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].
 
Scientific name Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta [64444]
Family Pachycephalidae:Passeriformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author  
Infraspecies author Gould, 1838
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: Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta

Common name: Norfolk Island Golden Whistler

Other names: Golden Whistler (Norfolk Island), Tamey, Norfolk Island Thickhead

The Golden Whistler species is widespread, with around 60 recognised subspecies in Australasia and the south-western Pacific islands, extending to eastern Java (Indonesia) (Higgins & Peter 2002). The taxonomy of the Norfolk Island subspecies is currently accepted, and was not historically disputed (e.g. Christidis & Boles 1994; Higgins & Peter 2002; Peters 1986; Schodde & Mason 1999; Sibley & Monroe 1990). However, a number of extralimital forms have recently been considered separate species and revision of species-limits in the P. pectoralis complex is incomplete (Schodde & Mason 1999).

At the species level, the Golden Whistler is a small songbird, growing to 16.5–18.5 cm in height. Males have a distinctive black head, extending to the top of the nape and under the throat in a thick band. The black plumage area separates the white throat from the rich golden yellow nape band and chest/underparts. The male's tail is grey with a black tip. The females, in contrast, are grey-brown above, and grey-buff underneath. The amount of lemon-coloured plumage on the vent/under-tail area varies with the geographic location of the bird (Pizzey & Knight 1999).

The Norfolk Island subspecies of the Golden Whistler, is endemic to Norfolk Island. Since 1978, the Norfolk Island Golden Whistler has disappeared from most areas outside of Norfolk Island National Park (NINP) (Bell 1990; Robinson 1997). As such, the subspecies is now largely confined to the NINP and forested areas within 2 km of it (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Robinson 1997).

The population size of the Norfolk Island Golden Whistler was estimated to be approximately 535 pairs, or 1000 breeding birds, in 1987 (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Robinson 1988).

More recently, however, Robinson (1997) found that the population size of the Norfolk Island Golden Whistler had decreased substantially, both in the NINP and elsewhere on the island, between 1987 and 1996. Generally, the population is known to have decreased since the 1960s in the settled parts of the island after native vegetation was cleared (Hermes 1985; De Ravin 1975; Disney & Smithers 1972; Schodde et al. 1983; Smithers & Disney 1969).

The Norfolk Island Golden Whistler usually inhabits shrubby understorey in rainforest, palm forest and Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) forest. It also occurs in regenerating forest and gardens, and sometimes in remnant patches of vegetation in farmland (Hermes 1985; Smithers & Disney 1969). In the 1960s and 1970s, it was recorded in or at the edges of habitat pockets, including riparian clumps of rainforest trees and thickets, throughout the island (Smithers & Disney 1969; Schodde et al. 1983). However, much habitat has been cleared or fragmented since then, and the subspecies' range has contracted as a result. The bird is now mainly confined to the largest tract of remnant forest in NINP (De Ravin 1975; Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Hull (1909) reported that the Norfolk Island Golden Whistler nests at 'no great height' in small trees such as Currajong (or Kurrajong- Brachychiton populneum) and Lemon (Citrus limon) trees, or in hanging masses of vines.

There is no information on longevity of the Norfolk Island subspecies specifically, but, in Australia, the Golden Whistler may live for more than 18 years (Higgins & Peter 2002).

The Norfolk Island Golden Whistler breeds between September and November laying eggs in a cup-shaped nest (North 1899). Nests with one egg have been found in December, and young in February (Schodde et al. 1983, Wakelin 1968).

There is generally no information on nest success on Norfolk Island (Higgins & Peter 2002). However, on mainland Australia, the success rate of Golden Whistler nests, with a total of 131 eggs, consisted of 64 eggs hatching (48.9%) and 19 hatchlings fledging (14.5%) (Higgins & Peter 2002).

On Norfolk Island, insects and berries are eaten by the Golden Whistler (Wakelin 1968). In Australia, the species is known to eat a large variety of insects, especially larvae and Coleoptera (beetles) (Higgins & Peter 2002).

The movements of the Norfolk Island Golden Whistler are slow and deliberate. It hops from branch to branch in search of food, and often ventures onto the ground (Hermes 1985; Wakelin 1968), where it sometimes hops along the ground gleaning from leaf litter (Robinson 2002 pers. comm.).

The Norfolk Island Golden Whistler is resident and apparently permanently territorial (Schodde et al. 1983) as a breeding adult. The territories of this subspecies are thought to be quite large (more than 2 ha) (Robinson 2002 pers. comm.).

Distinctiveness and Detectability

There are no other species similar to the Golden Whistler on Norfolk Island (DEWHA 2010l). The Golden Whistler is highly conspicuous when perched in the open. It can usually be located by its loud call, which carries up to 300 m. Calling has been found to be more frequent and loud early in the breeding season (November) (Higgins & Peter 2002). By February, the bird is generally silent, except for a sharp whistle emitted when feeding young (Wakelin 1968).

Recommended Methods

The Golden Whistler on Norfolk Island can be surveyed using broadcast (playback) surveys in suitable habitat early in the morning. The subspecies is likely to respond to call-playback in the breeding season, since it responds to imitations of the sharp whistling call used when feeding young (Wakelin 1968). It can also be surveyed using area searches or transect-point surveys of suitable habitat in the early morning. These latter methods detect the subspecies by sightings and calls (DEWHA 2010l).

The Golden Whistler has declined due to: habitat clearance and fragmentation (including clearing of vegetation in gardens and subdivision) (De Ravin 1975; Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hermes 1985); and introduced predators such as the Black Rat (Rattus rattus) and the Cat (Felis catus) (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hermes 1985).

Cup-shaped nests, placed in accessible sites, are vulnerable to predation by rats (Rattus sp.) (Major 1989; Robinson 1988).

Recommendations include control of introduced predators and rehabilitation of habitat. In addition, the establishment of an ex-situ population of the Norfolk Island Golden Whistler on Phillip Island may be attempted when suitable habitat becomes available for the bird's introduction (Bell 1990; Garnett & Crowley 2000; Major 1989; Robinson 1988, 1997).

Management documents for the Norfolk Island Golden Whistler can be found at the start of the profile. Other documents relavent to the subspecies include:

  • The Action Plan for Australian Birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000).
  • 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 2005a).
  • The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010 (Garnett et al. 2011).

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.

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

De Ravin, J.A. (1975). The birds of Norfolk Island. Australian Bird Watcher. 6:4-10.

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (2010l). Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Birds. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.2. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: DEWHA. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/threatened-birds.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.

Disney, H.J. de S. & C.N. Smithers (1972). The distribution of terrestrial and freshwater birds on Lord Howe Island, in comparison with Norfolk Island. Australian Zoologist. 17:1-11.

Garnett, S., J. Szabo & G. Dutson (2011). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010. CSIRO Publishing.

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.

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.

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.

Wakelin, H. (1968). Some notes on the birds of Norfolk Island. Notornis. 15:156-176.

EPBC Act email updates can be received via the Communities for Communities newsletter and the EPBC Act newsletter.

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). Pachycephala pectoralis xanthoprocta in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Sun, 21 Sep 2014 13:04:20 +1000.