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Australian Chats: Epthianuridae

Behavior And Reproduction

Australian chats tend to gather in small flocks. During breeding season they pair off and some species defend breeding territories. Observations have suggested that white-fronted chat males are more likely to defend their mate than a territory. The birds show off while on perches, or in flight, dipping their tails and raising the colorful feathers on their heads or back ends. Orange and crimson chats tend to be nomadic, with a north-south seasonal migration, travel, and also in response to local rainfall. When it is dry, the birds move toward the coasts.

The calls of the Australian chats are simple and metallic. Their songs are pretty with a twittering or piping sound. When they sense danger, they issue a harsh churring call.

White-fronted and crimson chats have been observed more than the other species when breeding. White-fronted chats have long breeding seasons, peaking in late winter and spring, August to November, and breeding again after the rainy season in later summer and fall, March to April. They are known to make up to five attempts at raising young during each season. Their cup-shaped nests are made from grass, rushes, twigs, and plant fiber, and sometimes mammal hair or fur and feathers. Nests are placed 1 to 4 feet (0.3 to 1.2 meters) from the ground in small bushes and sometimes on the ground. Clutches have two to four eggs, with at most five eggs, that are fleshy or pinkish white with small reddish spots at the larger end. Both male and female incubate, sit on, the eggs, hatching after thirteen to fourteen days. Both parents protect and feed the young. Each parent averages seven visits per hour. White-fronted chats fledge, grow the feathers necessary for flight, after about fourteen days; a couple of days earlier for the orange and crimson. About 30 percent of nests succeed. Most fail due to predators such as cats, foxes, snakes, and ravens. The infamous Horsefield's bronze cuckoo parasitize a small portion of the nests. Cuckoos lay their eggs in other birds' nests, a host nest, and when cuckoo chicks hatch host parents care for the cuckoo chick, sometimes neglecting their own smaller chicks.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsAustralian Chats: Epthianuridae - Physical Characteristics, Geographic Range, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Crimson Chat (epthianura Tricolor): Species Account - HABITAT, AUSTRALIAN CHATS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS