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Little Wattlebird

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

Little Wattlebird taken in the backyard

Little Wattlebird

The Little Wattlebird is the smallest of the wattlebirds.


The Little Wattlebird is a medium to large honeyeater, but is the smallest of the wattlebirds. It is mostly dark grey-brown above, with faint white shafts on each of the feathers. The underparts are grey and are heavily streaked with white. The streaks are finer around the throat, becoming more blotched on the sides of the belly. In flight, there is a large rufous patch in the wings. The eye is blue-grey. Birds of Western Australia have a red eye and a silver patch on the side of the throat; these are sometimes regarded as a different species. The sexes are similar. Young Little Wattlebirds resemble the adults, but are duller, have less streaking and a have a browner eye.

Similar species:

The larger Red Wattlebird, has a yellow belly patch, red wattles on its cheeks and lacks rufous in the wings. Only one other wattlebird species is found in Australia, the Yellow Wattlebird, of Tasmania. It is the largest of the three wattlebirds, and indeed the largest of Australia's honeyeaters. It has large yellow wattles hanging from the cheeks.


Little Wattlebirds are found throughout south-eastern and south-western Australia and Tasmania.


Little Wattlebirds prefer the drier and often scrubby, habitats, such as banksia heaths, forests, woodlands and urban parks and gardens.


As with other honeyeaters, Little Wattlebirds feed on nectar, which is obtained using a long, brush-tipped tongue, specially adapted to probing deep into flowers. Other food includes insects, flowers, berries and some seeds. Most feeding is done while perched, but some insects are caught in mid-air. Birds may feed alone or in small to large groups.


If conditions are suitable as many as three broods may be raised in a year. The female Little Wattlebird normally constructs the nest, which is a large cup of twigs and grass, lined with soft materials, such as feathers and wool. The nest may be placed in a range of places from the ground up to about 15m. The female also incubates the eggs alone. Both sexes care for the young chicks.

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