List of Large Birds Found in Australia

Australia is home to some of the world’s largest birds.  Luckily, most of these spectacular big birds can be readily seen without having to trek into the wilderness.  Learn more about 5 of the largest birds found in Australia or click here to go straight to the full list of all large birds. 



This largest of the Australian birds is found all over the continent, except for Tasmania.  This long-legged, shaggy-looking bird can run at great speed.  It is the male who sits on the eggs and tends the hatchlings for about 18 months.  Mostly vegetarian, emus will occasionally eat insects.  They are a highly nomadic animal, wandering in small groups through the dry interior seeking beneficial conditions that will support breeding.

a 4 legged emu - large Australian Birds - Best Bird Photos Australia

A 4 legged emu or just camera trickery?


About the same size as the emu, but more heavily built, this bird is a denizen of thick, tropical rainforests.  Normally solitary, pairs come together for a brief period of courtship.  After laying up to four eggs the female departs to seek out another mate.  The male sits on the eggs and looks after the hatchlings for about nine months.  Cassowaries eat the many native fruits of the rainforest and are instrumental in the propagation of many tree species.

Cassowary-Best Bird Photos

Cassowary Photo taken by Ken Russell


The Pelican is found all over Australia, travelling far inland when infrequent rainfall provides temporary, shallow lakes ideal for massed breeding colonies.  Tame and opportunistic, it often gathers at fishing spots seeking hand-outs from anglers.  However, Pelicans are proficient fish-catchers in their own right and groups will often cooperate to corner and feast on schools of fish.  This large bird is also adept in the air, making use of thermals to spiral high into the sky on long-distance flights.

Australian Pelican-Best Bird Photos

Australian Pelican Photo taken by Jacquie Gardner



Unlike European swans, the Australian swan is nearly all black and was a sensation when first taken and exhibited in Europe.  The Black Swan is found all over Australia and has a form that is beautiful and appealing to human observers.  This large bird needs a long and energetic run across the water surface and seems to struggle to get airborne.  In the air however, it is a graceful and proficient flier, often bugling pleasantly to keep in contact with its companions.

Black Swan-wren-Best Bird Photos.jpg

Black Swan photo taken by Eric Tadina



The Brolga, and its near identical cousin the Sarus Crane, are tall and elegant birds.  Their courtship dance and balletic flights are endearing and pisturesque to behold.  Found over most of the continent, Brolgas sometimes surprise when found feeding in harsh, dry semi-desert areas rather than the expected wetland habitats.  Freshly tilled farmland often attracts large numbers to feed on insects and small creatures exposed by the plough.  They can be found in small groups through to large gatherings when conditions are attractive.

Brolga-Best Bird Photos

Brolga photo taken by Mary Brook


Full List Of Large Australian Birds