Backyard Buddies
Red Wattlebird

Photo: Mick Stephenson

Red Wattlebird

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Red Wattlebirds, Anthochaera carunculata, are large honeyeaters easily identified by their fleshy reddish wattle on the side of the neck.

They live across southern Australia and are very frequent visitors to gardens in urban areas. They eat mostly nectar but also some insects and can be very aggressive towards other birds that have their eye on the same flowers.

Red Wattlebirds can be difficult to see when they're hiding amongst shrubs and bushes. Listen out for the Red Wattlebird's loud, harsh 'cookey cook' and 'tobacco box, tobacco box' calls. They sound quite like the Noisy Friar Bird.

In winter Red Wattlebirds are more frequent visitors to towns and suburbs, where you'll have a much easier time spotting them.

Red Wattlebirds migrate in search of winter food. They love to drink the nectar from flowers in your local parks and gardens, as they are part of the Honeyeater family.

If you're a Perth resident, you've probably already seen one. Red Wattlebirds are one of the most common Honeyeaters seen in the Western Australian capital.

If you're in south-eastern Australia, lookout for Red Wattlebirds poking around under your eaves and gutters for spiders to take back to their chicks in the nest.


If you want to encourage Red Wattlebirds to your garden, plant nectar producing plants. If you have grevilleas or paperbarks (melaleucas) around your backyard, these provide some of the Red Wattlebird's favourite food.

Red Wattlebirds have a loud repetitive call and can be as annoying as neighbour's barking dog, especially as they start to breed.

Bottlebrushes and other native trees are winter flowering natives, providing much needed food at this cold time of year, and your wattlebirds will not let any of their nectar go to waste.

Starting their families does not only come with noisy announcements. You may also find that the wattlebirds become more aggressive in defending their nest sites and territories.

Like all native birds, the wattlebirds are protected, and there is not much you can do to discourage them from a favourite food tree.

The best way to live with Red Wattlebirds is to enjoy their buzzing activity as a sure sign of the coming spring, and trust that they will move on to sweeter nectar once the next species of native tree comes into flower.

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