Australian Bush Birds
Noisy Friarbird  -  Philemon corniculatus
noisy Friarbird
Noisy Friarbird - with grey body, black head, knob on curved beak and white trim feathers. (Casino, NSW)
Noisy Friarbird Noisy Friarbird
Noisy Friarbird's bare black head and neck, knob on beak, brown 'eyebrow' feathers, red eye and white gorget feathers at the throat.
map map Friarbirds are so named because their bare heads are said to resemble the tonsured heads of a friar. The Noisy Friarbird has the barest head of the friarbird species.

The Noisy Friarbird - Philemon corniculatus - has bare black skin on the head and upper neck with a narrow line of red-brown feathering over the eye (as "eyebrows") and a triangle of silver-white feathers on the chin. Eye is red. The bill is black with a small (but prominent) triangular or rounded knob at the base of the upper mandible. Lower throat and upper breast carries a gorget or ruff of silvery white lanceolate feathers with dark shafts. Lower breast to under tail is pale fawn in colour. Back, rump and shoulders are plain, dull grey-brown; wings are mid-grey. Tail is mid-grey and square-ended with a narrow white tip. Feet are dusky grey. 30-35 centimetres long. Males and females are similar in appearance, males are larger.

Immature Noisy Friarbirds have feathers on the neck and back of the head; shoulders and back of neck are mottled grey and edged white. Flight feathers and tail are indistinctly edged green-yellow, flight feather have white tips forming a scalloped pattern on the back. Throat and breast lack the gorget, the knob is not obvious and eyes are brown.

Noisy Friarbird - page 2
noisy Friarbird
Noisy Friarbird grey back, wings and tail with a white tip on the tail. The bare black head is readily seen. (Casino, NSW)
In mid and north Queensland members of this species are smaller. The southern variant is named monachus.

Live in gregarious, mobile, flocks characterised by noisy squabbling and fighting. They are versatile feeders taking nectar and fruit (including grapes and blackberries). Proteas and eucalyptus provide most of their energy needs but they also take insects, catching prey in mid-air then returning to foliage. All feeding is in trees with birds clambering around the outer branches picking fruit, gleaning under bark and among leaves for insects, lerps and manna and often hanging upside down as they probe flowers. They announce their arrival with loud calls and each bird defends its feeding branch by loudly chasing off competitors.

Lives in open forest and woodlands, swamp woodlands and along watercourses, mangroves, gardens. From Cape York to eastern Victoria and west of the ranges. Sometimes congregates with other honeyeaters, particularly Little Friarbirds and Red Wattlebirds. The Noisy Friarbird may entirely exclude smaller honeyeaters from profusely flowering trees. Lives in New Guinea.

noisy Friarbird
Immature Noisy Friarbird with white scalloping on wings, feathers on the back of the neck, brown eye and hardly any knob. (Tamborine, Qld)
Noisy Friarbird - page 3
Groups spread out to roost at night; individual birds sleep alone in tree crowns and call in the morning to advertise their position.

In north eastern Queensland the Noisy Friarbird is locally nomadic but south of the Queenland-NSW border it is migratory spending August to April in the south and moving north into Queensland in March-April and remaining there until late August or September. When moving north the birds move in small, loose groups of up to 30 to 40 flying straight and high above the tops of the trees; the return is made in ones and twos trickling south through trees.

Breeding takes place from July to February. Noisy Friarbirds form long-term pairs, with both defending the nest and surrounds. The female builds the nest; this is a large, deep cup made of narrow strips of stringybark sometimes interwoven with dry grasses, cobweb and pieces of cloth; lined with finer grasses, wiry plant stems and wool. The nest is built in outer branches, camouflaged in thick foliage, 1.5 to 17 metres above the ground. Two or three (rarely five) eggs are laid; light to dark pink-buff, vaguely spotted and marbled pale slate, chestnut or violet-grey, particularly at the larger end; oval to tapered oval, about 33 by 22 millimetres.

The female incubates the eggs while both parents feed the young and continue feeding them up to three weeks after fledging.