Colac and district fauna : birds

Some commonly seen bird species found in the area, particularly around the district's lakes.

Red necked avocet

Recurvirostra novaehollandiae
A water bird with long wading legs found swimming or wading on lakes and mud flats across much of Australia.
It has a distinctive long upwardly curved bill. Reddish-brown head and neck with white around the eyes. White body with thick black stripes on the back and wings. Grows to about 45 cm in height.

  Red Necked Avocet

Public domain image.

Royal spoonbill

Platalea regia
A large, long-legged wading bird common to wetlands in southeastern Australia, distinguished by its flat, spoonshaped bill. Its food is aquatic life, and it nests in trees, marshes or reed-beds. The yellow-billed spoonbill, below, is also seen on the lake shores.


Yellow-billed spoonbill

Platalea flavipes
Slightly larger and less common than the royal spoonbill, with a pale yellow to off-white beak and legs. Both species can be seen singly or in small groups, feeding by sweeping their distinctive beaks through shallow water in search of food.

  Yellow-billed spoonbill

Purple swamp hen

Porphyrio porphyrio melanotus
The purple swamphen is widely distributed with minor variations in temperate and tropical regions across much of the globe except the Americas.
Preferring wetter areas, living in pairs or communities, feeding on vegetation, invertebrates and small fish, they can fly clumsily and swim well despite not having webbed feet.
Also commonly seen are coots, smaller hens with a similar profile, with dark grey plumage and a distinctive white bill and head shield.

  Purple Swamp Hen


Australian pelican

Pelecanus conspicillatus
Widespread near large open areas of water in Australia, the South Pacific and Indonesia and distinguished from other pelicans by their strong black-and-white plumage. They fish in groups and are a magnificent spectacle skimming long distances only inches above the water surface.
Vaughan Island, at the southern end of Lake Corangamite, is one of the few pelican breeding colonies in Victoria, as well as being home to ibis and swans.

Pacific black duck

Anas superciliosa
One of a number of duck species found in the district, the black duck is widely distributed across Australia and the south west Pacific. Distinguished by its distinctive striped head.
Other commonly seen ducks are teals and the introduced mallard.

  Pacific Black Duck

Large or great white egret

Ardea alba syn. Egretta alba
A tall, graceful water bird, up to one metre in height, with snowy white foliage and orange beak, usually found alone, foraging in shallow water on lakes in the district. It usually nests in colonies near the water. Not to be confused with the white-faced heron described below.

Length 76-92 cm.


White ibis

Threskiornis molucca
Also known as the black-necked ibis, sticklebill or sicklebird because of its long, curved bill, which distinguishes them from the royal spoonbill. Black head and tail plumage. Widespread across mainland Australia.

Length 68-76 cm.



White-faced heron

Ardea novaehollandiae syn. Egretta novaehollandiae
A smaller close relative of the egret with similar posture, with dull grey plumage, white face and yellow legs. Widely distributed anywhere there is shallow salt or fresh water. The nest is an untidy shallow bowl of sticks and usually on a leafy branch over or near water.
Length 66-69 cm.

  White-faced heron

Black swan

Cygnus atratus
Distinctively Australian species of large nomadic waterfowl, common adjacent to water across most of the country apart from far inland, also introduced into New Zealand. Nest is a large heap of reeds and grasses, usually in shallow water. Although entirely black when swimming or walking, white flight feathers are revealed in flight.
Length: 1-1.5m, wingspan 1.6-2m.


Pied stilt

Himantopus himantopus
also known as the black-winged or white-headed stilt, longshanks or stiltbird
Length: 35–38 cm – a medium sized wading bird with distinctive black and white markings, long narrow black beak and long pink legs. Almost worldwide distribution in swampy areas, lake margins and dams.

  Pied stilt

Masked lapwing

Vanellus miles
also known as the Spur-winged Plover, Alarmbird
Length: 33–38 cm – a medium sized bird with distinctive yellow mask, wattle and beak. Characteristic ‘kekekek’ call, mainly at night. May swoop when eggs or young are threatened. Nests in depression on ground or flat grass.
Juvenile is black/brown mottled above.

  Hooded lapwing


Bird Sanctuary
A protected wetland environment adjacent to Lake Colac which provides an important feeding, resting and breeding habitat for over 20 species of waterbirds.

At the northern end of Church Street.