Backyard Buddies
Pink Robin

Photo: JJ Harrison

Pink Robin

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The Pink Robin is unusual amongst birds in that both the male and female have pink colouring – so often, only the males of a species display bright colouring to attract their mate. Males have a distinctive bright pink chest while the females have a subtler pinkish tint. The male has a small white patch on the forehead and the female has the same spot, but buff-coloured. The contrast of the males’ black head and wings with bright pink chest make it one of the most striking Australian small birds.

They have a chattering call, quieter than most Robins, that can sound like a twig snapping! They live in south-eastern Australia, preferring dense bush and rainforests, particularly eucalypt forest, during the breeding season, and moving to more open drier habitat during the winter months.

Pink Robins feed mainly on insects and spiders, foraging on the ground amongst leaf litter rather than catching prey in mid-air. They eat caterpillars, flies, ants, beetles and ichneumon wasps.

Their nests are elaborate structures, built with great care by the female. The deep cup-shaped nest is made from moss and bark held together with spider web and camouflaged with lichen – the same colour as the tree or bush it is located in. They are super comfortable, lined with fur, feathers and soft plant matter like ferns. Pink Robin nests are not high up in the treetops, but only 30cm to a few metres above the ground in dense bushland, so the parents can easily access their food to feed themselves and then their babies. They build their nests in a wet environment as they need the nearby moss and lichen. They have 3 to 4 babies at a time and can breed 2 clutches over the breeding season.

Pink Robins can be hard to spot, not only because of their small size and darting movements, but because they are actually pretty shy. The males do not display the confident breeding antics of most birds, but rather rely mostly on their lurid pink chest and belly to lure in a mate. They are mostly seen alone or in breeding pairs and do not seem to socialise with other robins.

They are very rare backyard visitors, and your garden would need to be next to their preferred habitat for you to have a chance of spotting one. Clearing of rainforests has impacted on the breeding habitat available to Pink Robins and they are now listed as Vulnerable in NSW (2017).

 

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Marcia - Grandparent & FNPW Supporter, QLD

Photo: OEH