Aust birds    Bird names   News   1-26    Habitats    Key plants    Glossary    Plumage    Nests    Tips    Thumbnails    Gen. info    Sponsors    Photos for sale   
NON-PASSERINES     1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10     11     12     13     14 15     16     17     18     19     20     21     22     23     24     25     26     PASSERINES
Common names sorted alphabetically: A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   W   Y  
Have birds left a mess around your place? We recommend to try a professional cleaning service.

20

Varied Sittella

(Daphoenositta chrysoptera)
Alternate name(s): "Tree-runner", "Nuthatch", "Barkpecker", "Woodpecker" (misnomer);
(Includes "Black-capped Sitella", "White-winged Sitella", "White-headed Sitella" and "Striated Sitella")
Aboriginal name(s): Race "pileata": "darnakot", "koomalbidyt", "balbin" (WA)

Size: 11-13 cm
Weight: 13 g (average)
Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Varied Sittella at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "chrysoptera"

ADULT

MALE

Near-frontal view of a male Varied Sitella
[North of Bourke, NSW, September 2012]

Near-lateral view of a jumping male Varied Sittella
[North of Bourke, NSW, September 2012]

Lateral view of a male Varied Sitella, different posture
[North of Bourke, NSW, September 2012]

Head-on view of a Varied Sittella (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Near Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2014]

FEMALE

Lateral view of a female Varied Sitella
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, April 2008]

Female Varied Sittella spreading its wings
[North of Bourke, NSW, September 2012]

Lateral view of a female Varied Sittella; this is one of the birds whose calls were recorded on 23 October 2014
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, October 2014]

Dorsal view of a female Varied Sitella
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, April 2008]

Dorsal view of a Varied Sittella
[North of Bourke, NSW, September 2012]

Some Varied Sittella acrobatics...
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, April 2008]

.. and some more Varied Sittella arcrobatics
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, April 2008]

Varied Sittella in flight, just after takeoff
[North of Bourke, NSW, September 2012]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Lateral view of a juvenile female Varied Sittella; although searching for food in the bark of an Acacia salicina, it was still being fed by adult birds
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2014]

View onto the back of the same juvenile Varied Sittella as shown above
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2014]

Race "pileata"

ADULT

MALE

Near-frontal view of a male Varied Sitella (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Wooroloo Regional Park, Perth, WA, August 2015]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Sep - Jan Eggs: 2 - 3 Incubation period: 14 days Fledging age: ca. 15 days

The breeding season listed in the table above relates to the southern part of the continent. In the North they preferably breed between August and October, possibly also between February and March.

Nest building: Family clan Incubation: Mated female Dependent care: Family clan

Nest

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

Type: Basket Material: Bark, fibres, grass, webs, feathers Height above ground: 5-25 m

We have observed the behaviour described in some field guides of Varied Sittellas running (sometimes up, but mostly) down the trunk to which they attach their nest as if foraging for insects in the bark, thereby disguising the fact that they are building a nest.

Female Varied Sitella checking the "seating comfort" of a nest that is in the final phase of construction; note the typical position in a fork, making the nest look from below like the stump of another, broken branch
[Near Barraba, NSW, September 2015]

Here the male Varied Sitella is checking the nest
[Near Barraba, NSW, September 2015]

Female Varied Sitella bringing a downy feather for lining the nest that the male then put in place
[Near Barraba, NSW, September 2015]

Here a female Varied Sitella brings a piece of bark for the outside of the nest, while the male is about to head off again
[Near Barraba, NSW, September 2015]

The pair of Varied Sitellas had support from at least one more female helper; a maximum of 3 birds was observed by us over a period of 15 minutes and their calls were recorded, but it is unclear whether they were always the same 3 birds
[Near Barraba, NSW, September 2015]

Eggs

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

Size: 17 x 13 mm Colour: Light bluish-grey, with big dark speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial? Mobility: Sedentary/dispersive Elementary unit: Family clan

While foraging in trees, Varied Sittellas move down tree trunks, head first, as opposed to treecreepers, which forage from the base of a tree upwards, also facing upwards.

Female Varied Sittella foraging head-down
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, October 2014]

Food, Diet

Varied Sitellas mostly probe tree bark for small insects and spiders, but they take larger prey, such as e.g. cicadas, as well.

Male Varied Sitella with its prey (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Wooroloo Regional Park, Perth, WA, August 2015]

Female Varied Sittella with a cicada it has just caught
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, October 2014]

Here the female Varied Sittella is seen plucking its cicada
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, October 2014]

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.

vsittel_20160406.mp3 chrysoptera
(NW NSW)
Contact call? © MD
vsittel_20150905.mp3 chrysoptera
(NW NSW)
Various (near nest) © MD
vsittel_20141023_2.mp3 chrysoptera
(NW NSW)
Various (pair foraging) © MD
vsittel_20141023_3.mp3 chrysoptera
(NW NSW)
Various (pair foraging) © MD
vsittel_20141023_4.mp3 chrysoptera
(NW NSW)
Various (pair foraging) © MD
vsittel_20141203.mp3 chrysoptera
(NW NSW)
Various © MD
vsittel_20141203_4.mp3 chrysoptera
(NW NSW)
Various © MD

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.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.