Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Wildlife

The Royal Botanic Garden and the Domain provide valuable ‘greenspace’ in the centre of the city. Visitors enjoy observing our birds and many come just to see our colony of flying-foxes. You can also expect outdoor evening events to be accompanied by the occasional sounds of possums jumping through the trees.

If you care for our wildlife, please don’t feed them

Many of us love feeding ducks, other birds, and possums, but there are some good reasons why you shouldn’t. It upsets the delicate balance of nature and jeopardises the animals’ welfare.

  • Handfeeding makes them aggressive and a nuisance.
  • Feeding makes them lazy. Animals start to depend on being fed by humans. They become scavengers instead of unique wildlife that we can be proud of.
  • Human food can kill animals. Our snack food often contains too much salt and sugar, and can be fatal to birds. Poor nutrition can lead to bone deformities, reduced ability to cope with cold weather and susceptibility to disease.

Note about frogs, lizards, snakes and spiders

You may encounter some of these animals in the Royal Botanic Garden and in the Domain. Please be aware that all reptiles are protected by law. Many of our native reptiles have poisonous bites. Do not attempt to handle them. If you think you have been bitten, seek help immediately - contact a Ranger (0419 270 279) or go to the Garden Shop for first aid. 

Find out more

Buff-banded Rail
Buff-banded Rail. Photo: Trevor Quested

Powerful Owl
Powerful Owl

List of wildlife for the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, compiled by Volunteer Guide Jenny Pattison, November 2011

Note: CW denotes that species is a ClimateWatch indicator species at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. See www.climatewatch.org.au.

Birds

Listed in the Garden since 2000

Click here to find out about the history of bird observations at the Royal Botanic Garden.

KEY: C=Common, Res=Resident, Br=Breeds in Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, M=Migratory, V=Visitor, E=Exotic, CW=ClimateWatch sp

Common name Scientific name Notes - Key: E Exotic, CW ClimateWatch sp.
Black-Cockatoo, Yellow-tailed Calyptorhynchus funereus V
Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina novaehollandiae V
Buff-banded Rail Gallirallus philippensis C, Res, Br found in Middle Gardens
Butcherbird, Grey Cracticus torquatus C, Res, Br
Channel-billed Cuckoo Scythrops novaehollandiae CW M, Br summer migrant, parasitises Currawong’s nest
Cockatiel Nymphicus hollandicus V
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris CW V, E
Cormorant, Great Phalacrocorax carbo V
Cormorant, Little Black Phalacrocorax sulcirostris C, Res, Br breeds on island in Main Pond
Cormorant, Little Pied Phalacrocorax melanoleucos C, Res, Br breeds on island in Main Pond
Currawong, Pied Strepera graculina C, Res, Br
Darter, Australian Anhinga melanogaster V
Duck, Australian Wood also called Maned Goose Chenonetta jubata C, Res, Br
Duck, Farmyard C, E
Duck, Hardhead or White-eyed Aythya australis V
Duck, Pacific Black Anas superciliosa C, Res, Br
Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa C, Res, Br
Egret, Great Ardea alba V
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra V
Fantail, Grey Rhipidura fuliginosa CW M
Fantail, Rufous Rhipidura rufifrons M
Figbird Sphecotheres viridis V
Galah Cacatua roseicapilla V
Grebe, Australasian Tachybaptus novaehollandiae V
Ibis, Australian White Threskiornis molucca C, Res, Br
Indian or Common Myna Acridotheres tristis C, Res, Br, E
Koel, Common Eudynamys scolopacea CW M summer migrant, parasitises Noisy Miner nests
Kookaburra, Laughing Dacelo novaeguineae C
Magpie, Australian Gymnorhina tibicen CW C, Res, Br
Magpie-lark (Peewee) Grallina cyanoleuca CW V, C often on lawn below Tropical Centre
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos C, Br, E interbreeds with the Pacific Black Duck
Masked Lapwing Vanellus miles CW C, Res, Br
Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala C, Res, Br
Owl, Barn Tyto alba V
Owl, Powerful Ninox strenua Res Status: Vulnerable; seen regularly since 2009
Owl, Southern Boobook Ninox novaeseelandiae V
Pelican, Australian Pelecanus conspicillatus V
Pigeon, Feral or Common Columba livia C, Res, Br, E also called Rock Dove
Pigeon, Crested Ocyphaps lophotes CW C
Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus C, Res, Br in flowering Black Bean Tree and eucalypts
Raven, Australian Corvus coronoides V
Rosella, Crimson Platycercus elegans V
Rosella, Eastern Platycercus eximius V
Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia V
Sacred Kingfisher Todiramphus sanctus M
Silver Gull Larus novaehollandiae C
Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus V
Spotted Turtle-Dove Streptopelia chinensis C.E
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita C, Res, Br often on lawns 25 & 27
Superb Blue Wren Malurus cyaneus C, Res, Br seen in Palm Grove, near creek, in Fernery
Tawny Frogmouth Podargus strigoides C, Res, Br roosts by day, often in pairs, close to tree trunk
Teal, Chestnut Anas castanea C, Br
Teal, Grey Anus gracilis C, Br
Tree Martin Hirundo nigricans C
Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena CW C
White-breasted Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster V
White-browed Scrubwren Sericornis frontalis Res, Br seen in Palm Grove
White-faced Heron Egretta novaehollandiae C
White-plumed Honeyeater Lichenostomus penicillatis V
Willy Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys CW V

