The bird family Petroicidae includes 49 species in 19 genera. All are endemic to Australasia: New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and numerous Pacific Islands as far east as Samoa. For want of an accurate common name, the family is often called the Australasian robins. Within the family the species are known not only as robins but as scrub-robins and flyrobins. They are, however, only distantly related to the Old World family Muscicapidae (to which other species with such names belong) and the monarch flycatchers (Monarchidae).
|Scarlet robin, Knocklofty Reserve, Hobart, Tasmania|
|Global range (In red)|
Most species have a compact build with a large, rounded head, a short, straight bill, and rounded wingtips. They occupy a wide range of wooded habitats, from subalpine to tropical rainforest, and mangrove swamps to semi-arid scrubland. All are primarily insectivorous, although a few supplement their diet with seeds. Hunting is mostly by perch and pounce, a favoured tactic being to cling sideways onto a treetrunk and scan the ground below without moving.
Social organisation is usually centered on long-term pair-bonds and small family groups. Most members of the subfamily Eopsaltrinae practice cooperative breeding, with all family members helping defend a territory and feed nestlings.
Nests are cup-shaped, usually constructed by the female, and often placed in a vertical fork of a tree or shrub. Many species are expert at adding moss, bark or lichen to the outside of the nest as camouflage, making it very difficult to spot, even when it is in a seemingly prominent location.
Although named after true robins, the Australian robins, along with many other insect-eating birds, were originally classified as flycatchers in a huge family Muscicapidae. They were also classified for a time in the whistler family Pachycephalidae, before being placed in their own family Petroicidae, or Eopsaltridae.
The family Petroicidae is a member of the infraorder Passerides which also includes the parvorders Sylviida, Muscicapida and Passerida. It is most closely related to the families Eupetidae (Rail-babbler), Chaetopidae (Rockjumper) and Picathartidae (Rockfowl).
A comprehensive review, including an analysis of the osteological characters, by Schodde and Mason in 1999 illustrated three groupings, classified as subfamilies below: Testing of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA revealed some changes, and proposed sinking of Tregellasia into Eopsaltria as the white-breasted robin's closest relatives appear to be the two taxa of Tregellasia.
|Relationship beween the genera|
The banded yellow robin or olive-yellow robin (Gennaeodryas placens) is a species of bird in the Australasian robin family Petroicidae that is found in New Guinea. It is the only species in the genus Gennaeodryas. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest and subtropical or tropical moist montane forest.
It is threatened by habitat loss. It has a high mortality rate due to its inability to traverse across a matrix.Eastern yellow robin
The eastern yellow robin (Eopsaltria australis) is an Australasian robin of coastal and sub-coastal eastern Australia. The extent of the eastern yellow robin's residence is from the extreme southeast corner of South Australia through most of Victoria and the western half of New South Wales and north as far as Cooktown. Tropical Northern Queensland birds are mainly restricted to the warm heights of the Great Dividing Range.Eopsaltria
Eopsaltria is a genus of small forest passerines known in Australia as the yellow robins. They belong to the Australasian robin family Petroicidae. The name is derived from the Ancient Greek for "dawn singer/song" because of their dawn chorus. They are inquisitive and bold birds, and have been reported perching on the shoulders or boots of people in the bush. Open eucalyptus woodlands are their preferred habitat. The ornithologist John Gould likened the behaviour and mannerisms of the eastern and western yellow robin to those of the European robin. The name "yellow robin" itself was applied to the eastern yellow robin by the early settlers of New South Wales.Heteromyias
Heteromyias is a genus of passerine birds in the Australasian robin family Petroicidae.
The genus was introduced by the English zoologist Richard Bowdler Sharpe in 1879 with the grey-headed robin (Heteromyias cinereifrons) as the type species. The name of the genus combines the Ancient Greek heteros "different" and the Modern Latin myias "flycatcher".The genus contains two species:
Grey-headed robin (Heteromyias cinereifrons)
Ashy robin (Heteromyias albispecularis)Melanodryas
Melanodryas is a genus of passerine birds in the Australasian robin family Petroicidae.
