Rufous Whistler - Pachycephala rufiventris

Rufous Whistler

Pachycephala rufiventris

Family: Pachycephalidae (Whistlers, Shrike-thrushes and allies, 14 species in Australia).
Size: 17 cm
Distribution: Almost all of Australia except TAS and small areas in central and central-West Australia
Status: Common
Habitat: Mostly open forest, woodland, mallee and scrub of arid interior, less common in wetter tall forests. Nomadic or migratory in parts of Australia
References: Simpson and Day, Reader's Digest

The Rufous Whistler is a lovely bird, the male has striking colours, with a thick black stripe arouns his head, and a pure white throat underneath. The belly of the bird is a rufous (reddish-brown) colour, with darker wings and a mid-brown on top of the bird. The female is more of a brown colour overall though she does have a lighter (but not pure white) throat, and a slightly reddish belly (but not nearly as coloured as the male).

They are very similar to the Golden Whistler, which has a very bright yellow colour instead of the rufous colour.

They are usually seen in native bushland, not so much in people's gardens. This is perhaps more true of the Rufous Whistler than Golden Whistler, which is seen in my own garden (which backs onto bush and has a large gum tree in it ) now and then.

Rufous Whistler - Pachycephala rufiventris
Photo: Lawson, Blue Mountains NSW

Rufous Whistler - Pachycephala rufiventris
Photo: Lawson, Blue Mountains NSW

Golden Whistler - Pachycephala pectoralis
Artwork: John Gould, 'The Birds of Australia', 1848. Original Scanned Image.
Gould call this plate the Golden Whistler (with the same scientific name), but it looks exactly like the Rufous Whistler, not the Golden Whistler. I'm not sure what is going on with this.

Some Birdwatching Resources


The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight. This is the other of the two best bird field guides for Australia. It is the one preferred by many serious birdwatchers. However I find the pictures a bit dull looking for my taste — the birds all kind of look the same to me, making it harder to remember them in my mind. The illustrations are meant to be the most anatomically correct, though. The text descriptions are better than in Simpson and Day. If you want the most serious bird field guide get this one otherwise get Simpson and Day.

Purchase 9th ed. from Australia (Booktopia)

Purchase 9th ed. from Australia (Angus & Robertson)

Click here to purchase 9th ed. from Australia (The Nile)

Click here to purchase from Australia (Fishpond)

Click here to preorder the 9th ed. from Amazon


Finding Australian Birds A Field Guide to Birding Locations, by Tim Dolby and Rohan Clarke Finding Australian Birds A Field Guide to Birding Locations, by Tim Dolby and Rohan Clarke. From the eastern rainforests to central deserts, Australia is home to some 900 species of birds. This book covers over 400 Australian bird watching sites conveniently grouped into the best birding areas, from one end of the country to the other. This includes areas such as Kakadu in the Top End and rocky gorges in the central deserts of the Northern Territory, the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, rainforests distributed along the eastern Australian seaboard, some of the world's tallest forests in Tasmania, the Flinders Ranges and deserts along the iconic Strzelecki and Birdsville Tracks in South Australia, and the Mallee temperate woodlands and spectacular coastlines in both Victoria and south west Western Australia.

Purchase from Australia (Booktopia)

See Also

Australian Bird Field Guides

Return to Australian Birds
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