Golden Whistler Click to enlarge image
Golden Whistler Image: David Cook
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Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    16 cm to 18 cm

The Golden Whistler belongs to the Family Pachycephalidae, which means 'thick-head' after the group's robust necks and heads. This species is one of Australia's loudest and most beautiful songsters.


The adult male Golden Whistler is bright yellow on the underside, olive-green on the back and wings, and black on the head with a bright yellow collar. The throat is white, separated from the yellow chest by a broad black band. The bill and legs are black. Females lack bright plumage. They are generally grey above, with a pale olive tinge, and paler grey below, with a buff wash. The bill is dark brown and the legs grey-brown. The eye is red-brown in adults of both sexes. Young Golden Whistlers are rufous. As they mature, the plumage comes to resemble that of the female other than rufous edges to some wing feathers. These are later replaced as the bird matures.


The Golden Whistler can be found in almost any wooded habitat, from rainforest to mallee, but prefers the denser areas. Occasionally it visits parks and orchards.


The Golden Whistler is found from northern Queensland, around coastal eastern and southern Australia, including Tasmania, to the middle of Western Australia. The Golden Whistler is also found in Indonesia, Fiji, New Guinea and the Solomons.


Sedentary; some altitudinal migration to lower areas in winter.

Feeding and diet

Golden Whistlers feed on insects, spiders and other small arthropods. Berries are also eaten. Feeding is usually done alone and most food is obtained from the lower or middle tree level, where it is picked from leaves and bark.


The Golden Whistler's voice is strong, musical and varied. Songs include a 'we-we-we-tu-whit', the last note be stronger and whip-like, and a rising 'seep'.

Breeding behaviours

Male and female Golden Whistlers share the nest building duties. The nest is a shallow bowl, made of twigs, grass and bark, bound together with spider web and lined with finer grass. The nest is placed in a fork in a bush or tree up to 6 m above the ground. Only one brood is raised in a season and both sexes share the incubation of the eggs, and care of the young.

  • Breeding season: September and January
  • Clutch size: 2 to 3
  • Incubation: 15 days
  • Time in nest: 12 days


  • Boles, W.E. 1988. The Robins and Flycatchers of Australia. Angus and Robertson and The National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.
  • Pizzey, G. and Knight, F. 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
  • Schodde, R. and Tideman, S.C. (eds) 1990. Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds (2nd Edition). Reader's Digest (Australia) Pty Ltd, Sydney.