Winter Survey Results

While we may want to hibernate a bit more over winter, our local bird life certainly doesn’t. Through June and July there were a wonderful 294 different species recorded in 1340 Birds in Backyards surveys from across the country. Our garden visitors ranged from our smallest bird - the Weebil (which weighs a tiny 6g) which was seen in three locations in south-west WA through to our largest raptor, the Wedge-tailed Eagle (tipping the scales at 5.8kg). Wedge-tailed Eagles were seen soaring over gardens in 20 locations across the country. Excitedly this includes five sightings of the Tasmanian subspecies – a federally endangered subspecies. One of these birds was chased off aggressively by a Forest Raven.

Overall our top 10 most commonly reported birds is a who’s who of urban dominating birds (note the % Reporting Rate is the proportion of surveys in which the species was seen compared to the overall number of surveys submitted):

Species% Reporting Rate
Australian Magpie49.6
Rainbow Lorikeet44.3
Noisy Miner34.7
Crested Pigeon26.5
Pied Currawong25.6
Spotted Dove25.5
Red Wattlebird23.5
Willie Wagtail22.6
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo22.2


Given NSW leads the way with the number of surveys submitted (499) – this list is very biased towards birds that dominate NSW urban bird communities (particularly those on the coast) and the wide distribution of the Australian Magpie has allowed it to take the no. 1 position. Let's dive deeper then at a state/territory level...



Species% Reporting rate 
Rainbow Lorikeet61.8
Australian Magpie


Noisy Miner56.0
Pied Currawong46.9
Crested Pigeon44.1
Spotted Dove40.9
Laughing Kookaburra31.5
Satin Bowerbird30.5
Common Myna27.1


NSW is certainly dominated by the big and aggressive birds. It is heartening to see that birds like Laughing Kookaburras and Satin Bowerbirds are being recorded so frequently. Despite it’s iconic status, Laughing Kookaburras have been shown to be in decline across much of Australia (but of course in WA it is introduced). Data from our Birds in Backyards surveys show that the species is hanging on in urban areas, particularly in NSW, but it’s hollow-nesting nature means finding breeding locations is difficult. There is some work to do to see just how significant urban gardens are for Laughing Kookaburras.



Species% Reporting Rate
Rainbow Lorikeet46.1
Bar-shouldered Dove42.3
Willie Wagtail40.1
Common Myna39.5
Yellow Honeyeater36.3
Laughing Kookaburra32.1
Lewin's Honeyeater31.6
Squatter Pigeon31.2
Crested Pigeon30.2

A very different look in Queensland with surveys coming in from Cairns and Townsville and then through SE Qld. Smaller birds, particularly honeyeaters were common garden members this Winter. Yellow and Lewin’s Honeyeaters tend to be found in areas with good mid to canopy level coverage, so get some nectar-rich natives to help them out. Interestingly most of the birds on this top 10 list spend a significant proportion of their time on the ground. Whilst Common Mynas are not one to encourage, open lawn space certainly benefits species like Bar-shouldered doves, Willie Wagtails, Magpie-larks and both the Squatter and Crested Pigeons.



Species% Reporting Rate
Red Wattlebird49.7
Noisy Miner45.8
Rainbow Lorikeet44.0
Eastern Rosella31.7
Grey Butcherbird31.3
Common Blackbird30.3
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo28.2
Crimson Rosella25.4
Spotted Dove23.6

This winter Victoria was home of the parrots – particularly great to see was the presence of both the Eastern and Crimson Rosellas in the top 10. Eastern Rosellas are considered shyer than Crimson Rosellas but both are looking for gardens with high shrub and tree coverage. Red Wattlebirds were seen in 50% of all the surveys recorded in Victorian gardens (of which there were 284) with Noisy Miners in a close second – again showing that gardens with native flowering shrubs attract these common and often aggressive native birds.



