Pardalotes - Well Spotted!
We have two species of pardalote that can be seen in Denmark, the Spotted Pardalote and the Striated Pardalote, both are small about 9 – 10cm in length and generally feed in the canopy of eucalypt trees and can be difficult to spot. The name “Pardalote” comes from Greek and means “spotted”, strangely the scientific name for the Spotted Pardalote is “punctatatus” which also means “spotted”! You get the idea!
Although they may be diminutive, pardalotes pack a punch, they have a strong high-pitched peeping call often a single repetitive “peep” in the case of the Spotted and a double “witta” in the case of the Striated. When seen at close quarters or with binoculars the Spotted Pardalote is a colourful bird; the male has a yellow throat, dark wings with bold white spots and an orange-red rump. The female is less striking and lacks the yellow throat and has a paler crown. The Striated Pardalote has a buff back and a pronounced white and yellow eye stripe.
Pardalotes are insectivorous, often feeding on aphid-like bugs called psyllids and their lerp – a small white flake-like sugary exudate. Pardalotes can be an important biological control in preventing these infestations getting out of control.
Spotted Pardalotes often nest in earth banks excavating a tunnel by initially hurling themselves against the bank head-first to establish the tunnel and then digging about a metre into the bank using their beak and feet, before excavating a chamber which is then lined with grass.
The Striated Pardalote generally nests in tree hollows but is known to also use crevices in buildings. The male selects a suitable hollow and will then call and display with open wings to attract the female to pass judgement on his chosen site.
Both species lay about 3-4 eggs which are incubated for about 3-weeks, the young emerging from the nest after a further 3-weeks.