Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010) [Recovery Plan].
 
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat Abatement Plan for predation by feral cats (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2008zzp) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Threat abatement plan to reduce the impacts of exotic rodents on biodiversity on Australian offshore islands of less than 100 000 hectares 2009 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2009u) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Birds. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.2 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010l) [Admin Guideline].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
 
Non-statutory Listing Status
NGO: Listed as Endangered (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Petroica multicolor multicolor [26016]
Family Muscicapidae:Passeriformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author  
Infraspecies author (Gmelin, 1789)
Reference  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Petroica multicolor multicolor

Common name: Scarlet Robin (Norfolk Island)

Other names: Norfolk Island Robin, Pacific Robin

The taxonomy of the Scarlet Robin is disputed. Most workers have considered Norfolk Island birds as conspecific with mainland Australian Scarlet Robins (Christidis & Boles 1994; Higgins & Peter 2002; Peters 1986; Sibley & Monroe 1990). However, Schodde and Mason (1999) have suggested that birds of the Pacific islands (including Norfolk Island) should be be considered a full species, the Pacific Robin Petroica multicolor, as distinct from continental Australian subspecies boodang (south-eastern Australia), campbelli (south-western Australia) and leggei (Tasmania).

The Scarlet Robin is a sexually dimorphic species, with males being bright and conspicuous, and females duller. At the species level, male Scarlet Robins are black above with a large white forehead-patch, a bold white mark on each wing, white edges to the tail, black upperbreast and white underparts. Adult male Scarlet Robins have a bright scarlet to orange-red breast/chest. In contrast, females have a pink or reddish wash to the breast, large dull whitish forehead patch, buff-white wing marks, and a white edged tail. Immatures resemble females but lack the reddish wash to the breast (Pizzey & Knight 1999).

The Norfolk Island subspecies of the Scarlet Robin is restricted to Norfolk Island (Higgins & Peter 2002).

The Norfolk Island subspecies of the Scarlet Robin disappeared from most areas outside of Norfolk Island National Park during the 1980s (Bell 1990; Hermes 1985; Hermes et al. 1986; Robinson 1988, 1997; Schodde et al. 1983; Smithers & Disney 1969). The population remained stable between 1987 and 1996, and now appears secure (Robinson 1997).

The Scarlet Robin is now confined mostly to Norfolk Island National Park and nearby forested areas (Garnett & Crowley 2000). Sites of importance are Norfolk Island National Park (by far the largest population), the valleys around the Park boundaries and the valleys near Duncombe Bay (Robinson 1988).

The population size of the Norfolk Island subspecies of the Scarlet Robin is estimated to be between 380 and 440 pairs (Robinson 1988; 1997).

The majority of the population of Scarlet Robin (Norfolk Island) occurs within the Norfolk Island National Park. Sites outside the national park may contain around 50 pairs of Norfolk Island Scarlet Robins, and possibly up to 100 pairs (Robinson 1988).

Populations of the Scarlet Robin on Norfolk Island have declined since around 1960 (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The Norfolk Island subspecies of the Scarlet Robin mainly inhabits native rainforest, but attains lower densities in habitats dominated by Norfolk Island Palms Rhopalostylis baueri or exotic African Olives Olea europaea, and very occasionally lives in exotic eucalypt forest (Major 1989; Robinson 1988, 1997). It occurs mainly in guava-hardwood rainforest 5 to 8 m tall, and dominated by Red Guava Psidium cattleianum mixed with various species including Beech Rapanea crassifolia, Ironwood Nestegis apetala, Maple Elaeodendron curtipendulum and emergent 20 m or higher Norfolk Island Pines Araucaria heterophylla.

The Scarlet Robin generally prefers areas with a deep, moist litter layer, a dense shrub layer up to 10 m tall, and a rather open layer near ground level to provide visibility for foraging. Habitats with denser ground-layers, such as dense patches of olives and guavas, restrict visibility for foraging (Robinson 1988). Occasionally the subspecies occurs in regenerating forest (Major 1989; Robinson 1988, 1997). Young birds tend to shelter close to the ground (Robinson 1988).

