Physical characteristics: The southern scrub robin is 8 to 9 inches (21 to 23 centimeters) long and weighs 1.25 to 1.35 ounces (36 to 38 grams). They have white to buff bellies with dark brown wings and white tipped tails. The wings have light grayish brown undersides.
Geographic range: This species lives in extreme southwestern Australia, along the south central coast into Victoria, and the southwestern part of New South Wales.
Habitat: As their name suggests, southern scrub robins live in the semi-arid scrub forests along the southern regions of Australia. Some populations live in the tea tree thickets along the southern coast. They also can be found in eucalyptus groves and acacia (uh-KAY-shah), short thorny shrubs and trees, scrub.
The southern scrub robin female builds a cup-shaped nest on or near the ground. Females lay one egg and incubate it. Both parents feed the young birds for nine to twelve days. (Illustration by Emily Damstra. Reproduced by permission.)
Diet: Southern scrub robins eat primarily insects, especially beetles, termites, and ants. Occasionally, they will eat fruit from low bushes.
Behavior and reproduction: Southern scrub robins find insects on the ground, foraging through leaf litter.
These birds are territorial and very shy. Their call is either a soft "pee, pee" or a more musical "chip, chip, par-ee."
The southern scrub robin mates in Australia's spring and summer from July to December. The female builds a cup-shaped nest on or near the ground. Females lay one pale green egg, blotched with black and brown and incubate it for sixteen days. Both parents feed the young birds for nine to twelve days. If threatened, the male will whistle and draw predators away from the nest and the eggs or young.
Southern scrub robins and people: There is no known significance between southern scrub robins and people.
Conservation status: This species is quite common and is not threatened. Their numbers, however, have declined because of extensive land clearing for agricultural use. ■
FOR MORE INFORMATION Books:
Higgins, P. J., and J. M. Peter, eds. Handbook of Australian New Zealand and Antarctic Birds: Pardalotes to Shrike-thrushes. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Perrins, Christopher. Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Richmond Hill, Canada: Firefly Books, 2003.
Robbins, Michael. Birds: Fandex Family Field Guides. New York: Workman Publishing Company, 1998.
Schodde, R. Directory of Australian Birds: Passerines. Collingwood, Australia: CSIRO Publishing, 1999.
Simpson, K., and N. Day. A Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Ringwood, Australia: Penguin Books Australia Ltd., 1996.
Stattersfield, A. J., David R. Capper, and Guy C. L. Dutson. Threatened Birds of the World. Barcelona and Cambridge, U.K.: Lynx Edicions and Birdlife International, 2000.
Weidensaul, Scott. Birds: National Audubon Society First Field Guides. New York: Scholastic Trade, 1998.
Number of species: 52 to 59
phylum class subclass order monotypic order suborder family
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