The Red Wattlebird is one of the most common and noisy backyard birds around Melbourne and Geelong. You would see them regularly, either in your backyard trees, or in the local park. This article shows how to identify them and their call.
Red Wattlebird Anthochaera carunculata
What do they look like?
They are brownish-grey, with a yellow belly and a strongly-marked face with a white cheek surrounded by a black line, and a black drown/forehead. Their eyes are red, and they have red dangly bits of skin (wattles) hanging from their cheeks. That’s how they get their name.
When they fly you might notice the white spots on the end of the tail.
As babies (juveniles) they are similar but less strongly-marked. Their yellow belly is still there but faint, their red wattles are small and flesh-pink, and their eye is brown.
How do they sound?
They have a loud, strident call that sounds a bit like “jock, jock”
What do they eat?
They are a type of honeyeater, they eat nectar from flowers and some insects. You will often see them flying around a flowering gum-tree, chasing other small birds away.
Some say they are aggressive, but they are defending their food so that they can keep it for their family.
Where do they live?
Overall – south-east and south-west Australia. The Red Wattlebird is a very common bird in the backyards of Melbourne, Geelong and Sydney.
How are they going?
Though still very common, they are being reported as declining in some areas. Many of the ‘common’ and abundant birds in Australia are declining, which is cause for concern.
Read more about Red Wattlebirds here: http://birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/red-wattlebird
Other birds you could confuse them with:
Little Wattlebird – is similar, and usually lives close to the coast. They have a blue eye, no yellow belly, no red wattle, and when they fly they have a noticeable rufous (orange-brown) in their wings.
This is part of a series “What’s In My Backyard? Flora & Fauna around Melbourne & Geelong, Victoria Australia” run by Koala Clancy Foundation in response to COVID-19. Koala Clancy Foundation is a koala-focussed charity based around the You Yangs, Victoria. A large part of our mission is local education, about koalas and all their animals and plants that live with them. Due to the coronavirus we can’t conduct our regular, educational Koala Conservation Days, so we are bringing that information online.