• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Australasian Figbird - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: Australian Figbird, Yellow Figbird (race flaviventris), Southern or Green Figbird (race vieilloti; see taxonomy); this latter one not to be confused with the species from the Lesser Sundas Green Figbird

Photo © by firecrest
East Point Darwin NT Australia, October, 2017
Sphecotheres vieilloti


Subspecies S. v. ashbyi, male
Photo © by tcollins
Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

25-29cm (9¾-11½ in).
Two color schemes: males differ, females more similar.
Male of subspecies vieilloti (salvadorii similar)

  • Black hood surrounds bare pink to red skin around the eye
  • Grey collar below hood
  • Upperside olive-green
  • Wings mostly blackish with some olive-green on secondaries and coverts
  • Lower breast and flanks olive
  • Belly whitish


  • Head brown with purplish-grey bare skin around eye
  • Most of upperside brown with blackish streaks
  • Rump olive-green
  • Wing dark brown with whitish edges to flight feathers and a greenish wash to secondaries
  • Underside with base color buff to whitish heavily streaked brown but reduced streaks to the rear

Immature: pale scallops on wing feathers; young males show shadowy adult markings.


Males of flaviventris, cucullatus, and ashbyi has no grey collar below the black hood and the underside is bright yellow with whitish central belly. These differ from each other in exact color of underside. Male salvadorii differ from vieilloti in having extensive white tips to the tail.

Similar Species

Males are easily recognized, but the streaked females and immatures can be confused with the Olive-backed Oriole, Brown Oriole, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird and juvenile Metallic Starling.


Subspecies S. v. ashbyi, female
Photo © by tcollins
Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

Northern and eastern Australia, south-eastern New Guinea and the Kai Islands (Indonesia).

See also taxomomy.


In the distant past, all Figbirds were considered one species. After the split of Wetar Figbird, there was a lot of confusion over which subspecies belonged with Green Figbird and Australasian Figbird, but the main authorities seems to agree now. According to this treatment, Green Figbird is limited to the eastern Lesser Sundas while all other forms belong in Australasian Figbird.

Subspecies S. v. vieilloti
Photo © by Ken Doy
Wellington Point, Queensland, Australia December 2015

Some older Australian Field guides might still show two Australian species with northern birds named Yellow Figbird and eastern birds Green Figbird. These are now all included here.


Currently (2021) Clements accept 5 subspecies[1]:

  • S. v. cucullatus:
  • S. v. ashbyi:
  • S. v. flaviventris:
  • Northern Queensland (Cape York Peninsula south to about Cairns); to the southeast intergrades with subspecies vieilloti
  • S. v. salvadorii:
  • S. v. vieilloti:
  • Eastern Australia (east central Queensland and eastern New South Wales); intergrades to the north with subspecies flaviventris


Diverse: rainforest edges, swamps, forests, woodlands; suburban and urban parks and gardens



The diet includes figs, cherries, ink weed and tobacco bush, bananas, guavas, and mulberries.


It builds a flimsy, and saucer-shaped nest from plant fibre and tendrils. Three eggs are laid and are incubated by both parents; additional birds may help feed the young.


Click on photo for larger image


  1. Andrew (1992). The Birds of Indonesia A Check-list. Kukila Check-list No. 1. Indonesian Orn. Soc. Jakarta.
  2. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2022. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2022. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  3. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2023. IOC World Bird List (v 13.2). Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.13.2. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  4. Dickinson, EC, ed. 2003. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. 3rd ed., with updates to October 2008 (Corrigenda 8). Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0691117010
  5. Schodde & Mason (1999). Directory of Australian Birds: Passerines. CSIRO Publishing. ISBN 0643064567
  6. White & Bruce (1986). The Birds of Wallacea (Sulawesi, the Moluccas & Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia). BOU Check-list Ser. 7: 1-524. London.
  7. Bird Forum Member Observations

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1