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Golden Plains Shire
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
Wimmera Catchment Management Authority

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Hooded Robin

 

 

Hooded Robin
Melanodryas cucullata cucullata
Kingdom:                 Animalia
Phylum:                 Chordata
Class:                 Aves
Order:                 Passeriformes
Family:                 Petroicidae
Status
World:  least concern (IUCN 2012)
Australia:  near threatened
Victoria:  near threatened (DEPI 2013)
South Australia  rare
New South Wales  vulnerable
FFG VIC  Listed  

 

The Hooded Robin Melanodryas cucullata is widely distributed across mainland Australia and is characterised by black and white colouration in the male bird. There are three recognised sub-species in Australia with Melanodryas cucullata  cucullata being found in south-eastern Australia where it is the only species of Robin to have black and white markings in the male bird. 

The male Hooded Robin has a black head, throat and upperparts with white shoulders and white secondaries in the wing; its underside is white with a black tip on the tail. Females lack the black head markings and are greyer above with dark grey wings and white secondaries in the wing. The underside is grey-white.

 

Victorian distribution

All known records of Hooded Robin in Victoria. Source: VBA 2015

In Victoria, the Hooded Robin is mainly distributed across the Lowan Mallee,  Murray Mallee ,Wimmera, Goldfields,  Central Victorian Uplands,  Victorian Riverina , Northern Inland Slopes and East Gippsland Uplands bioregions. The highest density of records is in the semi-arid region of North West Victoria (Emison et al. 1987).

Habitat and ecology 

Habitat

Hooded Robin habitat comprises structurally diverse open woodlands containing Eucalyptus, Acacia or Callitris with an understorey of smaller trees, shrubs and grasses. They are not normally found in urban or densely forested areas. Hooded Robins are more positively associated with edge habitats, with deep and sheltered edges considered particularly important (Priday 2010). 

Breeding

The main breeding season is July to November, usually with 2-3 broods.  Nests are made in a tree fork or crevice up to 5 metres above ground. They breed in monogamous pairs, staying together during the whole breeding season. They are often observed in small groups and pairs.

Territories range from 10 Hectares in the breeding season to 30 Hectares in the non-breeding season.  The reason for having a smaller range in breeding season is because the birds find partners and stay in breeding areas to raise the chicks.  

Female Hooded Robin nesting. Image: Ian Morgan.

Decline and threats 

Hooded Robins were once fairly common, but populations have been reduced to about a quarter of the previous distribution.  There has been a decline in numbers since the 1980's in Victoria, with the rate being less than 7% in all years since detailed records began (DCE Victoria 2000).  

The Hooded Robin is still found in the western districts of Victoria, with the most sightings being in the very North West, near Mildura.  Numbers have declined near Melbourne, North-East Victoria, West Gippsland and East Gippsland districts where they once previously occupied. Observations in the Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park area have detected a decline in the Hooded Robin population over recent years.

It is thought tthe Hooded Robin is locally extinct on the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas, French Island and in West Gippsland.

Threats

Fire (intensity and  frequency)  -  changes in fire behaviour can result in altered vegetation structure e.g. formation of dense regrowth creating unusable habitat for the Hooded Robin which prefers more sparse vegetation. Too frequent burning can result in loss of hollows, leaf litter and woody debris which provide feeding habitat. Spring burns are considered detrimental to breeding success.

Feral cats and foxes - these are considered major threats because the Hooded Robin forages at ground level, becoming easy prey. Nests are within 5 m of ground level which can be within reach of cats.

Weed invasion - Maron and Lill (2005) found that Hooded Robins avoided foraging in sites dominated by weeds and exotic grasses. In the Big Desert major weed issues are Bridal Creeper, African Box-thorn, Cactus species, Golden Dodder, Horehound, Peppercorn/ Weeping Willow, and exotic annual grasses.

Competition - the Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala is considered a major competitor species which can drive away Hooded Robins particularly from their preferred woodland edge habitat and woodland remnants.

Firewood collection - in certain bushland areas this is a problem due to the loss of woody debris including branches, logs and stumps which provide habitat for invertebrates and food for the Hooded Robin.

Weather - climate change has been raised as an issue which could lead to changes in vegetation, particularly invasion by a range of weeds and exotic grasses which have the potential to degrade feeding habitat.

