Backyard Buddies
Scarlet Robin

Photo: Michael Todd

Scarlet Robin

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The Scarlet Robin lives in the southern areas of Australia and also on Norfolk Island. They are frequent backyard visitors in urban areas.

Male Scarlet Robins have an impressive bright red chest and a black back with a conspicuous white patch above the bill. Like many bird species, the females are much less striking with a dull grey to brown coat and a lighter reddish chest.

The Scarlet Robin lives in varied habitats from open forests to grasslands on mainland Australia, while the Norfolk Island robins prefer rainforests. These buddies are the most common robin in our backyards as they cope well in urban areas. Because it is so small, the Scarlet Robin prefers areas with a thick undergrowth to hide in and to offer protection for its nest.

These beautiful birds form life-long bonds with their partners. They both have very specific roles in their relationship. The male Scarlet Robin is the main defender of their territory. He sings from high perches to deter other males. The male robin has a beautiful warbling trill 'wee-cheedalee-dalee'

Their breeding season runs from July to January. The male robin is very territorial and protective of his chicks - they have been seen trying to chase away their own reflections in car rear-vision mirrors.

The female Scarlet Robin constructs the nest, using grass and twigs as the main building material and securing them with spider webs, lining it with animal fur. She camouflages the nest by adding lichen and moss to the outside.

Females will usually lay around three eggs in her small nest, incubating the eggs while the male brings her food. Once the babies have hatched, the parents take turns to feed them, even after they've left the nest.

In winter these robins mainly forage on the ground looking for insects to eat. During summer they search tree trunks and leaves for food, giving you year-round insect removal from different parts of your garden.

To encourage Scarlet Robins into your garden, plant a variety of different sized native shrubs to give them cover from predators while they forage. Bushy shrubs such as native rosemary or weeping wattle can also help cool down your garden during hot weather as well as cooling down little birds.


A well placed bird bath will give robins a place to bathe and an important water source on hot summer days.

Did you know?

The Noongar people of south-western Australia say that in the Dreaming Chitty-Chitty the Willie Wagtail and Karlimoot the Scarlet Robin were fighting over hunting rights when Chitty-Chitty hit Karlimoot in the face making his beak bleed and forever staining his chest red. To this day the wagtail still chases the robin from its territory and claims the best hunting grounds.



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Michele – National Parks Ranger, NSW

Photo: OEH