Mammals

You will encounter flying foxes roosting during the day, but most other mammals can only be seen at night. Whilst we are fond of our resident populations of possums, unfortunately many are possums that have been caught in other parts of the city and ‘dumped’ here. Our land covers only a limited area and cannot support an over-population of possums, so these animals - already disoriented from being removed from their ‘home’ territories - become even more stressed.

Proposed Flying-fox Relocation

The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is a significant cultural and botanical icon, with numerous historic and heritage listed specimens that are of enormous cultural, scientific, horticultural and educational value. It is also home to a camp of Grey-headed Flying-foxes which can number more than 22,000 at their seasonal peak. The roosting habit of the flying-foxes is causing serious damage to significant plantings - 18 trees have been lost and more than 300 plants including trees affected. In order to save the botanic collections and the heritage landscape, the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust is proposing to relocate the flying-fox camp to other camps in the Sydney metropolitan area, using methods adapted from the successful relocation of a camp of Grey-headed Flying-foxes from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne.

Click here for more information, including the final Public Environment Report documents.

Common name Scientific name Notes - Key: E Exotic, CW ClimateWatch sp.
Grey-headed Flying-fox

Pteropus poliocephalus A bat in suborder Megachiroptera
threatened species: vulnerable
predated by Powerful Owl
CW
Black Flying Fox
Pteropus alecto A bat in suborder Megachiroptera
a small colony in Garden since 2006
predated by Powerful Owl
CW
Gould’s Wattled Bat

Chalinolobus gouldii A bat in suborder Microchiroptera
commonly seen and heard microbat flying at dusk
Common Brushtail Possum
Trichosurus vulpecular Possum control
predated by Powerful Owl
Common Ringtail Possum
Pseudocheirus peregrinus Predated by Powerful Owl
Black Rat Rattus rattus E, came on First Fleet, pest in Garden, rat control
European Red Fox Vulpes vulpes E, fox control, fox has not been active in Garden since 2009
Feral cat Felis catus E, cat control

Spiders

Common name Scientific name Notes - Key: E Exotic, CW ClimateWatch sp.
Golden Orb-weaving Spider Nephila plumipes Late summer to early winter
Dewdrop Spider
Argyrodes sp.

