The Flame Robin is a small Australian robin that reaches 14 cm in length. The male has a dark grey head and upperparts, a small white forehead patch, and white wing stripes and white tail-edges. The male has a bright orange-red throat, breast and upper-belly. The lower belly is white. The female is brown, darker above, and has a whitish throat and lower belly. The whitish mark on the female’s forehead is inconspicuous. Female Flame Robins also have white and buffish marked wings and tail. Immature males resemble females. The main call of the Flame Robin is a thin, pretty, piping descending song.
The Flame Robin is endemic to south eastern Australia, and ranges from near the Queensland border to south east South Australia and also in Tasmania. In NSW, it breeds in upland areas and in winter, many birds move to the inland slopes and plains. It is likely that there are two separate populations in NSW, one in the Northern Tablelands, and another ranging from the Central to Southern Tablelands.
Habitat and ecology
- Breeds in upland tall moist eucalypt forests and woodlands, often on ridges and slopes.
- Prefers clearings or areas with open understoreys.
- The groundlayer of the breeding habitat is dominated by native grasses and the shrub layer may be either sparse or dense.
- Occasionally occurs in temperate rainforest, and also in herbfields, heathlands, shrublands and sedgelands at high altitudes.
- In winter, birds migrate to drier more open habitats in the lowlands (i.e. valleys below the ranges, and to the western slopes and plains).
- Often occurs in recently burnt areas; however, habitat becomes unsuitable as vegetation closes up following regeneration.
- In winter lives in dry forests, open woodlands and in pastures and native grasslands, with or without scattered trees.
- In winter, occasionally seen in heathland or other shrublands in coastal areas.
- Birds forage from low perches, from which they sally or pounce onto small invertebrates which they take from the ground or off tree trunks, logs and other coarse woody debris.
- Flying insects are often taken in the air and sometimes gleans for invertebrates from foliage and bark.
- In their autumn and winter habitats, birds often sally from fence-posts or thistles and other prominent perches in open habitats.
- Occur singly, in pairs, or in flocks of up to 40 birds or more; in the non-breeding season they will join up with other insectivorous birds in mixed feeding flocks.
- Breeds in spring to late summer.
- Nests are often near the ground and are built in sheltered sites, such as shallow cavities in trees, stumps or banks.
- Builds an open cup nest made of plant materials and spider webs.
- Eggs are oval in shape and are pale bluish- or greenish-white and marked with brownish blotches; clutch size is three or four eggs.