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Forty-spotted pardalotes hold a very special place in our hearts as they were they were the original motivation for Tonia to buy the first Inala property. The little colony peeping over the fence drew her attention to their predicament.

The forty-spotted pardalote is endemic to Tasmania. Although once spread along eastern Tasmania, forty-spots are now restricted to a few peninsulas in the south-east and offshore islands, including Bruny Island. These small birds (10cm) are listed as endangered, threatened by habitat loss, drought and a species of parasitic fly (Passeromyia longicornis) which enter the birds nests and causes high rates of nestling mortality.

Forty-spots are dependent on white gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) for food and nesting hollows.

They forage among the leaves for invertebrates and manna, a sticky, sugary substance exuded from the leaves and stems. To collect the manna, the birds make small cuts in the leaves and stems using the specialised hook on the end of their bill. Once some sap has seeped out, the birds return to collect it.

Inside tree hollows, forty-spots build a dome shaped nest, using grass and lined with feathers.

At Inala we have a number of nest boxes and chainsaw cut hollows,

installed by the Australian National University, as well as a number designed by the Bruny Island Mens Shed. These nest boxes are part of an array across south-eastern Tasmania where breeding is intensively monitored by the University group. In particular, they help us keep a close eye on the presence of fly parasites, which have only been recorded once at Inala. If discovered early, we are able to mitigate the impacts.

Seeing the need for habitat restoration,

Tonia started planting white gums at Inala and around Bruny Island in 1985,

becoming part of the very first forty-spotted pardalote recovery team. The original little Inala colony has grown to be a strong population and has spread into these newly planted areas. Today planting continues using seed collected and cultivated on the property. 

Pardalotus quadragintus

Author: Dr Cat Young


created by

Andrew Browne

Andrew Browne