Family Bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchidae)

Least Concern

Black-eared Catbird (Ailuroedus melanotis)


French: Jardinier oreillard German: Schwarzohr-Laubenvogel Spanish: Maullador orejudo

Ptilonorhynchus melanotis

G. R. Gray

, 1858,

Aru Islands


Sometimes considered conspecific with A. crassirostris (which see). Race maculosus has shorter song than those of all other races, and may be a separate species. Recent genetic and morphological study#R suggests that most forms treated currently as races may well merit species rank. Birds in Fakfak Mts, Kumawa Mts and Wandammen Mts (all NW New Guinea) of uncertain racial identity and tentatively included in arfakianus; limits of race jobiensis uncertain, and birds in Adelbert Mts could belong to astigmaticus; birds in Jimi R area, also of uncertain race, tentatively included in guttaticollis. Race misoliensis sometimes included in nominate, and guttaticollis in jobiensis#R. Ten subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. m. misoliensis Mayr & Meyer de Schauensee, 1939 – West Papuan Is (Misool).
  • A. m. arfakianus A. B. Meyer, 1874 – mountains of Vogelkop (Tamrau and Arfak), Onin Peninsula (Fakfak Mts), Bomberai Peninsula (Kumawa Mts) and Wandammen Mts, in NW New Guinea.
  • A. m. jobiensis Rothschild, 1895 – Foja Mts, Bewani Mts, Torricelli Mts, Prince Alexander Mts, middle Idenburg R and Adelbert Mts, in N New Guinea.
  • A. m. facialis Mayr, 1936 – Nassau Mts and Oranje Mts, in W New Guinea.
  • A. m. guttaticollis Stresemann, 1922 – Hunstein Range, Sepik R and Jimi R, in NE New Guinea.
  • A. m. astigmaticus Mayr, 1931 – mountains of Huon Peninsula, in NE New Guinea.
  • A. m. melanotis (G. R. Gray, 1858) – Black-eared Catbird – Aru Is, and lowland Trans-Fly region of S New Guinea.
  • A. m. melanocephalus E. P. Ramsay, 1883 – mountains of SE New Guinea E from Herzog Mts in N and Mt Karimui (and possibly Kratke Mts) in S.
  • A. m. joanae Mathews, 1941 – E Cape York Peninsula (Pascoe R and Iron Range areas S to Rocky R, in McIlwraith Range), in N Queensland (NE Australia).
  • A. m. maculosus E. P. Ramsay, 1875 – Spotted Catbird – wet tropics of NE Queensland from Big Tableland S to Seaview Range and Mt Halifax.
  • Descriptive notes

    29 cm; male 196–285 g and female 196–261g (New Guinea), male 145–205 g and female 140–199 g (Australia). Nominate race has black crown to nape spotted... read more


    Cat-like nasal meowing, wailing territorial song given by pair-members throughout year; also sneeze... read more


    Lowland and upland tropical rainforest and adjacent tall secondary growth and wet sclerophyll... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly fruits, predominantly drupes and berries, also some flowers, stems, sap, and animals (mostly arthropods); in Australia (race ... read more


    Season Aug–Jan in New Guinea, but little known; Aug–Mar (peak Oct–Dec) in Australia, duration of season c. 4 months. Long... read more


    Resident. Longest distance travelled by marked individual 2 km. Possible winter dispersal to lower... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common and widespread throughout range. Distribution in New Guinea possibly more extensive; once heard throughout mid-montane forests of Ok Tedi area... read more

    Recommended citation

    Frith, C. & Frith, D. (2020). Black-eared Catbird (Ailuroedus melanotis). 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 29 February 2020).