Pardalotes and granulated sugar

Imagine spooning two teaspoons of granulated sugar into the palm of your hand – at 8 grams you would hardly know it was there and yet it would weigh the same as a Spotted Pardalote.


Spotted Pardalote (Pardalotus punctatus) – male
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM,  1/500, f/5.6, ISO 640


Spotted Pardalotes are arguably Australia’s most beautiful little birds. The male, shown in the images above and below, has white spots against a black background on his crown, wings and tail. He has a bright yellow bib, a red rump with yellow edges, and a tiny yellow eyebrow. I like the way the grey feathers are scalloped as they lead down to his buff underparts. Pardalotes have stubby bills that they use for excavating nesting tunnels as well as for foraging.


Spotted Pardalote (Pardalotus punctatus) – male
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/500, f/5.6, ISO 1250


Spotted Pardalotes generally forage high in the canopy of eucalyptus trees. Usually I hear their surprisingly loud three-note whistle before I see them; the first whistle is lower pitched than the two that follow. I often watch them as they dart through the canopy taking sugary lerps and psyllids from leaves. I always enjoy seeing them, or just hearing them and knowing they are up there somewhere! It’s truly delightful to see them closer to ground level and to photograph their profiles instead of their tummies.


Spotted Pardalote (Pardalotus punctatus) – female
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/640, f/5.6, ISO 640

Female pardalotes are more subtly coloured than the males; they lack the bright yellow bib and the spots on their heads are yellow rather than white. The female above was investigating what seemed to be an unused or unfinished rabbit burrow, it would be a great spot to start excavating a nesting tunnel. I’ve seen them nest in banks and in mounds of earth but never in a rabbit burrow. The ‘mound of earth’ nest was in a pile of topsoil delivered to my garden; needless to say the job it was delivered for was delayed by several weeks!  


Spotted Pardalote (Pardalotus punctatus) – female
Canon 7D, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/500, f/5.6, ISO 800


The day was overcast which meant using a higher than ideal ISO, the backgrounds were busy and not thrown out of focus despite wide open apertures as they were close to the focus point but, and it’s a very big ‘but’, I loved spending time with these beautiful little birds and with the patient friend who happily shared the experience. 

Happy birding, Kim



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