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Eastern Whipbird - Psophodes olivaceus - Whip Bird

Eastern Whipbird

Psophodes olivaceus

Other Names: Whip Bird, (Coach-whip Bird, Psophodes crepitans, 19th Century)
Family:
Cinclosomatidae (Quail-thrushes and allies, 8 species in Australia)
Size: 25-30 cm
Distribution: Within about 200 km of the coast of NSW, Eastern VIC and Most of QLD except the north
Status: Common to mderately common
Habitat: Dense understories of rainforests, coastal scrubs, wet sclerophyll forests, riparian (near a stream) forest
References: Simpson and Day, Reader's Digest

The Eastern Whipbird is famous for its call which sounds like the crack of a whip. The call is actually made by two birds, the male makes the whipcrack, and if the female replies it is a sort of "choo choo choo" sound. It sounds truly amazing if you happen to be between the pair when they call. The whip sound is heard at the beginning of the theme song to "Skippy the Bush Kangaroo".

Eastern Whipbirds are heard much more than they are seen as they like to hide in dense scrub, from which they rarely emerge. They are also a drab colour which blends in very will with the background. The crest on their head is a distinguishing feature. The tail is fairly long and there is a light coloured patch on the lower side of the head. In the photo below this looks like a slightly lighter grey than the rest of the bird, sometimes it is lighter than this and the rest of the head is darker.

Eastern Whipbird - Psophodes olivaceus
Photo: Blaxland, Blue Mountains NSW

Eastern Whipbird - Psophodes olivaceus
Artwork: John Gould, 'The Birds of Australia', 1848. Original Scanned Image.

Some Birdwatching Resources


Birdsong, Don Stap Birdsong, Don Stap. Following one of the world's experts on birdsong from the woods of Martha's Vineyard to the tropical forests of Central America, Don Stap brings to life the quest to unravel an ancient mystery: Why do birds sing and what do their songs mean? We quickly discover that one question leads to another. Why does the chestnut-sided warbler sing one song before dawn and another after sunrise? Why does the brown thrasher have a repertoire of two thousand songs when the chipping sparrow has only one? And how is the hermit thrush able to sing a duet with itself, producing two sounds simultaneously to create its beautiful, flutelike melody?

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Common Birds of Australia (Green Guide), Peter Rowland Common Birds of Australia (Green Guide), Peter Rowland. A smaller, more introductory book. It won a Whitley Award for best zoological book. The publishers say "This book provides an introduction to the major bird groups, with an emphasis on those that the amateur naturalist and nature-lover is most likely to see. The book is organized into six sections which cover birds of prey, waders and waterbirds, seabirds, songbirds, pigeons and parrots and other birds. Information is organized simply, with individual species or group entries describing key characteristics — where they are found, food requirements and behavioural habits. Each entry is accompanied by a colour photograph and, where appropriate, distribution maps. A key feature of the text is the "gee whiz" spreads which answer many of the most commonly asked questions about why birds do what they do, revealing facts and providing practical information for the amateur enthusiast. In addition, fact panels interspersed throughout highlight surprising snippets of information.

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