Green Catbird – Ailuroedus crassirostris

Few people can visit one of our local rainforests without experiencing the memorable call of the Green catbird. Sounding variously like a baby’s cry or a wailing cat it is a sound that resounds through the forest, but the source of the sound is rarely seen when it is happening. So loud and eerie is the call that few people ever forget it.

Green catbirds are in fact members of the Bowerbird family, although they don’t build bowers. They are relatively common in the rainforest of south-eastern Queensland and eastern New South Wales, and sometimes are found in wet schlerophyll forests as well.

Their diet consists mainly of fruit, in particular figs, but they will also eat insects and small reptiles, and will even at times predate on the chicks of other birds. Their call is a territorial cry and the males will fiercely defend their territory, to protect their food sources and the female when she is incubating eggs. For this reason they are easier to observe when foraging on the ground and less concerned about intruders around them.

They usually lay three white eggs which the female incubates for just over three weeks. The father feeds the female in this time and they are both involved in looking after the chicks from hatching until fledging. Juvenile birds moult into their immature feathers soon after hatching, and appear similar to adults but somewhat browner and duller. The moult into the full adultĀ  plumage starts at around one year of age and takes around a year, so all adult Green catbirds that you see are at least two years old.

Their habits make them hard birds to see and to film, but they are one of my favourite birds and always a joy to see. For video of Green catbirds and more information on birds seeĀ

This article first appeared in the High Country Herald on 8th of July 2024