Family Neosittidae

The Varied Sittella inhabits dry woodlands in most parts of Australia except for Tasmania.  There are several races of Varied Sittella in different geographical regions with variations in appearance, the race chrysoptera being represented in south-eastern Australia. Sittellas are generally found in small family groups foraging for insects and arthropods along the branches in eucalypt and acacia tree canopies.

They are communal birds and, as well as feeding together, preen one another, and huddle at night side-by-side, generally in the angle of a dead tree branch. Only the senior female incubates, but all group members assist in nest-building and supporting the young.

 Varied Sittella

Daphoenositta chrysoptera

The Varied Sittella has a dagger-shaped bill, angled slightly upward, together with feet with strong toes, to assist in the method of searching for food. Varied Sittellas are fairly common in the woodlands around Canberra.  Usually in small flocks of about six to eight, they work their way systematically through the tree, spiralling downwards around trunks and branches, searching for insects in the bark. The males with their bigger beaks keep to the trunk and the main branches, with the females dealing with the more outlying smaller branches and twigs. They are not really suburban birds, probably because eucalypts are not in sufficient density to provide adequate food.

Numbers are greatest from April to July and lowest from October to December. Sightings are widespread, so higher numbers from 1983 to 1991 may be due largely to records from one site in Aranda over this period. Records in the last twelve years have dropped significally. There have been five breeding records from central suburbs next to reserves, including nest building in mid-October and dependent young from late December to mid-February. R=85. BR=59.