Crimson Chat Click to enlarge image
Crimson Chat Image: Jim Bendon
creative commons

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    11 cm to 13 cm

When a potential predator approaches the nest of a Crimson Chat, one or both parents will fake an injury on the ground in a distraction display to draw the predator away. It is also known as a 'rodent-run'.


The Crimson Chat is a small bird with a short decurved (downward curving) bill. Adult males are dark brown above, with a brilliant red crown, breast and rump, a black mask around the eye and white throat. Adult females and juveniles are much paler, brown above, with a white throat and pinkish below. Chats, unlike most small birds, walk rather than hop, and are most often seen on or near the ground.

AMS405/128 Crimson Chat male immature
Scanned in 2005 for the Birds in the Backyard website Image: Jack Purnell
© Australian Museum


Crimson Chats are found in semi-arid and arid regions mainly dominated by open shrublands, dunes, plains or grasslands.


Crimson Chats are endemic to Australia, found from west of the Great Dividing Range to the coast of Western and South Australia.


Generally, Crimson Chats are winter visitors to northern Australia and summer visitors to southern Australia. However, in places of unpredictable rainfall they are nomadic, following recent rainfalls.

Feeding and diet

Crimson Chats feed mostly on insects. They mainly feed on the ground or close to it. However, they do possess the brush-tipped tongue common to their family (Meliphagidae) and they have been recorded taking nectar or insects from flowers of shrubs and trees.


High-pitched 'see', soft 'dik-it, dik-it' or brisk 'check check'.

Breeding behaviours

Crimson Chats will breed outside their regular season if conditions allow. They build a small, round, cup-shaped nest constructed of grass, twigs or plant stems in low shrubs close to the ground. The Crimson Chat sometimes nests communally or with other species. The young are fed and guarded by both parents.

  • Breeding season: July to December
    Clutch size: Two to four, usually three.
    Incubation: 14 days
    Time in nest: 14 days

Conservation status

The young of the Crimson Chat are sometimes killed by cats and foxes and are at particular risk while still in the nest, as the nest is usually close to the ground.


  • Higgins, P.J., Peter, J.M. and Steele, W.K. (eds) 2001. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Volume 5 (Tyrant-flycatchers to Chats). Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
  • Pizzey, G. and Knight, F. 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
  • Simpson, K and Day, N. 1999. Field guide to the birds of Australia, 6th Edition.Penguin Books, Australia.