Whether it's the raucous screech of a cockatoo or the melodic call of a pied butcher bird, the sight of dashing emus or the vivid plume of a hundred budgerigars flying overhead, birdlife is a prominent part of life in the Red Centre. With diverse landscapes of desert, spinifex plains, mulga woodlands, rocky outcrops and waterholes, it's not surprising that around 180 species of bird reside in the habitat surrounding Alice Springs.
Spinifex and mulga
Among the sparse landscapes of spinifex dunes you can spot many species of small birds that dart about and hide in the desert scrub. Birds to keep an eye out for include spinifexbird, crimson chat, dusky grasswren, painted firetail, singing honeyeater and the rare orange chat. The attractive crested pigeon is another common bird you’ll find.
The Mulga scrubland provides fantastic sighting for smaller species such as zebra finch and honeyeaters. Keep an eye out for emu, little button quail and black-brested buzzard too. Cockatoos and parrots are a highlight here, and you're likely to see red-tailed black cockatoos, Major Mitchells as well as large numbers of galah and long-billed corella. Colourful flocks of budgerigar can also be spotted.
On the hunt
Don't forget to look up into the blazing blue skies where majestic birds of prey soar high above. Common species include wedgetail eagles, peregrine and brown falcons and Australian kestrel.
While Central Australia is known for its arid landscape, there are opportunities to spot waterbirds too. The Finke river system is the best place, and home to egret, heron and cormorant. In Alice Springs itself, a surprisingly great place for birdwatching is the sewerage ponds, where you'll find over 140 species, including species of duck, swamphen and sandpiper. Another fantastic option is the Alice Springs Desert Park, which has all species in habitats that have been created on its premises.