Little Wattlebirds in Victor Harbor

A few days ago I wrote about our recent trip to Victor Harbor in South Australia I also wrote about the beautiful birds I saw feeding in the Bottlebrush (Callistemon spp) bushes and trees in the street where we parked.

In amongst all the Musk Lorikeet parrots on a feeding frenzy were a few Little Wattlebirds. There are several species of Wattlebirds native to Australia. The most common species around home here in Murray Bridge are the Red Wattlebirds. I have quite a few photos of this species but the Little Wattlebird has so far eluded me – until now. They were so intent on feeding that they took little notice of me and the camera only two or three metres away.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Little Wattlebird

Little Wattlebird


Little Wattlebirds are found throughout coastal south eastern Australia from near Brisbane through to Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. It is also found throughout Tasmania. Race lunulata, also known as the Brush Wattlebird, is found in south west Western Australia.


Little Wattlebirds prefer similar habitats to its slightly larger cousin, the Red Wattlebird. It can often be found in parks and gardens, woodlands with eucalypts and banksias, tea-tree scrubs and heathlands.


Little Wattlebirds nest in the latter half of the year, often in the spring. They lay 1 or 2 salmon pink eggs with reddish spots. The nest is a loose untidy cup of twigs, bark, and other plant materials.

A Confession:

I am on record on the Birding-Aus forum as saying that I consider the Little Wattlebird to be the most unattractive Australian bird. When I see this species up close, and look at the lovely photo above, I confess that I need to retract that statement. In its own way it is quite an attractive bird. It will never compete with the Superb Blue Wren or some of our finches, for example, but it is certainly not unattractive.

Noisy – yes, but not unattractive.


13 Responses to “Little Wattlebirds in Victor Harbor”

  1. Chris says:

    My street in West Beach (Adelaide) is lined with bottlebursh. In my 8yrs living here, I can’t remember the recent invasion of Little Wattlebirds into our neighbourhood. Unfortunately I have to agree that they are one of the most unattractive species of bird….both visually and vocally. I find them to be most obnoxious birds, flitting from tree to tree and calling out in the most unmusical of all bird calls I’ve ever heard. They are extremely loud and seem to live in gangs, competing against one another to see who can make the most noise. I wonder whether the recent drought has favoured this species…as only 2 years ago I was able to feed a group of 10 magpies every day (this group has since vanished). I do hope that the gang of little wattlebirds who have invaded my street will son disperse as winter sets in. The noise they create is most unpleasant to my ears.

  2. Trevor says:

    Thanks for stopping by Chris, and for your comments about Little Wattlebirds.

    Both this species and the Red Wattlebird are extremely noisy and bossy in most people’s gardens. Our Red Wattlebirds frequently harass the other species of honeyeaters and even the peaceful little Striated Pardalotes.

    Your comments about the movements of Little Wattlebirds is interesting. I am not sure whether they are somewhat migratory or not. Many species of honeyeater do respond to changes in the availability of food; they will congregate where there are many trees and bushes flowering.

  3. Tricia says:

    Hubby and I lived in Sutherland Shire Sydney for awhile. There was a grove of coral trees just beyond our tiny apartment garden. The wattle birds used to start their raucaus calling before dawn and wake me up. For a bird lover it was out of character for me to contemplate buying a gun and shooting them.

  4. Chris says:

    Very interesting to hear your comments Tricia regarding my problem with Wattle Birds.

    Since May of this year our street problem with Wattle Birds is far worse. Whether you like them or not, council has planted the whole street with bottlebrush. The prolonged drought has stressed these trees which has resulted in a profusion of bottle brush flowers. Subsequently the Wattle birds are havig a feast and in fact have moved in permanently. We now have a loose flock of a dozen or more of these very, very noisy birds. Just as Tricia describes, they are screaching way before dawn, all through the day and only stop when it is completely dark. They completely dominate the birdlife now in our street and I fear they are now here for good. Maybe we could discuss whether the planting of so many bottle brush trees in an urban environment has created an artificial haven for one species of bird ? We could also discuss what the difference is between a neighbours yapping dogs (a situation that would not be tolerated by too many people) and the raucaus screeching of Wattle birds all day (a situation that you can do nothing about……although we could argue a predicament created by council / urban planners) ? And before all you bird lovers tell me that you should appreciate natives trees and birds….I don’t think the bottle brush is a native to the Adelaide plains. I am a bird lover….just ask my budgie!

  5. Tricia says:

    I can sympathise with you Chris, there are websites I have seen devoted to non indigenous plantings of native plants that are causing concern by becoming pests. Acacia Alata is one I recall, indigenous to one state (not sure which) but taking over in its non indegenous new home. Attracting the wrong kind of fauna is obviously a worry as your story shows.

  6. Trevor says:

    Tricia – you surprise me. A gun?? I don’t see you as a violent sort of person.

    I guess we all have our breaking point. Mine comes quickly when our resident Little Raven taps loudly on our bedroom window just after dawn, following by VERY loud cawing. Over and over again. Not the kind of early morning call I appreciate. I know he is just responding to his reflection in the glass, thinking it is an intruder.

  7. Trevor says:

    Chris – you make some interesting points. The native birds respond in different ways to monoculture plantings, whether that be crops, orchards, forests or street trees all of the same species.

    While there are some very enlightened councils around with very competent landscapers on their payroll, some are downright ignorant and bung anything in the ground with no consideration of the potential environmental disasters of their making. In too many areas we are now reaping the benefits (???) of poor choices made many years ago. Ignorance is no plea – the information is out there, but some councils just do not bother to do any homework, even of a very basic nature.

    For your information, our reference books indicate that Callistemon rugulosus and Callistomen sieberi are native to the Adelaide Plains, though you’d be hard pressed to find any naturally occurring these days. I know that there are some down the Fleurieu Peninsula and around here in the hills just west of Murray Bridge.

  8. Trevor says:

    Tricia – your comment reminds me of a visit I made to Thailand several years ago (you can read about that on my travel blog – see the links page on the sidebar).

    I took a guided bus trip out the the River Kwai. Our guide stated that in those parts the Australian eucalypts had become a pest species causing many problems. (Not sure what species)

    Years ago a remember hearing that some species of acacia were pest species in California (if my memory is correct).

    In more recent times the humble budgerigar had become a pest species in Florida – though that population has all but died out now.

  9. Tricia says:

    Only kidding about the gun Trevor. With Australia so altered by exotic animals and plants it’s surprising when you here about Aussie flora and fauna reeking havoc overseas.

  10. Gregory Mauldon says:

    I live in Cheltenham, Melbourne Victoria. We have large bottle brushes. This is the first time I have seen Ravens feeding on the bracs. They snip them off and carry away to feed, then drop them on the ground. Has anyone noticed this behaviour.

  11. Trevor says:

    That is an interesting observation Gregory. My reference books do not mention this behaviour. They mostly feed on the ground. Sometimes they have been observed eating blossoms but not carrying them away. Others have been seen tearing strips of bark off trees and then eating the spiders and beetles that were hiding under the bark.

  12. […] weekend we went to Victor Harbor on the south coast of Fleurieu Peninsula, about an hour’s drive south of Adelaide and just […]

  13. Greg Gunn says:

    Thats great that we all hate the Whattle Bird waking up, But what can be done to prevent this bird doing this?
    Maybe there is something that you can spray on the bottle brush tree that the bird dislikes the taste of that wont kill the tree.
    Does anybody out there know
    Tired Greg

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