Adelaide is home to a broad range of birds. Discover what species you might spot, and how to encourage these feathered friends into your garden.

Urban Biodiversity Team Leader Jason van Weenen and Urban Ecologist Elisa Sparrow appear on Outdoors Indoors to discuss Adelaide’s common birds.

Adelaide is home to more than 100 species of birds, but some are more common than others.

Let’s explore a few of the birds you are likely to see around our city, and how to entice them into your backyard. Here are 8 of them:

An Australian coot sitting on the water
Australian coot, photo: Richard Bartz, WikiMedia Commons

1. Australian coot

The Australian coot (Fulica atra) has a black body and head with a white beak and face-patch, referred to as a white ‘shield’, and red eyes. Younger birds may appear paler, or more grey than black.

You’ll spot these birds at wetlands or smaller ponds as they forage and feed on the new shoots from aquatic plants.

A purple swamp hen on grass
Purple swamp hen, photo: JJ Harrison, WikiMedia Commons

2. Purple swamp hen

Purple swamp hens (Porphyrio porphyrio) are black with a purple to blue neck, breast and belly. Their distinct red beak, face shield and eyes make them stick out in the grassy wetland areas where they are usually spotted.

While these birds are quite good swimmers, you will more often spy them strutting close to the water’s edge, or even atop floating vegetation, looking for shoots of reeds and small animals like frogs or snails.

Ibis standing with a gum tree in the background
Ibis, photo: Sean Kelleher, WikiMedia Commons

3. Ibis

The Australian white ibis (Threskiornis Molucca) is mostly white, but has a black neck, head and beak.

These birds are common in urban areas. They’ve adapted to feeding on scraps, so it is a standard sight to see them foraging in park bins or even rubbish tips.

This adaptive behaviour has earnt these birds the nickname ‘bin chicken’. When they are not feeding on our scraps, ibis eat aquatic invertebrates, like mussels and crayfish.

Rainbow lorikeet in a tree
Rainbow lorikeet, photo: Martin Stokes

4. Rainbow lorikeet

Ever seen one of these noisy birds? The rainbow lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) is multi-coloured with a red beak, blue head, yellow neck, and green wings and body.

You might hear these birds before you see them. They travel in loud and fast-moving flocks, so their presence is often given away by their screeching – a distinct high-pitched squawk. They can be found in a range of habitats that have access to lots of trees.

A new holland honey eater bird sitting on a tree
New Holland honey eater, photo: Derek Midgey, WikiMedia Commons

5. New Holland honey eaters

New Holland honey eaters (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) are black and white, with a patch of yellow on their wings and tail. You’ll spot them in forests, woodlands, and even in gardens where there are trees like grevilleas and banksias.

They feed on nectar from flowers, as well as a few insects and spiders, and tend to dart from trees to bushes in search of their food.

An Australian magpie sitting on a tree
Australian magpie, photo: Martin Stokes

6. Magpies

The Australian magpie is black and white (Cracticus tibicen) and is found in a diverse range of habitats. You’ll spot them anywhere with a mix of trees and some open space.

Magpies’ diets of insects and larvae means you’ll often see them walking along the ground looking for a snack to snatch up. While they sometimes approach people looking for something to eat, it is best not to feed these birds as they may become reliant on our food!

A wood duck in grass and water
Wood duck, photo: Lip Kee, WikiMedia Commons

7. Wood duck

The Australian wood duck (Chenonetta jubata) has a brown head and pale grey body. These ducks are widespread around Adelaide, found in grasslands, open woodlands, wetlands, flooded pastures and even along the coast, often spotted in inlets and bays.

Wood ducks feed on grasses, clover, other herbs, and even insects. You won’t see these ducks in large spaces of open water, they tend to prefer shallower ponds or grasslands with access for them to forage for food.

A noisy miner on grass
Noisy miner, photo: Martin Stokes

8. Noisy miner

Noisy miners (Manorina melanocephala) are mostly grey, but have a distinct yellow beak and a black crown and cheeks. Aptly named, these birds have a distinct – noisy – call. It sounds repetitive, almost like an alarm, and is often echoed by other birds in the colony or close by, amplifying their sound.

You will see these birds in woodland areas with a combination of trees and open spaces. It is this preferred habitat, which also makes these birds commonly found in our parks and gardens.

How can the home gardener help keep birds in their garden?

There are lots of ways that you can help attract birds and protect them in your backyard.

Adding structure – including natives!

Adding structure to your garden is all about layers! Incorporate a variety of plants in your garden to provide this structure, including some smaller, shrubby species to provide a place for smaller native birds to hide from potential threats.

Planting natives, such as banksias and hakeas, are a great way to attract native bird species. For more ideas, check out our Adelaide Garden Guide.

Responsible pet management

Did you know your pets might be impacting on birds visiting your yard?

Simple steps like keeping your cat inside and ensuring any exotic birds are well secured in an aviary can help our native birds.

Be aware of chemical use

Spraying weeds or insects might be impacting on potential food sources for our feathered friends.

Try and minimise your use of insecticides and pesticides in your garden. Remember those insects are making up an important part of the food chain for lots of our native birds.

Join a volunteer group

There are several bird-related volunteer groups which can help you learn more about our diverse species around Adelaide and get involved with bird monitoring activities.

Some of these include:

Want to know more?

Here at Green Adelaide, we are working toward the long term conservation of our urban birds.

Discover some of our native species, or how we are focusing rewilding efforts on birds of prey.

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