Spotted Pardalote Click to enlarge image
Spotted Pardalote Image: Patrick Kavanagh
creative commons

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    8 cm to 10 cm

The Spotted Pardalote is sometimes known as the "Headache Bird" because of the continuous "sleep-may-be" call it gives during the breeding season.


The Spotted Pardalote is a tiny bird that is most often high in a eucalypt canopy, so it is more often detected by its characteristic call. The wings, tail and head of the male are black and covered with small, distinct white spots. Males have a pale eyebrow, a yellow throat and a red rump. Females are similar but have less-distinct markings.

The related Striated Pardalote, P. striatus, has a striped head rather than spotted, and lacks the spotting on the wings and has a plainer back.

Pardalotus punctatus
A Spotted Pardalote is pictured at a hole in the ground with dirt on its beak, suggesting it is digging in the ground and possibly eating. Its feathers are predominantly light and dark blue, but with many white and grey spots. A colourful bird, it also has some yellow, red and black feathers throughout. Image: Michael Seyfort
© Australian Museum


The Spotted Pardalote is mostly found in eucalypt forests and woodlands but occurs in parks and gardens with well-established eucalypt canopy.


The Spotted Pardalote is found in eastern and southern Australia from Cooktown in Queensland through to Perth in Western Australia. It occurs in coastal areas, extending to the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range in the east.


Largely sedentary, but may undergo local seasonal movements away from higher elevations in autumn/winter.

Feeding and diet

The Spotted Pardalote forages on the foliage of trees for insects, especially psyllids, and sugary exudates from leaves and psyllids.


Repeated three-note whistle, the second two notes higher than the first.

Breeding behaviours

The Spotted Pardalote's nest is an enlarged, lined chamber at the end of narrow tunnel, excavated in an earth bank. Sometimes they nest in tree hollows and occasionally in artificial structures. Both parents share nest-building, incubation of the eggs and feeding of the young when they hatch.

  • Breeding Season: June to January
  • Clutch size: 4
  • Incubation: 19 days
  • Time in nest: 21 days

Conservation status

The Spotted Pardalote remains relatively common in urban areas that have a high density of eucalypts. Nests have sometimes been found in carpet rolls and garage roll-a-doors.

Urban Requirements: A high density of eucalypts.


  • Simpson, K and Day, N. 1999. Field guide to the birds of Australia, 6th Edition. Penguin Books, Australia.
  • Rowland, P. 1996. A Photographic Guide to Birds of Australia. Australian Museum/New Holland.
  • Higgins, P.J. and J.M. Peter (eds) 2002. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Volume 6: Pardalotes to Shrike-thrushes. Oxford University Press, Melbourne