forty-spotted pardalotes Tasmania

Species

Pardalotus quadragintus (Pardalotidae)

Description

A tiny, compact bird up to 10 cm long with a stout beak and short, square tail. Colouring is dull olive-green on the back, grey on the front with pale yellow on the cheek and rump. There are no bright or dull tones of red, brown or chestnut anywhere on the body. The wings are jet black with distinctive rows of white dots and the head has no distinct markings other than a very faint olive scalloping. Forty-spotted pardalotes have a soft where…where… call and are active either singly or in pairs high in the canopy of white gums. This species is very easily confused with two more common and widespread species of pardalote, the spotted pardalote and striated pardalote. Juvenile spotted and striated pardalotes also lack any head markings and spotted pardalotes have almost identical rows of spots along the wing.

forty-spotted pardalote

Biology

Tasmania has two other very similar species of pardalote, the spotted pardalote P. punctatus and striated pardalote P. striatus. Both these species are common and widespread across the State and are found breeding in many habitat types in rural areas and around towns and cities. They have a similar behaviour pattern to the forty-spotted pardalote though are not linked to white gum. The striated pardalote nests in cavities in trees, wall crevices or banks, etc. while the spotted pardalote, sometimes called the ‘bank diamond’, excavates holes in banks or soft soil to rear its young. The spotted and striated pardalote have brighter markings, including vivid yellows, browns and reds, and are often seen in the open or heard calling loudly and repeatedly.

Status

The forty-spotted pardalote is listed as endangered on the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and under Schedule 3.2 of the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995. Criteria used by the Commonwealth and Tasmanian governments for listing this species as endangered are similar and based on an area of occupancy totalling less than 500 km (square) which is severely fragmented and a continuing decline in the projected extent of habitat. A Tasmanian endemic, the forty-spotted pardalote is restricted to four main populations on offshore islands and peninsulas along the east coast. Populations are known from the south-east at Tinderbox and on Maria and Bruny Island, and also in the Bass Strait on Flinders Island.

References:

Bryant, S. L. and Jackson, J. (1999). Tasmania’s Threatened Fauna Handbook: what, where and how to protect Tasmania’s threatened animals. Threatened Species Unit, Parks and Wildlife Service, Hobart.

Threatened Species Section (2006). Fauna Recovery Plan: Forty-Spotted Pardalote 2006-2010. Department of Primary Industries and Water, Hobart.