When it comes to celebrating all the beauty and wonder Australia has to offer, it’s hard to know where to begin.
More than 90 per cent of our wildlife is found nowhere else in the wild. This includes kangaroos, dingos, wombats, echidnas, platypus and koalas – making this a truly unique and special country.
As for our birds – Australia is sometimes referred to as the land of parrots and honeyeaters because we have so many of them.
There are more than 900 recorded Aussie bird species and almost all of our cockatoos are unique to this country. In fact, no other continent other than South America has as many parrots.
Here are six Aussie bird crafts ideal for kids to make to celebrate our unique feathered friends.
Aussie Bird Crafts – Sulphur Crested Cockatoos
- Probably the most recognised of all our beautiful parrots, the sulphur-crested cockatoo is highly intelligent and can even learn to talk.
- Their white plumage is decorated with a bright yellow crest, often displayed to attract a mate or when alarmed or angry, and yellow feathers under their wings.
- These cockatoos are very social and are usually found in large, noisy groups.
- They mate for life and share parenting duties.
- Like all parrots, cockatoos are zygodactyl (having two toes pointing forward and two backward).
- With the help of the beak, they can use their feet like we use our hands to access food and they are great climbers.
- They can often be seen in large groups on the ground eating grass seeds. As this makes them vulnerable to predators, they often have ‘guards’, posted high in the trees to watch for danger and warn the flock if necessary.
- Sulphur-crested cockatoos can live for more than 70 years.
These two simple crafts are easy enough for even toddlers to create, though they may need some help with cutting.
The Paper Plate Cockatoo
- A white paper plate
- Black marker
- Yellow feathers or yellow paper cut into feather shapes.
- Cut the paper plate in half
- Next, cut a little ‘v’ shape on the curved side of one piece, near the top to create a head and body shape
- Cut the remaining piece of the paper plate in half and trim one of the pointed edges
- Glue this onto the bird’s body at an angle to form the wing
- Cut yellow paper or use yellow feathers to glue to the top of the head for the crest.
- Use the market to draw on an eye, reminding the little ones that this is a side view of the parrot, so you will see only one eye.
- Cut a beak shape from the leftover plate and colour with the black market and glue into place.
Cupcake Liner Cockatoo
- 5-6 white cupcake liners
- White paper circle
- Paper beak shape
- Yellow marker
- Black marker
- Fold two of the liner in half and glue one on top of the other so that the bottom one is sticking out slightly.
- Glue the paper circle to the top edge
- Fold the other three liners in half and then fold them into a triangle shape
- Glue them on top of each other so that part of the liner is sticking out at the bottom
- Glue the top point underneath the body shape to create the tail
- Use another liner (or trim one of the tail liners before glueing them to each other) and glue it to the top of the head to form the crest
- Colour using the yellow marker
- Cut out a beak shape and colour with the black marker before glueing into place.
Aussie Bird Crafts – Kookaburra
While the cockatoos may wear the crown, it the kookaburra that is regarded to as the ‘king of the bush’, at least according to the famous Kookaburra song.
- The kookaburra is the biggest member of the kingfisher family. It has a large head and beak and hunts for its food.
- While they live in forests and open woodlands, they can also be found living near people in suburban settings.
- Kookaburras mate for life and tend to stay in the same nesting areas year after year. Often other family members will help to raise the chicks.
- Kookaburras are very territorial and use their loud ‘laugh’ to warn others off from their area.
- Thin cardboard sheet
- Template (you can download yours here or, better yet, have the kids draw their own)
- If using the template, download it here and print on thin cardboard.
- Have the kids colour it and add lots of background details such as branches and trees.
- When they’ve completed the picture, have them flip the cardboard sheet over and draw a jigsaw pattern on the back.
- Carefully cut out the pieces (they may need help with this) to create their own kookaburra jigsaw game.
Aussie Bird Crafts – Emu
- They may not be able to fly, buy emus sure can run. They’ve been clocked at more than 49 km per hour. They are capable of running long distances too.
- Even though they don’t use their wings to fly, emus use them to cool down by stretching them out and allowing air to move around the body. The wings also help them to steer when running at top speed.
- They are the second largest bird in the world, after the ostrich. Emus can grow up to two metres tall.
- They have two sets of eyelids – one for blinking and the other for keeping dust out.
- Emus are nomadic, preferring to move around rather than stay in the same area.
The Painted Emu
This project is a favourite at Wacky Workshops and a great way to show kids the possibilities when using a textured base with paint.
You can, of course, use realistic emu colours, but the kids love to create their own ‘rainbow emus’ full of colour.
- Thin cardboard sheet
- Paint, in various colours
- Paint Brushes
- Plastic fork
- Texture medium – you can buy gesso or impasto or make a thick paste from water and plain flour
- Draw a really simple emu neck and head shape
- Fill the outline with the texture medium
- Drop blobs of coloured paint on top of the medium
- Use the plastic fork to drag the paint through the medium to create the ‘feathers’
- The success of this depends on the fork being dragged through the medium in the right direction – downwards and out towards the left (for the left part of the neck) downwards and to the right (for the right side of the neck) and outwards from the centre of the circle head.
The Paper Emu
If you’re not keen on the mess of paints, it’s easy to make a cute emu from cardboard and paper
- Cut the cardboard (it can even be a paper plate) into a semi-circle for the body.
- Cut two long strips and glue them to the straight edge of the semi-circle to form the legs.
- Cut another long strip with a beak shape at the top and glue into place to the neck.
- Children can then have fun cutting or tearing paper strips for form the feathers.
Aussie Bird Crafts – Mad Magpie
Magpies sure can appear to be mad during spring when they swoop to chase you away from their nests.
Many cyclists have felt the pain of their sharp beaks during aerial attacks. However, only between eight and 10 per cent of magpies actually swoop people.
There are nine subspecies of magpies in Australia and though they are all black and white, they have very different feather patterns
Magpies will often mate for life and they can become loyal friends – to humans.
Research has shown that magpies recognise other magpies as well as people by their faces.
If they decide they like you, they will be your friend for life, even introducing you to their chicks.
Magpies can hear the sound of their favourite food, grubs and worms, moving underneath the ground.
They are also excellent mimics and can impersonate a range of other birds as well as car alarms and dogs.
With all the emergency vehicles on our roads from the fires around Australia this spring and summer, one magpie in Newcastle, NSW, was recorded singing like a siren. You can see his performance here.
Use the simple outline below to create a cardboard magpie.
Trace the shape onto black cardboard and cut out.
Add some white paper ‘feathers’, a grey beak and an orange eye.
You can find more fun Aussie crafts in my post, Awesome Aussie Crafts To Make With a Paper Plate.
Happy crafting and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.