If there is one local species that captures my imagination more than any other, it may well be the Hooded Robin Melanodryas cucullata. It may not be the rarest or most spectacular but it has a certain charisma that I admire.
The scientific name has always intrigued me so I thought I’d look up the derivation in HANZAB. The generic name Melanodryas refers to the woodland habitat and black hood of the male (Greek μέλας, black and δρνας, a dryad or wood nymph). The specific epithet refers to the hood (Latin cucullus, hood or cowl). Aptly named it seems – their distinctive markings and furtive nature captured perfectly in this beautiful name.
I was fortunate earlier in the week to discover a nesting pair at one of the few local places where the species can reliably be found. The nest was expertly secreted against the trunk of an almost dead Grey Box – it had been constructed as a shallow bowl on a horizontal platform of bark. Hooded Robins typically choose a fork or branch so this site is perhaps a little unusual. While a male was in attendance nearby only the female was seen to visit the nest to incubate. This species is known to commonly breed cooperatively, often with one or two helpers.
Reference: Higgins, P.J., & J.M. Peter. (Eds) 2002. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 6: Pardalotes to shrike-thrushes. Oxford University Press, Melbourne. pp 732 – 747.