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Noisy Pitta - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Tom Tarrant
Mt Glorious, SE Queensland, Australia, September 2004

Alternative names: Anvil-bird, Bobtail, Buff-breasted Pitta, Dragon-bird, Lesser Pitta, Painted 'thruch'

Pitta versicolor


19 - 21cm.

  • Chestnut top of head with a black central streak
  • Black rest of head and neck
  • Green back with turquoise stripe on shoulders
  • Yellow buff breast and belly
  • Black tail and flight feathers
  • Red centre of lower belly and undertail

Sexes similar. Juveniles are duller, have a whitish throat and no blue on wing.


Breeds in Australia fron eastern New South Wales north to Cape York Peninsula and on the islands in Torres Strait. Some migrate to southern New Guinea.
Moderately common to scarce in its range.


Two subspecies recognized:

  • P. v. simillima in northeast Queensland (Cape York Peninsula south to Cairns District), on islands in Torres Strait; some birds migrate to southern New Guinea
  • P. v. versicolor from Cairns District south to eastern New South Wales

Formerly regarded as conspecific with Elegant Pitta or with Rainbow Pitta. May form a superspecies with the latter two and Black-faced Pitta.


Rainforests, mostly in wet gulleys and river valleys, but occasionally found in drier forest areas. Migrants also found in mangroves, coastal thickets, monsoon woodland or even urban gardens. Recorded from sea-level up to 1500m.


Feeds on snails and insects, takes also earthworms, spiders, woodlice, crabs, leeches and even small lizards. Sometimes takes also fruits and berries.
Forages for food on the forest floor. Snails are held in the pitta's beak and struck repeatedly against a stone until the shell is broken.
Breeding recorded from October to April in the north of the range and from July to February in the south. The domed nest is build of sticks, leaves, bark, roots and moos. It's usually placed on the ground, sometimes in root butresses or on a tree stump. Lays 3-5 eggs.
Movements are not well known, some post-breeding migration occurs in the north of the range, probably more or less resident in the south.


  1. Clements, JF. 2010. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2010. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/Clements%206.5.xls/view
  2. 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
  3. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2010. IOC World Bird Names (version 2.7). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  4. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and D Christie, eds. 2003. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 8: Broadbills to Tapaculos. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334504

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