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20

Golden Whistler

(Pachycephala pectoralis)
Alternate name(s): "Golden-breasted Whistler", "Yellow-breasted Whistler", "Golden-breasted Thickhead", "Yellow-breasted Thickhead", "Thunderbird*", "Cutthroat", "Coachwhip-bird*"
Aboriginal name(s): "fuliginosa": "bedilmidong", "bedjemer" (WA)

Size: 16-18 cm
Weight: 25 g (average)

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Golden Whistler at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "pectoralis"

ADULT

MALE

Frontal view of a hunched male Golden Whistler, with its head partly obscured by a spider's web
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, August 2008]

Frontal view of a male Golden Whistler looking around for insects
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, April 2012]

Near-frontal view of a male Golden Whistler against bright background light
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, October 2013]

Near-lateral view of a male Golden Whistler
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, October 2008]

Lateral view of a singing male Golden Whistler (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Lamington NP, Gold Coast, QLD, October 2015]

Near-dorsal view of a male Golden Whistler

Dorsal view of a male Golden Whistler
[May 2012]

Dorsal view of a male Golden Whistler on the ground
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, June 2014]

Male Golden Whistler (in bad light) launching itself from its perch

FEMALE

Frontal view of a female Golden Whistler
[Porcupine Reserve, Gunnedah, NSW, August 2011]

Frontal view of a (possibly young) female Golden Whistler with brownish plumage (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Near-frontal view of a hunched female Golden Whistler; an exact identification of the bird is very difficult
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, August 2008]

Near-frontal view of a female Golden Whistler; still it is difficult to identify the bird correctly from this angle; note how much browner this bird appears compared to those shown above
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, August 2008]

Close-up lateral view of a female Golden Whistler
[Limeburners Creek NP, NSW, October 2013]

Lateral view of a female Golden Whistler; as long as the pale yellow undertail coverlets are invisible, there are few distinguishing features
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, October 2013]

Lateral view of a female Golden Whistler; now the pale yellow undertail coverlets are clearly visible, making identification easy
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, June 2008]

Close-up near-dorsal view of a female Golden Whistler
[Limeburners Creek NP, NSW, October 2013]

Dorsal view of a female Golden Whistler from underneath, showing the characteristic pale yellow undertail coverts (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Dorsal view of a female Golden Whistler from above, an angle at which the bird is extremely difficult to discern from a female Rufous Whistler and also some robins
[Near Narrabri, NSW, September 2007]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Young male Golden Whistler moulting into its adult plumage; the first yellow feathers have just developed
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, April 2009]

Frontal view of what is likely a young female Golden Whistler
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2011]

The same female Golden Whistler as above, now seen from underneath
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2011]

Dorsal view of a female Golden Whistler
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, August 2013]

Lateral view of an immature (probably male) Golden Whistler; this bird's calls were recorded by us on 19 April 2014
[Near Narrabri, NSW, April 2014]

Dorsal view of an immature male Golden Whistler
[June 2011]

Frontal view of an immature (possibly female) Golden Whistler; in this view the bird is very difficult to identify
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, June 2012]

Frontal view of an immature (possibly female) Golden Whistler; in this view at least the bill gives a clear indication that this is a whistler
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, June 2012]

Dorsal view of an immature (possibly female) Golden Whistler; only this lateral view shows all the characteristic features, namely the typical bill of a whistler, the absence of striation on the bird's front and the brown lining of the secondaries, which is characteristic of immature Golden Whistlers
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, June 2012]

Dorsal view of an immature (possibly female) Golden Whistler; this view shows the brown lining of the secondaries, which is characteristic of immature Golden Whistlers
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, June 2012]

Race "youngi"

ADULT

MALE

Frontal view of a male Golden Whistler (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Watts Creek Road, Ensay North, East Gippsland, VIC, March 2015]

Near-lateral view of a male Golden Whistler (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Watts Creek Road, Ensay North, East Gippsland, VIC, March 2015]

Lateral view of a male Golden Whistler (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Watts Creek Road, Ensay North, East Gippsland, VIC, March 2015]

