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18

Little Friarbird

(Philemon citreogularis)
Alternate name(s): "Little Leatherhead", "Yellow-throated Friarbird"
Size: 25-30 cm
Weight: 67 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 Little Friarbird at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "citreogularis"

Not the photos you want? Or are you after even better quality? Have a look here .

ADULT

Close-up frontal portrait of a Little Friarbird (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, July 2012]

Close-up frontal/ventral view of a Little Friarbird
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2015]

Frontal view of a Little Friarbird; this is the bird whose calls were recorded on 4 August 2015
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2015]

Near-frontal view of a Little Friarbird
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2006]

Lateral view of a Little Friarbird
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2007]

Lateral view of a Little Friarbird drying its plumage after a bath
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2012]

Near-dorsal view of a Little Friarbird
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2010]

Little Friarbird preening
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2010]

Little Friarbird sitting next to an Olive-backed Oriole, both waiting their turn for a drink of water under the tree
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2006]

Little Friarbird securing the left side...
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2007]

...then the right
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2007]

Little Friarbird having a drink
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2007]

Little Friarbird taking off from its perch
[Yarrie Lake, near Wee Waa, NSW, January 2013]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

This frontal view shows the typical yellow throat of an immature Little Friarbird
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2008]

Near-frontal view of a immature Little Friarbird
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2012]

Lateral view of a immature Little Friarbird
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2012]

Frontal view of a juvenile Little Friarbird calling to be fed
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2008]

View from underneath of the spiny yellow throat plumage of a juvenile Little Friarbird waiting to be fed
[Near Narrabri, NSW, January 2006]

Dorsal view of a juvenile Little Friarbird
[Narrabri, NSW, November 2010]

Fledgling Little Friarbird waiting to be fed...
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2011]

... not far away from its two Little Friarbird siblings
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2011]

Race "sordidus"

ADULT

Frontal view of a Little Friarbird
[Darwin, NT, August 2014]

Lateral view of a Little Friarbird
[Darwin, NT, August 2014]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Jul - Feb Eggs: 2 - 3 Incubation period: 16 days Fledging age: 17 - 19 days

Given the right conditions, Little Friarbirds can breed almost any time of the year (except April/May).

While, to the best of our knowledge, ALL other local birds lost their nests and/or broods in a severe hail storm with destructive winds in November 2016, only the local pair of Little Friarbirds managed to successfully raise two chicks
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2016]

Nest

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

Type: (Hanging) basket Material: Twigs, grass Height above ground: 3 - 20 m

Little Friarbirds were seen by us nesting quite late in the 2010/11 breeding season, when building their nest in December and starting to sit on their eggs in the second half of December. But they had their first clutch out in no time and were busy feeding chicks again already by mid-February. The second nest was built in the same tree (Acacia salicina) as the first of the season, but hanging from a different branch.

Additional information

To see a sequence of photos showing the activities of an adult bird at its nest, click here.

Additional information

Little Friarbirds like to take advantage of the protection offered by nesting under an Australian Magpie nest. There is now a separate page about various bird species nesting under the umbrella of a stronger, protective species.

Little Friarbird entering its nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2010]

Little Friarbird sitting on the nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2010]

Little Friarbird peeking out of its nest to see what is going on underneath
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2010]

Fledgling Little Friarbird that fell out of a tree on the day of leaving the nest; that day 190 mm of rain fell, which is why the bird is soaking wet and could not fly just yet
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2012]

Before being put back on a tree branch by us, the fledgling Little Friarbird was fed by its parents on the ground
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2012]

Little Friarbird pinching nesting material from the nest of a pair of Yellow-rumped Thornbills that was still under construction
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2013]

Eggs

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

Size: 27 x 20 mm Colour: Creamy, with brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Dispersive Elementary unit: Solitary/pair

Little Friarbirds protect their nest and its surroundings with determination, also against much more powerful birds, such as e.g. Australian Magpies.

Food, Diet

Adults: Nectar, insects Dependents: Insects Water intake: Daily

Like many other honeyeaters, Little Friarbirds do not exclusively feed on nectar, but use their sticky tongue to take insects too.

Little Friarbird feeding on nectar from the flowers of a lemon-scented eucalypt
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2012]

Little Friarbird feeding on the nectar of a grevillea; this is the bird whose calls were recorded on 14 September 2014 (photo and sound recording courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, September 2014]

Little Friarbird feeding on the nectar of a grevillea (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, August 2012]

Here a Little Friarbird displaying behaviour typical of a flycatcher, hunting off a low perch
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

This Little Friarbird has caught a fair-sized meal
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2011]

This Little Friarbird has caught what looks like a small cicada
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2012]

Little Friarbird whacking the wings off a dragon fly before feeding it to one of its nestlings
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

Little Friarbirds can sometimes be seen hunting insects on the ground
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Little Friarbird making proper use of a water fountain
[Darwin, NT, August 2014]

Additional information

In the case of Little Friarbirds we know that they feed their chicks with insects only. For more information, click here.

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.

ltfriar_20140925.mp3 citreogularis
(NW NSW)
Contact calls © MD
ltfriar_20150316.mp3 citreogularis
(NW NSW)
Contact calls © MD
ltfriar_20151222.mp3 citreogularis
(NW NSW)
Territorial song (male display flight) © MD
ltfriar_20150505.mp3 citreogularis
(NW NSW)
Territorial calls? Pair Q&A © MD
ltfriar_20161218_2.mp3 citreogularis
(NW NSW)
Q&A © MD
ltfriar_20160106.mp3 citreogularis
(NW NSW)
Swooping on intruder near nest © MD
ltfriar_art_20140914.mp3 citreogularis
(SE QLD)
Feeding calls © ART
ltfriar_20150127_1.mp3 citreogularis
(NW NSW)
Begging calls (juveniles) © MD
ltfriar_20160106_3b.mp3 citreogularis
(NW NSW)
Begging calls (nestlings) © MD
ltfriar_20140124.mp3 citreogularis
(NW NSW)
Various © MD
ltfriar_20150804.mp3 citreogularis
(NW NSW)
Various © MD
ltfriar_20150804_2.mp3 citreogularis
(NW NSW)
Q&A (with Galah) © MD
ltfriar_20140416.mp3 citreogularis
(NW NSW)
Defending food source? © MD
ltfriar_20141001_3.mp3 citreogularis
(NW NSW)
? (fighting) © MD
 
ltfriar_20140818.mp3 sordidus
(Pine Creek, NT)
? © MD
Click here for more recordings

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.