Pardalotes or peep-wrens are a family, Pardalotidae, of very small, brightly coloured birds native to Australia, with short tails, strong legs, and stubby blunt beaks. This family is composed of four species in one genus, Pardalotus, and several subspecies. The name derives from a Greek word meaning "spotted". The family once contained several other species now split into the family Acanthizidae.

Pardalotes spend most of their time high in the outer foliage of trees, feeding on insects, spiders, and above all lerps (a type of sap-sucking insect).[1] Their role in controlling lerp infestations in the eucalyptus forests of Australia may be significant. They generally live in pairs or small family groups but sometimes come together into flocks after breeding.

Pardalotes are seasonal breeders in temperate areas of Australia but may breed year round in warmer areas. They are monogamous breeders, and both partners share nest construction, incubation and chick-rearing duties. All four species nest in deep horizontal tunnels drilled into banks of earth. Externally about the size of a mouse-hole, they can be very deep, at a metre or more. Some species also nest in tree hollows.

Pardalotus with nesting material
Pardalotus striatus ornatus with nesting material
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Superfamily: Meliphagoidea
Family: Pardalotidae
Strickland, 1842
Genus: Pardalotus
Vieillot, 1816

Taxonomy and systematics

The pardalotes consist of several species contained in a single genus, Pardalotus, with the general consensus being to recognise four species. The placement of the genus has varied, being first placed with the mostly oriental flowerpeckers (Dicaeidae), as both groups are dumpy-looking birds with bright plumage. In addition both groups have a reduced tenth primary (one of the flight feathers). Genetic analysis has shown that the two groups are in fact not closely related, and that the pardalotes are instead more closely related another Australian family, the Acanthizidae, which includes the scrubwrens, gerygones and thornbills. The two are sometimes merged into one family; when this is done the combined family is known as Pardalotidae, but the two groups have also been treated as two separate families.[1]

Within the family two species, the forty-spotted pardalote and the red-browed pardalote, are fairly invariant species, but the remaining two species are highly variable. The striated pardalote contains six subspecies,[2] which are sometimes elevated to four separate species. The spotted pardalote has three subspecies,[3] one of which—the yellow-rumped pardalote—is sometimes treated as a separate species due to its distinctive plumage and call and lack of zone of hybridization in southwestern Australia. Within the family the relationships between the subspecies are unclear, although it is thought that the forty-spotted pardalote is closely related to the spotted pardalote.[1]

  • Yellow-rumped pardalote, Pardalotus punctatus xanthopyge
  • Pardalotus punctatus militaris
  • Yellow-tipped pardalote, Pardalotus striatus striatus
  • Red-tipped pardalote, Pardalotus striatus ornatus
  • Black-headed pardalote, Pardalotus striatus melanocephalus, Pardalotus striatus uropygialis and Pardalotus striatus melvillensis


The pardalotes are small, compact birds that range in size from 8.5–12 cm (3.3–4.7 in) in length. The spotted and striated pardalotes conform to Bergmann's rule and are larger in the south than they are in the north. The males and females are the same size as each other, but there are some differences in the plumage of some species. They have short, square-tipped tails and relatively short rounded wings (which are longer in the more dispersive species). The bill is short, deep and robust, but lacks the rictal bristles that surround the bills of many other insectivorous birds.

Habitat and distribution

Forty-spotted Pardalote
The forty-spotted pardalote is endemic to Tasmania

The pardalotes are endemic to Australia.[1] The forty-spotted has the most restricted distribution of the four species, being endemic to Tasmania; in contrast the most widespread species, the striated pardalote, is found throughout Australia, only absent from some of the driest areas of the inland central and western deserts. The red-browed pardalote is widespread in the north and west of Australia, whereas the spotted pardalote is found closer to the coast in southern and eastern Australia.

The family are eucalyptus forest specialists. While they may occur in forests and woodlands dominated by other tree types, these are marginal habitats for the family and are seldom used. Pardalotes occupy a wide range of eucalypt habitats, from tall forests with a canopy over 30 metres (100 ft) high to low mallee woodlands with a canopy of just 3 metres (10 ft).[1]

Behaviour and ecology

Pardalotes are almost exclusively insectivores. They will occasionally consume some plant materials including seeds, and there has been an observation of one striated pardalote beating and then eating a lizard.[4] They feed singly or in pairs during the breeding season, but have been recorded as joining mixed-species feeding flocks in the winter months.[5] The majority of foraging occurs on Eucalyptus, with other trees being used much less frequently; among the eucalyptus, trees from the subgenus Symphyomyrtus are preferred. Pardalotes forage by gleaning insects from the foliage, as opposed to catching insects while flying. Pardalotes may consume a number of different types of insects, but lerps – a honeydew casing exuded by insects of the family Psyllidae – form the major component of their diet and the one to which they are most adapted. These lerps are also highly sought after by the larger honeyeaters, which aggressively defend the resource. A study of pardalotes in Australia estimated that 5% of a pardalote's day is spent evading honeyeater attacks.[6]

