7 bird calls you might hear in South Australia

LISTEN: Learn the unique calls of some of South Australia’s bird species by listening to these sound bites.

Have you heard weird and wonderful chirps in your backyard, but you’re not sure which bird they came from? We are here to help.

Bird calls have four purposes – to advertise territories, attract a mate, deter predators and make alarm calls.

There are 828 species of birds across Australia, with more than half of them found in South Australia.

Here’s seven of the coolest South Australian bird calls and some interesting facts about the birds that make them:

1. Australian magpie

One of the most Australian of sounds is the warbling magpie. They can be found across the state, all year round.

This black and white songbird with chestnut brown eyes is also known to be brainy and remembers people’s faces.

Click on the image to reveal this bird's call:

(Image courtesy of Stewart Monckton)

Want to learn more about these fascinating birds? Read our story on How to avoid being swooped by a magpie.

2. Southern boobook

The southern boobook is the smallest Australian owl and is one of five owl species that reside in SA.

The dark chocolate-brown feathers of the southern boobook can be found across SA with sightings recorded at Lake Gilles Conservation Park on the Eyre Peninsula, in the Flinders Ranges, the Riverland and the Adelaide Hills.

Click on the image to reveal this bird's call:

(Image courtesy of Julian Robinson)

If you were wondering, the other four owl species common to SA are the barn owl, powerful owl, Australian owlet-nightjar and barking owl.

3. Grey shrike-thrush

The mellow, fluty and harmonic sound of a grey shrike-thrush is sure to sooth your soul.

The bird has been spotted around the Barossa Valley in Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park, through the Flinders Ranges as well as in the Eyre Peninsula's Wittelbee Conservation Park, and in Coorong National Park.

Click on the image to reveal this bird's call:


4. Laughing kookaburra

This nostalgic Australian icon can be found in open forests across the country, particularly in gumtrees, and are often heard in suburbs around the Adelaide Hills.

Its loud cackle of 'koo-koo-koo-koo-koo-kaa-kaa-kaa' is often sung in a chorus with other kookaburras.

Click on the image to reveal this bird's call:


(Image courtesy of Marlene Lyell)

5. The eastern spinebill

One of Australia’s smallest honeyeater birds is the eastern spinebill.

The distinctive black, white and chestnut coloured bird can be seen around the Flinders Ranges and in small pockets of tall forests near the Mount Lofty Ranges. Sometimes they even hover like hummingbirds.

The bird’s high-pitched and repetitive piping sound definitely stands out from many others.

Click on the image to reveal this bird's call:


(Image courtesy of Helen Cunningham)

6. Willie wagtail

The willie wagtail’s name comes from the constant sideways wagging of its tail. But the willie part, well, we’ll just leave that one there...

The sweet, pretty sounds of this bird can be heard across SA, usually at night. You might hear its harsh, scratchy call when it’s alarmed. 

Click on the image to reveal this bird's call:


7. Crimson rosella

The face of Rosella condiments – famously its tomato sauce branding – is the crimson rosella.

Though the bird is commonly known for its red plumage and blue cheeks, it actually looks different across the state. Along the River Murray, they are yellow, black and blue, in southern SA they’re a mix between red and yellow and are known as the ‘Adelaide Rosella’, and in the Flinders Ranges they are more orange-coloured.

The crimson rosella has a pleasant and metallic sounding whistle.

Click on the image to reveal this bird's call:

Adelaide Rosella (image courtesy of Danny McCreadie)

Want to hear these sweet tunes or cackling calls from the comfort of your own garden? Here’s how to entice birds to visit.

(Main image courtesy of Danny McCreadie)

This story was originally posted in March 2018.

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