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  1. 55 Photo by David Cook Wildlife Photography

Grey-headed Robin

Heteromyias cinereifrons

Appearance

  • Colour: its body is a mixture of greys and browns – the top of its head and breast are grey, its back and shoulders are olive-brown, and its belly is white. Its rump is rufous-brown and its tail is red-brown. Its wings are blackish-brown with a broken white-grey bar running across them. It also has a olive-brown cheek patch. Its short black bill has a white tip and its legs are flesh-pink. A black line runs between its beak and eye, with a narrow white line behind its eye followed by another black one. A young bird is brown with blotched-rust underparts and head, and a pale beak.
  • Size: 18.5 – 19.5 cm.

Behaviour

  • Call: a single monotonous whistle (“whi…whi…whi…”) or a loud shrill whistle followed by three shorter, lower whistles (“pee-per-per”).
  • Diet: insects which it finds on the ground.
  • Movement: it darts quickly to the ground from a nearby tree to catch insects, and once on the ground it hops swiftly.
  • Breeding: the female builds a cup-shaped nest made of vine tendrils, rootlets, leaf-skeletons and cobwebs, which is often decorated with lichen and moss. The nest is usually located in a fork of a small tree or vine. She lays one or two eggs and incubates them for 17–19 days. Both parents care for the young birds once hatched.

What to Observe

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

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

The Grey-headed Robin may lose more of its already restricted habitat if predicted higher temperatures and lower rainfall occur due to climate change.

When To Look

  • From July to March.
  • Breeding commonly occurs between August and January.

Where To Look

  • Within Australia, it is confined to the Wet Tropics of north Queensland.
  • In tropical rainforests or in woodland at the margins of rainforest, usually above 200m in elevation.
  • Look on the ground to see it feeding, or on nearby tree branches. Nests might be in forks of small trees.

Grey-headed 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.

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

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  1. What Else?

    • Another Robin: not usually found in the same region as the Grey-headed Robin.
    • Jacky Winter (Microeca fascinans): doesn’t have the lighter coloured bars on its wings. 
  1. Did You Know?

    In the past, much of its rainforest habitat has been cleared for agriculture and it is now restricted to only fragments of habitat. 

    It may lose more of its already restricted habitat if predicted higher temperatures and lower rainfall occur due to climate change.

    The call recording is by David Stewart Naturesound

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