Flame Robin

The Flame Robin is a small bird that is native to Australia. I tis usually found in the cooler parts of south-eastern Australia such as in Tasmania. It was first described scientifically 1830 by Jene Rene Contsant Quoy and Joseph Paul Gaimard who were French Naturalists. The name of the species that they gave, Muscicapa chrysoptera, is derived from the Ancient Greek words for ‘golden’ (chrysos) and ‘feather’ (peteron).

A Flame Robin in the forest
A Flame Robin in the forest

The largest red robin is the Flame Robin. It is 12 to 14 cm long and has a slender build. Male Flame Robins are easily distinguished by its bright orange-red plumage which appears around the abdomen, throat, and breast. The rest of its plumage is a dark grey or a grey black. Females are more plainly coloured and are pale brown overall with a lighter buff underneath. Its bill, feet, legs, and claws are black and its eyes are dark brown. However, amateur bird watchers may be confused with the Scarlet Robin or the Red-Capped Robin if they are relying solely on the colour.

Its habitat is in the temperate regions of south-eastern Australia. It is less common in the west and the south-west of Australia. It is found in the Victorian uplands, Adelaide, the Murray Plains, Great Dividing Range, and some have even been recorded as far north as south-east Queensland. It is a migratory bird amongst its range as it will move from alpine and sub-alpine regions to the lowlands in winter.

In the summer and spring, the Flame Robin will most likely be found in wet eucalypt forests in mountainous or hilly areas up to an elevation of 1,800 metres. Areas that it prefers to live in include areas that have more clearings and less understory. Tall forests dominated by snow gums, mountain ash, alpine ash, manna gum, messmate stringyback, black gum, white mountain gum, narrow-leaved peppermint, brown barrel, and black peppermint are preferred.

A juvenile male Flame Robin
A juvenile male Flame Robin

A unique feature of these Flame Robins are that they are abundant in areas that have recently been burned by bushfires. However, they will move away when the undergrowth regrows. They may also move into cleared or logged forest areas.

The Flame Robin eats insects. It will usually eat flying insects, and because there are not many of these in the winter, this is thought to be the reason why it migrates. Insects eaten by the Flame Robin include flies, ants, wasps, beetles, caterpillars, and bugs. It will also eat small invertebrates like spiders, earthworms, and millipedes.


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