Lateral view of a singing male Golden Whistler (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Watts Creek Road, Ensay North, East Gippsland, VIC, March 2015]

Ventral view of a male Golden Whistler (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Watts Creek Road, Ensay North, East Gippsland, VIC, March 2015]

FEMALE

Lateral view of a female Golden Whistler (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Watts Creek Road, Ensay North, East Gippsland, VIC, March 2015]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of an immature Golden Whistler (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Watts Creek Road, Ensay North, East Gippsland, VIC, March 2015]

Lateral view of an immature Golden Whistler (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Watts Creek Road, Ensay North, East Gippsland, VIC, March 2015]

Dorsal view of an immature Golden Whistler (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Watts Creek Road, Ensay North, East Gippsland, VIC, March 2015]

Race "fuliginosa"

ADULT

MALE

Frontal view of a male Golden Whistler (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Manjimup, WA, March 2015]

Frontal view of a male Golden Whistler (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Manjimup, WA, March 2015]

Lateral view of a male Golden Whistler (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Manjimup, WA, March 2015]

Race "contempta"

ADULT

MALE

Frontal view of a male Golden Whistler (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lord Howe Island, November 2014]

Dorsal view of a male Golden Whistler (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lord Howe Island, November 2014]

FEMALE

Near-dorsal view of a female Golden Whistler (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lord Howe Island, November 2014]

Race "glaucura"

ADULT

MALE

Frontal view of a male Golden Whistler (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Bruny Island, TAS, March 2016]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Aug - Jan Eggs: 2 Incubation period: 14 - 17 days Fledging age: ?

The breeding season of Golden Whistlers depends on geographical latitude. The period listed in the table above refers to the southern part of the continent. In the tropical North, they can breed almost any time of the year, with the possible exception of a short period around May-June.

Nest building: Female & male Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female & male

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Twigs, root fibres, grass stems, dry leaves, dry ferns, webs Height above ground: 0.5 - 6 m

Golden Whistler nests are often quite flimsy affairs that are very loosely woven and therefore partly translucent. Golden Whistlers are known to use an unusual variety of materials compared to other species.

Female Golden Whistler, race "youngi", departing, while the male is bringing a new delivery to the nest (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Wild Dog Creek Track, Mount Nunniong, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2016]

Male Golden Whistler on the edge of its nest (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Wild Dog Creek Track, Mount Nunniong, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2016]

Here the male Golden Whistler is seen sitting on its nest (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Wild Dog Creek Track, Mount Nunniong, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2016]

Male Golden Whistler feeding the chicks (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Wild Dog Creek Track, Mount Nunniong, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2016]

Female Golden Whistler feeding the chicks (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Wild Dog Creek Track, Mount Nunniong, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2016]

A close-up doral few of the feeding female Golden Whistler shows that its secondaries still have rufous tints, suggesting that this is a first-year bird that is still moulting into its adult plumage (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Wild Dog Creek Track, Mount Nunniong, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2016]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 23 x 17 mm Colour: Creamy, with mid- to dark-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Partly migratory Elementary unit: Pair

The male in the photos below was seen/heard calling his lady, using a call that was entirely different from anything we have heard whistlers use before.

Male Golden Whistler calling a female
[Near Narrabri, NSW, May 2012]

Here both male and female Golden Whistler on the point of takeoff
[Near Narrabri, NSW, May 2012]

Food, Diet

Like all other members of the Pachycephala family known to us, Golden Whistlers forage through trees for insects.

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

goldwhs_20140319.mp3 pectoralis
(NW NSW)
Contact call © MD
goldwhs_20140522.mp3 pectoralis
(SE QLD)
Contact call © MD
goldwhs_art_20131125.mp3 pectoralis
(SE QLD)
Pair Q&A © ART
goldwhs_20140327.mp3 pectoralis
(NW NSW)
? © MD
goldwhs_20140419.mp3 pectoralis
(NW NSW)
? (Immature) © MD
goldwhs_20140419_2.mp3 pectoralis
(NW NSW)
? (Immature) © MD
 
goldwhs_jg_20161231.mp3 fuliginosa
(SW WA)
Territorial calls Q&A © JG

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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