The Crimson Chat (Epthianura tricolor) is a songbird of the arid inland of Australia. It is a striking looking bird recognised for a crimson crown, belly and rump. It has a a white throat-patch, black mask and upperparts.

The breeding male has a grey back, blackish wings with narrow pale wingbars. The non-breeding male are paler around the face. The adult females and juveniles are much paler, being brown above, with a white throat and pinkish below.

Whilst the Crimson Chats are endemic to Australia and found west of the Great Dividing Range to the coast of Western and South Australia, they are found in the semi-arid and arid regions across Central Australia, usually landscape dominated by shrublands, grasslands, plains and dunes.

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.

During periods of drought and when there is less food around, they are known to move closer to the coast where food is available. They forage on the fruit from saltbush, insects and other invertebrates.

Crimson Chats feed mainly on insects and spiders. They do possess the brush-tipped tongue that is common to their family Meliphagidae and they have been recorded enjoying nectar from flowers of shrubs and trees.

Usually seen in small groups moving along the ground in open areas. Like most chats, they seem to prefer to walk rather than hop. In the presence of water, they can be seen bathing.

In the south, the Crimson Chats will breed between August to October, whilst in the drier northern regions, they will breed outside their regular season, especially during favourable conditions after rain.

They both build the nest, a small, round, cup-shaped construction usually made of grass, twigs, plant stems, rootlets, hair and feathers. The nest is built close to the ground in low shrubs. The female lays 2 to 4 pink and white, brown-red spotted eggs. The Crimson Chat are known to sometimes nests communally or with other species. They are also seen enjoying pools of water with other species.

Images © Dorothy L


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Meliphagidae
  • Genus: Epthianura
  • Species: E. tricolor
  • Binomial name: Epthianura tricolor