Patterns of dispersal include regular winter movements northwards and to lower altitudes. Striated Pardalotes migrate from Tasmania across Bass Strait to winter on the Australian mainland. Spotted and Striated Pardalotes move from higher altitude forests to lower rainfall inland plains in SE Australia[7]. Spotted and Striated Pardalotes also move intermittently following increases in psyllids food sources. Some Pardalote populations are sedentary. Forty-spotted Pardalotes are probably sedentary with local seasonal movements restricted to eastern Tasmania and its adjacent islands. Movements of Red-browed Pardalotes are unknown.

The Striated, Spotted and Red-browed Pardalotes are widespread and common but their populations are decreasing due to habitat loss. Land clearing and commercial forestry in native eucalypt forests results in the loss of foraging habitat, nesting hollows and forest linkages essential for dispersal. The Forty-spotted Pardalote is listed as Endangered by the IUCN and under Australian legislation. The distribution of the Forty-spotted Pardalote is restricted to a narrow habitat range and the population is small and fragmented[8]. Threats include habitat loss, competition with colonial honeyeaters, especially the Noisy Miner, and parasitism. The Tasmanian ectoparasite, Passeromyia longicornis demonstrates a higher parasite load and virulence with high nestling mortality in Forty-spotted Pardalote nests compared to Striated Pardalotes. Over the 2 year study by Edworthy et al, Forty-spotted Pardalotes fledged fewer nestlings (18%) than sympatric Striated Pardalotes (26%)[9]. Climate change effects are uncertain but anticipated. Reductions in the distribution of the Striated Pardalote in the Western Australian wheatbelt are predicted due to climate change[10].


  1. ^ a b c d e Woinarski, John (2008). "Family Pardalotidae (Pardalotes)". In Josep, del Hoyo; Andrew, Elliott; David, Christie (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 13, Penduline-tits to Shrikes. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. pp. 390–401. ISBN 978-84-96553-45-3.
  2. ^ Australian Biological Resources Study (13 October 2014). "Names List for Pardalotus (Pardalotinus) striatus (Gmelin, 1789)". Australian Faunal Directory. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Australian Government. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  3. ^ Australian Biological Resources Study (13 October 2014). "Names List for Pardalotus (Pardalotus) punctatus (Shaw, 1792)". Australian Faunal Directory. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Australian Government. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  4. ^ Bell, H.L. (1975). "Eastern Striated Pardalote Eating Lizard". Emu. 75 (4): 234. doi:10.1071/MU9750234a (inactive 2019-02-21).
  5. ^ Bell, H.L. (1980). "Composition and Seasonality of Mixed-Species Feeding Flocks of Insectivorous Birds in the Australian Capital Territory". Emu. 80 (4): 227–232. doi:10.1071/MU9800227.
  6. ^ Woinarski, J.C.Z (1984). "Small birds, Lerp-feeding and the problem of Honeyeaters". Emu. 84 (3): 137–141. doi:10.1071/MU9840137.
  7. ^ Woinarski, J; Bonan, A (2018). "Pardalotes (Pardalotidae)". In del Hoyo, J.; et al. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions.
  8. ^ Bryant, S. (2018). "Tasmania's forty-spotted pardalote: a woodland survivor.". In Garnett, S.; et al. (eds.). Recovering Australian Threatened Species: A Book of Hope. CSIRO Publishing.
  9. ^ Edworthy, A. B.; Langmore, N. E.; Heinsohn, R. (2018-08-22). "Native fly parasites are the principal cause of nestling mortality in endangered Tasmanian pardalotes". Animal Conservation. 22: 96–103. doi:10.1111/acv.12444. ISSN 1367-9430.
  10. ^ Chambers, Lynda E.; Hughes, Lesley; Weston, Michael A. (2005). "Climate change and its impact on Australia's avifauna". Emu - Austral Ornithology. 105 (1): 1–20. doi:10.1071/mu04033. ISSN 0158-4197.

External links

Flinders Island

Flinders Island, the largest island in the Furneaux Group, is a 1,367-square-kilometre (528 sq mi) island located in the Bass Strait, northeast of the island of Tasmania. Flinders Island is part of the state of Tasmania, Australia, and is situated 54 kilometres (34 mi) from Cape Portland and it is located on 40° south, a zone known as the Roaring Forties.

