Family Pittas (Pittidae)

Least Concern

Rainbow Pitta (Pitta iris)


French: Brève iris German: Regenbogenpitta Spanish: Pita arcoiris

Pitta iris


, 1842,

Cobourg Peninsula, Northern Territory, Australia


Formerly considered conspecific with P. versicolor, but differs significantly in plumage, biometrics and voice. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. i. johnstoneiana Schodde & Mason, 1999 – NW Australia in NW Kimberley Division (mainly from Napier Broome Bay S to Prince Regent R), including Augustus I and islands in Admiralty Gulf.
  • P. i. iris Gould, 1842 – N Northern Territory, from Melville I and Darwin E to Groote Eylandt.
  • Descriptive notes

    16–18 cm; 55–72 g. Adult has head and neck black with broad chestnut lateral crownstripe, upperparts bright olive-green, sometimes a narrow silvery green-blue... read more


    Double whistle, "teow-whit, teow-whit" or "choowip-choowip", often likened to... read more


    Monsoon rainforest, gallery forest and vine scrub, also eucalypt (Eucalyptus) forest, and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Worms, snails, insects and their larvae, also other arthropods such as spiders, centipedes (Chilopoda), millipedes (Diplopoda);... read more


    Dec–Apr, occasionally later, in W, and mainly Oct–Mar in Northern Territory; often two broods raised in a season. Maintains... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Restricted-range species: present in North-west Australia EBA. Locally common. Nominate race common around Darwin; in Northern Territory, density of... read more

    Recommended citation

    Erritzoe, J. (2020). Rainbow Pitta (Pitta iris). 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 19 February 2020).