Species% Reporting Rate
Forest Raven74.0
House Sparrow45.2
Superb Fairy-wren37.5
Eastern Spinebill32.7
Common Blackbird27.9
Little Wattlebird23.1
Grey Fantail21.2
Laughing Kookaburra21.2
New Holland Honeyeater18.3
Australian Magpie18.3

Over 100 surveys were submitted from Tasmania this winter with a range of sightings coming in from Hobart and the surrounds but also through to the north in areas like Devonport and Deloraine. Forest Ravens certainly dominated the Tasmanian surveys with 3 out of every 4 surveys sighting a Forest Raven. Excitedly though, is the diversity of small birds in the top 10. Superb Fairy-wrens, Eastern Spinebills, Grey Fantails and New Holland Honeyeaters were all frequent visitors to these gardens. A combination of open lawn space and shrub coverage that must be providing both nectar and abundant insect life is fantastic for encouraging species like these.



Species% Reporting Rate
Red Wattlebird71.8
House Sparrow56.4
White-plumed Honeyeater53.9
Singing Honeyeater51.3
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater48.7
Crested Pigeon46.2
Welcome Swallow43.6
Spotted Dove41.0
Australian Magpie38.5
New Holland Honeyeater35.9

While we don’t have a lot of records for South Australia (39), our surveys are coming in from two regions – Greater Adelaide and Port Augusta. Like Victoria, Red Wattlebirds dominated the bird community but unlike the east coast cities, Noisy Miners and Rainbow Lorikeets dropped out of the top 10. Small insect eaters and nectar feeders again fill those gaps with four small honeyeaters and the Welcome Swallow all frequently seen.



Species% Reporting Rate
Red Wattlebird83.0
Australian Raven67.0
Australian Magpie54.7
Laughing Dove53.8
Singing Honeyeater50.9
Willie Wagtail50.0
Rainbow Lorikeet47.2
New Holland Honeyeater38.7
Grey Butcherbird36.8

The south-western WA bird communities recorded this winter (in 106 surveys) were very consistent in the types of birds seen. From the above table you can see that the top 6 birds were seen in at least half the surveys recorded. There were 64 species seen in total though, so most species were recorded very rarely – 44% of species were seen in less than 10% of the surveys. 
Despite being introduced to the Perth region, Rainbow Lorikeets show that they have a strong population be consistently appearing in the top 10 lists in our surveys. Whilst this is great for Rainbow Lorikeet lovers, they do outcompete their native counterparts Like Red-capped Parrots and Australian Ringnecks for food and hollow resources.



Species% Reporting Rate
Bar-shouldered Dove98.4
Brown Honeyeater96.8
White-gaped Honeyeater96.8
Peaceful Dove93.6
Australasian Figbird88.9
Black Kite63.5
Torresian Imperial-Pigeon53.9
Dusky Honeyeater53.9
Spangled Drongo41.3

We had just 3 surveyors in the Northern Territory this Winter – two in Darwin and one in Alice Springs – but between them they sent through 67 surveys. Thanks team!

Of course a small number of surveys, and locations makes it hard to draw any conclusions from the data in such a short time frame but the list does represent a very characteristic NT common bird list – particularly a Darwin list.



Species % Reporting Rate
Australian Magpie65.2
Red Wattlebird47.8
Pied Currawong43.5
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo34.8
Crimson Rosella34.8
Crested Pigeon26.1
Superb Fairy-wren21.8

Finally our ACT records are again only coming from a small number of surveys (26) making it difficult to draw and broad conclusions. The top 10 birds are consistent though with Birds in Backyards winter surveys from previous years. We can see a mix of the typical common urban winners alongside some smaller favourites like Superb Fairy-wrens and Silvereyes.


Regardless of your location, these breakdowns of top 10 Birds in Backyards surveys by state/territory show that even our common birds can be exciting and show incredible diversity. Particularly as many of us continue to be in lockdowns, these surveys can be a source of entertainment not only for you participating (and thank you to our amazing surveyors) but also as a way for us to ‘virtually’ travel through gardens across Australia. Don’t forget to take part in the surveys this Spring and enjoy your little pocket of nature till we can travel more freely again.

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