Forty-spotted pardalote

The forty-spotted pardalote (Pardalotus quadragintus) is one of Australia's rarest birds and by far the rarest pardalote, being confined to the south-east corner of Tasmania.

Hambidge Wilderness Protection Area

Hambidge Wilderness Protection Area is a protected area in the Australian state of South Australia located in the gazetted locality of Hambidge about 140 kilometres (87 miles) north of Port Lincoln and 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) north east of Lock.The wilderness protection area was proclaimed under the Wilderness Protection Act 1992 on 30 September 2004 on land previously proclaimed under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 as the Hambidge Conservation Park. It is classified as an IUCN Category Ib protected area.It was, with Hincks Wilderness Protection Area, among the first reserves on mainland South Australia, being declared Flora and Fauna Reserves in 1941. Pressure from primary producers resulted in the selling of substantial areas: 5,260 hectares (13,000 acres) from Hambidge in 1954–1955 and 9,168 hectares (22,650 acres) from Hincks in 1960. Pressure for further excisions was resisted by Government.

The following qualities have been identified by the government agency managing the wilderness protection area:This area comprises an extensive system of parallel dunes with ridges (6 to 12 metres in height) running north west to south east. Clay pans are scattered throughout the inter-dunal area. Vegetation comprises a low mallee scrub association dominated by Eucalyptus dumosa, E socialis, E oleosa, E incrassata, E calycogona, Melaleuca uncinata, M lanceolata with an understory comprising Santalum acuminatum, Triodia, Hibbertia, Baeckia, Boronia and Dodonaea species. The area is home to a wide variety of mallee birds, including the endangered malleefowl, and vulnerable species such as blue-breasted wren, blue-winged parrot, chestnut quail-thrush, yellow-plumed honeyeater and yellow-tailed pardalote. Visitors occasionally enter the reserve to visit Prominent Hill.

Its name is derived from the Hambidge Conservation Park, then the Hambidge National Park and ultimately from the cadastal unit of the Hundred of Hambidge which was named after Clive M. Hambidge who was the Surveyor General of South Australia from 1937 to 1950.

John West (Australian poet)

John West was an Australian poet and the author of numerous books of poetry published in Australia between 1994 and his death in 2009. He died just before his Selected Poems was finalised for publication. Several hundred of his individual poems were published in his lifetime, mostly in Australia but also in the UK. He was raised in the Mallee town of Merbein, Victoria, and worked as an aged care nurse in Melbourne. His work is known for its conversational approach and compassionate social realism.

His books include Stuttering Towards Love (Walleah Press 2000); All I Ever Wanted was a Window (Pardalote Press 2002); Couchworld (Picaro Press 2006); and Walking Amongst Women (Picaro Press 2006.

List of birds of Australia

This is a list of the wild birds found in Australia including its outlying islands and territories, but excluding the Australian Antarctic Territory. The outlying islands covered include: Christmas, Cocos (Keeling), Ashmore, Torres Strait, Coral Sea, Lord Howe, Norfolk, Macquarie and Heard/McDonald. The list includes introduced species, common vagrants and recently extinct species. It excludes extirpated introductions, some very rare vagrants (seen once) and species only present in captivity. Nine hundred and fifty extant and extinct species are listed.

There have been three comprehensive accounts: the first was John Goulds Birds of Australia, the second Gregory Mathews, and third was the Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (1990-2006).

The taxonomy followed is from Christidis and Boles, 2008. Their system has been developed over nearly two decades and has strong local support, but deviates in important ways from more generally accepted schemes.

List of birds of King Island (Tasmania)

This is a complete list of bird species and subspecies that have been recorded on King Island, Tasmania, Australia.

List of birds of South Australia

This is a list of birds of South Australia, a state within Australia.

