Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Duncan McCaskill from Canberra is a new contributor, so give him a hearty welcome for his photos of his country’s robins. Duncan’s notes are indented:

I’ve been a regular reader of your website for years, but have never sent in photos before. Here a few from photos of mine of some Australian robins.

Australian robins (family Petroicidae) are charming perch-and-pounce insect eaters, some of which have red breasts. They owe the name “robin” to their resemblance to the Robin Redbreast of England. Unlike their English namesake, the red breasted Australian robins are bright red. The common name “robin” is used for many, but not all, of the non-red members of the family, including in New Zealand, where there are no red breasted robins.

These photos were mostly taken in the last few months in and around Canberra.

Scarlet Robin (Petroica boodang):

Scarlet Robin (m)

Another scarlet robin:

A Flame Robin (Petroica phoenicea). They are slightly bigger than Scarlet Robins and have a more orangey-red colour.

Flame Robin

A Red-capped Robin (Petroica goodenovii). They are the smallest of the red robins.

Red-capped Robin

Only the male red robins are brightly coloured. The females are duller, such as this female Red-capped Robin. It has a pale wash of red on the forehead. Young birds have no colour.

Red capped robin (female)

Several species of robin have yellow breasts. The Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria australis) is the only yellow robin that occurs in the Canberra region. It is a bit bigger than any of the red robins. Male and female are identical in appearance.

Eastern Yellow Robin

From further afield, here is a Lemon-bellied flycatcher (Microeca flavigaster) I saw on a recent trip to Darwin in Australia’s top end.

Lemon-bellied Flycatcher

And lastly, from a couple of years ago, a Pale-yellow Robin (Tregellasia capito) in a patch of rainforest on Tamborine Mountain south of Brisbane.

Pale-yellow Robin


  1. Terry Sheldon
    Posted October 26, 2017 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Welcome and thank you! Lovely photos.

  2. Liz
    Posted October 26, 2017 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Wonderful pictures. The bottom three look like the Connecticut or Nashville warbler seen on a previous post. Really neat.

  3. Posted October 26, 2017 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Magnificent and thank you. You got me going about “robin.” Etymology: robin is from Robert, but why name a bird robin at all? American colonists named Turdus migratorius after the British Erithacus rubecula. I assume Australian colonists did the same with their red-breasted birds. Robins of the world, I read, are usually thrushes/thrush-like. Your yellow robins are warbler-like to my eyes. But some Australian robins are chat-thrushes, which I had never heard of before. So this has been a pleasant morning reading about these taxa. Thank you again. I look forward to more.

    • tjeales
      Posted October 26, 2017 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      It got very confusing for me as I got more into birding growing up in Australia. Our wrens aren’t wrens, our robins aren’t robins, our magpies aren’t magpies, our cuckoo-shrikes and shrike-thrushes aren’t cuckoos, shrikes or thrushes and our magpie-larks are not magpies or larks, even our babblers aren’t babblers. The early British colonists have a lot to answer for.

  4. alexandra Moffat
    Posted October 26, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Lovely photographs – thank you

  5. Taskin
    Posted October 26, 2017 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    What cute birds! I must come back to Australia one day 🙂

  6. Posted October 26, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Very nice photos of robins. Pleasant to look at and be reminded of the environment in which they thrive.

  7. Paul Doerder
    Posted October 26, 2017 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Wonderful photos, look forward to more! Brings back great memories of our Australian trip, now nearly 20 years ago.

  8. Posted October 26, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Robins downunder.. . very nice, thanks.

  9. Jenny Haniver
    Posted October 26, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I’ve never known of these robins before, just the good old Robin Red-Breast.

  10. Posted October 26, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Very nice! I wish I had the lens for taking pictures like these. I did not know there were so many ‘robins’.

  11. Karen E Bartelt
    Posted October 26, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful. So many lovely robins!

  12. Heather Hastie
    Posted October 26, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Lovely pics! Some (not all) of our robins in NZ are much browner and I assumed they were introduced by early settlers. It’s interesting to discover they’re all natives.

    • Duncan McCaskill
      Posted October 26, 2017 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      I assume that the New Zealand Robin was so named because of its similarity to its Australian relatives. The New Zealand robins are all in the genus Petroica, like all the red Australian robins. The NZ robin that looks most like an Australian robin is Petroica macrocephala, the Tomtit.

  13. Mark R.
    Posted October 26, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I think there is only one species of robin living around my home in Washington state- red-breasted. You’re lucky to have so many beautiful robins to experience.

    All the photos are very well-done. Kudos!

  14. tjeales
    Posted October 26, 2017 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Some of my very favourite Australian birds and lovely photos. Thank you for sharing. I don’t know what it is but I particularly like the Pale Yellow Robins. Some days I’ve been in the rainforest not having a good day of photographing and I’ll sit down and one will perch right beside me. I think they’re charming in their pale plainness

  15. Posted October 26, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the marvellous photos, Duncan.

  16. Posted October 26, 2017 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Cute! My first thought is that the flame robin looks like a Pokémon.

  17. Mark Joseph
    Posted October 26, 2017 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Really cool pictures. Thank you!

  18. Diane G.
    Posted October 27, 2017 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    Oh, how delightful! I am so envious of your Australian avifauna!

    These robins remind me far more of their British namesake than our comparatively giant American Robin–actually a thrush, as most here already know, and about twice as big as any of the Commonwealth spp. (Well, non-Canadian ones, of course.)

    Interesting that that sweet little flycatcher is in the same family. Your photo shows a body shape and posture, even rictal bristles, that so resemble the completely unrelated New World flycatchers.

    Just learned that the Old World Flycatchers and the European Robin also share a family. So much convergent evolution world-wide! 😀

    Beautiful photos!

  19. cruzrad
    Posted October 29, 2017 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Very nice pics. Thanks Duncan!

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