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White-breasted robin

White-breasted Robin
In Western Australia
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Petroicidae
Genus: Eopsaltria
E. georgiana
Binomial name
Eopsaltria georgiana
(Quoy & Gaimard, 1832)

Muscicapa georgiana Quoy & Gaimard, 1830
Eopsaltria leucogaster Gould, 1846
Quoyornis georgianus Mathews, 1912
Eopsaltria leucogastra Gadow, 1883

The white-breasted robin (Eopsaltria georgiana) is a passerine bird in the Australasian robin family Petroicidae and the yellow robin genus Eopsaltria. Occasionally it is placed in the genus Quoyornis Mathews, 1912. It is endemic to southwestern Australia. Unlike many other Australian robins, it lacks bright colours in its plumage, being a predominantly greyish bird with white underparts. Like other closely related Australasian robins, it is a cooperative breeder. It is sedentary, with pairs or small groups maintaining territories.


The white-breasted robin was first described by the French naturalists Jean René Constant Quoy and Joseph Paul Gaimard in 1830 as Muscicapa georgiana,[3][a] taking its name from the site King George Sound, where the authors had collected specimens.[5] It was later described by John Gould in 1846 as Eopsaltria leucogaster,[6] though as the former took precedence, its specific name remains georgiana.[2] Australian amateur ornithologist Gregory Mathews described a paler specimen from Warren River as a distinct subspecies warreni,[7] though this was not recognised subsequently.[2]

A 2009 genetic analysis of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA unexpectedly placed the white-breasted robin as sister taxon to the two Tregellasia robins native to northeastern Australia.[8] This result was confirmed by another molecular phylogenetic study published in 2011.[9] The species is currently in the genus Eopsaltria; however, some people place it in its own genus Quoyornis, which was introduced by Mathews in 1912.[10][11] The name combines Quoy's name with the Ancient Greek ornis 'bird'.[12]

White-breasted robin is the official name given to this species by the International Ornithologists' Union (IOC).[13] Although, like all Australian robins, it is not closely related to either the European robin or the American robin.[14] Gould had called it 'white-bellied robin' in 1848, and other terms used included grey-breasted or white-breasted shrike-robin from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The 'shrike-' prefix was dropped by the RAOU in 1926.[15] It is known as boydjil by the local indigenous people of Augusta.[16]


The white-breasted robin ranges between 14.5 and 17.0 cm (5+34 and 6+34 in) long, with a wingspan of 22–25 cm (8+349+34 in). The male weighs 20.5 g, while the female is lighter at 16.5 g.[17] Males and females are similar in coloration, with blue-grey upperparts, paler eyebrows, and whitish underparts. The grey tail is tipped with white. Bills and feet are black in colour, while eyes are dark brown. Birds from the northern part of its range are smaller and darker grey in colour. Juveniles are brownish.[18]

Distribution and habitat

The white-breasted robin is found in Western Australia south from Geraldton to the southwest corner of the continent. Within this area, it is mainly restricted to two areas of different habitat. In the main southern part of its range, it is found in an area bounded by Jarrahdale and Woorooloo on or east of the Darling Scarp, and south-east to Beaufort Inlet. Here it occurs in tall forest dominated by karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor), where it is found in dense undergrowth of such plant species as karri hazel (Trymalium odoratissimum subsp. trifidum), karri she–oak (Allocasuarina decussata), and nedik (Bossiaea aquifolium), typically along rivers and gullies. It also inhabits dry sclerophyll forest of karri, jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata), and bull banksia (Banksia grandis), where it lives in the 2–3 m high understory. The northern population is found along a narrow band from Geraldton south to Yanchep National Park, where it lives in coastal thickets—often covered in dodder—of Acacia rostellifera, Acacia cyclops, Melaleuca cardiophylla growing over sand dunes on limestone soils. It is sedentary, with pairs or small groups maintaining territories in its range.[19]


Nesting in Western Australia

The white-breasted robin is a cooperative breeder; breeding pairs are often assisted by one or more helper birds that help to raise young.[20] Helper birds are mostly male; female birds are more likely to leave the territory in the first year of their life, while males are more likely to remain.[20]


Breeding season is late winter to early summer, with up to two broods raised. The nest is a neat cup made of dry grass, bark, and spider webs, generally located in a tree-fork in dense scrub, close to a watercourse.[21] Two pale olive- to blue-green eggs, often splotched with a darker variant of the background colour, are laid. They measure 16 mm x 21 mm, and one is often much paler than the other.[22] Incubation lasts 16 or 17 days, with young leaving the nest two weeks after hatching.[20]


