White-fronted Chat

Did you know?

Although they are classified as honeyeaters, White-fronted Chats do not feed on nectar. Instead, they run along the ground feeding on insects. However, they have the same brush-tipped tongues as other members of their family.

Calls
Short 'tangs' sounding like a plucked rubber band.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
Yes
Minimum Size: 
11cm
Maximum Size: 
13cm
Average size: 
12cm
Average weight: 
13g
Breeding season: 
August to January
Clutch Size: 
Two to three.
Incubation: 
14 days
Nestling Period: 
14 days
Conservation Status
Federal: 
NSW: 
QLD: 
SA: 
TAS: 
VIC: 
WA: 
Associated Plants
Plants associated with this species
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
Featured bird groups: 
Atlas Number: 
448
What does it look like?
Description: 

Male White-fronted Chats have a white face, breast and belly, dissected by a distinctive black band across the breast that extends around to the back of the head. Females have similar markings but they are gradations of grey-brown, rather than black-white, and the breast band is narrower. Immatures are similar to the female, but the breast band is very faint or missing.

Where does it live?
Distribution: 

The White-fronted Chat occurs across southern Australia (including Tasmania) from Shark Bay in Western Australia around to the Queensland/New South Wales border.

Habitat: 

The White-fronted Chat lives in salt marsh and other damp areas with low vegetation such as swampy farmland and roadside verges. Sometimes occurs on beaches and the edges of lakes.

Seasonal movements: 

Mostly sedentary, although there may be some nomadic movements, particularly in the drier areas of its range.

What does it do?
Feeding: 

White-fronted Chats often forage in flocks of around 20 birds that congregate in areas where there are temporary outbreaks of insects. They run along the ground, picking up small insects, usually less than 5 mm long. Midges, kelp-flies, plant bugs and beetles are popular food items.

Breeding: 

White-fronted Chat males and females form pairs towards the end of winter, while they feed in flocks. They sometimes nest in loose colonies, with nests as close as 5 m to each other. Males defend a small nest-site territory, but not necessarily for a whole breeding season. Second clutches will often be laid in locations that are different from earlier nests. Males follow their mates closely, during their fertile period, watching them from prominent perches, and chasing any males that may approach them. Only the female builds the nest (guarded closely by the male at all times), but both sexes take equal roles in incubation and feeding of the young.

Living with us

One of the earliest records of White-fronted Chats in the Australian Museum's collection comes from Chatswood. The species' Sydney distribution is now restricted to two small populations living in wetlands in Botany Bay and the Parramatta River. Draining and filling of swamps for housing has eliminated much of the habitat of this species in areas of high human population density. The species remains common in farmland and coastal wetlands.

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