Warrumbungle National Park Environmental Education Centre

Telephone02 6825 4302

Emailwarrumbung-e.school@det.nsw.edu.au

Warrumbungle fauna

As this region supports plants from two quite different habitats, the arid western species and the more tropical eastern species, the Warrumbungles is a safe haven for a diverse range of animals. Many are permanent residents but there are many interesting seasonal visitors. Some are found commonly but others are particularly rare.

Many of our animals are shy and spotting them in the flesh simply doesn’t happen. But if you look closely you will be able to discover where they have been. The echidna, for instance, eats ants. So although you might not see the actual animal you will more than likely see where it has been having a feed if you spot a disturbed ants nest with diggings all through it.

Common animals

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

These are the most commonly seen mammals in the Warrumbungles, especially in the open areas in the middle of the park. Other macropods (big foots) are the heavy dark coloured wallaroo, the small rednecked wallaby with white cheek stripes and the small dark-coloured swamp wallaby.

Koala

If you keep your eyes open when walking in the park you may come across a koala sleeping in a tree beside the track. Another clue to look for is the tan-coloured, pointy-ended, slightly curved droppings on the ground beneath the trees. And you might even hear the males sounding like a distant motorbike in the trees.

Goanna

These are the largest reptiles in the Park, averaging 1.2 metre in length. They live in timbered country, climbing the trees to find birds eggs or coming to the ground to scavenge dead animals such as kangaroos killed on the roads. One seen recently only had three legs!

Brown snake

These are the most venomous snakes in the Park. They are fast moving and may be aggressive especially in spring. They are normally fairly shy so you are not likely to see them. The best thing to do with any snake you see is to leave it alone and retreat slowly.

Emu

Emus are fairly common in the open grasslands in the centre of the Park. They are often seen in family groups with the male looking after the young. These large flightless birds are unpredictable and are quite good at running into cars.

Wedge tailed eagle

These large dark eagles have a wedge-shaped tail which can be seen easily when they are flying. They breed in the Park and pairs are often seen drifting above the higher peaks. You may get quite close to them on the longer walks.

Sulfur crested cockatoo

These white cockatoos have a yellow crest and a raucous screech. Their strong beaks cause damage to any wooden constructions in the Park and they are very destructive to particular trees that they take a fancy to.

Red-rumped parrot

These parrots are widespread throughout NSW. The males are brilliant green with a small red patch on the rump and yellow lower breast and abdomen. The females are a plain brownish-green. They occur in pairs or small flocks, feeding on the ground and taking off when disturbed.

Currawong

The pied currawong is a mainly black bird with white on the wing, rump, tail and under the tail. They have yellow eyes. They can be heard crying “volley-ball” or “cadow-cadang”. They are quite common and like stealing your picnic.

Magpie or Bell Magpie

Another black and white bird with a lot more white than currawongs. Their eyes are brown. They have loud melodious voices and may be quite tame but can be aggressive and attack humans at nesting time.

Pobblebonk

This is a burrowing frog which is found along the creeks. You are unlikely to see it but you may hear it when there is water in the creek. It sounds like a badly played banjo, making a flat “bonk” sound.

Endangered or vulnerable species

Brush Tailed Rock Wallaby – endangered

These were once common in the Warrumbungles. They still live in suitable rocky areas in the sclerophyll forests of inland and subcoastal southeastern Australia but they are reduced to only a few small colonies in the Warrumbungles.

They weigh about 7 kg and the head and body measure about 54 cm in length. The tail is about 61 cm in length with a distinct brush at the end. They are dull brown in colour and more reddish on the rump.

They like to live in areas of extensive rock outcrops with deep cracks and caves. They don’t usually live on vertical or near vertical rock faces. Their preferred food is grass but they also eat herbs and some leaves and fruit. After the young animal has permanently left the pouch but is not yet weaned, it is left in a sheltered position among the rocks to which its mother returns to feed it.

The main threat to the continued existence of the brush tailed rock wallaby in the Warrumbungles are the foxes which eat the young and from competition by introduced herbivores, particularly goats.

