AMS405/142 Crested Bellbird Click to enlarge image
Scanned in 2005 for the Birds in the Backyard website Image: Jack Purnell
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    gutturalis
    Genus
    Oreoica
    Family
    Pachycephalidae
    Order
    Passeriformes
    Class
    Aves
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    19 cm to 23 cm

The nests of Crested Bellbirds often have live, hairy caterpillars placed around the rim. it has been suggested that the adults gather them as a food storage for the sitting bird or as a defence for the nest.

Identification

The Crested Bellbird is a medium-sized bird. Adult males have grey heads with a raised black crest, a white forehead and throat, and a prominent black breast. The rest of the body is grey or brown and they have orange-red eyes. Females and immature birds are less prominently coloured than the males, lacking the black breast and having a smaller, unraised black crest. This species is also known as the Crested Thrush, as well as having names such as 'Dick-Dick-the Devil'.

Habitat

The Crested Bellbird occurs from semi-arid coastlines to the arid Australia interior. They are found in acacia shrublands, eucalypt woodlands, spinifex and chenopod (saltbush) plains or dunes.

Distribution

The Crested Bellbird is endemic to mainland Australia. It occurs west of the Great Dividing Range, in the south of tropical northern Australia, and through South Australia to the west coast of Western Australia.



Seasonality

The Crested Bellbird is sedentary or locally nomadic in drier regions.

Feeding and diet

The Crested Bellbird feeds on invertebrates and some seeds. They forage on the ground or in low shrubs. They are usually solitary or occur in pairs during the breeding season. Sometimes they occur in mixed feeding flocks with Chestnut-rumped Thornbills and Red-capped Robins.

Communication

Loud, liquid call. Bell-like 'did-did did-did-dit'. The calls are sometimes ventriloqual.

Breeding behaviours

The Crested Bellbird forms pairs for the breeding season and makes a cup-shaped nest of twigs, bark or leaves, usually placed in the fork of a tree. Both sexes will incubate the eggs.

  • Breeding season: August to December
  • Clutch size: One to four
  • Incubation: 16 days
  • Time in nest: 12 days

Conversation status

The range of the Crested Bellbird has contracted because of habitat destruction from land clearance, being particularly susceptible to fragmentation. Cats also pose a threat throughout its range. It is listed as threatened in Victoria.

References

  • Pizzey, G. and Knight, F. 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
  • Morcombe, M. 2000. Field guide to Australian Birds. Steve Parish Publishing.
  • Higgins, P.J. and J.M. Peter (eds) 2002. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Volume 6: Pardalotes to Shrike-thrushes. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.