Conservation of the Hooded Robin in Victoria

Major initiatives are centred around protection of habitat and control of foxes and feral cats.

The care of habitat on private land is extremely important and encouraged through Landcare, Land for Wildlife, Whole farm planning, Catchment Management Authorities, Trust for Nature covenants and Birdlife Australia.

Parks Victoria manages substantial areas of reserves containing Hooded Robins. In conjunction with the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP) there is an emphasis to manage areas where Hooded Robins are present through:

  • Apply ecological burning.
  • Monitor cat, fox and rabbit numbers and implement control activities as needed.
  • Identify weed issues and take steps to control environmental weeds including exotic annual grasses, creepers and woody weeds.
  • Parks Victoria provides input into regional fire management and operations plans.
  • Conduct surveys to determine the abundance and extent of Hooded Robins.

Important Local Government Areas for conservation of the Hooded Robin

Parks Victoria is responsible for managing reserve areas but fringing private land with remnant woodlands also plays a key role because it comprises important habitat for the Hooded Robin.

CAMPASPE SHIRE  

  • Heathcote-Graytown National Park
  • Rushworth-Heathcote State Forest
  • Terrick Terrick National Park
  • Rushworth - Murchison - Bailieston District
  • Surrounding private land 

EAST GIPPSLAND SHIRE

  • Buchan - Snowy River rain shadow area including;
  • Canni Creek, 
  • Mackillop's Bridge,
  • Deddick,
  • Bendoc and Suggan Buggan.
  • Surrounding private land

GREATER BENDIGO CITY

  • Greater Bendigo National Park
  • Surrounding private land

HEPBURN SHIRE

  • Maryborough State Forest,
  • Paddys Ranges State Park,
  • Dunolly-Inglewood State Forest,
  • Kooroya State Forest
  • Dalyenong Nature Conservation Reserve
  • Timor Nature Conservation Reserve
  • Havelock Nature Conservation Reserve 
  • Dunolly-Inglewood State Forest
  • Surrounding private land

HINDMARSH SHIRE

  • Glenlee Flora & Fauna Reserve
  • Little Desert National Park
  • Surrounding private land

INDIGO SHIRE

  • Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park
  • Surrounding private land

LODDON SHIRE

  • Wedderburn State Forest
  • Whychitella Nature Conservation Reserve
  • Borung Bushland Reserve
  • Mt Korong Nature Conservation Reserve 
  • Terrick Terrick National Park
  • Surrounding private land

MILDURA RURAL CITY

  • Sunset Country
  • Murray-Sunset National Park
  • Hattah-Kulkyne National Park
  • Yarrara Flora & Fauna Reserve
  • Bannerton Flora & Fauna Reserve
  • Wandown Flora & Fauna Reserve
  • Surrounding private land

MITCHELL SHIRE

  • Heathcote-Graytown National Park
  • Surrounding private land

STRATHBOGIE SHIRE

  • Heathcote-Graytown National Park
  • Upotipotpon Nature Conservation Reserve
  • Surrounding private land

SWAN HILL RURAL CITY

  • Goschen Bushland Reserve
  • Surrounding private land

WANGARATTA RURAL CITY

  • Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park
  • Surrounding private land

WEST WIMMERA SHIRE

  • Little Desert National Park
  • West Wimmera and Wimmera Plains Including;
  • Barrett Flora & Fauna Reserve
  • Jilpanger Flora & Fauna Reserve
  • Remnant woodlands  around Nhill, Dimboola, Warracknabeal, Balmoral, Edenhope to the State border.

YARRIAMBIACK SHIRE

  • Big Desert
  • Wyperfeld National Park
  • Timberoo Flora & Fauna Reserve
  • Bronzewing Flora & Fauna Reserve
  • Wathe Flora & Fauna Reserve
  • Murrayville Flora Reserve
  • Surrounding private land

Local projects

The Hooded Robin was included as part of a woodland bird banding project at Snape Reserve in the Wimmera, conducted by Jonathan Starks formerly at the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority.

Selected References

See also: Hooded Robin - BirdLife Australia

Image: Ian Morgan.

 

Please contribute information regarding the Hooded Robin - observations, images or projects. 

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