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Red Wattlebirds or Red-wattle Birds?

June 6, 2015

DSCN1308Every year in January, a Silky Oak tree (Grevillea robusta) is the scene of the epic wattlebird wars where Red Wattlebirds (Anthochaera carunculata) take on each other and all-comers to protect their nectar supplies. These fearsome battles have been previously documented. Well, it has started again. The field of battle this time is a grove of Pincushion Hakeas up on the hill. For about a week now the raucous ‘yakyak’ calls have signalled the restarting of hostilities.



Pincushion Hakeas (Hakea laurina) are endemic to south-western Australia and were planted by the previous owners. Because of where the flowers grow on the plant, the wattlebirds often have to perform amazing acrobatics to feed on them.

To date it appears the wattlebirds are just fighting one another – sort of like a civil war. But I know from past years it is just a matter of time before other species, particularly the New Holland Honeyeaters, get in on the act.

Red Wattlebirds are one of Australia’s largest honeyeaters. The common name is problematic in that it neither refers to their colour nor the trees in which they perch, but describes the red

A rare sight - a wattlebird at rest

A rare sight – a wattlebird at rest

fleshy bits called ‘wattles’ that hang from their cheeks. (The scientific name, Anthochaera carunculata, is derived from the Greek, anthos meaning flower, khairo meaning to enjoy and carnis meaning meat, referring to the wattles themselves).

Thinking about it, a less confusing name for this bird might be Red-wattle Bird.

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