Historical information

The Golden Whistler is native to coastal areas of Australia, from Queensland around to Southern Western Australia, including Tasmania. It usually lives in dense forested areas. The males have bright yellow plumage, whilst the females have only pale yellow plumage. The males and females work together to build the nest and raise chicks. They eat spiders and insects.

The taxidermy specimen is not a good example of a Golden Whistler. Its feathers are very faded and ruffled. There looks to be some damage on the throat of the specimen. The Golden Whistler has usually vibrant colours, whilst this one is almost white. The colour markings on the bird indicate that it is male; the specimen should be a bright yellow.

This specimen is part of a collection of almost 200 animal specimens that were originally acquired as skins from various institutions across Australia, including the Australian Museum in Sydney and the National Museum of Victoria (known as Museums Victoria since 1983), as well as individuals such as amateur anthropologist Reynell Eveleigh Johns between 1860-1880. These skins were then mounted by members of the Burke Museum Committee and put-on display in the formal space of the Museum’s original exhibition hall where they continue to be on display. This display of taxidermy mounts initially served to instruct visitors to the Burke Museum of the natural world around them, today it serves as an insight into the collecting habits of the 19th century.


This specimen is part of a significant and rare taxidermy mount collection in the Burke Museum. This collection is scientifically and culturally important for reminding us of how science continues to shape our understanding of the modern world. They demonstrate a capacity to hold evidence of how Australia’s fauna history existed in the past and are potentially important for future environmental research.

This collection continues to be on display in the Museum and has become a key part to interpreting the collecting habits of the 19th century.

Physical description

This male Golden Whistler has a black head and stripe on chest, brown-grey wings and tail and white patches on throat and neck. The belly is a white-yellow, though significantly faded. Its feathers are quite ruffled and there is sign of damage to the throat. The specimen stands on a wooden stand and has an identification tag attached to its leg.

Inscriptions & markings

24a / white throated Thickhead / See catalogue, page 11