Although the spotted catbird is a conspicuous part of the Wet Tropics avifauna, the species was not described from Australia. Alfred Russel Wallace collected specimens of these and many other species of birds, insects and land snails on the Aru Islands in the Arafura Sea and sent them to British Museum. (Wallace’s work on the Aru Islands led to his first systematic study of biogeography.)
Ornithologist George Gray named the species Ptilonorhynchus melanotis, acknowledging a relationship with the satin bowerbird (P. violaceus). It was subsequently shifted to Ailuroedus alongside the southern green catbird (A. crassirostris). The first Australian spotted catbird was not collected for seventeen years after Wallace’s expedition to the Aru Islands, when Kendall Broadbent sent specimens from Rockingham Bay to the Australian Museum. Edward Ramsay described the Queensland form as a new species, Aeluroedus maculosus. Ramsay’s species is now considered one of two Australian subspecies of Ailuroedus melanotis. (The other is A. melanotis joanae from eastern Cape York Peninsula.)
Not that this matters one jot to the spotted catbirds. The ones in my garden spend their days looking for food and engaging in musical battles over territories. (I use the term ‘musical’ very loosely.) They are almost certainly sitting on eggs, if not already feeding nestlings. I suspect the latter because they have resumed their mugging activities on the pademelons. They are yet to take on the brush turkeys, but that will happen once the nestlings grow big enough. It is definitely a jungle out there.
Gray, G.R. (1858) A list of the birds, with descriptions of new species, obtained by Mr Alfred R. Wallace in the Aru and Ke Islands. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1858: 169 – 198.
Ramsay, E.P. (1874). Descriptions of five new species of birds from Queensland, and of the egg of Chlamydodera maculata. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1874: 601 – 605.