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

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 49

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