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Rufous Whistler - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: Rufous-breasted Whistler; Rufous-breasted Thickhead; Northern Thickhead; Pale-breasted Thickhead

Photo © by Peter Day
Warren Conservation Park South Australia, September, 2019
Pachycephala rufiventris


Photo © by Ken Doy
Sandy Camp Rd Wetlands, Queensland, Australia, March 2018

16 -18cm (6-7 in)

  • Large head
  • Short stubby bill
  • Long narrow tail with a square or slightly forked tip


  • Dark-grey upperparts
  • White throat
  • Black breast
  • Reddish underparts
  • Some males (apart from northern races) have a black face mask
  • Blackish-brown wings and tail


  • Greyish-brown
  • Streaked underparts

Young birds more rufous than adults with heavily streaked underparts.


Australia and New Caledonia.
Fairly common in its range.


White-bellied Whistler, Black-headed Whistler and Wallacean Whistler have been treated as subspecies of this species in the past.


Five subspecies recognized[1]:


Photo © by julien
Eagle Point, Victoria, Australia, February 2006

Mostly dry eucalypt forests, woodlands and shrublands, gardens and farmland with some trees, and in remnant bushland patches. Mainly in lowlands up to 450m.



The diet consists of arthropods, mainly insects, also seeds, fruit and sometimes leaves. Feeds mainly among foliage.


Breeding season from July to March (peak from October to November) in Australia. The female builds a cup-shaped nest from twigs, grass, and vines, using spider's web to bind it and to fix it to a tree fork. Lays 2 - 3 eggs. Two broods may be produced in a season. Both adults incubate the eggs and care for the young.


Resident in most of its range, partly migratory in eastern Australia but movements poorly understood.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2007. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553422
  3. Simpson, K and N Day. 1998. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. London: Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-7136-4877-5
  4. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved November 2015)
  5. Birds in Backyards

Recommended Citation

External Links

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