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A total of 262 species of bird have been recorded living in the wild on the island of Tasmania, nearby islands, and islands in Bass Strait, 182 of which are regularly recorded, while another 79 are vagrants, and one is extinct. Birds of Macquarie Island are not included in this list. Twelve species are unique (endemic) to the island of Tasmania, and most of these are common and widespread. However, the forty-spotted pardalote is rare and restricted, while the island's two breeding endemic species, the world's only migratory parrots, are both threatened. Several species of penguin are late summer visitors to Tasmanian shores. Tasmania's endemic birds have led to it being classified as an Endemic Bird Area (EBA), one of 218 such areas worldwide. Priority regions for habitat-based conservation of birds around the world, they are defined by containing two or more restricted-range (endemic) species.
Although Tasmania has been isolated from the Australian mainland for about 10,000 years, islands in the Bass Strait between the two landmasses have allowed many species to traverse. With around 5,400 km (3,400 mi) of coastline and 350 offshore islands, Tasmania provides a diverse haven for birds despite its relatively small size. Birds are abundant in Tasmanian wetlands and waterways, and ten of these habitats are internationally important and protected under the Ramsar Convention. Many migratory birds make use of the bays, mudflats and beaches for feeding, including the threatened hooded plover and little tern, both of which breed along the coast. The near-coastal button grass grasslands of the southwest harbour the breeding grounds of the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot. Many of the rarer species dwell in Tasmania's eucalyptus (sclerophyll) forests or rainforests, which cover much of the island.
The common and scientific names and taxonomic arrangement follow the conventions laid out in the 2008 publication Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. Unless otherwise noted, all species listed below are considered to occur, or have occurred since European settlement in the case of extinct species, regularly in Tasmania as permanent residents, summer or winter visitors, or migrants. The following codes denote certain categories of species:
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Non-passerines: Emus • New World quail • Pheasants • Magpie goose • Ducks, geese, and swans • Grebes • Pigeons and doves • Frogmouths • Owlet-nightjars • Swifts • Storm petrels • Albatrosses • Fulmers, petrels and shearwaters • Penguins • Tropicbirds • Boobies and gannets • Darters • Cormorants • Pelicans • Bitterns, herons, and egrets • Ibises and spoonbills • Hawks, kites, and eagles • Caracaras and falcons • Rails, gallinules, and coots • Stone-curlews • Oystercatchers • Stilts and avocets • Lapwings and plovers • Painted snipe • Sandpipers, curlews, stints, godwits, snipes, and phalaropes • Buttonquail • Skuas • Gulls and terns • Cockatoos • True parrots • Cuckoos • Typical owls • Barn owls • River kingfishers • Wood kingfishers
Passerines: Lyrebirds • Fairywrens • Thornbills and scrubwrens Pardalotes • Honeyeaters • Quail-thrushes and allies • Cuckooshrikes • Whistlers and shrike-thrushes • Woodswallows, butcherbirds, Australian magpie, and currawongs • Fantails • Crows and ravens • Monarchs and magpie-lark • Australian robins • Larks • Cisticolas • Grassbirds and songlarks • Old World babblers and white-eyes • Swallows and martins • Thrushes • Starlings • Estrildid finches • Old World sparrows • Wagtails and pipits • Finches
The Dromaiidae were represented in Tasmanian territory by two species, both now locally extinct. The King Island emu became extinct around 1802, and the original populations of emus on Tasmania had vanished by 1865. Whether or not the Tasmanian emu was a separate subspecies is unclear. The extant emus of Tasmania have originated from introduced emus from mainland Australia.
The New World quails are small, plump terrestrial birds only distantly related to the quails of the Old World, but named for their similar appearance and habits. One species has become naturalised in Tasmania.
The Phasianidae is a family of birds which consists of the pheasants and their allies. These are terrestrial species, variable in size but generally plump, with broad, relatively short wings. Many species are gamebirds, or have been domesticated as a food source for humans. Two species are native to Tasmania, and three commonly domesticated species are feral in King Island.
The family contains a single species, the Magpie goose. It was an early and distinctive offshoot of the anseriform family tree, diverging after screamers and before all other ducks, geese and swans, sometime in the late Cretaceous. The single species is a vagrant to Tasmania.
The family Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are adapted for an aquatic existence, with webbed feet, bills that are flattened to a greater or lesser extent, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to special oils. In Tasmania, 15 species have been recorded, of which one has been introduced, and three are vagrants.
Grebes are small- to medium-large-sized freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land. Three species have been recorded in Tasmania.
Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere. Six species have been recorded in Tasmania, one of which has been introduced, and another three are vagrants.
The frogmouths are a distinctive group of small nocturnal birds related to swifts found from India across southern Asia to Australia. One species is found in Tasmania.
The owlet-nightjars are a distinctive group of small nocturnal birds related to swifts found from the Maluku Islands and New Guinea to Australia and New Caledonia. There are eleven species, one of which is found in Tasmania.
Swifts are small aerial birds, spending the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. There are 98 species worldwide, with one reaching Tasmanuia.
