Red Wattlebirds are generally seen singly or in small groups, though larger numbers may congregate noisily in trees with abundant flowers, often with other species of honeyeaters and lorikeets. However, occasionally, usually during autumn, when the summer heat has abated, they may form huge mobile flocks which, although they may sometimes comprise hundreds or even thousands of birds, fly silently overhead. These flocks can be seen in the countryside as well as in built-up areas, as the Red Wattlebird commonly occurs in a wide range of habitats
The Red Wattlebird is a large, noisy honeyeater. The common name refers to the fleshy reddish wattle on the side of the neck. The plumage is grey-brown on the body, with prominent white streaks and yellow on the belly. The face is pale and the tail is long with a white-tip. Young Red Wattlebirds are duller than the adult and have a brown, rather than reddish, eye. The wattle is also very small and pale.
Several distinctive but unmusical calls including coughs, a harsh ‘yac a yac’ and a loud ‘chok’. Bird call recorded by; Fred Van Gessel
The Red Wattlebird’s range extends throughout the southern areas of the Australian mainland.
The Red Wattlebird occurs in forests, woodlands and gardens, where it aggressively protects food-bearing plants from other honeyeater species.
The Red Wattlebird is the second largest honeyeater in Australia (the Tasmanian Yellow Wattlebird is the largest). They can display domineering and often aggressive behaviour towards other birds intruding on their territory.
The Red Wattlebird feeds on nectar, which it obtains by probing flowers with its thin curved bill. Some insects are also eaten, taken either from foliage or caught in mid-air. Berries and the honeydew produced by some insects add to the bird’s diet.
Red Wattlebirds raise one or two broods in a season. Both sexes have been recorded sharing incubation duties, but often the female will do this alone. Both parents feed the young.