The genus was introduced by the English ornithologist and bird artist John Gould in 1865 with the hooded robin (Melanodryas cucullata) as the type species. The genus name combines the Ancient Greek melanos "black" with dryad "tree-nymph".The genus contains two species:
Hooded robin (Melanodryas cucullata)
Dusky robin (Melanodryas vittata)Microeca
Microeca is a genus of passerine birds in the Australasian robin family Petroicidae. The species in this genus are commonly known as flyrobins (along with the closely related torrent flyrobin).Norfolk robin
The Norfolk robin (Petroica multicolor), also known as the Norfolk Island scarlet robin or Norfolk Island robin, is a small bird in the Australasian robin family, Petroicidae. It is endemic to Norfolk Island, an Australian territory in the Tasman Sea, between Australia and New Zealand.North Island robin
The North Island robin (Petroica longipes) is a species of Australasian robin endemic to the North Island of New Zealand. It and the South Island robin (P. australis) of the South Island and Stewart Island were once considered conspecific (and called the "New Zealand robin"), but mitochondrial DNA sequences have shown that the two lineages split prior to the Pleistocene and support the classification as two different species.Olive flyrobin
The olive flyrobin (Kempiella flavovirescens) is a species of bird in the Australasian robin family Petroicidae that is found in New Guinea. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.
The olive flyrobin was formerly placed in the genus Microeca. It was moved to the resurrected genus Kempiella, that had originally been introduced by the Australian ornithologist Gregory Mathews, based on the results of a molecular phylogenetic study published in 2011.Pachycephalopsis
Pachycephalopsis is a genus of birds in the Australasian robin family Petroicidae that are found in New Guinea.Peneothello
Peneothello is a genus of passerine birds in the Australasian robin family Petroicidae.
The genus Peneothello was introduced by the Australian born ornithologist Gregory Mathews in 1920 with white-winged robin (Peneothello sigillata) as the type species. The name combines the Latin pene "almost" and othello. Othello is the "Moorish" (ie black) Shakespeare character.The genus contains the following five species:
White-winged robin - Peneothello sigillata
Smoky robin - Peneothello cryptoleuca
Slaty robin - Peneothello cyanus
White-rumped robin - Peneothello bimaculata
Mangrove robin - Peneothello pulverulentaPoecilodryas
Poecilodryas is a genus of passerine birds in the Australasian robin family Petroicidae.
The genus was erected by the English ornithologist and bird artist John Gould in 1865. The type species was subsequently designated as the buff-sided robin (Poecilodryas cerviniventris). The genus name combines the Ancient Greek poikilos "variegated" with dryad "tree-nymph".The genus contains four species:
Black-chinned robin (Poecilodryas brachyura)
Black-sided robin (Poecilodryas hypoleuca)
White-browed robin (Poecilodryas superciliosa)
Buff-sided robin (Poecilodryas cerviniventris)Formerly, some authorities also placed the following species (or subspecies) in the genus Poecilodryas:
Brown-backed whistler (now Pachycephala modesta in the family Pachycephalidae)
Golden monarch (nitidus) (now Carterornis nitida in the family Monarchidae)
Black-throated robin (now Plesiodryas albonotata)
Banded yellow robin (now Gennaeodryas placens)Scarlet robin
The scarlet robin (Petroica boodang) is a common red-breasted Australasian robin in the passerine bird genus Petroica. The species is found on continental Australia and its offshore islands, including Tasmania. The species was originally split in 1999 by Schodde and Mason, and as the original collection by Gmelin was from Norfolk Island, this retained the name of multicolor and is now known as the Norfolk robin.Torrent flyrobin
The torrent flyrobin (Monachella muelleriana) is a species of passerine bird in the Australasian robin family Petroicidae. It is also known as the torrent robin.
