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Australian Logrunner

Orthonyx temminckii

The Australian logrunner, Orthonyx temminckii, is a bird of remarkable distinction, endemic to the eastern regions of Australia. It is characterized by its unique tail feathers, where the central shafts protrude and are stiffened, resembling spines. This feature has inspired names such as spine-tail and spine-tailed logrunner. The bird's plumage is a tapestry of reddish-brown across the head and back, with wings cloaked in black and a dark brown tail. The wing-coverts are tipped with grey, and the underparts are a crisp white, while the female boasts an orange-rufous throat, distinguishing her from the male.

Identification Tips

When observing the Australian logrunner, look for the bird's broad tail, less than four inches in length, with the strong protruding rachis at the ends of the tail feathers. The male is larger than the female, and the latter can be identified by her orange-rufous throat. The bird's unique tail structure and foraging behavior are key identification features.

Habitat

The logrunner thrives on the forest floor of rainforests, amidst a rich undergrowth of logs, debris, ferns, vines, and saplings. These environments provide the perfect backdrop for the bird's foraging activities.

Distribution

This species is found from the Illawarra district in New South Wales to the Bunya Mountains in Queensland, favoring the leaf-littered floors of temperate, subtropical, or tropical moist lowland forests.

Behaviour

The logrunner exhibits a distinctive foraging technique, using its spiny tail as a prop while it scrapes aside leaf debris with its feet to uncover food. This action leaves behind telltale 'soup-plate' depressions in the forest floor. The bird's pelvis and hind legs are uniquely structured to support this behavior. Logrunners are also known for their vocal performances, particularly in the mornings, which likely serve territorial or mating purposes.

Diet and Feeding

Insects and other invertebrates make up the bulk of the logrunner's diet, which it uncovers through its specialized foraging technique on the forest floor.

Social organisation and reproduction

Logrunners are social birds, living in pairs or small groups, and are known to form monogamous and permanent bonds. They defend their territories with vigor. The female lays two white, oval-shaped eggs, and the breeding season varies, with some references suggesting April to October, while others indicate July to December. Nest construction is a meticulous process, with the female building a large, domed structure adorned with moss and concealed with natural materials.

Conservation status

The Australian logrunner is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating a stable population within its habitat range.

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