Flame Robin, Mt. Macedon, Victoria
While staying with friends in Gisborne in January, John took us on a tour of the district. One of the first stops was Mt. Macedon, a short distance north east of the town. We’d been there several times before, but I always enjoy this lovely spot. On previous occasions I had been disappointed with the lack of birds and this time was not much better. In fact I only recorded five different species, including Australian Magpie, Striated Thornbill, Grey Shrike-thrush and White-throated Treecreeper. Not an inspiring list for twenty minutes of birding.
While walking back to the car from the War Memorial Cross of Remembrance at the lookout I saw a dull brown bird that looked like a female Flame Robin. I managed the photo above which shows her in a very nice pose. A few minutes later I was delighted to find the male in all of his colourful glory. I had to be patient to get him to pose nicely. He was flitting around all over the place looking for a tasty meal. I was very pleased with one of the shots I managed.
Flame Robins are widespread throughout south eastern Australia. They are found in eastern New South Wales, throughout Victoria and Tasmania in suitable habitat and in southern South Australia. Their preferred habitat includes woodlands, open forests, farmland, grasslands, scrubs, orchards, parks and gardens. They breed from August through to January and lay 3-4 eggs. The nest is a rough cup of bark, grass, webs, and moss and can be lined with animal hair or fur. It can be made in a tree cavity or tree fork or even in sheds.
Pizzey, G, and Knight, F, 1997: The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Sydney, Angus and Robertson.
Wow! Just a little more exciting than our American Robins. What a burst of color he has. I bet it’s not that hard find these male birds when they are around. Thanks for sharing them with us!
Love the shot of the Flame Robin. I live on the outskirts of Wagga Wagga and the Robin arrives with winter here – seems to prefer the high country during summer ( and who wouldn’t). However I am having trouble identifying if in fact my little friend is a Flame or Scarlet Robin.They don’t seem to want to sit still long enough for me to get a good look. We have always just called them Robin Redbreasts.
My great Aunt Vylette Pearse married a Gustav Hampel – I suspect that there is a link to you by marriage. I have a copy of the wonderful Hampel book.
Cheer to you. Leonie
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It can be a little tricky get the ID right for these 2 species. If you look in a field guide you will see that the Flame Robin has red almost up to the beak and the head and back are dark grey – not black. The Scarlet Robin has a black throat and the head and back are blacker. That’s the easy part – getting them to sit still is the hard part! That’s why I was so pleased to get the photo above – he seemed to pose for my benefit!
I know it is tempting to call them Robin Redbreasts but they are in no way related to the English Robin Redbreast. They are members of an entirely different family of birds called flycatchers. The only reason they are called robins is because the early settlers were reminded of the English Robins.
We are indeed related – albeit rather distantly. The photo of my wife and children is on the bottom of page 297 of the Hampel family book. Simon (our son) and Leanne have just brought our first grandson into Australia last Thursday – they adopted Andres (8 mths old) from Colombia. Exciting times for us. He has won our hearts already with his wonderful smile. You can see photos and read of their whole experience in the adoption process on Simon’s blog here:
I agree that the Hampel family book is wonderful; our daughter Rose did most of the editing for the book. She has actually visited the original Hampel village in Poland (formerly it was in Germany). The whole fascinating experience of the migration of the family to South Australia needs to be told to a much wider audience. I am planning to write a fictionalized version of the story sometime in the next year.
Hi there DDolan,
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The Australian Robins are indeed spectacular. In fact – they are not related to your robins at all. They are members of the flycatcher family. Our early settlers were reminded of the English Robin Redbreast – and the common name stuck.
The Red-capped Robin is even more spectacular. You can see a photo here:
Im from perth but am in Romsey today and im shore i just saw a pair of black cockatoos
By Romsey I assume you mean the area just NE of Gisborne and Macedon (I had to look it up).
Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos are quite common in that area. They are a different species to the black cockatoos seen in WA.
You can also see Gang-gang cockatoos in the Macedon area – they are smaller (galah size) and the males are black with bright red feathers on the head. Females are a washed out grey colour.
Hi Trevor, I’m Praveen and I’m dying to see flame, scarlet and red capped robins from 2 years. I live in sydney and could you please share a reliable site to spot these birds? I recently spotted a rose robin here and so was very happy to see that. And I’m very pleased with the photo s I clicked. Thanks
I am jealous – I have never seen a Rose Robin.
Flame, Scarlet and Red-capped Robins are widespread without being present in large numbers anywhere. Red-capped Robins tend to be more of a dryland bird, so the chances of seeing them right in Sydney are small, but not impossible if you are looking in the right places. Next time you are on the other side of the ranges, say around Bathurst, your chances are better.
As for the Scarlet and Flame Robins, they are regularly seen throughout the Sydney region where suitable habitat exists. I haven’t been to Royal National Park for some years but there are occasional records from there. Your chances may be better in the forests around Katoomba and Lithgow. Check out the distribution in your field guides.
Thanks so much for the response Trevor. If you want to see a rose robin please go to mulgoa nature reserve in Penrith and go all the way to the end of Jamison trail and you can see a pair of rose robins there for sure. And I just saw a scarlet robin at the 10th hole, east lakes golf course and it’s still there.Now the list is down to flame and red capped robins. I also found a record of red capped Robin at sydney gardens, st Peter’s in 2008 it’s a long shot but it’s worth checking out. Thanks again, really appreciate your time.
And very impressive photos…! Thanks for sharing
Thank you for your kind words.