If someone asked me why I was so fascinated with the Hooded Robin I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I don’t know what it is, but I find them really amazing little birds and love to go “hunting” for them. I’ve only been lucky a few times, but I intend to get better and obtain a huge collection of them. Perhaps it’s just the name. Perhaps it’s just that they’re Robins. I certainly do love photographing Robins of any description. They are beautiful birds and just a little bit uncommon.
That said, the male Hooded Robin is extremely distinctive compared to the female. The male has very clear black and white plumage while the female is more of a greyish brown bird, not dissimilar to a female Superb Fairy Wren.
Like all Australian robins, it is not closely related to either the European robin or the American robin, but belongs rather to the Corvida parvorder comprising many tropical and Australian passerines, including pardalotes, fairy-wrens, and honeyeaters, as well as crows.
The generic name melanodryas derives from the Greek melas ‘black’ and dryas ‘wood-nymph’. The specific name cucullata derives from Late Latin cucullatus meaning ‘hooded’.
The hooded robin is around 16 cm (6 in) in length. The male has a distinctive pied coloration; with a black head and neck (“hood”), white chest and underparts, and black wings with white wing-bars. The eyes, bill, and feet are also black. The female is an undistinguished grey-brown above, with a pale grey throat and paler underneath, and dark brown wings and white wing-bars. Juveniles are similar to females.
It is found across the Australian continent, though not in Cape York nor Tasmania; its natural habitat is Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation.
Breeding season is July to November with one or two broods raised. The nest is a neat cup made of soft, dry grass and bark. Spider webs, feathers, and fur are used for binding/filling, generally in a tree crevice, hollow or fork. The clutch generally consists of two pale olive- or bluish-green eggs, with darker spots and blotches, measuring 21mm x 16 mm.