The “Bush Capital” is fortunate to have many good birding spots within a few minutes of the city centre. Most of the bush is dry open woodland and some of the best birds are found on the lower slopes of Mt Ainslie/Mt Majura and Black Mountain. Many birds are summer migrants to our high country arriving in spring and departing for warmer climes in autumn. During the winter months the remaining birds join into large mixed feeding flocks that move through the woodland. A Pocket Guide to the Birds of Canberra is available from tourist centres and also on this web site. The guide has been developed as an aid for school children, visitors, newcomers to Canberra, budding birders and other interested parties.
Some reliable birding locations mentioned in this Pocket Guide are described in more detail in pages from the menu at left. GPS coordinates (WGS 84) are given, as are grid references taken from the UBD guide in the front of the Canberra Yellow Pages. More maps for two of these sites can be found on this web site.
About 250 bird species occur in and around Canberra, in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The pocket guide shows a selection of those birds and their typical habitats.
Beginning in the early 1800s many of Canberra’s woodlands and grasslands were turned to pastoral use. The city itself has grown since 1908, when it was chosen as the site of the national capital. One of Canberra’s attractions is the intermixing of suburb with woodland—hence its characterisation as the ‘Bush Capital’. The woodlands are rich in bird life and the suburbs now offer year round food, water and shelter for many birds. However, because so little remains in Australia of Yellow Box–Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Natural Temperate Grassland, the ACT has listed each as an Endangered Community, to help protect their constituent flora and fauna.
The main illustration is a snapshot from the outer woodlands, through the suburbs to the city and its lake. The three smaller ones show handy, well-known birding sites: the Australian National Botanic Gardens on the city side of Black Mountain, Jerrabomberra Wetlands and Fyshwick Sewage Ponds next to Lake Burley Griffin, and Campbell Park located on the lower slopes of Mount Ainslie near the airport. Some species visit Canberra from their breeding grounds in the Australian Alps; others breed in Canberra and then depart for the winter; a few species, notably certain honeyeaters, pass through on their northwards migration. These seasonal visitors are noted in the text; the others live in Canberra year round. Unusual birds are indicated in green and those listed in the ACT as threatened are in red. For each species the average size from the top of the head to the tip of the tail is given.
Selection compiled by Jenny Bounds and Penny Olsen.
Illustrations by Peter Marsack