Kleptoparasitic spider found on Golden Orb webs
late summer to early winter

Leaf-curling Spider Phonognatha sp. Late summer to early winter
St Andrew’s Cross Spider
Argiope heyserlingi Late summer to early winter
CW
Net-casting Spider Deinopis subrufa Late summer to early winter, on cliveas in Palm Grove

Reptiles

Common name Scientific name Notes - Key: E Exotic, CW ClimateWatch sp.
Eastern Water Dragon Physignathus lesueurii

Around nursery, Fernery and Tropical Centre, near creek,
general insect predator
CW

Eastern Blue-tongue Lizard
Tiliqua scinoides

In Cadi, outside Reception, outside Education, in Succulent Garden, around Billabong, on path behind Trop Centre, around Herb Garden; controls slugs, snails, slaters

Saw-shelled Turtle

Elseya latisternum

Tropical Centre, moved by staff between Billabong and Pyramid main pond (Pyramid Oct 2011)

Frogs

Common name Scientific name Notes - Key: E Exotic, CW ClimateWatch sp.
Peron’s Tree Frog
Litoria peronii

A local frog, in Billabong, troughs beside nursery
general insect predator
CW

Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog
Other name: Eastern Sedge Frog

Litoria fallax In Billabong on sedge Lepironia articulata
general insect predator around Tropical Centre

Striped Marsh Frog

Limnodynastes peronii CW

Fish

Common name Scientific name Notes - Key: E Exotic, CW ClimateWatch sp.
Longfinned Eel
Anguilla reinhardtii Mostly in Main Pond; all ponds at some time except inside Pyramid; in creek
Mullet In Main Pond, a native fish
Koi Carp E , in Koi Carp Pond, see plaque next to pond
Crimson-spotted
Rainbow Fish
Melanotaenia duboulayi In Pyramid and Billabong, native fish from Fraser Is, Qld
eats mosquito larvae
Silver Perch
In Fernery, native fish
Gold fish E, in Fernery


Crustaceans

Common name Scientific name Notes - Key: E Exotic, CW ClimateWatch sp.
Yabby

Cherax destructo

in Fernery, Billabong, Pyramid ponds
eats detritus in ponds

Insects

Plants mentioned are examples of that butterfly’s larval food plants in the Royal Botanic Garden (female butterfly lays its eggs on that plant). There are more butterflies in the Garden than what are listed here. There are also many moths, some of which are very colourful and are day-flying.

Common name Scientific name Notes - Key: E Exotic, CW ClimateWatch sp.
Southern Pearl-white Butterfly
Elodina angulipennis

Rare & Threatened Garden, two Native Pomegranate trees, Capparis arborea
colony in the Garden since 1884
COMMON on sunny days all year

Caper White Butterfly Belenois java

Rare & Threatened Garden, two Native Pomegranate trees, Capparis arborea
COMMON

Cabbage White Butterfly Pieris rapae E, Rare & Threatened Garden, brassicas
CW, COMMON
Blue Triangle Butterfly
Graphium sarpendon
Various plants of Lauraceae and Monimiaceae, esp. Camphor Laurel;
in Garden includes Cinnamomum, Planchonella
COMMON in warmer months
Macleay’s Swallowtail
Graphium macleayanus Various plants of Lauraceae, Winteraceae, Monimiaceae and Rutaceae, esp. Camphor Laurel
CW, COMMON in warmer months
Orchard Swallowtail
Other names: Orchard Butterfly, Large Citrus Butterfly
Papilio aegeus Rutaceae plants e.g. Flindersia australis and native and introduced citrus
CW, COMMON in warmer months

Dainty Swallowtail
Other names: Dingy Swallowtail, Small Citrus Butterfly

Papilio anactus Native and introduced citrus
CW

Monarch Butterfly
Other name: Wanderer Butterfly

Danaus plexippus E
Herb Garden
larval plant: milkweeds, in Garden Asclepias curassavica?, Stapelia grandiflora
Meadow Argus Butterfly Junonia villida

Larval food plants includes Goodenia
COMMON in warmer months

Common Brown Butterfly

Heteronympha merope On native grasses, Poaceae, bed 103b

CW

Australian Painted Lady
Vanessa kershawi
Usually Asteraceae plants
in Garden: Lavandula spp., Brachyscome spp., Bartlettna sordia, bed 33b
COMMON in warmer months
Yellow Admiral Butterfly
Other name: Australian Admiral

Vanessa itea COMMON in warmer months
Yellow Migrant Butterfly
Catopsilia gorgophone Senna spp .

