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  1. 27 Male Flame Robin Copyright Helen Fallow
  2. 002_flame_robin_petroica_phoenicea_-_female_-_credit_to_david_cook_wildlife_photography-2 Female Flame Robin by David Cook Wildlife Photography
  3. Female_flame_robin_by_katarina_christenson-cropped Female Flame Robin by Katarina Christenson

Flame Robin

Petroica phoenicea

Appearance

  • Colour: an adult male has a bright orange breast and throat, with white on its lower belly and under its tail. The upperparts are dark slate grey and there is a clear white stripe on its folded wing. It has a black beak and dark brown legs.
  • A female is mostly grey-brown with a pale buff strip on its wing. Its outermost tail feather is mostly white. A young bird looks like an adult female, but its back has buff streaks and its belly is pale with brown streaks.
  • Size: 12 cm to 14 cm. 

Behaviour

  • Call: an attractive high-pitched musical trill consisting of three sets of three notes, sometimes written as “you may come, if you will, to the sea”.
  • Diet: insects, spiders and other small arthropods.
  • Movement: it catches its prey on the ground by pouncing on it from an exposed lookout, then returns to its perch to eat. Outside of the breeding season it often feeds in a scattered flock, otherwise it’s seen alone. During winter it’s more likely to feed in open areas, including gardens.
  • Breeding: the female builds a cup-shaped nest made of grass and bark, held together with spider web and decorated with lichen. The nest is located in a cavity in a tree or rock face, up to 20 metres above the ground. She lays three to four pale green or blue eggs, spotted with brown, and she sits on the eggs to incubate them. The young birds hatch after 14 days and leave the nest after a further 16 days. The male searches for food, and both parents feed the young birds. There are often two broods in a season. 

What to Observe

  • Courting / mating
  • Calling
  • Feeding
  • Bird on chicks
  • Bird on eggs
  • Bird on nest
  • Bird feeding young

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

We expect birds to start breeding and singing earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start appearing in new areas as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them.

When To Look

  • From August through to February.
  • Breeding occurs from August through to January.

Where To Look

  • In a broad coastal band around the south-east corner of the Australian mainland from southern Queensland to just west of the South Australian border, and also in Tasmania.
  • In forests and woodlands in rural and urban areas, up to about 1800 metres above sea level. In winter it moves to lower and more open areas, and some Tasmanian birds migrate to the mainland.
  • Look in eucalypt forests and woodlands where there is access to open areas. Nests are often found in the hollows of trees and rock faces.

Flame Robin Occurrence Map ALA

References

Boles, WE 1988. The Robins and Flycatchers of Australia. Angus and Robertson and The National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.

Pizzey, G and Knight, F 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.

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  1. What Else?

    • Scarlet Robin: has black upperparts and throat, red underparts and a larger white patch above its beak.
    • Another robin: won’t have the white outermost tail feather nor white edging on the next feather. 
  1. Did You Know?

    Flame Robins are the only robins that form flocks in winter.

    Threats to the Flame Robin include land clearing, cultivation and other habitat degradation. Predation by Pied Currawongs also poses a threat to the Flame Robin.

    The call recording is by David Stewart Naturesound

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