The storm petrels are the smallest of seabirds, relatives of the petrels, feeding on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. Their flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like. One species has been regularly recorded in Tasmania's waters, and two more are vagrants.
The albatrosses are a family of 21 species of large seabird found across the Southern and North Pacific Oceans. The largest are among the largest flying birds in the world. Ten species are regularly seen in Tasmanian waters, with another three recorded less frequently, and one vagrant species.
The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterized by united nostrils with medium nasal septum, and a long outer functional primary flight feather. Eleven species have been regularly recorded from Tasmanian waters, while another 20 species are vagrants.
Penguins are a group of aquatic, flightless birds living almost exclusively in the southern hemisphere, especially in Antarctica. One species breeds on the Tasmanian coast, while another nine have been recorded as vagrants.
Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their long wings have black markings, as does the head. One species is a vagrant to Tasmanian waters.
Darters are cormorant-like water birds with long necks and long, straight bills. They often swim with only the neck above water, and are fish-eaters. One species is a vagrant to Tasmania.
Cormorants are medium-to-large aquatic birds, usually with mainly dark plumage and areas of colored skin on the face. The bill is long, thin, and sharply hooked. Their feet are four-toed and webbed, a distinguishing feature among the Pelecaniformes order. Four species occur in Tasmania, with a fifth as a vagrant.
Pelicans are large water birds with a distinctive pouch under the bill. Like other birds in the order Pelecaniformes, they have four webbed toes. One species has been recorded in Tasmania.
The family Ardeidae contains the herons, egrets, and bitterns. Herons and egrets are medium- to large-sized wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter-necked and more secretive. Unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises and spoonbills, members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted. Nine species have been recorded in Tasmania, one of which (the cattle egret) is a recent self-introduction, and three others are vagrants.
The family Threskiornithidae includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings. Their bodies tend to be elongated, the neck more so, with rather long legs. The bill is also long, decurved in the case of the ibises, straight and distinctively flattened in the spoonbills. All five Australian mainland species have been recorded as vagrants in Tasmania.
Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey and includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers, and Old World vultures. These birds have large powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight. Twelve species have been recorded in Tasmania, while there are no confirmed records of a thirteenth species, the spotted harrier.
Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey, notably the falcons and caracaras. They differ from hawks, eagles, and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their feet. In Tasmania, four species have been recorded.
Rallidae is a large family of small- to medium-sized birds that includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. The most typical family members occupy dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps, or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs, and have long toes that are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and be weak fliers. In Tasmania, eight species have been recorded, one endemic and another a vagrant.
The stone-curlews are a group of nine species of largely tropical and nocturnal birds. They are characterised by their strong black or yellow black bills, large yellow eyes, and cryptic plumage. One species is a vagrant to Tasmania.
Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds that includes the avocets and the stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills. All three mainland species have been recorded in Tasmania, although two are vagrants only.
The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels, and lapwings. They are small- to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are often found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water. In Tasmania, ten species have been recorded, three of which are vagrants.
The painted-snipes are a family of three snipe-like birds found in South America, Asia, and Australia. The Australian species has recently been split from the Asian greater painted-snipe and is a vagrant to Tasmania.
The Scolopacidae are a large and diverse family of small- to medium-sized shorebirds, including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Different lengths of legs and bills enable different species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. Fourteen species have been recorded in Tasmania, five as vagrants only.
The buttonquail are an ancient lineage of shorebirds which closely resemble true quail in appearance but are unrelated. They are found in Africa, Asia and Australia, with one species reaching Tasmania.
The skuas are in general medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They have longish bills with a hooked tip, and webbed feet with sharp claws. They look like large dark gulls, but have a fleshy cere above the upper mandible. They are strong, acrobatic fliers. A single species is regularly found in Tasmanian waters, while two others are vagrants.
Gulls are typically medium to large birds, usually grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills, and webbed feet. The large species take up to four years to attain full adult plumage, but two years is typical for small gulls. In Tasmania, three species have been recorded. Terns are in general medium-to-large birds, typically with grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. They have longish bills and webbed feet. They are lighter-bodied and more streamlined than gulls, and look elegant in flight with long tails and long narrow wings. In Tasmania, thirteen species of gulls and terns have been recorded, five of which are vagrants. The two groups have been considered separate families, but some findings that the noddies and white tern are offshoots to the combined group have led the two to be classified as a single family for the time being.
Cockatoos are a distinctive lineage of parrots notable for their crests and lack of colour in their plumage. Generally large and noisy, they are a familiar part of the Australian (and Tasmanian) landscape. Six species are found in Tasmania, two of which are considered to be aviary escapees and hence introduced, and one a vagrant.
True parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak shape. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and they have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two back. Nine species are found in Tasmania, one of which is critically endangered, and two are vagrants.
The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. There are 138 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in Tasmania, all of which are parasitic.
Typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak, and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk. One species has been recorded in Tasmania.
Barn owls are medium- to large-sized owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. One species is found in Tasmania.
Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. One species has been recorded in Tasmania.
Wood or tree kingfishers are medium to large kingfishers with large heads, long pointed bills, short legs, and stubby tails. One species has been introduced to Tasmania.