It is placed in the monotypic genus Monachella. The species occurs in New Guinea and on the island of New Britain in the Bismarck Archipelago. There are two subspecies, the nominate occurring in New Guinea and M. m. coultasi in New Britain.As suggested by its name the torrent flyrobin's preferred habitat is fast moving streams and rivers with protruding boulders.White-breasted robin
The white-breasted robin (Quoyornis georgianus) is a passerine bird in the Australasian robin family Petroicidae and is the only species placed in the genus Quoyornis. It is endemic to southwestern Australia. Unlike many other Australian robins, it lacks bright colours in its plumage, being a predominantly greyish bird with white underparts. Like other closely related Australasian robins, it is a cooperative breeder. It is sedentary, with pairs or small groups maintaining territories.White-browed robin
The white-browed robin (Poecilodryas superciliosa) is a species of bird in the family Petroicidae. It is endemic to north-eastern Australia. Its natural habitats are forest, woodland and scrub, often near water. It formerly included the buff-sided robin as a subspecies.
The white-browed robin was described by the naturalist John Gould in 1847; the genus name is derived from the Ancient Greek words poekilos "little" and dryas "dryad". The species name is derived from the Latin word supercilium "eyebrow". It is a member of the Australasian robin family Petroicidae, or Eopsaltridae. Sibley and Ahlquist's DNA-DNA hybridisation studies placed this group in a Corvida parvorder comprising many tropical and Australian passerines including pardalotes, fairy-wrens, honeyeaters and crows. However, subsequent molecular research (and current consensus) places the robins as a very early offshoot of the Passerida, or "advanced" songbirds, within the songbird lineage.The white-browed robin has, as its name suggests, a prominent white marking resembling an eyebrow above its eyes. It has olive-brown upperparts, with a white patch on the wings. The underparts are pale, the breast pale grey and belly white. The bill is black and eyes are dark brown.It is endemic to Australia, where it is found from the Cape York Peninsula south to the Burdekin River in Queensland.Breeding occurs from August or September to February or March, with one or two broods per season. The nest is a neat cup made of bark and grass. Spider webs, feathers and fur are used for binding or filling, the outside is decorated by lichen or bits of bark .
The nest is generally placed in a tree fork or hanging vine up a few metres above the ground. A clutch of two eggs is laid. The eggs are cream to buff, and marked with brown splotches and spots, usually concentrated around the large end, and measure 20 by 15 mm.White-rumped robin
The white-rumped robin (Peneothello bimaculata) is a species of bird in the family Petroicidae. It is found in New Guinea. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.
Described by Italian naturalist Tommaso Salvadori in 1874, the white-rumped robin is a member of the Australasian robin family Petroicidae, or Eopsaltridae. Sibley and Ahlquist's DNA-DNA hybridisation studies placed this group in a Corvida parvorder comprising many tropical and Australian passerines including pardalotes, fairy-wrens and honeyeaters as well as crows. However, subsequent molecular research (and current consensus) places the robins as a very early offshoot of the Passerida (or "advanced" songbirds) within the songbird lineage.Within the species, two subspecies are recognised: the nominate, which is found on the southern side of the main mountain range along New Guinea, and the subspecies vicarius of the Huon Peninsula and Adelbert Range.Yellow-bellied flyrobin
The yellow-bellied flyrobin (Cryptomicroeca flaviventris) is a species of passerine bird in the Australasian robin family Petroicidae. It is the only species in the genus Cryptomicroeca. The yellow-bellied flyrobin is endemic to New Caledonia, where it occurs on the island of Grande Terre. It occupies a range of habitats, including dry lowlands woodland, Pinus and Pandanus forest and humid forest from sea level up to 1,525 m (5,003 ft).Yellow-legged flyrobin
The yellow-legged flyrobin or yellow-legged flycatcher (Kempiella griseoceps) is a species of passerine bird in the Australasian robin family Petroicidae. It is found in New Guinea and Cape York Peninsula. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest and subtropical or tropical moist montane forest.
The yellow-legged flyrobin was formerly placed in the genus Microeca. It was moved to the resurrected genus Kempiella, that had originally been introduced by the Australian ornithologist Gregory Mathews, based on the results of a molecular phylogenetic study published in 2011.