Nature conservation

Threatened species

White-eared Monarch - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Carterornis leucotis
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Profile last updated: 12 Feb 2018


The White-eared Monarch is a small, distinctively pied monarch-flycatcher, about the same size as the more widespread and much more common Grey Fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa). Adults are largely black above and pale grey below, with a highly distinctive black-and-white facial pattern, prominent white wing-bars and a white band at the base of the uppertail and a white tip to the tail. They are usually seen singly or in twos, especially in NSW, but can be hard to see in the rainforest as they are inconspicuous and tend to remain high in the canopy or subcanopy. Sometimes associate with with other small insectivorous birds, such as Rufous (Rhipidura rufifrons) and Grey Fantails. Their song is distinctive and plaintive, consisting of two notes, the second a descending and drawn-out whistle. They also utter other musical notes, a zitting contact call and a scolding chatter in alarm. Until recently, this species included in the same genus (Monarcha) as the other Monarchs occurring in Australia.


The species is endemic to the coastal lowlands and eastern slopes of the Great Divide of eastern Australia, extending from Cape York Peninsula south to north-eastern NSW. In NSW, White-eared Monarchs are generally found from the Queensland border south to Iluka at the mouth of the Clarence River, and inland as far as the Richmond Range. There are occasional records south of the Clarence River, near Woolgoolga and around Port Macquarie.

Habitat and ecology

  • In NSW, White-eared Monarchs occurs in rainforest, especially drier types, such as littoral rainforest, as well as wet and dry sclerophyll forests, swamp forest and regrowth forest.
  • They appear to prefer the ecotone between rainforest and other open vegetation types or the edges of rainforest, such as along roads.
  • They are highly active when foraging, characteristically sallying, hovering and fluttering around the outer foliage of rainforest trees. They are usually observed high in the canopy or subcanopy.
  • They eat insects, but their diet is not well studied.
  • They breed from about September to March, usually nesting high in the canopy, and often at the edge of patches of rainforest.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
NSW North CoastCoffs Coast and Escarpment Known None
NSW North CoastMacleay Hastings Known None
NSW North CoastYuraygir Predicted None
OceanTweed-Moreton Known None
Other StateQLD Known None
South Eastern QueenslandBurringbar-Conondale Ranges Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Lowlands Known None
South Eastern QueenslandScenic Rim Known None
South Eastern QueenslandSunshine Coast-Gold Coast Lowlands Known None
South Eastern QueenslandWoodenbong Known None