards the coastline, with a median gradient - Gloucester River, NSW

Inland rivers and creeks

Information on (semi-)permanent waterholes can be found here.

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

A bend of the Darling River at Paroo-Darling National Park, NSW, as an example of a major inland river; at times even the Darling River falls entirely dry at the surface

In this shot one can see how the Darling River is lined on both sides by massive trees, mostly River Red Gums; the trees' root systems stabilise the river banks

Rocky Creek, between Narrabri and Bingara, NSW, is an example of a creek in the Great Dividing Range, which usually has at least a trickle of water at the surface - this is a typical habitat for, e.g., Sacred Kingfishers

This pool of Rocky Creek is the territory of an Azure Kingfisher

Here an extreme example of a dry creek lined with River Red Gums in the Flinders Ranges, SA

Example of a dry creek bed in an agricultural area (formerly natural grassland), overgrown with grass, reeds and weeds; a bird species found by us in this area is the Eastern Grass Owl

Such an eroded creek bank is not a pretty sight for landholders, but it offers several bird species an opportunity to drill nesting tunnels into the ground

Australian Wood Ducks on a (semi-)permanent water surface at Bullawa Creek, in inland NSW
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2014]

(Semi-)permanent waterholes/rockpools

"calgai", "gilgai" [gamilaraay], "gilghi" ("gilgie") = waterhole; "nullamanna" = Large waterhole [Aboriginal]

On a continent with a dry interior in which many rivers are dry over long periods, waterholes are important sources of drinking water for local wildlife. Consequently, they also attract many species of birds. Which birds will go to a waterhole or rockpool will depend on the habitat(s) surrounding the water.

Note that in common language use such inland water pools are often called "lagoons". This term is a misnomer. There is a separate page on (saltwater!) lagoons.

Example of a (semi-)permanent waterhole: Salisbury Waterholes in the Pilliga Nature Reserve, in inland NSW

Waterholes are particularly important in semi-arid and arid evironments; here an example of a rockpool in Wirreanda Creek near Hawker, SA, which crosses country with very poor soil

Rock pools along Wottamolla Creek in Royal NP, NSW

Rock pools of Wottamolla Creek - the habitat in which a pair of Rockwarblers was found by us near dusk
[Wottamolla, Royal NP, NSW, June 2015]

Example of bird species making use of a rockpool: White-browed Scrubwren hunting for insects
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, April 2013]

Another hunter around a rockpool is the Superb Fairy-wren
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, April 2013]

Eastern Yellow Robins hunt in underbrush along rivers and creeks, but venture out into the open too
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, April 2013]

Although hunting mostly in the trees lining rivers and creeks, such as e.g. casuarinas, Olive-backed Orioles are also seen by us regularly around rockpools
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, April 2013]

Red-browed Finches like to drink from shallow waters, such as e.g. rockpools or puddles; this one used a casuarina to approach a rockpool below
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, April 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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If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.