The Scarlet Robin is a small Australian robin that reaches 13 cm in length. The male has a black head and upperparts, with a conspicuous white forehead patch, white wing stripes and white tail-edges. The male has a bright scarlet-red chest and a white belly. The female is pale brown, darker above, and has a dull reddish breast and whitish throat. The whitish mark on the female’s forehead is smaller than the male’s. The female Scarlet Robin also has white wing and tail markings. Immature males resemble females. The main call of Scarlet Robin is a soft, warbling trill.
The Scarlet Robin is found from south east Queensland to south east South Australia and also in Tasmania and south west Western Australia. In NSW, it occurs from the coast to the inland slopes. After breeding, some Scarlet Robins disperse to the lower valleys and plains of the tablelands and slopes. Some birds may appear as far west as the eastern edges of the inland plains in autumn and winter.
Habitat and ecology
- The Scarlet Robin lives in dry eucalypt forests and woodlands. The understorey is usually open and grassy with few scattered shrubs.
- This species lives in both mature and regrowth vegetation. It occasionally occurs in mallee or wet forest communities, or in wetlands and tea-tree swamps.
- Scarlet Robin habitat usually contains abundant logs and fallen timber: these are important components of its habitat.
- The Scarlet Robin breeds on ridges, hills and foothills of the western slopes, the Great Dividing Range and eastern coastal regions; this species is occasionally found up to 1000 metres in altitude.
- The Scarlet Robin is primarily a resident in forests and woodlands, but some adults and young birds disperse to more open habitats after breeding.
- In autumn and winter many Scarlet Robins live in open grassy woodlands, and grasslands or grazed paddocks with scattered trees.
- The Scarlet Robin is a quiet and unobtrusive species which is often quite tame and easily approached.
- Birds forage from low perches, fence-posts or on the ground, from where they pounce on small insects and other invertebrates which are taken from the ground, or off tree trunks and logs; they sometimes forage in the shrub or canopy layer.
- Scarlet Robin pairs defend a breeding territory and mainly breed between the months of July and January; they may raise two or three broods in each season.
- This species’ nest is an open cup made of plant fibres and cobwebs and is built in the fork of tree usually more than 2 metres above the ground; nests are often found in a dead branch in a live tree, or in a dead tree or shrub.
- Eggs are pale greenish-, bluish- or brownish-white, spotted with brown; clutch size ranges from one to four.
- Birds usually occur singly or in pairs, occasionally in small family parties; pairs stay together year-round.
- In autumn and winter, the Scarlet Robin joins mixed flocks of other small insectivorous birds which forage through dry forests and woodlands.