Spotted! Noisy Pitta in an Urban Haven

Posted on Posted in Cape York, Central QLD, East coast, feathered, North QLD, NSW coast, South East QLD, Spotted!

After hearing a rumour of a rumour that a Noisy pitta (Pitta versicolour) had recently taken up residence at our local botanic gardens we headed off for a Sunday arvo wander.

There was no sign of the pitta when we arrived at the alleged ‘spot’. We sat for a while and then, sure enough… we heard the tell-tale scratchings.

The Noisy pitta is the largest and most common of the three Australian pittas. The Rainbow pitta (Pitta iris) and Red-bellied pitta (Pitta erythrogaster) are other members of the Pittidae family. (Photo by K. Burndred)

There he was – bouncing around, noisily scratching through the leaf litter. Seemingly unaware of us he continued foraging; picking out worms and small snails and smashing them against the same smooth, large rock.

Each time he fluttered back to his anvil he displayed his amazing colouration – bright turquoise wings and deep red undertail feathers. It’s remarkable that a bird with such striking plumage can still be so cleverly camouflaged when he wants to be.

The Noisy pitta perched on his new anvil in the botanic gardens. (Photo by K. Burndred)

We have seen glimpses of Noisy pittas before, usually in dense rainforest around Conway and Cape Hillsborough NPs, and have found them to be quite shy and cautious of obtrusive twitchers. It can be especially frustrating considering their distinct call always lets you know they are there!

They call more actively throughout mating season in spring and summer. Around October, mating pairs build an intriguing dome-shaped nest lined with moss and leaves, tucked safely in-between tree roots. To deter predators the pair disguise the nest by covering it in debris. They line the ‘entrance’ with mammal dung (to throw predators off the scent) and constantly preen around the nest removing feathers and faeces which might otherwise give them away.

The noisy pitta can be found along much of the east coast of Australia; however, populations are approaching rare status in NSW. Map: www.birdsaustralia.org.au.

Pittas are not skilled fliers (they only rarely fly to low perches to call), which begs the question – how and why did this pitta end up at our local botanic garden, a long way from his rainforest home? Whatever the answer, he seems quite pleased with himself – surrounded by a botanical haven and an abundance of food.

Habitat clearance is the biggest threat that pittas face, and this sighting further reminds us of the importance of vegetation corridors in allowing animals to safely move between habitats, especially in urban environments. Another huge threat to pittas (as with many other natives) is predation by cats – so always keep your kitty inside at night!

7 thoughts on “Spotted! Noisy Pitta in an Urban Haven

  1. Cool!!!! I’ll have to head down to the gardens later on in the year to see if this little pitta has found a mate!!! Can you tell males from females easily in Pitta’s?

  2. “Create a suitable environment and the wildlife will move in.” This is a prime example. But, what does the future hold for this little fellow? Maybe it will go looking for a partner at some stage, – then what? It will be interesting to see whether this single Noisy Pitta will stay on – return – or not return – in 2012.

  3. I live on Karragarra Island (in the Southern Moreton Bay Islands).
    I had a Noisy Pitta in my garden in early June and saw one yesterday 4th September foraging in the mangroves near my home. Beautiful bird.

  4. A Noisy Pitta bird has been regularly spotted at my home here at Crystal Creek , Northern NSW , for the last month – september 2012
    Rainforest habitat , havent found a nest , just wonderous to experience this bird strolling around the bush .
    Also had a Regent Bower bird fly in , perch on a branch and seemingly stare at me for around 10 minutes . i thought it was rather amazing . September 2012 , The black and brilliant yellow so distintive and a delight to see .

  5. We saw three noisy pittas in Angourie today on the rainforest walk from the blue pool to the back of the shops. They were beautiful and not shy at all!

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