Nature conservation

Native animals

Native animal fact sheets

This page contains links to fact sheets about some well-known native animals in NSW and a few species you may not have heard of.


Australia's diverse frog populations are in decline. Find out what's threatening them, and become a frog spy.

Bell frogs
There are three species of bell frog in NSW. They are all similar in appearance but can be distinguished by their markings. Find out how.


Australian brush turkey
This fascinating bird belongs to the family of megapodes. Like the malleefowl, it incubates its eggs in large mounds of rotting vegetation.

Australian magpie
Ever been swooped by a magpie in spring? It's only defending its family during the nesting season.

These are thought of as the most advanced of all birds, because of the intricate display areas they weave out of twigs and other materials.

Australia's largest birds come from an ancient family, seen in their primitive feathers. They thrive in rugged, remote environments.

The graceful nature and incredible adaptation of Australia's wetland birds to the harsh environment has captivated many people.

Laughing kookaburra
A kookaburra's call lets other birds know of its territory. Groups of the birds gather at the boundaries of their area, 'laughing' at other groups.

Little penguin
These flightless seabirds might seem a bit clumsy on land, but they're graceful swimmers, 'flying' through the water on their stumpy wings.

Lord Howe Island woodhen
These flightless birds are only found on Lord Howe Island. They were brought back from the brink of extinction in the 1980s.

These fascinating birds can mimic almost any sound - including other birds and animals, whistles, car alarms and even chainsaws.

Malleefowl build nest mounds to incubate their eggs in, using a complicated system to keep the mound at the right temperature.

Australia has 56 species of these colourful birds, from tiny budgerigars to large cockatoos.

  • Glossy black-cockatoo
    These magnificent birds feed on the seeds of casuarina trees, and nest in the hollows of old eucalypts. They're threatened in NSW, largely due to the loss of these trees.

These seabirds dive for their food, 'shearing' the water with their wings. Large numbers are sometimes washed up on our beaches, dead from the exhaustion of their travels.

People and shorebirds love the same places - the beautiful sheltered areas along our NSW coastline. Healthy populations of one of these species, the little tern, are a great indicator of ecosystem integrity and vigour.

Woodland birds

  • Bush stone-curlew
    Bush stone-curlews are impressive birds, with long, gangly legs and a loud, eerie, wailing call.
  • Wedge-tailed eagle
    With a massive 2.5-m wingspan, this is Australia's largest bird of prey.


Freshwater mussels
Freshwater mussels are important indicators of stream health.

Purple copper butterfly
This beautiful insect is one of Australia's rarest butterflies. Found only in the Central West of NSW, it depends on a particular species of ant and special kind of blackthorn plant. Find out more.


These small marsupials were once common in suburban gardens, but now they're rare around Sydney. Find out why.

Did you know that dingos have only lived in Australia for around 3500 years? Scientists think they were brought here by Asian sailors.

Bottlenose dolphin
Did you know that a dolphin can be individually identified by its dorsal fin? A dolphin's dorsal fin has a unique shape and arrangement of notches and scars.

These spiny termite eaters are monotremes, or egg-laying mammals. They might look a bit scary, but they're actually quite shy.

Three species of flying fox live in NSW, including the grey-headed flying-fox which is vulnerable to extinction. Find out what makes these animals important.

Kangaroos & wallabies
Did you know there are 45 species of kangaroos and wallabies? They range from huge western red kangaroos to tiny rat-kangaroos.

Koalas are fussy eaters, eating the leaves of a few varieties of eucalypt trees. Do you have any koala food trees in your area?

When the first platypus was sent to England for identification, scientists thought it was a hoax. It's a member of the strange and exclusive monotreme family.


  • Brush-tailed possum
    These marsupials are common backyard visitors. Find out about them, and see how you can build a special possum box.
  • Gliding possums
    Gliders can cover distances of more than 100 m in a single leap, gliding on a thin sheet of skin between their forepaws and ankles.

Spotted-tailed quoll
The spotted-tailed quoll is mainland Australia's largest carnivorous marsupial. It is about the size of a domestic cat.

Humpback and southern right whales travel along the NSW coast between May and September each year. Find out why, and get tips on some great whale-watching spots.

Full-grown wombats can weigh up to a whopping 36 kg! They are territorial animals, but will share their burrows with visitors.


Some 100 Australian snakes are venomous. However, they are not naturally aggressive, and will only attack humans if hurt or provoked.

Freshwater turtles
NSW is home to seven species of native freshwater turtle, two of which are found nowhere else in the world.

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Page last updated: 02 February 2016