Black-tailed Native-hen, Monarto Zoo, South Australia
Over recent days I have been sharing photos of some of the birds I saw during a visit late last year to the Monarto Zoo which is about a ten minute drive from our home in Murray Bridge.
During one of the bus trips through the park visitors are taken past a large lagoon. This is filled from Rocky Gully creek which flows through the zoo. I use the word “flows” loosely; it only runs after good rains and is quite often a dry creek bed for much of the year.
The zoo management has dammed this creek at one point to provide a semi-permanent water hole for the giraffes and zebra. When it contains water it attracts small numbers of water birds, including this one Black-tailed Native-hen shown in the photo above. Native-hens are widespread throughout Australia except the far northern coastline, the eastern seaboard, drier inland areas and it is also absent from Tasmania. (The similar species the Tasmanian Native-hen is endemic to Tasmania.)
It is quite unusual to see just one of this species. They are more often seen in small flocks and, when conditions are right, they can erupt into an area and breed rapidly, and can then number in the hundreds or even thousands.