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

Red Wattlebird

Anthochaera carunculata

The Red Wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata), a native avian of southern Australia, is a striking passerine and the second largest of the Australian honeyeaters. Adults typically measure between 33 to 37 cm in length and are adorned with predominantly grey-brown plumage. Their eyes are a vivid red, and they sport distinctive pinkish-red wattles on either side of the neck. A white streaked chest and a conspicuous bright yellow patch on the lower belly further accentuate their appearance. Both sexes share similar plumage, while juveniles present with less pronounced wattles and browner eyes.

Identification Tips

The Red Wattlebird is easily identified by its red eyes, pinkish-red wattles, and the yellow patch on its belly. Its robust legs and feet are pink or pinkish-brown, and it has a black, downward-curving bill. When observing these birds, note the white streaks on the chest and the triangular white marking on the face, which are bordered by a dark brown stripe.

Habitat

This species thrives in open forests and woodlands, particularly those dominated by eucalypts. It is also a common visitor to urban gardens and parks, adapting well to suburban environments.

Distribution

The Red Wattlebird's range extends across southeast Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and southwest Western Australia. It is a permanent resident in much of its range, though some populations are partly migratory.

Behaviour

Renowned for their loud and conspicuous presence, Red Wattlebirds are often found in trees, where they are predominantly nectarivorous. They are territorial and can be aggressive towards other bird species, especially when defending rich nectar sources. Their flight pattern is typically straight or slightly undulating, just above the tree canopy.

Song & Calls

The vocal repertoire of the Red Wattlebird includes a range of raucous calls. Males produce a loud cackle, while females emit a whistling call. They also have distinct alarm calls used when mobbing predators or other threats.

Breeding

Breeding occurs throughout their range, with the Red Wattlebird building a cup-shaped nest in a tree. They raise one or two broods a year, with both parents involved in incubation and feeding the chicks.

Similar Species

While unique in appearance, in poor visibility, the Red Wattlebird might be mistaken for the spiny-cheeked honeyeater, or little or western wattlebirds.

Diet and Feeding

The Red Wattlebird feeds on a wide variety of flowering plants, favoring those with abundant nectar. It also consumes insects, berries, and other fruits. Its brush-tipped tongue is well-adapted for nectar feeding.

Conservation status

Despite some decline due to land-clearing, the Red Wattlebird is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, thanks to its wide range and large population.

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