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Eastern Whipbird

An adult Eastern Whipbird foraging for food amongst leaf litter on the rainforest floor

Adult

A young Eastern Whipbird perched on a log of a woodland floor

Young (immature) bird

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Scientific Name: Psophodes olivaceus

Size: 26 to 30 cm, with males larger than females.

What does it look like?

Adult Eastern Whipbirds are mostly dark olive-green above, with a long tail, and a grey-white belly. The head and breast are black, with a broad white patch on the side of the face and a black crest. The eye is pale brown and the bill is black.

Young Whipbirds are generally duller, with a smaller crest. The white cheek patch is absent in very young birds, and increases in size as the birds mature.

Eastern Whipbirds are hard to confuse with any other Australian bird. The Western Whipbird, P. nigrogularis, of southern and south-western Australia, has an olive-brown crest and a smaller white face patch. It is also smaller, measuring 22 to 24 cm.

Where is it found?

 

The range of the Eastern Whipbird is from Northern Queensland south to Victoria in a coastal band. In the north the range its distribution has become patchy due to clearance of suitable habitat. The birds stay in the same area all year round.

 

What are its habitats & habits?

Eastern Whipbirds are more often heard than seen. The loud ‘whip crack’ call of the male is one of the most characteristic sounds of the Australian bush. The female usually follows quickly with a sharp “choo-choo”.

Eastern Whipbirds live in dense vegetation near the ground. They prefer wetter habitats, such as rainforest, eucalypt forest and dense scrub near watercourses. The birds are usually secretive, but are also quite curious, and will often come into view if the observer remains patient.

The Eastern Whipbird feeds on insects and other small invertebrates, which are caught on the ground. Feeding takes place alone, in pairs or in small family groups.

The breeding season of the Eastern Whipbird is from July to December. The pairs occupy a territory, which is defended year round, with the pairs staying together for many years. The female makes a cup nest of sticks and bark, which is lined with finer grasses. It is placed in dense vegetation low to the ground. The female also incubates the 2 to 3 eggs, which hatch after 18 days. The young birds are fed by both parents and remain in the nest for about 12 days. Sometimes 2 broods are raised in a single season.

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Front cover of Australia's Birdwatching Megaspots book showing a picture of an Eastern Spinebill

This species features in my book Australia’s Birdwatching Megaspots

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