Australian Aviary

Australian Aviary

The Australian aviary showcases a small variety of Australian parrots and two reptile species. It is the first time birds and reptiles have been housed together at Hamilton Zoo and provides an interesting multifunction space.

It has been furnished with eucalyptus perches for the birds, and scoria substrate and plants to reflect an ‘Australian’ environment. The parrots have a selection of nest boxes to reduce competition and space to fly.

The reptiles have rocks to bask on, vegetation to hide in, and heated reptile boxes for when it gets cool.

The lizards of Oz

Coastal bearded dragon

We have one male named Iluka. He was born November 2012. On sunny days Iluka can be seen basking on the scoria. His home is on the left hand side of the exhibit.

The logs and rocks are important feature for Iluka, not only for basking but also when he sheds his skin as it helps to scrape off the flaking skin.

Unlike the Cunningham's skinks, bearded dragons lay eggs so having places where they can dig and lay their eggs in relative safety is important.

Cunningham's skink

There are eight skinks in the aviary. Can you spot them? There are parents and their young.

This species is viviparous which means that females produce litters of live young. In the wild the family will have a distinct territory which they defend against other intruding skinks and even have their own special toilet area!

When threatened this lizard will take cover in a hollow log, Caring for these guys takes skill. Scare them and they will take cover, and trying to remove a stubborn Cunningham's skink from this position is practically impossible. It can inhale air and make its body swell up; combine that with spiky scales and it's not going anywhere it doesn't want to!

Australian parrots

Parrots are one of Australia's most well-known groups of birds. There are three distinct sub-groups - lorikeets, cockatoos and typical parrots. With their brilliant colouration and vibrant personalities, many of these birds are popular aviary species. It is this very aspect however has impacted significantly upon the parrots' survival.

Distinguishing features

All parrots have a number of distinctive adaptations that equip them for their unique lifestyle and set them apart from all other bird species.

Mandibles: a prominent, strong bill is designed to crack open nuts and cones to extract seeds.

Muscular tongue: helps to manipulate food held in between the upper and lower mandibles. Lorikeets and other nectar and pollen feeders have a brush-tongue.

Zydodactylous feet: two toes point forward and two point backward. Each foot can essentially work like a hand.

Moveable crest: cockatoos are different as they possess a distinctive erectile crest that is raised when the bird is alarmed. Males may also raise their crest during courtship and territorial displays.

Galah

We house a breeding group of six galahs. Galahs are small cockatoos, with a slim frame and narrow wings suitable for fast and agile flight. You can tell males and females apart by looking at their eyes, males have brown irises, females have red.

Musk lorikeet

At Hamilton Zoo we hold six musk lorikeets. Lorikeets are restricted in their distribution to southern regions of the South Pacific and Polynesia. Of the 55 known species of lorikeet, seven reside in Australia.

Unique dietary adaptations, such as their brush-tipped tongues, set lorikeets apart from other parrots. and like other lorikeets, nectar and pollen are a major part of the musk lorikeet's diet.

Princess parrot

A parrot found in the interior of Australia, this arid zone dweller will go to extraordinary lengths to camouflage itself. When disturbed, princess parrots have been observed laying lengthwise along a branch like a lizard to avoid detection. It is a rare sight to see in the wild however.

Despite the name princess parrot, Hamilton Zoo has three males and no females.

Eclectus Parrot

Walk further around the boardwalk and you will come across stunning green and red parrots - eclectus parrots. Male and females as distinct from each other as they are from all other species of parrots. Males are predominantly green with an orange bill, females blue and red with a black bill. This marked difference in appearance, known as sexual dimorphism, initially led to confusion that each bird was a member of a different species.

Eclectus are parrots of the forest, and their raucous calls can be heard over long distances.

  • <p>Cunningham's skink</p>
  • <p>Coastal bearded dragon</p>
  • <p>Coastal bearded dragon</p>
  • <p>Female bearded dragon being xrayed for eggs</p>

Beautiful, but troublesome

Unfortunately a few of the Australian birds like eastern rosellas and rainbow lorikeets have been released in New Zealand and some rogue rosellas escaped cages and headed for the bush. The problem with rosellas is their social behaviour. On their own they do not cause too much harm, but when they band together in flocks they can be damaging to orchards. The birds eat nectar, seeds, fruit and flowers, and they are very confident so may outdo our often much shyer native birdlife. They also compete for nest sites.

Rainbow lorikeets love plant nectar, and if it breeds in big numbers here, the lorikeets could mean trouble for natives like the tui and bellbird. Here at Hamilton Zoo however, they cause no trouble at all.