Family Old World Orioles (Oriolidae)

Least Concern

Australasian Figbird (Sphecotheres vieilloti)


French: Sphécothère de Vieillot German: Feigenpirol Spanish: Papafigos de Vieillot

Sphecotheres Vieilloti

Vigors and Horsfield

, 1827,

near Rockhampton, east Queensland, Australia


Has sometimes been considered conspecific with S. viridis and S. hypoleucus (but see below). Race flaviventris has been treated as a separate species, but intergrades widely with nominate in E Queensland (thus scoring 3 for yellow vs grey/olive underparts, 1 for broad hybrid zone); moreover, the vocabularies of the two taxa appear to overlap entirely#R. Race salvadorii perhaps sufficiently distinctive to warrant investigation. Five subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. v. cucullatus (Rosenberg, 1866) – Kai Is (off SW New Guinea).
  • S. v. ashbyi Mathews, 1912 – N Australia (N Western Australia and N Northern Territory).
  • S. v. flaviventris Gould, 1850 – Yellow Figbird – islands in Torres Strait and NE Australia (Cape York and NE Queensland).
  • S. v. salvadorii Sharpe, 1877 – SE New Guinea.
  • S. v. vieilloti Vigors & Horsfield, 1827 – Grey-breasted Figbird – E Australia.
  • Descriptive notes

    27–29·5 cm; 97–146 g. Male nominate race has crown, face, ear-coverts and neck jet-black with some gloss; bare skin around eye pink or red; upper mantle... read more


    Song a hesitant series of simple tuneless whistles ending in a downslur, e.g. as "tu-tu-heer,... read more


    Various wooded and forested habitats, e.g. gallery monsoon forest, large trees along rivers,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly fruits, also some seeds and nectar; also insects, occasionally small vertebrates. Fruits include those of e.g. figs, native cherry... read more


    Breeds in Oct–Feb in S of range and Sept–Mar (rarely Apr and Aug) in N; one or two broods per year. Nests in loose colonies. Co... read more


    Sedentary, with local nomadic movements in search of fruiting trees; small flocks containing older... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in parts of range, which is estimated to cover c. 1,000,000–10,000,000 km2. Recorded density in eucalypt woodland in New Guinea 0... read more

    Recommended citation

    Walther, B. & Jones, P. (2018). Australasian Figbird (Sphecotheres vieilloti). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 21 October 2018).