The lyrebirds are two species of ground-dwelling Australian birds, notable for their accomplished mimicry. One species has been introduced to Tasmania.
The fairywrens are a family of small, insectivorous passerine birds endemic to Australia and New Guinea. Most closely related to honeyeaters and pardalotes, they are more closely related to crows than to true wrens of the northern hemisphere. Two species are native to Tasmania.
The pardalotes are a small family of very small, brightly coloured birds native to Australia, with short tails, strong legs, and stubby blunt beaks. They feed on insects, generally in the canopy of eucalypts, and nest in burrows. Three species are found in Tasmania, of which one is endemic and endangered.
The Acanthizidae are a group of 35 species of small to medium mostly insectivorous passerine birds found in Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, and the south-west Pacific. They have short rounded wings, slender bills, long legs, and a short tail. Most species have olive, grey, or brown plumage, although some have patches of a brighter yellow. Six species are found in Tasmania, of which three are endemic.
Honeyeaters are a diverse and widespread group of nectar and insect-eating birds found across Australia and surrounding regions. Eleven species are found in Tasmania, of which four are endemic, including Australia's largest honeyeater, the yellow wattlebird.
The quail-thrushes are medium-sized songbirds found in open forest and scrub. Adapted for ground living, they have strong legs and beaks. They are sometimes classified in the family Cinclosomatidae along with jewel-babblers, or united with the family Psophodidae, containing the wedgebills and whipbirds. One species reaches Tasmania.
The cuckooshrikes are a family of predominantly drab-coloured insectivorous birds from Australia and southeast Asia that are related to neither cuckoos nor shrikes. One species reaches Tasmania.
The whistlers and shrikethrushes are a large group of stocky passerines found in Australia and surrounding regions. Primarily insectivorous, larger species may also eat small vertebrates such as frogs or nestling birds. Most have drab plumage, the golden whistler a notable exception, and several are accomplished songsters. Three species are found in Tasmania.
Now known to be related to the Vangidae of Madagascar, the Artamidae are a collection of crow-like birds as well as the smaller woodswallows. They include some of the most familiar and most accomplished songbirds of the Australian (and Tasmanian) landscape. Six species are found in Tasmania. One is endemic and two more are endemic subspecies.
Fantails are a family of small insectivorous birds of southern Asia and Australasia related to monarchs and drongos (all three are sometimes combined in the one family). One species is resident while another is a vagrant.
The Corvidae family includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers, and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size for the bird order Passeriformes. Some of the larger species show levels of learned behavior of a high degree. Two black-plumaged ravens are found in Tasmania.
The monarch flycatchers are a diverse family of around 140 species of passerine birds found from Africa to Australia. Closely related to the drongo family Dicruridae, they are sometimes classified as a subfamily within it. Monarchs generally live in the canopy or understory in forest habitats, although one species is ground-dwelling. One species is found in Tasmania.
Australian robins are a group of small insectivorous birds, whose exact position in the bird family tree is unclear. Named after a superficial resemblance to the European robin, the males of many species sport bright red or pink on their plumage. Four species are found in Tasmania, of which one is endemic.
Larks are small terrestrial birds with often extravagant songs and display flights. Most larks are fairly dull in appearance. They feed on insects and seeds. One species has been introduced to Tasmania.
The cisticolas and allies are family of about 110 small passerine birds found mainly in warmer southern regions of the Old World. They are often included within the Old World warbler family Sylviidae. One species reaches Tasmania.
Megaluridae, commonly known as grassbirds, songlarks and megalurid warblers, is a newly recognized family of small insectivorous songbirds related to the Old World warblers. One species reaches Tasmania.
The white-eyes are a large family of mostly Old World passerine birds. They are rather diverse in size and coloration, but are characterised by soft fluffy plumage. These are birds of tropical areas, with the greatest variety in Southeast Asia. One species reaches Tasmania.
The Hirundinidae family is a group of passerines characterized by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Their adaptations include a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings, and short bills with wide gape. The feet are designed for perching rather than walking and the front toes are partially joined at the base. Two species have been recorded in Tasmania.
The true thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly but not exclusively in the Old World. Two species, one native and one introduced, occur in Tasmania.
Starlings are small- to medium-sized Old World passerine birds with strong feet. Their flight is strong and direct, and most are gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country, and they eat insects and fruit. The plumage of several species is dark with a metallic sheen. One species has been introduced into Tasmania.
Estrildid finches are small finch- or sparrow-like birds of the Old World tropics and Australasia. One species reaches Tasmania.
Old World sparrows are small passerine birds. These sparrows tend to be small plump brownish or greyish birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed-eaters, and they also consume small insects. One species has been introduced to Tasmania.
The Motacillidae are a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. They are slender, ground-feeding insectivores of open country. One species have been recorded in Tasmania.
Finches are seed-eating passerine birds that are small to moderately large and have a strong beak, usually conical and in some species very large. All have 12 tail feathers and 9 primaries. These birds have a bouncing flight with alternating bouts of flapping and gliding on closed wings, and most sing well. Two species have been introduced to Tasmania.