We were fortunate to come across a noisy pitta (Pitta versicolor) in the Lennox Head headland littoral rainforest recently. We heard something foraging among the leaves and at first thought the sound was of a brush turkey scratching in the leaf litter – thrilled to discover otherwise.
Graeme Chapman, famous Australian birdman, says:
They are fairly shy and, except for a few determined birdwatchers, few people ever see them although there are the odd locations where they have become used to humans.
So I guess the Lennox headland rainforest is just such a place. It has a popular walking track through it but the rainforest is fenced off from people and their dogs-on-leashes on both sides of the track. Most of the trees were planted as seedlings and the habitat restoration is coming along nicely. The many birds there sure appreciate it.
Here’s someone else’s shot of a pitta out in the open. Stunning, eh?
The noisy pitta flings aside leaves (we saw it doing that) to find earthworms, insects and snails. It also eats some forest fruits. It uses an ‘anvil’ (a stone or hard surface) to smash the shells of the snails. Glen Fergus found such an anvil on Moreton Island (next photo).
Its call, which I didn’t hear, has been described as ‘walk-to-work’. You can hear it on Graeme Chapman’s website.