Apostlebirds-Struthidea cinerea have an isolated population in the Northern Territory which is quite separate from the population that runs down the east coast of Australia and can readily be seen in the town of Katherine and further afield. Apostlebirds have several nick-names and they are all well-suited to the species and the antics they get up to. Grey Jumper, Happy Family, Lousy Jack and Twelve Apostles are names that can refer to them. The early settlers in Australia referred to them as Apostlebirds due to the family group often appearing to be around twelve birds in reference to the apostles of Jesus Christ. In fact the size of the family group varies tremendously during the year and in the winter months the groups can be very large. On our recent trip across the north of Australia we encountered several groups of Apostlebirds that were in excess of one hundred birds. The inquisitive nature of Apostlebirds and their antics make for a fun species to watch, but they are also incredibly noisy when they are in a large group of over one hundred birds. One of the largest groups we observed on our trip was at the Amungee Rest Area, about 92kms/57 miles from Daly Waters on the Carpentaria Highway. The rest area was a good place to stop and have lunch and as soon as we pulled up we realised we were surrounded! The Apostlebirds were not at all concerned about our presence and hopped around the picnic table and our vehicle in search of food and having dust baths around the open area. At no point were they aggressive towards us and they amused us while we ate our lunch.

Making lunch surrounded by Apostlebirds

The Apostlebirds were very busy preening each other and fluffing themselves up in the heat of the day and not only were there all the birds on the ground, but numerous other birds in the surrounding trees.


Apostlebirds preening each other

Apostlebird having a stretch!

Apostlebirds roost closely together and build a mud nest and it is only during the winter months that you can expect to find these large groups of birds. We continued on along the Carpentaria Highway and for the next couple of weeks we had many more encounters of these large fun groups of Apostlebirds.

Written by Clare M
Clare and her husband, Grant, have lived permanently in Broome, Western Australia since 1999 after living in various outback locations around Western Australia and Darwin. She has lived in the Middle East and the United States and traveled extensively in Europe. She monitors Pied Oystercatchers breeding along a 23km stretch of Broome's coastline by bicycle and on foot. She chooses not to participate in social media, but rather wander off into the bush for peace and tranquility. Thankfully she can write posts in advance and get away from technology!