List of birds of Tasmania

A total of 262 species of bird have been recorded living in the wild on the island of Tasmania, nearby islands and islands in Bass Strait, 182 of which are regularly recorded, while another 79 are vagrants and one is extinct. Birds of Macquarie Island are not included in this list. Twelve species are unique (endemic) to the island of Tasmania, and most of these are common and widespread. However, the forty-spotted pardalote is rare and restricted, while the island's two breeding endemic species, the world's only migratory parrots, are both threatened. Several species of penguin are late summer visitors to Tasmanian shores. Tasmania's endemic birds have led to it being classified as an Endemic Bird Area (EBA), one of 218 such areas worldwide. Priority regions for habitat-based conservation of birds around the world, they are defined by containing two or more restricted-range (endemic) species.Although Tasmania has been isolated from the Australian mainland for about 10,000 years, islands in the Bass Strait between the two landmasses have allowed many species to traverse. With around 5,400 km (3,400 mi) of coastline and 350 offshore islands, Tasmania provides a diverse haven for birds despite its relatively small size. Birds are abundant in Tasmanian wetlands and waterways, and ten of these habitats are internationally important and protected under the Ramsar Convention. Many migratory birds make use of the bays, mudflats and beaches for feeding, including the threatened hooded plover and little tern, both of which breed along the coast. The near-coastal button grass grasslands of the southwest, harbour the breeding grounds of the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot. Many of the rarer species dwell in Tasmania's eucalyptus (sclerophyll) forests or rainforests, which cover much of the island.The common and scientific names and taxonomic arrangement follow the conventions laid out in the 2008 publication Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. Unless otherwise noted, all species listed below are considered to occur, or have occurred since European settlement in the case of extinct species, regularly in Tasmania as permanent residents, summer or winter visitors, or migrants. The following codes denote certain categories of species:

(I) – Introduced: Birds that have been introduced to Tasmania by humans

(Ex) – Extinct

(V) – Uncommon vagrants to Tasmania

(E) – Endemic to Tasmania

List of endemic birds of Australia

This article is one of a series providing information about endemism among birds in the world's various zoogeographic zones. For an overview of this subject see Endemism in birds.


Meliphagoidea is a superfamily of passerine birds. They contain a vast diversity of small to mid-sized songbirds widespread in the Austropacific region. The Australian Continent has the largest richness in genera and species.

Red-browed pardalote

The red-browed pardalote (Pardalotus rubricatus) is a small brightly coloured insectivorous passerine, endemic to Australia (Schodde & Mason 1999). A gleaning specialist, they forage primarily in eucalypt trees (Woinarski 1984).

The Latin word rubricatus means red-ochred which is descriptive of their orange-red eyebrow (Higgins & Peter 2002). Other common names include red-browed diamondbird, bellbird, cape red-browed, pale red-browed, fawn-eyed, fawn-eyebrowed and pallid or red-lored pardalote (Higgins & Peter 2002).


Sagħtar was a Maltese magazine published by MUT Publications Ltd. It is published monthly during the school year, and is intended mainly for use within Maltese primary and secondary schools. Its content ranged from information regarding current local and international topics, to Maltese literature. In Maltese sagħtar refers to wild thyme, and also to the striated pardalote.

Sibley-Monroe checklist 12

The Sibley-Monroe checklist was a landmark document in the study of birds. It drew on extensive DNA-DNA hybridisation studies to reassess the relationships between modern birds.

South-east Tasmania Important Bird Area

The South-east Tasmania Important Bird Area encompasses much of the land retaining forest and woodland habitats, suitable for breeding swift parrots and forty-spotted pardalotes, from Orford to Recherche Bay in south-eastern Tasmania, Australia.

South Bruny National Park

The South Bruny National Park is a national park located on Bruny Island, Tasmania, Australia, about 50 kilometres (31 mi) south of Hobart. The park contains the Cape Bruny Lighthouse. The highest point of the park is Mount Bruny at 504 metres (1,654 ft).

Spotted pardalote

The spotted pardalote (Pardalotus punctatus) is one of the smallest of all Australian birds at 8 to 10 centimetres (3.1 to 3.9 in) in length, and one of the most colourful; it is sometimes known as the diamondbird. Although moderately common in all of the reasonably fertile parts of Australia (the east coast, the south-east, and the south-west corner) it is seldom seen closely enough to enable identification.Three subspecies are recognised. The wet tropics spotted pardalote (subspecies militaris) is found in northeastern Queensland, while the distinctive subspecies, the yellow-rumped pardalote (subspecies xanthopyge), is found in drier inland regions of southern Australia, particularly in semi-arid Mallee woodlands.

Striated pardalote

The striated pardalote (Pardalotus striatus) is the least colourful and most common of the four pardalote species. Other common names include pickwick, wittachew and chip-chip. It is a very small, short-tailed bird that is more often heard than seen, foraging noisily for lerps and other small creatures in the treetops.

Wellington Range

The Wellington Range is a mountain range located in the southeast region of Tasmania, Australia. The range is mainly composed of dolerite and features evidence of past glaciation.

Prominent features in the range include the dual-named Kunanyi / Mount Wellington at 1,269 metres (4,163 ft) above sea level, Collins Cap, Collins Bonnet via Myrtle Forest, Trestle Mountain, Mount Marian, Mount Charles and Mount Patrick via Middle Hill. The Wellington Range is part of the Wellington Park Reserve.


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