Red Wattlebird

Anthochaera carunculata

The Red Wattlebird is one of the largest and most conspicuous of the honeyeaters, and is a commonly recorded garden bird. Attracted to the nectar of the popularly planted banksias, callistemons and large showy grevilleas, they are noisy and aggressive in defending their food sources.

Up to 1988-89 marked seasonal variation produced distinct spring and autumn peaks, as birds move up to the mountains to breed and return to the suburbs in autumn. Such peaks are typical of migrating species. This seasonal variation is now less marked and Red Wattlebirds are common in Canberra gardens throughout the year. Numbers have also trebled but since 1999-00 appear to be stable. These changes are probably due to the greater year-round availability of food in Canberra.

Nest building starts in August with most nest activity finishing by the end of December. Dependent young are seen from late September until the end of February, occasionally into early April. Most breeding records are of dependent young, as the insistent calling of fledgling Red Wattlebirds is easily recognised. The breeding cycle appears to be 10-12 weeks, with some pairs nesting twice in a season. R=6. BR=3.