Pardalote map

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Pause for a moment and listen for the distinctive “chip chip chip” of these tiny insect catchers.

Two species of Pardalotes can be seen, or more commonly heard, in the Reserve. Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus and Spotted Pardalote Pardalotus punctatus (Diamond Bird)

Striated Pardalote - 28 Jun 2014 crop

Striated Pardalote Pardalotus striatus

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At about 90mm long Pardalotes are tiny, very cute and difficult to photograph as they spend most of their time high in eucalypt trees.

The Striated Pardalote has characteristic yellow and white eyebrows.

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Female - Spotted Pardalote - Photo A Kittila

Female – Spotted Pardalote – Photo: A Kittila

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The Spotted Pardalote looks like it has diamonds or stars scatted over its head, wings and tail. Thanks to the patience of Andrea Kittila, we have this excellent photo of a female in the bushes beside the Federation Track.

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Pardalotes protect the forest eucalypts by eating Psyllids.

Redgum Lerp Psyllid - 23 July 2014 - Alan Moore

Redgum Lerp Psyllid Glycaspis brimblecombei

Like many small forest birds Pardalotes feed on insects providing a valuable pest control service in bushland and in our backyards.

Pardalotes spend most of their time in the branches of eucalypts These tiny sap sucking insects that can be found by looking for the distinctive white “lerps”, the Psyllids’ white sugary protective covers. Psyllids excrete honeydew on the leaf surface and the sugars and amino acids in the honeydew crystallise in the air to form lerps. .

Rattle Ants feeding on lerps

Rattle Ants Polyrhachis australis feeding on lerps

Environmentalist Tim Low describes lerp as a “… modified bug excrement produced by aphid-like bugs called psyllids. It contains starch, something few animals synthesise. The word is indigenous, from the mallee lands of Victoria.”

Indigenous people and early European settlers collected the sweet tasty lerp. Rattle Ants Polyrhachis australis can still be found in the forest feeding on lerp but not on the sap sucking Psyllids, Pardalotes handle that.

Spotted Pardalote - nest - A Fox drawing

Pardalote nest in earth bank – Drawing: A. Fox

Nesting in earth banks?

During the June to January breeding season these curious pest controllers come down from the trees and use their tough beaks to tunnel up to 600mm into an earth bank to make a nesting chamber.

Pardalote hole 2 10 May 2011 low res

Pardalote nest hollow – Summit Track

Pardalote box - 9 Oct 12 low res

Pardalote nest box – Hollow Log Homes

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Invite the world’s cutest pest controllers into your backyard with specially designed nest box. Visit Hollow Log Homes or make your own box using a Hollow Log design from Nest boxes for wildlife – A practical guide Alan and Stacy Franks.

Available from Hollow Log Homes or most BCC Libraries.

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Threats

Domestic and feral cats: Please keep your cats inside at night. Particularly during breeding season when Pardalotes are found near the ground.

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