The Norfolk Island subspecies of the Scarlet Robin requires mature forest habitat with a deep, moist, litter layer and dense 1 to 10 m understorey of hardwoods, Norfolk Island Pines, Red Guava or olives to provide shelter and nest sites, and a rather open ground-layer to provide visibility for foraging (Robinson 1988, 1997).

Nests are placed near the top of the subcanopy, or in an upright fork or horizontal branch in a tree, such as Whitewood Celtis paniculata or Norfolk Island Pine Araucaria heterophylla (Hull 1909; Robinson 1988). The mean height of nests is 5.5 m (range 1.9 to 15, n=30) (Major 1989). One nest has been recorded as low as 0.7 m (Robinson 1988).

In a detailed study, the number of nests (including old nests) found in various plant species were: Norfolk Island Pine 12, Ironwood Nestigis apetala 4, Sharkwood Dysoxylum patersonianum 3, Red Guava Psidium cattleianum 5, Norfolk Island Palm Rhopalostylis baueri 2, Oleander Pittosperum bracteolatum 1, Hakea saligna 1 and African olive Olea europaea 2 (Major 1989). In another detailed study, the number of nests found in various plant species in rainforest habitat were: Red Guava 6, Sharkwood 4, Norfolk Island Pine 2, Ironwood 2, Maple Eleodendron curtipendululm 1, Bloodwood Baloghia lucida 1 and Palm 1. One nest was also built in a cypress tree in a eucalypt plantation (Robinson 1988).

The average lifespan of the Norfolk Island subspecies of the Scarlet Robin is around three years (Major 1989). The subspecies is able to breed in first year of life (Robinson, D. 2002, pers. comm.).

The Norfolk Island subspecies of the Scarlet Robin breeds between late September and March (Moore 1981; Robinson 1988, 1997; Schodde et al. 1983). Egg laying is between late October and mid-November (Hull 1909), and young have been recorded in late October (Hermes et al. 1986), October to late December, including recently fledged young in late October (Major 1989), and September to November (North 1899).

The subspecies lays two (D. Robinson 2002, pers. comm.) or three clutches per season (Major 1989). Overall, each pair produces one fledgling per year (Major 1989). Of 11 nests found in one season, five (45%) failed due to unidentified predators, one brood was eaten by ants and another clutch was deserted, leaving four (36%) successful (Robinson 1988). In another season, 30% of nests fledged at least one young, 50% of fledglings survived to independence, and most losses were due to predation, mainly by rats (Major 1989). Of 22 nests in 1988, eight (36%) were successful (young fledged), nine (41%) were unsuccessful (two due to weather, seven due to predation of eggs or nestlings), and five (23%) of uncertain outcome. Nest predation was again mainly by rats (Major 1989).

The Norfolk Island subspecies of the Scarlet Robin eats invertebrates, mainly insects. A study examining stomach contents from 15 birds found insects at the following frequencies: Coleoptera (beetles) 100%, Collembola (springtails) 13%, Diptera (flies) 7%, Hemiptera (bugs) 14%, Hymenoptera (bees, ants and wasps) 53%, Lepidoptera (moth) larvae 7% and Orthoptera (grasshoppers) 7, pseudoscorpions 20% and spiders 7% (Major 1989).

Most prey are captured on the ground. The Robin less often uses low horizontal branches of understorey vegetation or stumps from which to pounce on prey (Hull 1909; Robinson 1988; Smithers & Disney 1969). Of 245 foraging records collected, 60% comprised birds hopping along the ground and gleaning or probing for food in the litter layer, and 27% comprised birds pouncing from perches to take prey from the ground (Robinson 1988).