The white-breasted robin is insectivorous, foraging for its prey mainly on or near the ground, in or beneath undergrowth.[19]


  1. ^ Although the ornithological section of the Voyage de la corvette l'Astrolabe has 1830 on the title page, it was not published until 1832,[4]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Eopsaltria georgiana". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Australian Biological Resources Study (12 June 2010). "Species Eopsaltria (Quoyornis) georgiana (Quoy & Gaimard, 1830)". Australian Faunal Directory. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Australian Government. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  3. ^ Quoy, Jean; Gaimard, Joseph Paul (1830). Dumont d'Urville, Jules (ed.). Voyage de la corvette l'Astrolabe : exécuté par ordre du roi, pendant les années 1826-1827-1828-1829: Zoologie (in French). Vol. 1. Paris: J. Tastu. p. 175.
  4. ^ Mlíkovský, Jiří (2012). "The dating of the ornithological part of Quoy and Gaimard's "Voyage de l'Astrolabe"". Zoological Bibliography. 2 (2&3): 59–69.
  5. ^ Cayley, Neville W. (2011). Lindsey, Terence R. (ed.). What bird is that?: a completely revised and updated edition of the classic Australian ornithological work (Signature ed.). Walsh Bay, N.S.W.: Australia's Heritage Publishing. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-9870701-0-4.
  6. ^ Gould, John (1846). "Descriptions of eleven new species of Australian birds". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 14: 18–21.
  7. ^ Mathews, Gregory M. (1916). "List of additions of new sub-species to, and changes in, my "List of the Birds of Australia"". Austral Avian Records. 3 (3): 53–68 [59].
  8. ^ Loynes, Kate; Joseph, Leo; Keogh, J. Scott (2009). "Multi-locus phylogeny clarifies the systematics of the Australo-Papuan robins (Family Petroicidae, Passeriformes)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 53 (1): 212–19. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2009.05.012. PMID 19463962.
  9. ^ Christidis, L.; Irestedt, M.; Rowe, D.; Boles, W.E.; Norman, J.A. (2011). "Mitochondrial and nuclear DNA phylogenies reveal a complex evolutionary history in the Australasian robins (Passeriformes: Petroicidae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 61 (3): 726–738. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.08.014. PMID 21867765.
  10. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2019). "Australasian robins, rockfowl, rockjumpers, Rail-babbler". World Bird List Version 9.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  11. ^ Mathews, Gregory (1912). "New generic names for Australian birds". Austral Avian Record. 1: 105–117 [111].
  12. ^ Jobling, J.A. (2019). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Quoyornis". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive: Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  13. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2019). "Australasian robins, rockfowl, rockjumpers, Rail-babbler". World Bird List Version 9.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  14. ^ Boles, Walter E. (1988). The Robins and Flycatchers of Australia. Sydney: Angus & Robertson. p. 119. ISBN 0-207-15400-7.
  15. ^ Gray, Jeannie; Fraser, Ian (2013). Australian Bird Names: A Complete Guide. Collingwood, Victoria: Csiro Publishing. pp. 257–258. ISBN 978-0-643-10471-6.
  16. ^ Abbott, Ian (2009). "Aboriginal names of bird species in south-west Western Australia, with suggestions for their adoption into common usage" (PDF). Conservation Science Western Australia Journal. 7 (2): 213–278 [263].
  17. ^ Higgins 2002, p. 798.
  18. ^ Simpson K, Day N, Trusler P (1993). Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Ringwood, Victoria: Viking O'Neil. p. 392. ISBN 0-670-90478-3.
  19. ^ a b Higgins 2002, p. 799.
  20. ^ a b c Russell EM, Brown RJ, Brown MN (2004). "Life history of the white-breasted robin, Eopsaltria georgiana (Petroicidae), in south-western Australia". Australian Journal of Zoology. 52 (2): 111–45. doi:10.1071/ZO03049.
  21. ^ Cooney SJN, Watson DM, Young J (2006). "Mistletoe nesting in Australian birds: a review" (PDF). Emu. 106 (1). CSIRO Publishing: 1–12. Bibcode:2006EmuAO.106....1C. doi:10.1071/MU04018. S2CID 84296716. Retrieved 2007-06-07.
  22. ^ Beruldsen, Gordon (2003). Australian Birds: Their Nests and Eggs. Kenmore Hills, Qld: self. pp. 336–337. ISBN 0-646-42798-9.

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White-breasted robin
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