Australian Bush Birds
Dollarbird  -  Eurystomus orientalis
Dollarbird showing various shades of brown, green and blue in its feathers. (Bellbowrie, nr Brisbane, Qld)
Dollarbird Dollarbird
Left. Dollarbird from the side; the orange-red bill and feet are prominent. (Bellbowrie, nr Brisbane, Qld)
Right. Dollarbird resting on the ground at Casino, NSW.
map map The Dollarbird - Eurystomus orientalis - normally lives in New Guinea but migrates to northern and eastern Australia in spring and summer to breed. It migrates at night and day, reaching heights up to 2500 metres; sometimes flying as far as the Flinders Ranges in South Australia.

Head and upper back are dark grey-brown, sometimes appearing black, grading to dull grey-green-blue on lower back and wings. Bill is orange to red with a black hook at the tip. The throat is deep cobalt, breast dull grey-brown grading into turquoise on the belly. Tail is dark bluish-black. Eye dark brown with red eye-ring, feet deep orange with black claws. 25 to 29 centimetres long.

Male and female are similar, the female is duller. Immature birds are more brown-grey than adults and lack the blue throat patch. The area around the eye is pale and the bill and feet are yellow-brown.

The Dollarbird is usually solitary, in pairs or in family parties just after breeding. All food - insects, beetles, moths and cicadas - is taken on the wing with the broad bill and eaten on the wing or taken back to the perch to be battered or softened before swallowing.

Dollarbird - page 2
Most hunting is done in the early morning and evening twilight. They conspicuously perch on high, bare branches of trees from where they make broad sweeps and glides after prey or dive and swoop in display.

Dollarbirds do not walk or hop but sit motionless, their feet have been modified for grasping and are poorly suited to walking.

In flight they display large, rounded broad bars of white/pale blue on upper and lower wing surfaces; these "dollars" are conspicuous against the very dark violet/blue and greens of the wing and are the origin of the name dollar bird.

Breeds in Australia in spring and summer, usually October to January. The nest is a shallow, unlined cavity in a tall tree. Three to five, usually four, eggs are laid; glossy, translucent white, oval about 37 mm by 29 mm. Laid on wood dust at the bottom of the cavity. Incubated probably by both parents, young are fed by both parents

Arrives in Australia in mid-October; leaves late February to March for New Guinea. In Australia lives on the edge of tall tropical forest and open woodland.

 ¶  Genus Eurystomus is the sole Australian genus in Family Coraciidae