The Norfolk Island subspecies of the Scarlet Robin is present on Norfolk Island throughout the year (Hermes 1985; Robinson 1997), so it is presumably sedentary. Possibly some young birds disperse from natal territories in the non-breeding season. Notably, a higher proportion of first-year males than adult males were present between October and December in suboptimal habitat dominated by palms or olives (Robinson 1988).

Territory sizes in rainforest average 0.42 ha (n=4), and in palm forest, 0.73 ha (n=2), so there is a denser and more contiguous population in rainforest. In olives, the home-range size is intermediate between rainforest and palm habitats (Robinson 1988).

Recommended Methods
The Norfolk Island subspecies of the Scarlet Robin can be surveyed using area searches or transect surveys early in the morning (for example between 5am and 9am, Robinson 1988) in suitable habitat. These are likely to be most effective early in the breeding season (early to mid October) when singing by males is most frequent (Bell 1990).

Habitat modification, clearing and grazing are the main threats to the Norfolk Island subspecies of the Scarlet Robin (Robinson 1988), which has declined due to clearance and modification of native habitat (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hermes 1985; Smithers & Disney 1969). However, removal of grazing may have temporary detrimental effect by reducing the openness of the understorey (Bell 1990).

Introduced plant species invade and degrade the habitat of Robins (Robinson 1988; Smithers & Disney 1969), until the disturbed habitat develops an open understorey (Robinson 1997). African Olives Olea europaea may also produce sub-optimal habitat because of their apparently small, depauperate litter layer (Robinson 1988).

Feeding on the ground makes the Scarlet Robin vulnerable to predation by cats Felis catus. Contents of nests and young roosting close to the ground are also vulnerable to rats Rattus rattus (Major 1989; Robinson 1988).

The subspecies may be threatened by pesticides and competition with introduced birds such as the Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris, Common Blackbird Turdus merula and Song Thrush Turdus philomelos (Robinson 1988; Smithers & Disney 1969), although there is no evidence that these have caused a decline in Robin populations (Robinson 1988).

The Norfolk Island Scarlet Robin is also vulnerable to catastrophic events such as cyclones (Robinson 1988).

To protect the Norfolk Island subspecies of the Scarlet Robin, Robinson (1988, 1997) recommended an ongoing program of controlling numbers of cats and rats in Norfolk Island National Park and elsewhere (including by legislative means), followed by habitat protection and restoration outside of the national park. Robinson (1988), Bell (1990) and Garnett and Crowley (2000) recommended the establishment of population of Robins on Phillip Island when revegetation of habitat has been completed.

Robinson (1988, 1997) also recommended the replacement of invasive introduced plants, especially Red Guava and African Olive, as appropriate, with native species, especially Norfolk Island Pine, Maple, White Oak Lagunaria patersonia, Ironwood, Sharkwood and Beech. Planting of Norfolk Island Pines to replace eucalypts in plantations, and allowing 50 m wide buffer strips of understorey vegetation to be left intact on each side of gullies and at edges of plantations was also suggested.

