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19

Jacky Winter

(Microeca fascinans)
Alternate name(s): "Peter-Peter", "Post-boy", "Post-sitter", "Brown Flycatcher", "White-tail", "Stumpbird", "Spinks"
Aboriginal name(s): Race "fascinans": "dhunidjuni" [yuwaalaraay]

Size: 12-14 cm
Weight: 15 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 Jacky Winter at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

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

Race "fascinans"

ADULT

Close-up portrait of an adult Jacky Winter
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2012]

Frontal view of a Jacky Winter (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Close-up near-frontal view of an adult Jacky Winter
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

Frontal view of a Jacky Winter on a low perch
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2012]

Near-frontal view of a Jacky Winter
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2012]

Close-up lateral view of an adult Jacky Winter
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

Lateral view of a Jacky Winter
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2015]

Lateral view of a Jacky Winter, now with its head turned
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2015]

Lateral view of a Jacky Winter in bright sunlight
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2015]

Near-dorsal view of a Jacky Winter
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2012]

Dorsal view of a Jacky Winter
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2012]

Lateral view of a Jacky Winter with its feathers ruffled by wind
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, February 2006]

If nothing else, the posture of this Jacky Winter angling its wings shows that Jacky Winters belong to the family of the robins
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, February 2006]

Near-dorsal view of a Jacky Winter
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2016]

Dorsal view of a Jacky Winter (right) and a White-plumed Honeyeater (left) (photo taken by R. Druce)
[Pilliga scrub, NSW, July 2011]

This photo shows clearly the white outer tail feathers of a Jacky Winter that are also prominent in flight; this is the feature that distinguishes Jacky Winters from other robins and makes identification in flight easy (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

In wintertime Jacky Winters can look a lot "fatter", because they are puffed up to protect themselves against cold weather
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, May 2008]

Jacky Winter on its perch late in the evening
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, April 2006]

Distant dorsal view of a Jacky Winter in low flight, exhibiting clearly its white outer tail feathers, which distinguish this species from other robins
[Narran Lake NR, near Walgett, NSW, July 2014]

Pair of Jacky Winters on an old barbed-wire fence line
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, September 2008]

Pair of Jacky Winters on their vantage point (photo of M. Windeyer)
[Gilgandra Flora Reserve, NSW, May 2016]

Pair of Jacky Winters on an a twig (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of an immature Jacky Winter; note the streaks on the cap
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2016]

Frontal view of an juvenile Jacky Winter
[January 2008]

Close-up shot of an immature bird, probably a Jacky Winter spreading its wings to cool on an extremely hot day; note the dark patches showing through the plumage, similar to the bird in the photo above when its feathers are ruffled by wind
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, February 2006]

Near-frontal view of a juvenile Jacky Winter
[Eulah Creek, October 2015]

Lateral view of a juvenile Jacky Winter
[Near Narrabri, NSW, December 2014]

Lateral view of a juvenile Jacky Winter
[Eulah Creek, October 2015]

Near-dorsal view of a juvenile Jacky Winter
[Eulah Creek, October 2015]

Dorsal view of a juvenile Jacky Winter stretching a wing (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[South Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2015]

Two fledgling Jacky Winters, 5 days after leaving their nest; the two little rascals observe their parents; every move...
[Eulah Creek, October 2015]

... when not watching that curious photographer
[Eulah Creek, October 2015]

Time for a feed! Adult Jacky Winter feeding one of its fledglings
[Eulah Creek, October 2015]

Adult Jacky Winter preparing to feed one of its fledglings
[Eulah Creek, October 2015]

Frontal view of a fledgling Jacky Winter waiting to be fed
[Eulah Creek, October 2015]

Race "pallida"

ADULT

Lateral view of an adult Jacky Winter, race "pallida" (right), together with a dependent juvenile (left)
[Sturt NP, NSW, September 2012]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Distant lateral view of a juvenile Jacky Winter
[Sturt NP, NSW, September 2012]

Distant dorsal view of a juvenile Jacky Winter
[Sturt NP, NSW, September 2012]

Race "assimilis"

ADULT

Lateral view of an adult Jacky Winter on its nest (photo courtesy of R. Brinsley)
[85 km West of Wentworth, NSW, October 2011]

Breeding information

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

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

The breeding seasons of Jacky Winters depends on geographic latitude and on weather conditions, especially in the semi-arid interior of the continent. Given the right conditions, in particular after good inland rainfall, Jacky Winters can in principle breed at any time of the year.

Jacky Winter, race "fascinans", suffering the shock of its life when encountering a Lace Monitor in a tree hollow
[Leard State Forest, NSW, April 2013]

Nest

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

Type: Basket Material: Rootlets, grass stems, bark fibre, webs Height above ground: 0.5 - 20 m

Jacky Winter nests are always blended into a (near-)horizontal fork, often of a dead branch.

