The Varied Sittella is a small (10 cm) songbird with a sharp, slightly upturned bill, short tail, barred undertail, and yellow eyes and feet. In flight the orange wing-bar and white rump are prominent. In NSW most individuals have a grey head and are streaked with dark brown, but in the extreme north-east they have a white head, and in the extreme south-west a black cap. Varied Sittellas are more active and acrobatic among branches than the larger treecreepers. They fly into the heads of trees, typically working their way down branches and trunk with constant motion.
The Varied Sittella is sedentary and inhabits most of mainland Australia except the treeless deserts and open grasslands. Distribution in NSW is nearly continuous from the coast to the far west. The Varied Sittella’s population size in NSW is uncertain but is believed to have undergone a moderate reduction over the past several decades.
Habitat and ecology
- Inhabits eucalypt forests and woodlands, especially those containing rough-barked species and mature smooth-barked gums with dead branches, mallee and Acacia woodland.
- Feeds on arthropods gleaned from crevices in rough or decorticating bark, dead branches, standing dead trees and small branches and twigs in the tree canopy.
- Builds a cup-shaped nest of plant fibres and cobwebs in an upright tree fork high in the living tree canopy, and often re-uses the same fork or tree in successive years.
- Generation length is estimated to be 5 years.