The Action Plan for Australian Birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000) and the National Recovery Plan for the Norfolk Island Scarlet Robin Petroica multicolor multicolor and the Norfolk Island Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta (Commonwealth of Australia 2005) provide guides to threat abatement and management strategies for the Norfolk Island subspecies of the Scarlet Robin.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 (Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley, 2000) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat loss, modification and/or degradation Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Ecosystem Degradation:Decline in habitat quality National Recovery Plan for the Norfolk Island Scarlet Robin Petroica multicolor multicolor and the Norfolk Island Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta (Commmonwealth of Australia, 2005) [Recovery Plan].
Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Loss and/or fragmentation of habitat and/or subpopulations National Recovery Plan for the Norfolk Island Scarlet Robin Petroica multicolor multicolor and the Norfolk Island Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta (Commmonwealth of Australia, 2005) [Recovery Plan].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Indirect Ecosystem Effects:Restricted geographical distribution (area of occupancy and extent of occurrence) National Recovery Plan for the Norfolk Island Scarlet Robin Petroica multicolor multicolor and the Norfolk Island Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta (Commmonwealth of Australia, 2005) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds National Recovery Plan for the Norfolk Island Scarlet Robin Petroica multicolor multicolor and the Norfolk Island Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta (Commmonwealth of Australia, 2005) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Felis catus (Cat, House Cat, Domestic Cat) National Recovery Plan for the Norfolk Island Scarlet Robin Petroica multicolor multicolor and the Norfolk Island Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta (Commmonwealth of Australia, 2005) [Recovery Plan].
Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Rattus rattus (Black Rat, Ship Rat) National Recovery Plan for the Norfolk Island Scarlet Robin Petroica multicolor multicolor and the Norfolk Island Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta (Commmonwealth of Australia, 2005) [Recovery Plan].
Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].

Bell, B.D. (1990). The status and management of the White-breasted White-eye and other birds on Norfolk Island. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union, Melbourne.

Christidis, L. & W.E. Boles (1994). The Taxonomy and Species of Birds of Australia and its Territories. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union Monograph 2. Melbourne, Victoria: Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union.

Commmonwealth of Australia (2005). National Recovery Plan for the Norfolk Island Scarlet Robin Petroica multicolor multicolor and the Norfolk Island Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta. [Online]. Australian Government of the Environment and Heritage. Commonwealth of Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/p-multicolor/index.html.

Director of National Parks (DNP) (2010). Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan. [Online]. Canberra, Director of National Parks Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/recovery/norfolk-island.html.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/action/birds2000/index.html.

Hermes, N. (1985). Birds of Norfolk Island. Wonderland Publications, Norfolk Island.

Hermes, N., O. Evans & B. Evans (1986). Norfolk Island birds: a review. Notornis. 33:141-149.

Higgins, P.J. & J.M. Peter (Eds) (2002). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 6. Pardalotes to Spangled Drongo. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Hull, A.F.B. (1909). The birds of Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales. 34:636-693.

Magrath, M.J.L., M.A. Weston, P. Olsen & M. Antos (2004). Draft Survey Standards for Birds: Species Accounts. Melbourne, Victoria: Report for the Department of the Environment and Heritage by Birds Australia.

Major, R. (1989). Reproductive output and recruitment of the Norfolk Island Scarlet Robin (Petroica multicolor multicolor). Phase II. Unpublished report to the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service: Canberra.

Moore, J.L. (1981). Norfolk Island notes 1971 to 1980. Notornis. 28:50-56.

North, A.J. (1899). Nests and eggs of birds found breeding on Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. Australian Museum Catalogue. 12:407-416.

Peters, J.L. (1986). Check-list of the Birds of the World. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Pizzey, G. & F. Knight (1999). The Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Pymble, Sydney: Angus and Robertson.

Robinson, D. (1988). Ecology and management of the Scarlet Robin, White-breasted White-eye and Long-billed White-eye on Norfolk Island. Report to Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Canberra.

Robinson, D. (1997). An evaluation of the status of the Norfolk Island Robin following rat-control and weed-control works in the Norfolk Island National Park.

Robinson, D. (2002). Personal communication.

Schodde, R. & I.J. Mason (1999). The Directory of Australian Birds: Passerines. Melbourne, Victoria: CSIRO.

Schodde, R., P. Fullagar & N. Hermes (1983). A review of Norfolk Island birds: past and present. Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service Special Publication. 8.

Sibley, C.G. & B.L. Monroe (1990). Distribution and Taxonomy of the Birds of the World. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press.

Smithers, C.N. & H.J. Disney (1969). The distribution of terrestrial and freshwater birds on Norfolk Island. Australian Zoologist. 15:127-140.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Petroica multicolor multicolor in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Wed, 24 Sep 2014 12:49:56 +1000.