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22

Australasian Figbird

(Sphecotheres viridis)
Alternate name(s): "Figbird", "Mulberry-bird", "Banana-bird*"
Size: 28-29 cm
Weight: 100-150 g

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 Australasian Figbird at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "vieilloti"

This race is also called the "Green Figbird".

ADULT

MALE

Frontal view of a male Australasian Figbird
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

Frontal view of a moulting male Australasian Figbird (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Ashmore, Gold Coast, QLD, December 2017]

Near-lateral view of a male Australasian Figbird
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

Close-up lateral view of a male Australasian Figbird's bright-red wattled skin (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Noosa, QLD, December 2017]

Lateral view of a male Australasian Figbird
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

Near-dorsal view of a male Australasian Figbird
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

Near-dorsal view of a male Australasian Figbird (photo courtesy of A. Campbell)
[Mount McEuen, QLD, September 2017]

Dorsal view of a male Australasian Figbird (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Anstead, QLD, July 2017]

Dorsal view of a male Australasian Figbird conveniently displaying its upperwing pattern for study (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[The Spit, Gold Coast, QLD, August 2015]

Ventral view of a male Australasian Figbird issuing its call
[Near Old Bar, NSW, September 2011]

FEMALE

Frontal view of a female Australasian Figbird with its plumage ruffled by wind from behind
[Deepwater NP, QLD, July 2009]

Male (right) and female (left) Australasian Figbirds high up on a dead branch
[Deepwater NP, QLD, July 2009]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of a juvenile Australasian Figbird (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Anstead, QLD, February 2017]

Immature Australasian Figbird in a lemon-scented gumtree in our garden, 20 km East of Narrabri, NSW
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2013]

Two juvenile Australasian Figbirds, probably still very young
[Deepwater NP, QLD, July 2009]

Frontal view of a fledgling Australasian Figbird, just hours out of its nest; this chick still had problems balancing properly on its perch
[Bundjalung NP, NSW, February 2012]

More lateral view of the same fledgling Australasian Figbird as shown above
[Bundjalung NP, NSW, February 2012]

Fledgling Figbird begging for food
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, February 2008]

Here is one of the Figbird parents with a berry...
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, February 2008]

... and in she goes! Figbird feeding the chick
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, February 2008]

Race "flaviventris"

The two tropical races "flaviventris" and "ashbyi" are also called the "Yellow Figbird".

ADULT

MALE

Close-up lateral view of a male Australasian Figbird (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Julatten, QLD, July 2018]

Lateral/ventral view of a male Australasian Figbird (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Julatten, QLD, July 2018]

FEMALE

Lateral view of a female Australasian Figbird (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Julatten, QLD, July 2018]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Close-up frontal view of a sub-adult male Australasian Figbird; note that the wattles have already turned red, but the bird still has most of its juvenile plumage (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Julatten, QLD, July 2018]

Close-up lateral view of a sub-adult male Australasian Figbird (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Julatten, QLD, July 2018]

Frontal view of a juvenile Australasian Figbird preening (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Cairns, QLD, March 2015]

Transition between races "vieilloti" and "flaviventris"

The birds shown in the following where observed near Townsville, QLD, in the transition region between the two races, where males have partly green and partly yellow breasts.

ADULT

MALE

Lateral view of a male Australasian Figbird; photo courtesy of L. Tonnochy
[Near Townsville, QLD, September 2011]

More dorsal view of a male Australasian Figbird, with a female above him; photo courtesy of L. Tonnochy
[Near Townsville, QLD, September 2011]

Frontal view of a female Australasian Figbird; photo courtesy of L. Tonnochy
[Near Townsville, QLD, September 2011]

FEMALE

This frontal view shows a female Australasian Figbird hunched while relaxing; photo courtesy of L. Tonnochy
[Near Townsville, QLD, September 2011]

In this photo one can clearly see the half-green, half-yellow front of the male Australasian Figbird
[Near Townsville, QLD, September 2011]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Near-frontal view of a juvenile Australasian Figbird (photo courtesy of L. Tonnochy)
[Near Townsville, QLD, January 2011]

Race "ashbyi"

The two tropical races "ashbyi" and "flaviventris" are also called the "Yellow Figbird".

