Australian Bush Birds
Chirruping Wedgebill  -  Psophodes cristatus
Chirruping Wedgebill
Chirruping Wedgebill in a prickly Acacia tetragonophylla shrub at Thargomindah. The orange-brown bill indicates an immature adult.
Chirruping Wedgebill Head with characteristic crest.
The Wedgebill is so named because of the short, tapering, bill. There are two species, the Chirruping Wedgebill - Psophodes cristatus - and the similar Chiming Wedgebill which lives in mid-western and central Australia west of Lake Eyre while the Chirruping Wedgebill is found east of Lake Eyre. The latter species is not as shy as the Chiming Wedgebill.

Head and upper parts uniformly fawn-brown with faint dusky dappling and prominent short dusky crest. Wings and tail darker brown with white-shafted outer wing quills and broad white tip on tail feathers, except for the central pair. Under parts uniformly grey-white with lighter streaking over the breast; flanks greyer. Eye dark brown, bill black, feet greyish black. Males and females similar, males slightly larger. Length is 190-200 millimetres. Immature birds have a pale orange-pink bill and brown feet.

The Chirruping Wedgebill lives in a small, sedentary colony of about 20 birds in thickets of taller, broken shrubbery in the arid Darling and southeastern Lake Eyre basins.

Chirruping Wedgebill - page 2
map map While staying in cover, birds run over the ground and hop into low branches foraging for food; eating a range of small insects and seeds. Flight between bushes is low, with flutters and short glides with part-spread tail.

Birds advertising their territories sing throughout the day all year but insistently at dawn, usually from a perch on top of a bush. The song is a sparrow-like chirp usually by one bird but sometimes one bird gives the opening note while another provides the concluding chirrup.

Breeding takes place in March-May and August-November, or after rain. The nest is a shallow, loose cup of twigs, grass and bark lined with finer material built less than 3 metres high in an upright fork inside a dense shrub or tree.

Two or three eggs are laid, greenish blue with sparse black spots, purple-grey at the large end; tapered-oval about 24 by 17 millimetres.

After breeding, brown-billed immatures form loose foraging flocks of up to several hundred that wander widely across the countryside.

Lives in dry, open shrub land with low acacias, nitrebush and boxthorn shrubs in the basins of arid central south-eastern Australia west to Lake Eyre and Lake Torrens.