Little Friarbird

Did you know?

Unlike other friarbirds, the Little Friarbird has no casque (bump) on its bill.

Noisy, harsh calls. Also some musical 'che-weep, chewip, chewip, chew-will, che-will' notes give in breeding season.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
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Breeding season: 
August to April
Clutch Size: 
2 to 3, sometimes 4
13 days
Nestling Period: 
14 days
Conservation Status
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The Little Friarbird is the smallest of the friarbirds, with a medium, curved bill with no casque (a bump, characteristic of other friarbirds) and a squared off tail when spread. It is brown-grey above, paler grey on neck and collar, with a distinctive bare blue-grey face patch, and pale greyish white below with fine white streaking on the breast. Females are slightly smaller, but otherwise similar. Young birds are browner above, with more yellowish colourings on chin and throat. It is a conspicuous and noisy bird, often chasing other honeyeaters, and is mostly seen higher up in trees.

Similar species: 

The Little Friarbird overlaps with, but is smaller than, the Silver-crowned Friarbird, P. argenticeps, and is much smaller and slimmer than either the Helmeted, P. buceroides, or Noisy, P. corniculatus, Friarbirds. Its blue-grey face patch and the lack of a casque (bump) on its bill also help to distinguish it from these species.

Where does it live?

Widespread in northern and eastern Australia, the Little Friarbird is also found in New Guinea. Found from Broome, Western Australia across the Top End to Queensland, and down the coast of New South Wales as far as the Central Coast. Widespread in Western New South Wales and northern Victoria along Murray River, to South Australia.


The Little Friarbird is found near water, mainly in open forests and woodlands dominated by eucalypts. Also found in wetlands, monsoon forests, mangroves and coastal heathlands. Only extend into arid zone along waterways. Mostly tropical, but also common in semi-arid zone. It will also be seen in gardens and orchards.

Seasonal movements: 

Considered resident in northern Australia; further south, partially migratory in autumn and spring.

What does it do?

Little Friarbirds feed alone, in pairs or small flocks, almost entirely in trees, and are rarely seen on ground. Their diet is mainly nectar and invertebrates, sometimes also eating flowers, fruit and seeds. Sometimes feed in mixed groups with other honeyeaters.


Little Friarbirds form monogamous pairs. Both parents build the nest, a large deep open cup, often see-through, lined with fine grasses and other soft materials, which is always near or overhanging water. The female alone incubates the eggs, but both parents feed the young. Two broods may be raised in a season. Often parasitised by the Common Koel, Eudynamys scolopacea.

Living with us

Sometimes killed by cats. May eat fruit in orchards.

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