Australian golden whistler

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Australian golden whistler
Golden Whistler.jpg
Male
Pachycephala pectoralis female.jpg
Female, Queensland, Australia
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Pachycephalidae
Genus: Pachycephala
Species: P. pectoralis
Binomial name
Pachycephala pectoralis
Latham, 1802

The Australian golden whistler (Pachycephala pectoralis) is a species of bird found in forest, woodland, mallee, mangrove and scrub in Australia (except the interior and most of the north)[2] and in mountain forest in the Snow Mountains in the Papua Province of Indonesia.[3] Most populations are resident, but some in south-eastern Australia migrate north during the winter. Its taxonomy is highly complex and remains a matter of dispute, with some authorities including as many as 59 subspecies in the golden whistler (one of the highest numbers of subspecies in any bird),[4] while others treat several of these as separate species (as done here).

Description[edit]

Male, Queensland, Australia
A juvenile Australian golden whistler

The male has a bright yellow underside and nape, olive-green back and wings, a black head and chest-band, and a white throat. A notable exception is the Norfolk golden whistler (P. p. xanthoprocta) where the plumage of the male is female-like. In Australia females are overall dull brownish-grey, though some have yellowish undertail coverts. In females of the Balim whistler (P. p. balim), which is the subspecies in the Snow Mountains in the Papua Province of Indonesia, the entire underparts (except the whitish throat) are deep yellow. Both sexes have a black bill, dark legs and red-brown eyes.[5]

Australian golden whistlers have a strong, musical voice.[2]

Taxonomy[edit]

The taxonomy of the golden whistler complex is difficult, and remains a matter of dispute.[4][6][7] Some authorities include a wide range of – often strikingly different – taxa from Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji as subspecies of P. pectoralis, in which case the combined species simply is known as the golden whistler (a common name sometimes also used exclusively for the Australian species). Species sometimes still treated as subspecies of P. pectoralis are:[4]

Additionally, all except the nominate subspecies of the Melanesian whistler (P. caledonica) are sometimes included as subspecies of P. pectoralis (in which case P. caledonica is known as the New Caledonian whistler).[5] Historically even the New Caledonian, Tongan and Samoan whistler have been treated as subspecies of P. pectoralis.[5] Strong published evidence in favour of either treatment is limited, and further study is warranted to resolve the situation.[5]

Status[edit]

The Australian golden whistler is considered to be of least concern,[1] and it is generally described as common to fairly common.[5]

The Norfolk golden whistler (P. p. xanthoprocta) declined for many years due to habitat loss and fragmentation and possible due to introduced predators such as the black rat.[5] Most of the population is now restricted to the Norfolk Island National Park.[5] This has resulted in it being listed as vulnerable by the Australian Government.[8] Another island subspecies, the Lord Howe golden whistler (P. p. contempta) remains common,[5] but was listed as vulnerable by the Australian Government due to its small range.[9] It is not listed anymore.[10]

Ecology[edit]

The Australian golden whistler can be found in almost any wooded habitat, especially dense forests. It eats berries, insects, spiders, and other small arthropods. They usually feed alone and obtain food from the lower to middle tree level, or they may alternatively take part in mixed-species feeding flocks.

This species breeds between September and January. Male and female both work on the nest, which is a shallow bowl made of twigs, grass, and bark, and bound together with spider web. Only one brood is raised per season and both birds share incubation and care of young. Eggs hatch 15 days after they are laid and the young leave the nest after 12 days.

Meehan Range, Tasmania


References[edit]

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Pachycephala pectoralis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Ken Simpson, K., & N. Day. (1994). Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. 2nd edition. Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-7136-3930-X.
  3. ^ Beehler, B. M., T. K. Pratt, & D. A. Zimmerman (1986). Birds of New Guinea. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-02394-8
  4. ^ a b c Clements, J. F. (2007). The Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World. 6th edition. ISBN 978-0-7136-8695-1.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Boles, W. E. (2007). Golden Whistler (Pachycephala pectoralis). Pp. 421–423 in: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliot, & D. Christie. Eds. (2007). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 978-84-96553-42-2
  6. ^ Gill, F., & D. Donsker. Eds. (2010). IOC World Bird Names. Version 2.3. Accessed 10 February 2010.
  7. ^ Dickinson, E. C. Eds. (2003). The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. 3rd edition. Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-7136-6536-X.
  8. ^ Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta — Golden Whistler (Norfolk Island). Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Accessed 10 February 2010.
  9. ^ List of Extinct, Threatened and Near Threatened Australian birds. The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. Accessed 10 February 2010.
  10. ^ EPBC Act: List of Threatened Fauna. DEWHA. Accessed 10 February 2010.

External links[edit]