Scarlet Robin

Quick Facts

Length: 13 cm
Height: -
Weight: 13 grams
Colour: -
Habitat: Open forests and woodlands. Will visit grasslands, farmland and urban parks and gardens in winter
Food: Insects
Predators: Cats and rats
Status: Not Present in TAS. Secure in all states and territories in Australia
Scarlet Robin

The Scarlet Robin is a medium-sized robin, with a plump and compact appearance. Males have a black head, neck and upperparts with a conspicuous white patch above the bill (frontal patch). The breast is scarlet red and the lower underparts are white. The wings are barred white and the outer tail is also white. Females differ markedly from males, being brown above with a whitish frontal patch and an orange-red breast, brown wings and white underparts. Young birds resemble females but are streaked white above, tinged buff on the wings and are mottled dark-brown on the breast and sides of the body. The Norfolk Island subspecies of the Scarlet Robin differs from mainland birds, with the males having less white in the wings and tail and a larger red breast-patch while the females tend to be browner and also have less white in the wings and tail.

The Scarlet Robin may be confused with other 'red' robins such as the Flame and the Red-capped. It can be distinguished from these species by the large white patch above the bill in both the male and female (this patch is absent in the Red-capped Robin and smaller in the male Flame Robin. Female Scarlet Robins also tend to have a much redder chest than females of other robin species.

The Scarlet Robin is found in south-eastern and south-western Australia, as well as on Norfolk Island. In Australia, it is found south of latitude 25°S, from south-eastern Queensland along the coast of New South Wales (and inland to western slopes of Great Dividing Range) to Victoria and Tasmania, and west to Eyre Peninsula, South Australia; it is also found in south-west Western Australia.

The Scarlet Robin lives in open forests and woodlands in Australia, while it prefers rainforest habitats on Norfolk Island. During winter, it will visit more open habitats such as grasslands and will be seen in farmland and urban parks and gardens at this time.

Some local movements during winter; altitudinal migrant.

The Scarlet Robin feeds mainly on insects and forages on or near the ground. It will sit on a perch and fly down to catch prey. Sometimes forages in mixed flocks with other small insect-eating birds, such as Flame and Hooded Robins, Weebills, Grey Fantails and thornbills.

Scarlet Robins form permanent monogamous pairs that maintain territories year round. The male advertises and defends the territory by singing from high, prominent perches. During the breeding season, the female selects a suitable, well-hidden nest site in a tree fork and builds a compact open cup nest (individuals of this species have also been reported making a nest on part of a building, such as a gutter). Nest materials include bark, grass, twigs and other plant materials; the nest is bound with spider web, lined with animal fibres or plant-down and camoflaged with moss or lichen. The female incubates the eggs while the male feeds her. Both sexes feed the nestlings, and will continue to feed the young for some time once fledged.

Scarlet Robins can be quite tame around human habitation. Their habit of foraging on the ground for food makes them vulnerable to cats, and young birds that roost close to the ground may be taken by rats.

Scarlet Robin populations have declined in South Australia and Western Australia as a result of land-clearing practices. They are particularly affected by the removal of understorey. On Norfolk Island, the subspecies multicolor has declined for the same reasons and is considered vulnerable.

Author: Rosalyn Plunkett
Last Updated: Thursday 9th January, 2014
BirdLife Australia -


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