The annual migration of millions of these land crabs to the sea to spawn is one of the world’s great wildlife spectacles
Christmas Island Red Crabs The annual migration of millions of these land crabs to the sea to spawn is one of the world’s great wildlife spectacles © Gary Tindale

Australian Animals

12 Aussie Christmas Crackers of Nature

As the temperature heats up, our minds turn to time with loved ones, fun in the sun and overdoing it with the food and drinks.

So let’s get into the silly season! We’re sharing our favourite parts of Australian nature that remind us of Christmas. Don’t worry, no animals were forced to wear Santa hats for this photo shoot, but warning, tenuous links abound!

1. Red-capped Robin 

What a lovely Santa suit the male Red-capped Robin seems to be wearing. Robins have been associated with Christmas since the Victorian era when postmen, delivering the Christmas mail, wore bright red coats and were nicknamed ‘robins’.

only male Red-capped Robins actually have a red cap
Red-capped Robin only male Red-capped Robins actually have a red cap © Andrew Raguse

2. Australian Brush-turkey

Renowned for their large messy nests rather than as Christmas lunch, the Australian Brush-turkey is in fact a Megapode (mound nesting birds like Malleefowl). They are not closely related to North America’s domestic or Wild Turkeys. Gobble gobble.

is a Megapode (mound nesting birds like Malleefowl)
Australian Brush Turkey is a Megapode (mound nesting birds like Malleefowl) © Geetha Mathivanan

3. Western Australian Christmas Tree

Stunning floral displays every year around Christmas time in south-west WA, give this native hemiparasitic tree its common name. Its botanical name of Nuytsia floribunda means ‘one species with abundant flowers’ which seems highly appropriate don’t you think?

blooms every year around Christmas time
WA Christmas Tree blooms every year around Christmas time © Tony Jupp/TNC

4. Western Rosella

Decked out in vivid red and green all year round, Western Rosellas seem permanently in the festive mood.  You can read more about how we’ve helped protect their habitat here.

the only rosella found in south-west Western Australia
Western Rosella the only rosella found in south-west Western Australia © Lee Raper

5. Common Wombat

Images of a white Christmas are still common in Australia, despite feeling the heat at this time of year.  Going with the flow, we really love this Common Wombat taking on the mountain seemingly unperturbed by the ski lifts and snow boarders around it.

in Ben Lomond National Park, Tasmania
Tasmanian Wombat in Ben Lomond National Park, Tasmania © Evie Hindrum

6. Koala

Koalas are notoriously sleepy with 18 to 22 hours of sleep a day. After Christmas breakfast with the kids, lunch with the in-laws and dinner with the parents, we know how they feel.

resting in the branches
Koala resting in the branches © David Newheiser

7. King Parrot

The male King Parrot seems completely devoted to the Christmas theme with his almost embarrassing display of bright red and green attire – and a ‘nose’ Rudolph would be proud of.

King Parrot (male)
King Parrot (male) resplendent in red and green © Linda Oliver

8. Mistletoebird

Here’s a neat trick — the Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that relies on Mistletoebirds to move its seeds from the branches of one host tree to the next. To ensure the seeds eaten by the Mistletoebird don’t fall wasted to the ground once expelled, the birds turn sideways to ensure their droppings are placed carefully on a branch. What an absolutely brilliant trick! You’re safe to kiss under the mistletoe in the Australian bush.

only males like this one are red on the throat and chest
Mistletoebird only males like this one are red on the throat and chest © Chris Steeles

9. Partridge Pigeon

Ok, not exactly a partridge and very unlikely to be found in a pear tree, but nonetheless the Partridge Pigeon is a wonderful Australian native bird of our tropical north. It prefers to feed in recently burnt woodlands which means they greatly benefit from traditional cool season burning by indigenous land managers. Find out more here.

an Australian native pigeon that spends most of its time on the ground
Partridge Pigeon an Australian native pigeon that spends most of its time on the ground © Janis Otto

10. Christmas Spider

These delightful little spiders spin their sticky orb webs between shrubs in their bushland habitat to catch their tiny prey. It’s beautifully ornamented abdomen is designed to deter predators such as birds.

also know as the Jewel Spider
Christmas Spider also know as the Jewel Spider © Janis Laraine Cossill

11. Eastern Grey Kangaroo

Six white boomers, snow white boomers. The well-known Australian Christmas song has Santa swapping his reindeers for ‘white boomers’ on his Australian run. Occasionally ‘white’ (albino) kangaroos do occur in nature, while ‘boomers’ is the slang term used to describe big, male kangaroos (and the Australian men’s basketball team). Like these two, male kangaroos often battle it out for dominance over the mob.

Two Eastern Grey Kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) do battle with powerful hind leg kicks and arm wrestling at Amberley, Queensland, Australia
Take that Two Eastern Grey Kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) do battle with powerful hind leg kicks and arm wrestling at Amberley, Queensland, Australia © Gary Want - Wantedimages.com.au

12. Christmas Island Red Crab

The annual migration of millions of these land crabs to the sea to spawn is one of the world’s great wildlife spectacles. Named on Christmas Day 1643, this remote Australian island close to Java has unfortunately been accidentally invaded by the Yellow Crazy Ant. It is estimated that the ants have killed up to 15 million red crabs in recent years.

The annual migration of millions of these land crabs to the sea to spawn is one of the world’s great wildlife spectacles
Christmas Island Red Crabs The annual migration of millions of these land crabs to the sea to spawn is one of the world’s great wildlife spectacles © Gary Tindale