Chirruping wedgebill

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Chirruping wedgebill
Chirruping Wedgebill (6252294183).jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Psophodidae
Genus: Psophodes
Species: P. cristatus
Binomial name
Psophodes cristatus
(Gould, 1838)

The chirruping wedgebill (Psophodes cristatus) is a medium sized member of the Psophodes genus, which consists or four to five songbirds endemic to Australia.[2] Commonly found in low shrublands in south-eastern inland Australia,[3] the species is distinguished by its distinctive, chirruping call.[3] The chirruping wedgebill and chiming wedgebill (Psophodes occidentalis) were considered one species until as late as 1973, when they were separated due to marked differences in their calls.[3]

Taxonomy[edit]

John Gould originally described P. cistatus and P. occidentalis as one species (Sphenostoma cristatum),[4] and this remained common practice until c. 1973.[5] The separation of the species at that date was based mainly on differences in song and range.[3]

Description[edit]

The chirruping wedgebill is a medium sized bird, measuring approximately 18–21 cm and weighing 31-64 g.[3] Its bill is dark and wedge-shaped when mature, and horn-coloured when immature. It possesses a slim upright crest, and long rounded tail.[3][6] Adult plumage consists of pale brown upperparts, with white/pale grey underparts. Flight feathers are edged with white, and the tail is coloured dark black-brown with a white tip. Immature individuals possess similar plumage, the only key differences being buff-tipped flight feathers, unlike the white tips of the mature individual.[3][6]

This bird is often misidentified as the chiming wedgebill (Psophodes occidentalis). Key identifying features include the faint breast streaking, slightly longer tail, and repetitive chirruping call.[3][6]

Call[edit]

The distinctive call of this species is described as an Antiphonal duet. Accounts of the call differ slightly. Pizzey and Knight describe the male as calling ‘sitzi-cheeri’ (similar to the budgerigars rolling chirrup), while the female replies with an upward rolling ‘r-e-e-e-t CHEER’.[6] The call is described by Simpson and Day, however, as “sparrow-like and repetitive. Male ‘chirrrp’, female response of ‘ee cheer’.”[7]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The chirruping wedgebill is found throughout south-eastern inland Australia, inhabiting low, open shrublands with acacia species.[3][6] Distribution is patchy, but where found, the species is usually locally abundant. Though the species covers a large area, it is rarely found in the southern part of its range. It tends to favour areas with vegetation of bluebush, acacia stands, emu bush and lignum species.[3]

Ecology[edit]

The chirruping wedgebill is territorial throughout the year. Adults are generally sedentary, with small flocks of up to 20 birds being regularly recorded.[3][8] Juvenile birds tend to be more widely dispersed, sometimes forming loose foraging flocks of up to 100 individuals, that wander over greater distances than the adults.[8] The species is unobtrusive and reserved (though less shy than the chiming wedgebill), except when calling. While foraging, individuals make short flights (small flutters and glides) or run between cover.[3] The species is non-migratory.[9]

Diet[edit]

The chirruping wedgebill feeds predominantly by foraging for seeds and insects.[3][5][8]

Breeding[edit]

The species has several breeding seasons throughout the year: from March to May, and August to November, as well as after rain. The nest consists of a loose, shallow cup of grass, twigs and bark (lined with smaller, fine material). It is generally built in the fork of a dense tree, shrub or mistletoe, generally no more than three metres above the ground.[3][8] Two to three blue-green eggs with sparse dark blotches are laid at a time. The eggs are of a tapered-oval shape, measuring approximately 24 x 17 mm. Incubation length is unknown. The life span of this species is approximately 6.4 years.[9] It is not known if the sexes possess different roles in food collection or parenting.

Conservation[edit]

The chirruping wedgebill is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Psophodes cristatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Del Hoyo, J; Elliot, A; Christie, D (2007). Handbook of the Birds of the World: Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-84-96553-42-2. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Boles, Walter.E. (1988). The Robins & Flycatchers of Australia. North Ryde, NSW, Australia: Angus & Robertson Australia. pp. 217–220. ISBN 0 207 15400 7. 
  4. ^ Officer, Hugh. R (1969). Australian Flycatchers And Their Allies. Melbourne, VIC. Australia: The Bird Observers Club. p. 103. 
  5. ^ a b Chapman, Graeme. "Chirruping Wedgebill Psophodes cristatus". Graeme Chapman, Natural History Photographer- Ornithologist. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Pizzey, Graham; Knight, Frank (2012). The Field Guide To The Birds Of Australia (Ninth ed.). Sydney, NSW, Australia: Harper Collins Publishers Australia Pty Limited. p. 398. ISBN 9780732291938. 
  7. ^ Simpson, Ken; Day, Nicolas (2010). Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (Eighth ed.). Melbourne, VIC, Australia: Penguin Group. p. 216. ISBN 9780670072316. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Chirruping Wedgebill - Psophodes cristatus". Australian Bush Birds. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  9. ^ a b Birdlife International (2016). "Chirruping Wedgebill Psophodes cristatus". Birdlife International. Retrieved 14 September 2016.