Regent Honeyeater – endangered

This is a beautiful yellow-winged honeyeater with a bare, warty face, yellow edges to the feathers on the back and black edges to feathers on the belly. They are 20-23cm long. The nest is a substantial cup of bark and grass in the upright fork of a sapling or in mistletoe. They lay 2-3 spotted salmon-coloured eggs.

They are nomads, in the area between Kangaroo Island in South Austalia and Rockhampton in Queensland. They are endangered because their preferred habitat among mugga ironbarks have been cleared for development.

Superb Parrot – vulnerable

This longtailed green parrot has a yellow face and red throat if male or blue cheeks if female. They are about 40 cm in length. They fly effortlessly in small flocks and they can sometimes be seen beside the road, eating grain split from passing trucks.

They are the animal symbol for the Boorowa Shire where they nest in the hollows found in old eucalyptus trees and lay 4-6 white eggs. They are endangered because these old trees are dying from dryland salinity, the trees are being turned into firewood and there are no young trees to replace them. It may take 150 years for a tree to develop these important nesting hollows.

Turquoise Parrot – vulnerable

The male Turquoise Parrot is a highly distinctive bird with bright green upperparts and a turquoise-blue crown and face. Its shoulders are turquoise-blue, grading to deep blue at the flight-feathers. It has a chestnut-red patch on the upper-wing. The upper-breast of the Turquoise Parrot has an orange tint, while the yellow abdomen may have an orange centre. Females and immature individuals are generally duller, have whitish lores, a green, rather than yellow throat and breast and no red on the shoulder and upper-wing area.

The call of the Turquoise Parrot in flight is a tinkling sound, while at other times it may emit a sharp “sit-sit” alarm call. They live on the edges of eucalypt woodland adjoining clearings and is usually seen in pairs or small family groups but have also been reported in flocks of up to thirty individuals.

They prefer to feed in the shade of a tree and spends most of the day on the ground searching for the seeds or grasses and browsing on vegetable matter. They forage quietly and may be quite tolerant of disturbance. However, if flushed it will fly to a nearby tree and then return to the ground to browse as soon as the danger has passed.

They nests in tree hollows, logs or posts, from August to December. It lays four or five white, rounded eggs on a nest of decayed wood dust.

Other interesting animals

Peripatus

While this little animal has not been identified in the Warrumbungle National Park it is found in a south-facing area near the top of the mountain housing Siding Spring Observatory. It is also found in Mt Kaputar National Park but mainly occurs in the wet rainforest areas of the great Dividing Range.

They are found in rotting logs in moist areas. These soft black animals are only 2.5 cm long and have 14 pairs of legs as well as a pair of horns on their head. They are also known as “velvet worms’. They are not at all slimy and have an engaging way of wandering around when travelling.

These very special animals belong to a group which form a link between worms and centipedes or arthropods and have existed on Earth for over 400 million years. They are found on southern landmasses and probably evolved on the original Gondwana.

Feather-tailed gliders

This tiny possum gets its name from its feather like tail. The female is slightly larger than the male. Head and body length is 65-80mm with the tail 70-80mm in length. Weight is 10 to 14g. They are the world’s smallest gliding mammals.

They have conical noses and huge black eyes and small rounded ears. They are brown to brown-grey above and white to cream below. They have large, serrated pads on each toe (similar to frogs and geckos) which provide adhesion to smooth surfaces. There is a gliding membrane between the elbows and knees, slightly thicker than in other gliding marsupials. Their distinctive tail looks like a feather, used for gripping and steering while gliding from branch to branch.

They are common along the eastern side of Australia. They are communal animals sharing their nests with up to twenty individuals. Their preferred habitat is mature forests and woodlands with tall trees and dense foliage.

They feed on small insects, drink nectar and lap at the sugary sap from native tree trunks using its brush-tipped tongue. The Feathertail Glider is nocturnal, becoming torpid during the day and in cold weather.

It makes a nest in tree hollows and other high sheltered places, made out of gum leaves and other soft material such as feathers. Breeding occurs throughout most of the year in the northern range, and spring and summer in the southern range, and the female can carry up to three joeys in its pouch.

Pouch life is for approximately 65 days and the young are weaned at approximately 100 days. They live about three years in the wild and up to five years in captivity. Due to its size the Feathertail Glider is rarely seen in the wild.

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