The Scarlet Robin (Petroica boodang) is a common red-breasted species found in Australia and its offshore islands, including Tasmania and noted for the vivid red colour of the breast plumage.

Not to be confused with other ‘red’ robins such as the Flame (P. phoenicea) and the Red-capped (P. goodenovii), the Scarlet Robin is distinguished by the large white patch above the bill in both the male and female (this patch is absent in the Red-capped Robin and smaller in the male Flame Robin).

There are three recognised subspecies of Petroica boodang, with the nominate sub-species P. b. boodang found in mainland southeastern Australia and P. b. leggii found in Tasmania and Flinders Island, and P. b. campbelli is found in south-western region of Western Australia.

The Scarlet Robin form life-long bonds with their partners, both having specific roles in their relationship. Whilst the female constructs the nest, the male bird is the main defender of their territory, singing from high perches to deter other males. Being territorial, the male robin is very protective of his chicks. The male robin has a beautiful warbling trill ‘wee-cheedalee-dalee’.

The Nyoongar people of south-western Australia have a creation story on how the Scarlet Robin got its red breast… The willie wagtail and the Scarlet Robin got into a fight. The willie wagtail hit the Scarlet Robin in the nose (beak) causing it to bleed. The blood ran down reddening its breast and that’s how the Scarlet Robin got its red breast.

Images © Dorothy L


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Petroicidae
  • Genus: Petroica
  • Species: P. boodang
  • Binomial name: Petroica boodang

Footnote & References

  1. Fulton, Graham. (2005). The scarlet robin’s red breast: An indigenous narrative. Australian Field Ornithology. 22. 213-214, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318867518_The_scarlet_robin’s_red_breast_An_indigenous_narrative