VISITOR late summer and autumn

Common Crow Butterfly
Euploea core Ficus macrophylla L29, native and exotics in Moraceae, Apocynaceae, Asclepiadaceae

COMMON VISITOR late summer, autumn

Common Pencil Blue Butterfly

Candalides consimilis Many larval plants including Castanospermum, Erythrina, Millettia, Macadamia, Stenocarpus, Brachychiton, Harpullia, Cassia, Wisteria
Plumbago Blue Butterfly
Other name: Zebra Blue
Leptotes plinius Flower buds and flowers of Plumbago auriculata (exotic) in NSW; in QLD P. zeylanica (native)
CW
Long-tailed Pea-blue Butterfly
Lampides boeticus Flower buds and flowers of native and introduced legumes in Fabaceae
Common Jezebel Butterfly
Other name: Black Jezebel
Cephrenes augiedes Known as one of the ‘mistletoe butterflies’ as they breed on plants of the Loranthaceae family
COMMON in cooler months
Small Green-banded Blue Butterfly
Psychonotis caelius Alphitonia excelsa, Red Ash, Bed 30
more abundant in autumn, early winter
Honey Bee

Apis mellifera E, introduced into Australia about 1822
CW
COMMON
Blue Banded Bee
Amegilla sp.
Solitary native bee, feeds on Plectanthrus and mainly purple flowers; ‘buzz’ pollinator: research on pollination of tomato crops; some nest in mortar Info Booth
COMMON in warmer months
Trigona Bee

Trigona carbonaria Stingless, social, native bee, produces honey
10 000+ bees in nest in upright log in bed 13 (since Oct 07)
COMMON
Teddy Bear Bee

Amegilla cingulate Solitary native bee
see www.aussiebee.com for info on native bees

COMMON in warmer months

Dragonfly species

Anisoptera Billabong at Tropical Centre, Glass House tanks, other ponds, creek

COMMON

Damselfly species

Zygoptera Billabong at Tropical Centre, Glass House tanks, other ponds, creek

COMMON

Cotton Harlequin Bug
Tectocoris diopthalmus
Attacks Norfolk Island Hibiscus, Lagunaria patersonia
CW
COMMON
Blowfly Family Calliphoridae In Succulent Garden, attracted to smelly carrion flowers of Stapelia
Hover Fly Family Syrphidae Mimics a wasp
COMMON
Green Lacewing

Mallada signata Predatory insect
biological control agent in Tropical Centre
COMMON
Wasp, in figs

Family Agaonidae Tiny, native fig pollinator
specific wasp for each Ficus species

COMMON

Moreton Bay Fig Psyllid or Lerp Insect

Mycopsylla ficci The lerp is the covering, not the insect. Most species are host specific e.g. fig psyllid and eucalyptus psyllid

COMMON

Parasitic wasp of Moreton Bay Fig Psyllid
Psyllaephagus sp. Native wasp, parasitises fig psyllid larvae

COMMON

Rose Aphid Macrosiphum rosae E, a bug, in Rose Garden, a pest

COMMON

Parasitic wasp of Rose Aphid
Aphidius rosae
E, introduced to Garden as biological control
parasitises aphids in Rose Garden
see Rose Aphid
COMMON
Ladybird Beetle
Family Coccinellidae
A predatory beetle
larvae and adult eat aphids - biological control in Rose Garden
COMMON
European Wasp
Vespula germanica CW
COMMON