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A photo of a Red Wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata)
Red Wattlebird

Red Wattlebird

Anthochaera carunculata

The red wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata) is a passerine bird native to southern Australia. At 33–37 cm (13–14+1⁄2 in) in length, it is the second largest species of Australian honeyeater. It has mainly grey-brown plumage, with red eyes, distinctive pinkish-red wattles on either side of the neck, white streaks on the chest and a large bright yellow patch on the lower belly. The sexes are similar in plumage. Juveniles have less prominent wattles and browner eyes. John White described the red wattlebird in 1790. Three subspecies are recognized. The sexes of the red wattlebird are similar in size and plumage, the length of the adult male ranging from 33 to 37 centimetres (13 to 15 in) and the adult female from 34 to 37 centimetres (13 to 15 in). The red wattlebird is one of the largest nectar-feeding birds in the world, and the second largest species of honeyeater native to Australia, eclipsed only by the yellow wattlebird. The crown, forehead and upper lores (area between the eyes and nostrils) are dark brown, streaked with pale brown at the front of the crown and white at the rear of the crown. The nape (back of the neck) is slightly paler brown, with white streaks. A whitish triangular marking covers the lower lores and anterior ear covert feathers, bordered below by a dark brown stripe from the lower mandible down to the wattle and around to behind the eye. The throat is dark brown streaked with white. The iris of the eye is orange-red to crimson. The distinctive pinkish-red wattles dangle from the lower rear corner of the ear coverts on either side of the neck, and there is a sliver of pink bare skin at the lower border of the white patch on the face. The chest and belly are streaked white, and there is a bright yellow patch towards the tail. The strong legs and feet are pink or pinkish-brown, and the downward-curving bill is black. The average dimensions of the bill are 23.5 millimetres (0.93 in) long, 6.7 millimetres (0.26 in) wide, and 6.8 millimetres (0.27 in) high at its base. The gape is grey-black, while the inside of the mouth is orange. In common with other honeyeaters, the red wattlebird has a long, specialized tongue to extract nectar from flowers. The tongue can extend well beyond the tip of the bill, and is divided at the end to form a brush-like structure with over a hundred bristles that soak up nectar by capillary action.
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