In September 2016 we were able to observe in detail the behaviour of a pair of Jacky Winters during a particularly wet period. While the female continued incubating through rain events, as soon as the chicks had hatched she helped with feeding the chicks. The need for both Jacky Winter parents to feed themselves and two chicks is so urgent that, on a rainy morning when the chicks were about 3 days old, the female still left the nest unattended to go hunting at the break of dawn - and the chicks died within about an hour. Two more feeding attempts were made, one and two hours after daybreak, but when there was no response, the nest was abandoned.

There is now a separate page describing some more of the behaviour observed at and around the nest.

A new attempt was made by the same pair in a new nest, about 50 m from the old one, in October 2016.

Close look at a Jacky Winter, race "assimilis", on its nest; note that the tail goes out the back of the fork (photo courtesy of R. Brinsley)
[85 km west of Wentworth, NSW, October 2011]

Jacky Winter, race "fascinans", on its nest in a fork of an Acacia salicina tree; this bird was seen in various positions on the nest, looking in different directions
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2016]

Jacky Winter going for a second attempt, after losing a brood to rain a month earlier; this nest was later probably destroyed by a male Rufous Songlark who showed very aggressive behaviour against the Jacky Winters when establishing its own territory, including a favourite perch near the nest site
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2016]

This third nest, which was constructed under the "umbrella" of a Magpie-lark nest, was later destroyed by a severe hail storm
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

Jacky Winter tending to its young
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2015]

Jacky Winter chick preening
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2015]

Eggs

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

Size: 19 x 14 mm Colour: Bluish-grey, with light- to mid-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Jacky Winter, race "assimilis", nest, with two eggs in it (photo courtesy of R. Brinsley)
[85 km west of Wentworth, NSW, September 2011]

Jacky Winter nest with two eggs in it
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2016]

Clear view of Jacky Winter eggs from above (with the help of a mirror)
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2016]

Jacky Winter egg found broken and emptied by a predator
[Eulah Creek, NSW]

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Sedentary/locally migratory Elementary unit: Pair

Similar to Willie Wagtails, Jacky Winters can be opportunistic hunters. They will accompany us during garden work to pick off insects disturbed by us, sometimes coming close. Jacky Winters are the only Australian songbird known to us that will sing most vigorously in wintertime (hence the name...).

A Jacky Winter was seen by us hustling a Sacred Kingfisher, indicating that they may compete for the same food source. Similarly, Jacky Winters are protective of their territory against other types of robins, such as e.g. the smaller Red-capped Robin.

The first time we have noticed fledgling Jacky Winters to use the tail flick characteristic of the species was about 7 days after leaving the nest, at about the same time as they started meeting their parents in the air to beg for food.

Jacky Winters can hover in a spot while hunting
[Near Barraba, NSW, December 2014]

Like other bird species, Jacky Winters defend their nest against intrusions; here a female Rufous Whistler has come too close at a time when the nest was not even finished yet
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2016]

Food, Diet

Like all other robins (all families), Jacky Winters are flycatchers. Most robins hunt for insects from low to mid-level perches. Jacky Winters can often be seen hunting from fence lines.

Jacky Winter with its catch, a grasshopper
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2016]

Jacky Winter that has caught a juicy caterpillar
[Near Barraba, NSW, December 2014]

Near-lateral view of a Jacky Winter with its catch
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2013]

Lateral view of a Jacky Winter with its catch
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2013]

Jacky Winter seen by us looking for insects on the ground, under a tree infested with psyllids
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2012]

One peculiarity that we have noticed twice now in Jacky Winters (and in no other bird species yet) is that birds coughed up insects they had caught and swallowed before.

This Jacky Winter was caught on camera when it was moving in a strange way, as if throwing up; in fact, as it opened its bill, an insect flew out (which was not caught on camera...)!
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2012]

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.

jwinter_20141019.mp3 fascinans
(NW NSW)
Territorial call © MD
jwinter_20140306_17.mp3 fascinans
(NW NSW)
Territorial call(?) © MD
jwinter_20140306_2.mp3 fascinans
(NW NSW)
Territorial call(?) © MD
jwinter_20140306.mp3 fascinans
(NW NSW)
Territorial call(?) © MD
jwinter_20140306_13.mp3 fascinans
(NW NSW)
Territorial call(?), slow cadence © MD
jwinter_20140306_19.mp3 fascinans
(NW NSW)
Territorial call(?), slow cadence © MD
jwinter_20140306_3.mp3 fascinans
(NW NSW)
Territorial call(?), slow cadence © MD
jwinter_20140306_15.mp3 fascinans
(NW NSW)
Pair Q&A © MD
jwinter_20140306_4.mp3 fascinans
(NW NSW)
Warning call (human) © MD
jwinter_20160111.mp3 fascinans
(NW NSW)
Warning call (Australian Koel)) © MD
jwinter_20151015_3.mp3 fascinans
(NW NSW)
Annoyed call/warning © MD
jwinter_20150913.mp3 fascinans
(NW NSW)
Various © MD
jwinter_20151015.mp3 fascinans
(NW NSW)
Begging calls (fledglings) © MD
jwinter_20140307.mp3 fascinans
(NW NSW)
? © MD
jwinter_20140519_1.mp3 fascinans
(NW NSW)
? © 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.

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