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What animals & birds will I find? Explore the reserves and take the time to look into the sky, observe closely amongst the trees, watch between the grasses and gravel, and listen to the sounds of the fauna of the reserves.

Native fauna are making a return to the reserves after considerable revegetation efforts have created various habitats suitable for a growing number of bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species.
Early explorers such as Major Mitchell commented on the broad expanses of kangaroo (Themeda sp.) grass on the volcanic plain, and kangaroos had been plentiful on the Reserve in the late 19th century. Native cats (quolls) had been noted in plague proportions, and even wombats (now extinct in western Victoria) were sighted on the scoria cones.

The list is a compilation of:
1. Confirmed sightings recorded by the Friends of Mt Leura
2. Sightings entered on eBird
3. Sightings entered on iNaturalist
4. Sightings entered on Birdata

A background to our Reserve birds…
Mounts Leura and Sugarloaf must have been a wondrous sight in their natural state, before European settlement. Today we can only imagine the sound and volume of the dawn chorus which greeted the arrival of each new day. Birds had adapted to life in the woodlands that covered the inner and outer slopes of Mounts Leura and Sugarloaf over the millennia.

Unfortunately, no bird lists survive from the time when the habitat was intact. Mounts Leura and Sugarloaf were cleared within fifty years of European settlement leaving bare hills, grazed by cattle. Without the indigenous vegetation, which they required for food, shelter from inclement weather, cover to hide from predators as well as crucial nesting sites the forest birds disappeared along with most other wildlife.

Mount Leura became a public reserve at the end of the 19th Century and hundreds of pine and cypress trees were planted on its slopes in the 1920s. After maturing the pine trees ensured annual visits by Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos occurred, but otherwise the introduced species did not provide suitable habitat for most indigenous bird species.

Moving forward to the 1990s, the Mt Leura & Mt Sugarloaf Management Plan was developed and included the Vision to ‘… revegetate the reserves with indigenous flora in a manner reflecting the vegetation communities existing on the reserves at the time of European settlement.’.

Birds are gradually returning to the reserve. The number of different resident and visiting species is increasing as the trees and shrubs mature. A growing number of the woodland bird species, which were banished from the site when it was cleared in the 19th Century, are returning. Honeyeaters, Fairy-wrens, Thornbills, Fantails, Scrubwrens, Finches, Pardalotes, Whistlers and Shrike-thrush are residents once more. Several years back a pair of Tawny Frogmouths nested near the Volcanic Education Centre and they continue to nest there annually. In terms of numbers of species, raptors have always been well represented, but in 2021 a Grey Goshawk, a forest species, was sighted at the reserve. In 2022 a pair of Gang Gangs, cockatoos of forests and woodlands were observed feeding in trees near the Education Centre. The sighting of a Southern Boobook in May 2023 provided another recent highlight.

Many bird species require tree hollows to nest in. It is estimated that large hollows only develop in trees one hundred plus years old. Even the oldest of the existing trees at the reserve are several decades away from producing large hollows. Rather than waiting around for hollows to develop a Hollows Project began at the reserve in 2018, creating and monitoring artificial hollows and some nest boxes are also in place.

The reserve today is an oasis for birds and other creatures set amongst cleared farmland.
Thanks to the work of all involved in this extremely impressive revegetation project we can expect to continue to see noticeable increases in bird numbers and diversity at the reserve in the future.

Finally, please download the Bird Checklist when wandering the reserves and add your own recordings. Please visit our Citizen Science section and use the different apps to add your data so that we can update our list of birds on the Reserves. There is also an option to email us the data if you prefer not to use the apps.