About a week ago, Pete Kelly from Creek Junction (a little north of Strathbogie) saw one of the more unusual Robins for this district. We’re used to seeing Flame Robins and Scarlet Robins, but not often are we visited by Red-capped Robins. Here’s Pete’s account.
“Last Thursday evening, about 6:30 as I went to check on one of our resident Brown Snakes, I was surprised to see in the distance what I initially thought was either a Flame Robin, or a Scarlet Robin. As I drew closer I was somewhat confounded by the red, rather than white markings on the forehead. I then realized that I was fortunate enough to be watching a Red-capped Robin. After watching for three or so minutes, I went back to the house to get my camera, hoping that it would still be there when I returned. I wasn’t disappointed – he was still there, happily catching his dinner. At one stage, after catching a grasshopper, he perched in a Silver Wattle very close to me to eat it. I believe that the female was also present as there was a brownish bird, same size and shape, moving around in the foliage further away, but not providing any photo opportunities. I haven’t seen them since although I’ve been back to the area a couple of times each day.”
Pete followed this up with another observation a few days later, describing male-female courtship.
“On Thursday (8 Dec 2011), both male and female were 20 meters in front of the house performing what I believe was part of a courting ritual – standing facing each other about 250mm apart, and then flying vertically to about 500mm, either together or the male by himself.”
This is a fascinating description, as observations of courtship displays are pretty rare. And it differs a little from other observed courtship e.g. males make circular flights around perched females (Damian K. Dowling 2003; http://www.biolsci.monash.edu.au/staff/fellows/dowling/docs/publication-5.pdf), so we get a little window into the personal life of Red-capped Robins, courtesy of Pete.