How well do you know Australia’s most beloved birds?

October 16th, 2023

Will you just wing this quiz or will you fly high?
A collage of five images of birds, including a black-throated finch, an Australian magpie, a swift parrot, a tawny frogmouth, and a superb fairywren

Australia is home to many diverse and fascinating birds. (Photos: slowmotiongli/Getty Images, Andrew Skeoch, Astred Hicks, Gisela Kaplan, Eyelenses/Pixabay)

Australians love their birds – so much so, Birdlife Australia and The Guardian hold a regular Bird of the Year competition, allowing Aussies to choose their favourite avian. That’s how we know which birds are Australia’s most beloved! But how well do you know them? Test your knowledge in this quiz!

Answer all five questions and hit the finish button when complete to get your score, and to learn more about why you were right or wrong.


#1. What superhero-like skill do Australian Magpies have?

Australian Magpies feed exclusively on the ground and are particularly skilled at foraging for scarab larvae, often known as Christmas beetles, from beneath the grassy surface of the ground. You wouldn’t know that the larvae were beneath the ground by looking, but magpies can locate them by listening out for the sound they emit and quickly jab their beak into the soil to retrieve them.

This fact came from Swoop by Nicole Godwin and illustrated by Susannah Crispe, and Australian Magpie by Gisela Kaplan – there’s a magpie book for people of all ages!

Photo: Andrew Skeoch

#2. What is the main source of food for the Swift Parrot?

Most parrots feed on seeds, but Swift Parrots mainly feed on nectar. Swift Parrots are messy eaters, but this makes them good pollinators, spreading pollen from tree to tree.

This fact comes from Swifty by Stephanie Owen Reeder and illustrated by Astred Hicks. Learn more about Swift Parrots as they make their migration journal following the blossom trail in across Bass Strait to mainland south-eastern Australia.

Photo: Astred Hicks

#3. How do Tawny Frogmouths catch their prey?

Often incorrectly identified as owls, Tawny Frogmouths mostly hunt arthropods and small vertebrates captured on the ground by ‘perch and pounce’. Unlike owls, Frogmouths have weak legs and feet that make capturing prey with their talons difficult. Their long, broad and rounded wings with soft plumage allow strong but silent flight that lets them approach without being noticed.

This fascinating fact and image come from Tawny Frogmouth by Gisela Kaplan.

#4. What does the call of the Black-throated Finch sound like?

These little pocket rockets might be small, but their metallic whistling pewwww can be heard around 100 metres away. Black-throated Finches now mostly live in Queensland and are considered possibly extinct in New South Wales.

Find out more about Black-throated Finches (including this fact!) and over 900 other Australian birds in The Australian Bird Guide, by Peter Menkhorst, Danny Rogers, Rohan Clarke, Jeff Davies, Peter Marsack and Kim Franklin.

Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images

#5. What interesting breeding fact is true for Superb Fairywrens?

Su­­­perb Fairywrens are a very social bird with a complex social structure. Detailed studies of fairywren species revealed cooperative breeding where the biological fathers of chicks came from other breeding territories.

If you’re keen to discover more about Superb Fairywrens and other Australian birdlife, The Australian Bird Guide by Peter Menkhorst, Danny Rogers, Rohan Clarke, Jeff Davies, Peter Marsack and Kim Franklin is the most comprehensive field guide to Australian birds, featuring over 900 species.

Photo: Eyelenses/Pixabay


How’d you score? Feel like you need to brush up on your bird knowledge? The below books are a great place to start (we even got these quiz questions from them!). There’s options for everyone of all ages and stages of knowledge, just click on the cover image to purchase or get a copy from your local bookshop! For our full range of bird books, head to our website.

Cover of a book with a photograph of a magpie in profile

Australian Magpie (Second Edition) by Gisela Kaplan

Cover of a children's book with an illustration of a magpie flying towards the viewer

Swoop by Nicole Godwin and illustrated by Susannah Crispe

Cover of 'Swifty', featuring an illustration of a swift parrot flying, encircled by gum flowers and leaves.

Swifty: The Super-fast Parrot by Stephanie Owen-Reeder and illustrated by Astred Hicks

Birds of Prey of Australia featuring a little eagle staring directly ahead, on a green background

Birds of Prey of Australia, Third Edition by Stephen Debus

Cover of 'Aboriginal Peoples and Birds in Australia', featuring a photo of a cockatoo feather ornament.

Aboriginal Peoples and Birds in Australia by Philip A Clarke

The Compact Australian Bird Guide, featuring artwork of a flying magpie goose and a spotted pardalote, on a burnt orange background.

The Compact Australian Bird Guide by Jeff Davies, Peter Menkhorst, Danny Rogers, Rohan Clarke, Peter Marsack, Kim Franklin

The Australian Bird Guide, featuring a brolga flying over the white title with a red-capped robin in the foreground perched on a branch.

The Australian Bird Guide by Peter Menkhorst, Danny Rogers, Rohan Clarke, Jeff Davies, Peter Marsack, Kim Franklin

Cover featuring a profile photograph of an alert Tawny Frogmouth with orange eye prominent.

Tawny Frogmouth by Gisela Kaplan