Petroicidae – Australasian Robins

Pink Robin Petroica rodinogaster ©HL & KD Snyder Website

The bird family Petroicidae currently includes 49 species in about 15 genera. All are endemic to Australasia: New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and numerous Pacific Islands as far east as Samoa. For want of an accurate common name, the family is often called the Australasian robins. Within the family the species are known not only as robins but as scrub-robins and flycatchers. They are, however, only distantly related to the Old World family Muscicapidae (to which other species with such names belong) and the monarch flycatchers (Monarchidae).

Most species have a compact build with a large, rounded head, a short, straight bill, and rounded wingtips. They occupy a wide range of wooded habitats, from subalpine to tropical rainforest, and mangrove swamps to semi-arid scrubland. All are primarily insectivorous, although a few supplement their diet with seeds. Hunting is mostly by perch and pounce, a favoured tactic being to cling sideways onto a treetrunk and scan the ground below without moving.

Social organisation is usually centered on long-term pair-bonds and small family groups. Most members of the subfamily Eopsaltrinae practice cooperative breeding, with all family members helping defend a territory and feed nestlings.

Nests are cup-shaped, usually constructed by the female, and often placed in a vertical fork of a tree or shrub. Many species are expert at adding moss, bark or lichen to the outside of the nest as camouflage, making it very difficult to spot, even when it is in a seemingly prominent location.

Most authorities agree that there are 49 species in this family; they are:

Ashy Robin Heteromyias albispecularis
Grey-headed Robin Heteromyias cinereifrons

Black-chinned Robin Poecilodryas brachyura
Black-sided Robin Poecilodryas hypoleuca
White-browed Robin Poecilodryas superciliosa
Buff-sided Robin Poecilodryas cerviniventris
Banded Yellow Robin Poecilodryas placens
Black-throated Robin Poecilodryas albonotata

White-winged Robin Peneothello sigillata
Smoky Robin Peneothello cryptoleuca
Slaty Robin Peneothello cyanus
White-rumped Robin Peneothello bimaculata

Mangrove Robin Peneoenanthe pulverulenta

White-faced Robin Tregellasia leucops
Pale-yellow Robin Tregellasia capito

Eastern Yellow Robin Eopsaltria australis
Western Yellow Robin Eopsaltria griseogularis
White-breasted Robin Eopsaltria georgiana

Hooded Robin Melanodryas cucullata
Dusky Robin Melanodryas vittata

Green-backed Robin Pachycephalopsis hattamensis
White-eyed Robin Pachycephalopsis poliosoma

Torrent Flyrobin Monachella muelleriana

Canary Flyrobin Microeca papuana
Yellow-legged Flyrobin Microeca griseoceps
Olive Flyrobin Microeca flavovirescens
Lemon-bellied Flyrobin Microeca flavigaster
Yellow-bellied Flyrobin Microeca flaviventris
Golden-bellied Flyrobin Microeca hemixantha
Jacky Winter Microeca fascinans

Garnet Robin Eugerygone rubra

Rose Robin Petroica rosea
Pink Robin Petroica rodinogaster
Snow Mountain Robin Petroica archboldi
Mountain Robin Petroica bivittata
Flame Robin Petroica phoenicea
Pacific Robin Petroica pusilla
Norfolk Robin Petroica multicolor
Scarlet Robin Petroica boodang
Red-capped Robin Petroica goodenovii
Tomtit Petroica macrocephala
North Island Robin Petroica longipes
South Island Robin Petroica australis
Black Robin Petroica traversi

Papuan Scrub Robin Drymodes beccarii
Northern Scrub Robin Drymodes superciliaris
Southern Scrub Robin Drymodes brunneopygia

Greater Ground Robin Amalocichla sclateriana
Lesser Ground Robin Amalocichla incerta

Species Links
  • Ashy Robin Heteromyias albispecularis

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Pachycephala albispecularis Salvadori, 1876, Tamrau and Arfak Mountains, New Guinea. Genus often subsumed in Poecilodryas. Closely allied to and sometimes considered conspecific with H. cinereifrons; further research required. Racial identity of birds from Gauttier Mts uncertain; tentatively included in centralis. Five subspecies recognized.
  • Ashy Robin Heteromyias albispecularis

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Ashy Robin Heteromyias albispecularis

    Species Account
    The ashy robin (Heteromyias albispecularis), also known as black-cheeked robin, is a species of bird in the family Petroicidae native to New Guinea.
  • Dusky Robin Melanodryas vittata

    Species Account
    Image, recording & notes…
  • Dusky Robin Melanodryas vittata

    BirdLife Species Account
    he population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern
  • Dusky Robin Melanodryas vittata

    Species Account
    The Dusky Robin is an olive-brown bird, with an indistinct white wing-bar. The underbody is mostly light grey-brown. There is a slight dark eyeline and a whitish mark at the bend of the wing. It has a short, slender bill and moderately long, square-shaped tail. Juveniles are darker brown above, streaked paler above, and mottled below. Dusky Robins are usually seen as singles or pairs, but do come together in small winter flocks.
  • Dusky Robin Melanodryas vittata

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Muscicapa vittata Quoy and Gaimard, 1830, Tasmania, Australia. Has often been placed in genus Petroica, but differs in plumage details (no frontal spot, no red in plumage) and body postures, and also has juvenile plumage, nest and eggs, and skull characters unlike those of that genus but similar to those of some other eopsaltriine species. Usually regarded as Tasmanian vicariant of mainland M. cucullata. Two subspecies recognized.
  • Dusky Robin Melanodryas vittata

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Dusky Robin Melanodryas vittata

    Species Account
    The dusky robin (Melanodryas vittata) is a small passerine bird native to Tasmania. A member of the Australian robin family Petroicidae, it is not related to robins of Europe and North America. It is a brown-plumaged bird of open woodland.
  • Norfolk Robin Petroica multicolor

    Species Account
    Image
  • Norfolk Robin Petroica multicolor

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Muscicapa multicolor J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Norfolk Island. Forms a species group with P. boodang and P. macrocephala. Conventionally considered conspecific with former, but differs in plumage (reduced white on forehead, wing and tail, browner female), morphology and size. Relationship between nominate race and P. macrocephala of New Zealand requires further investigation. Fourteen subspecies recognized.
  • Norfolk Robin Petroica multicolor

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Norfolk Robin Petroica multicolor

    Species Account
    The Norfolk robin (Petroica multicolor), also known as the Norfolk Island scarlet robin or Norfolk Island robin, is a small bird in the Australasian robin family, Petroicidae. It is endemic to Norfolk Island, an Australian territory in the Tasman Sea, between Australia and New Zealand.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 49

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