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Pardalotes, flying jewels
7 December 2004

Spotted Pardalote Pardalotus punctatus

This tiny flying jewel, weighing only about 10 grams, has not been extensively studied even though it is easily detected with its ever-present call, most often in the treetops. This two-note call of ‘dee-dee’ can sometimes extend into four notes. I learnt this as ‘sleep baby sleep’ and is the one with which I am familiar, both here and in other places. Records from other observers give variations of up to six notes.

The Spotted Pardalote’s habitat is dominated by eucalypts where they pluck their preferred food of lerp (the sugary secretion covering the psyllid grub) from the leaves, plus other insects and manna. The nest is in a hole in the ground or in a tree. It will also settle for a narrow pipe protruding from a building. When I was building my home, I was delighted to find a pair excavating into a sandy bank, ignoring noisy builders working beside them. The bird builders used only their short blunt bills to excavate the tunnel deep into a bank. I think their young fledged safely, although I did not witness the departure.

It is quite common for them to nest on house building sites where there are piles of sand or trenches. Only the hard-hearted builder will not delay operations in that small area until the birds have reared their young and gone.

Pauline Reilly

play to listen to Spotted Pardalote callBird Call: click the play button to listen to the Spotted Pardalote call>>
Close perspective of single Spotted Pardalote calling. Olived-backed Oriole and high wind in tree tops.
Recorded by John Soames, summer, Anglesea, 2001 - Stereo


Spotted Pardalote

Spotted Pardalote
photo by Trevor & Priscilla Pescott

Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus

Our other Pardalote is the Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus, similar in many ways to the Spotted, but its call of ‘wittachew, presence of a striped crown and lack of spots identifies it.

These delightfully intelligent little birds live very happily in close proximity to humans, provide there are suitable nesting opportunities. The male Pardalote photographed to the right has nested with his partner in a wall cavity close to my very noisy back door. This family have lived here well before I arrived and they have accepted me quite happily. At the moment they are busy in the middle of breeding season.

The entrance to the nest is a small circular hole, (obviously were a water pipe used to pass through) in the exterior cement sheet cladding. On hearing the approaching adult contact call the chicks chirp excitedly from within the wall. The adults are seen flying in and out all day in a vain attempt to satisfy the insatiable appetites of their young.

Last season was a good breeding season for my winged neighbours. They were able to have two hatches of eggs. I was delighted to see their first young, after leaving the nest, come and help their parents raise the second batch of chicks.

With the end of breeding season and the onset of winter, they desert their nest and fly away to parts unknown off in search of food and warmer weather. However, one or two of them must stay within the area for on occasion I get a visit or hear one calling in the distance.

Nicholas Soames

playBird Call: click the play button to listen to the Striated Pardalote call>>
Close perspective of a communicating pair of breeding Striated Pardalote. South eastern form (Red Spotted) Race Ornatus
Recorded by John Soames, October 1999 - Stereo

Striated Pardalote

Striated Pardalote
Photo by Nicholas Soames

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