ADULT

MALE

Near-lateral view of a male Australasian Figbird (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, July 2018]

Lateral view of a male Australasian Figbird (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, May 2018]

Dorsal view of a male Australasian Figbird (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, May 2018]

Ventral view of a male Australasian Figbird
[Darwin, NT, August 2014]

Near-frontal view of a pair of Australasian Figbirds; male on the left, female on the right (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, September 2017]

FEMALE

Frontal view of a female Australasian Figbird (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, March 2018]

Frontal view of a female Australasian Figbird (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, July 2018]

Lateral view of a female Australasian Figbird (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, March 2018]

Lateral view of a female Australasian Figbird wiping its bill (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, March 2018]

Group of Australasian Figbirds feeding high up in a tree
[Darwin, NT, August 2014]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Dorsal view of an immature Australasian Figbird - the shape of the bill and the warty skin around the eye show that this is a figbird; the head has not moulted into adult plumage and the warty skin has not turned red yet, but the olive-green back already indicates that this is a young male (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, March 2018]

Dorsal view of an immature Australasian Figbird (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, March 2018]

Breeding information

Breeding season: July - Mar Eggs: 2 - 3 Incubation period: ca. 18(?) days Fledging age: ca. 17(?) days

The breeding season of Australasian Figbirds depends on geographic latitude. Most breed in the time frame Oct-Jan, but the breeding season can extend much longer, as listed in the table above.

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

Nest

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

Type: Basket Material: Twigs, vine tendrils Height above ground: >10(?) m

Australasian Figbird nests are more flimsy than those of the orioles found in Australia.

Female Australasian Figbird sitting on its nest (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, October 2017]

Clearer view of the female Australasian Figbird sitting near the nest shown above (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, October 2017]

Eggs

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

Size: 34 x 24 mm Colour: Greyish, with light- to mid-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Sedentary Elementary unit: Small flock

Note that immature birds are nomadic.

Food, Diet

As their name already suggests, Australasian Figbirds feed on native figs, but also other fruit. They will also take nectar and insects.

Male Australasian Figbird feasting on fruit
[Deepwater NP, QLD, July 2009]

Male Australasian Figbird feasting on fruit (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Pacific Pines, Gold Coast, QLD, July 2009]

Male Australasian Figbird peeling(?) a fruit (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Julatten, QLD, July 2018]

Male Australasian Figbird peeling(?) a fruit (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Julatten, QLD, July 2018]

Male Australasian Figbird with a fruit (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Julatten, QLD, July 2018]

Male Australasian Figbird checking out a mulberry tree
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

Female Australasian Figbird taking a mulberry
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

Gulp...
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

... gone!
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

Female Australasian Figbird taking fruit (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Anstead Reserve, Anstead, QLD, March 2017]

Australasian Figbirds "vieilloti"/"flaviventris" in their "land of milk and honey"... - these look like a male (centre), female (top) and immature (bottom); photo courtesy of L. Tonnochy
[Near Townsville, QLD, September 2011]

This photo of an immature Australasian Figbird may suggest that they do not only take nectar and fruit, but also eat petals of flowers (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Anstead, QLD, February 2017]

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.

figbird_20140525_4.mp3 vieilloti
(NW NSW)
Contact call © MD
figbird_20161116_5.m4a vieilloti
(NW NSW)
Contact call © MD
figbird_20161116.m4a vieilloti
(NW NSW)
Competing for food © MD
figbird_20161116_4.m4a vieilloti
(NW NSW)
Competing for food © MD
figbird_20140526.mp3 vieilloti
(NW NSW)
? © MD
figbird_20140525_2.mp3 vieilloti
(NW NSW)
? © MD
figbird_20140525.mp3 vieilloti
(NW NSW)
? © MD
 
figbird_20140818_2.m4a ashbyi
(Pine Creek, NT)
Contact call(?) © MD
figbird_20140818_3.m4a ashbyi
(Pine Creek, NT)
Extended contact call(?) © MD
figbird_20140817.m4a ashbyi
(Darwin, NT)
Extended contact call(?) © MD
figbird_pb_20180804_2.m4a ashbyi
(Darwin, NT)
Various (male) © PB
figbird_pb_20180804.m4a ashbyi
(Darwin, NT)
Various (male); long sequence © PB
figbird_20140817_3.m4a ashbyi
(Top End, NT)
Q&A? (with Yellow Oriole) © MD
figbird_20140817_2.m4a ashbyi
(Darwin, NT)
? © MD
figbird_20140818_5.m4a ashbyi
(Pine Creek, NT)
? © MD
figbird_20140818_7.m4a ashbyi
(Pine Creek, NT)
? © MD
figbird_20140818.m4a ashbyi
(Pine Creek, NT)
? © 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.

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