There is one excuse why we did not twig immediately the derivation of pardalote. On previous trips to Australia in the 1990s we had previously seen only the Striated Pardalote—the same species as the pair seen in Hobart. When we later saw two other species, it should have been obvious why pardalotes are called pardalotes.
The genus Pardalotus was erected by Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot (1748-1831) and just as in Panthera pardus, the leopard, Leopardus pardalis, the ocelot, Geochelone or Stigmochelys pardalis, the leopard tortoise and Furcifer pardalis, the panther chamaeleon, it simply means ‘spotted’ in Greek and the Latin derived from Greek. So to answer the question raised above; it is sort of French.
The names of two species, both of which we saw later in Tasmania, actually refer to the spots: the Spotted Pardalote and the Forty-spotted Pardalote, providing pedants with the opportunity to point out that we then have a tautology.
Pardalotes are small, hardly-ever-still birds that feed on small invertebrates, lerp (the sugary excretion of sap-sucking psyllids) and manna.
The pair of Striated Pardalotes (Pardalotus striatus) we saw in Hobart were nesting in a hole between rocks at the side of the road, carrying food gathered from the surrounding trees. Using my extremely long focal-length lens, one of them was still just long enough to get a photograph.
|Striated Pardalote. Tasmania|
The Forty-spotted Pardalote is the dullest looking of the four species. I had great difficulty getting a photograph and had only fleeting side-on views. They were constantly on the move, gathering food and being chased off by Honeyeaters (who defend the sources of lerp).
|Forty-spotted Pardalote. South Bruny, Tasmania|