Australian Bush Birds
Red-capped Robin  -  Petroica goodenovii
Red-capped Robin
The Red-capped Robin, at 110 millimetres long is the smallest Australian robin. The colourful bird is a male.
Red-capped Robin Red-capped Robin
Red-capped Robin
The Red-cap Robin - Petroica goodenovii - is the smallest and most brightly coloured of the red robins. Males have a scarlet cap and breast, dull black face, back and throat. Wings and tail are black with a broad white stripe on the wing. Rump and underneath is white. Some males have red-brown forehead and there is sometimes red wash on the usually black throat. Eye is very dark brown, bill and feet black. Size 10 to 12 centimetres. This robin can breed in immature plumage.

Mature females have red-brown forehead; pale grey-brown upper parts with darker brown wings and tail. Some have slight red-brown wash on breast, pale buff wing patch and white outer tail shafts.

Immature birds resemble adult females but without the red-brown forehead. Young males have some red wash on the breast. Juveniles have brownish streaks and blotches.

Feeds in open scrub with short flights between perches - stumps, posts or bare branches. Usually within a metre of the ground this robin pounces on a variety of insects, grasshoppers, bugs, beetles, flies, moths, wasps and ants. The bird remains on the perch watching and waiting for prey which they dive on to seize, usually on the ground, then fly back to the perch to eat. Insects on the wing are also taken and sometimes the leaf litter is shuffled, presumably to stir up insects.

Red-capped Robin - page 2
Red-capped Robin
Female Red-capped Robin with red-brown forehead and pale grey-brown upper parts with pale red-brown wash across the breast.
map map While sitting on the perch the wings and tail are occasionally flicked upward.

Robins are mostly solitary birds although established pairs may remain together. Generally sedentary or locally nomadic. Northern populations may move more widely.

Breeding takes place from July-August to December-January. Males advertise territory by singing from low perches and court a female by offering her food. Nest building takes eight to ten days, entirely by the female. The nest is a compact cup of bark strips and grass bound with cobwebs and decorated with lichen; small, about 38 by 31 millimetres inside, lined with vegetable fibre, fur or feathers; up to 10 metres above the ground on a branch or in a trunk crevice. There may be several days delay between nest completion and the first egg being laid.

Two or three eggs are laid; pale blue-green to grey-white dotted with grey, brown or lavender; rounded-oval, about 15 by 13 millimetres. Incubation takes about 14 days by the female. Both parents feed the young making silent approaches to the nest; caterpillars are frequently fed to the young. After being fed a chick may excrete a faecal sac which one parent carries away (and occasionally eats). Young fledge in about 14 days but parents feed the young for a further three weeks. The nest may be used for a second brood.

Lives in drier scrub and open woodland, mallee, semi-arid mulga and farms. Found over most of temperate Australia except for Tasmania and southern Victoria; also in southern Northern Territory and Queensland south of Townsville. Common in the Flinders Ranges.