There are hundreds of jungle-like sounds that emanate from the Australian rainforest. It can get overwhelming for a visiting birder to identify them all. But the cat snarls are so distinct, it is wonderfully satisfying to hear them and know instantly which bird that is.
In their territory the spotted catbird is everywhere, and the calls are distinctive, loud, and frequent. Ailuroedus melanotis, however, are only found in a few tiny parts of northern Queensland and New Guinea.
You can see the large black patch below its red eye, the “spotted” part of the catbird’s name. They are in the bowerbird family, but they do not build bowers. More info about bowerbirds here .
The spotted catbirds we saw and heard were primarily near Lake Eacham in the Atherton Tablelands. To hear them, click here and go to the catalog number at the far right; check out Patrick Aberg’s recordings. (Many thanks to my blogging friend RH at Rolling Harbour, who told me about this audio website.)
On days when we met with our guide before dawn, we had a few hours “off” at mid-day. During the break, Athena and I would sit on our lodge deck studying the birds and mammals in our guide books. The spotted catbird would forage around there, perching on thick vines and looking at us, puzzled by our presence in his territory. And then a marvelously loud cat clamor would erupt.