Figbirds

A month ago I took a walk along the Ross River bikeway early one morning in the hope of seeing some birds and was rewarded with sightings of quite a few species – an Egret, White-gaped Honeyeaters, Friarbirds, Rainbow Bee-eaters, a beautiful little Red-backed Wren, Ibis, Peaceful Doves, a common Pigeon, Indian Mynas (not special) and a few I couldn’t identify. (Links in this list take you to previous posts featuring these species.)

But the bird of the day has to be the Figbird, Sphecotheres vieilloti. I saw several family groups feeding together, chattering away all the while. They live around the northern coast from the Kimberley down to around Sydney and are about the same size as our Blue-faced Honeyeaters (but are related to orioles rather than honeyeaters).

Red-eyed bird with grey and yellow breast
Male figbird. His back is olive-green.

There are two ‘races’ (variant populations) of the one species with an ‘intergrade’ between them. Males of the northern race are yellow beneath, the southerners are grey-green and this one is an intergrade with yellow and grey.

bird with grey-brown back and speckled belly
Female figbird.
figbird reaching for fruit
A sub-adult male figbird, with the juvenile speckles underneath giving way to the adult’s yellow.
brownish bird speckled underneath.
Female or juvenile male? They are very much alike. Juveniles’ backs are speckled rather than solid grey-brown but we can’t tell from this angle.

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