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  1. 148 Photo by David Cook Wildlife Photography
  2. 148_0 Juvenile photo by David Cook Wildlife Photography
  3. Golden_whistler_male_by_peter_feats-cropped Male Golden Whistler by Peter Feats

Golden Whistler

Pachycephala pectoralis


  • Colour: The adult male has a bright-yellow underbody, olive-green back and wings, and a black head with a bright-yellow collar. Its throat is white, with a broad black band which separates it from the yellow breast. Its beak and legs are black. The adult female has grey upperparts with a pale olive tinge, and is pale grey below with a pale yellowish tinge. Its beak is dark brown and its legs are grey-brown. Both sexes have a red-brown eye.
  • Juvenile birds are rufous above and below, and as they mature, gradually resemble a female, though they retain some rufous feathers in their wings.
  • Size: 16 – 19 cm. 


  • Call: Strong, musical and varied, it includes a "we-we-we-tu-whit", with the last note stronger and whip-like, and a rising "seep".
  • Diet: Insects and their larvae, as well as spiders and other small arthropods. It also very occasionally eats berries. It hops from branch to branch as it searches for prey on leaves and bark; but seldom forages among leaf litter.
  • Movement: It usually remains in the same area throughout the year, though some birds descend from higher altitudes to spend autumn and winter in lowland areas, and return to the hills in spring.
  • Breeding: The female usually builds the nest, though sometimes she is assisted by the male. The nest is a shallow bowl made of twigs, grass and bark, bound together with spider web and lined with fine grass. The female usually lays two or three eggs which are incubated by both parents for up to 17 days. The young birds remain in the nest for up to 13 days, and both parents feed and brood the young. They breed one brood a year. 

What to Observe

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

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

The effects of climate change may influence the timing of when they start to breed and the duration of their breeding activities. Those birds which make seasonal movements may experience a change in the timing of those movements. Help scientists answer the question: "How are our animals, plants and ecosystems responding to climate change?" by making simple observations.

When To Look

  • From August to February for breeding behaviour
  • During winter for migratory birds that have moved to lowlands.

 Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes in the timing of these events so remember to keep a lookout from August for breeding behaviour!

Where To Look

  • In a wide variety of wooded habitats, from rainforest to mallee, where it often occurs in tall or dense understorey. It occasionally visits suburban parks.
  • It is often heard rather than seen. Nests are often located up to 6 metres above the ground in a fork of a shrub or tree.
  • Eastern and southern Australia, from north Queensland, south through eastern Queensland and NSW to Tasmania, and west through southern SA to south-western Western Australia. It does not occur in the Northern Territory. 

Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes outside of their known ranges so remember to keep a lookout anywhere in Australia!

Golden Whistler compiled distribution map - BirdLife International

Golden Whistler compiled distribution map - BirdLife International

Where To Look

Maps of Habitat Suitability


Current probability
of occurrence
2070 probability
of occurrence (RCP 8.5)
Species range change from
current to 2070 probability

Above, the left and middle maps show the modelled habitat suitability for the the species under current and potential future climate conditions. The colours indicate the predicted habitat suitability from low (white) to high (dark red).

The future habitat suitability is modelled for the year 2070 under a climate change scenario that represents 'business as usual' (RCP 8.5). The map on the right shows how the range of the species might change between now and 2070, with orange areas indicating where the species might disappear, green areas where the species range might expand, and blue areas where the habitat is predicted to be suitable for the species now and in the future.

The models for this species were run in the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory. Please note that while models can be very informative, they are only a representation of the real world and thus should always be viewed with caution. You can read more about the science behind these models here.



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

Higgins PJ and Peter JM (eds) 2002. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Volume 6: Pardalotes to Shrike-thrushes. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

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

Schodde R and Tideman SC (eds) 1990. Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds (2nd Edition). Reader's Digest (Australia), Sydney.

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  1. What Else?

    Mangrove Golden Whistler (Pachycephala melanura): the male has brighter underparts than the Golden Whistler, has a broader collar, and a slightly shorter tail. The female has yellowish underparts. It also has a longer beak and is only found in the mangroves of coastal northern Australia.

  1. Did You Know?

    The call recording is by David Stewart Naturesound

    It belongs to the Family Pachycephalidae, meaning ‘thick-head’, named after the group’s robust necks and heads.

    It is also found in Indonesia, Fiji, New Guinea and the Solomons

    Its average weight is 25 grams. 

    It usually feeds alone. 

  1. Listen to the Call