Noisy Friarbird


Philemon corniculatus


other names
Knobby-nose Leatherhead, Four O'clock Pimlico and Poor Soldier


Adults: Sexes similar, males larger. 300 to 340mm in length. Head and upper neck mostly bare of feathers, except for a line of grey-brown feathers over the eye, with black skin. A triangle of silver-white feathers on chin. Back, rump and shoulders are a mid fawn-brown. Wings grey. Tail grey, square ended with narrow white tip. Lower throat and upper breast a ruff of silvery white feathers with darker shafts. Lower breast to undertail is a pale fawn. Red eye. Bill black with small triangular knob at base of upper mandible. Feet are a dusky grey.

Juvenile: Neck and back of head are feathered. Feathers are mottled grey and edged with white. Flight feathers and tail are edged in green-yellow. Throat and breast lack ruff. Knob on upper beak is less noticeable. Eye is brown.

Voice: Rolling, double noted chant "ya-kob". Also makes call that sounds like "poor soldier", hence the name given in some parts. Also makes a harsh cackling shout. Song is a rippling or chuckling cackle, often in duet. Voice of female is higher pitched.

The Noisy Friarbird can be found in the eastern coastal regions of the mainland, from Cape York to eastern Victoria. The friarbird is locally nomadic in north eastern Queensland but is migratory in the southern areas of Australia . These individuals travel to Queensland around March and August, returning south around August, September. It prefers open areas in wet and dry sclerophyll forests and woodlands. Also found in New Guinea. It is one of Australia's most known birds due to its unusual appearance and featherless head. Like other honeyeaters, the Noisy Friarbird is a versatile feeder, taking nectar, insects and fruits. It is also known to drink the syrup from sugar can after it has been fired. They often congregate in small groups which includes other honeyeaters, particularly Little Friarbirds. They can become aggressive, defending feeding areas, chasing off other birds. Most feeding is arboreal, the bird bouncing around tree branches in search of food. Noisy Friarbirds also "hawk" for insects, fluttering up and catching prey mid-air. Groups spread out to roost at night, individual birds sleeping alone, but calling to each other. Breeding is July to February. Nests are a large, deep open cup, 1.5 to 17 metres off the ground. Incubation is by the female, but both sexes attend to the young.