re: Most commonly reported bird in Australia

Subject: re: Most commonly reported bird in Australia
From: Andrew Silcocks <>
Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2003 17:19:01 +1000
Hi Tony & Birding Aussers,

I was interested in your quest for Australia's most commonly reported species and so I had a look at the Atlas data. I have included 2 tables, the first shows the most frequently reported species in the old and new atlases. The Magpie comes out top in both atlases, reflecting its distinctiveness as well as its abundance. However, the Magpie doesn't occur in the north of NT and the top of Cape York, and is scarce in the Tanami and Great Sandy Deserts and so isn't the most widespread.

1Australian MagpieAustralian Magpie
2Willie WagtailWillie Wagtail
4GalahWelcome Swallow
5Welcome SwallowBlack-faced Cuckoo-Shrike
6Grey FantailGalah
7Grey Shrike-thrushWhite-faced Heron
8Laughing KookaburraLaughing Kookaburra
9Superb Fairy-wrenNankeen Kestrel
10Australian RavenCommon Starling
11Red Wattlebird
12Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike
13Crested Pigeon
14Striated Pardalote
15Pacific Black Duck
16Masked Lapwing
17White-faced Heron
18Common Starling
20Rainbow Lorikeet

The second table shows the number of one degree grids in which a species has been recorded from the old and new atlas (approx 820 grids cover Australia). I'm afraid Tony, the White-winged Fairy-wren comes in a lowly 76th, from the Atlas data. Nationally, the most commonly reported bird is the Magpie, while the most widespread species appears to be the Willie Wagtail, though in both atlases, there was very little between the top 4 species. A full list is available to anyone who would like it.

Species nameNo of gridsSpecies nameNo of grids
1Willie Wagtail760Brown Falcon769
2Nankeen Kestrel756Nankeen Kestrel768
3Brown Falcon755Willie Wagtail762
4Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike755Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike756
5Rufous Whistler701Richard's Pipit720
6Galah692Wedge-tailed Eagle702
7Wedge-tailed Eagle689Galah678
8Magpie-Lark680White-winged Triller676
9Grey Shrike-thrush675Magpie-Lark674
10Australian Magpie667Black-faced Woodswallow672
11Black-faced Woodswallow659
12Richard's Pipit657
13Singing Honeyeater652
14Crested Pigeon649
16Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo639
17White-winged Triller635
18Pallid Cuckoo633
19Yellow-throated Miner626
20White-faced Heron618

Moving onto the most numerous species in Australia, I'd guess at perhaps Galah or even Short-tailed Shearwater!


At 01:24 PM 26/06/2003 +1000, you wrote:
On a nationwide scale I would vote for Australian Magpie Lark, Black-faced
Cuckoo Shrike, Australian Magpie or Willie Wagtail (I prefer Glenn Holmes
suggested common name Ground Fantail, but lets not open that 'can of worms'

While on the subject of the most common birds.  I recall somewhere that
someone once said that the most common bird in Australia is White-winged
Fairy Wren as it has a huge range, i.e. a habitat preference that covers
most of Australia and is very common almost anywhere with Saltbush, Spinifex
and the like.  Not sure that I agree but the concept sounds convincing.
Perhaps Andrew from Birds Australia could give us the answer.


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