All Australian chat species show some degree of seasonal movement (6), and the crimson chat in particular is highly nomadic (2) (6). This species is generally gregarious, travelling and breeding in flocks of varying sizes, and it moves and breeds opportunistically when conditions are suitable (6). However, the seasonal movements of this species are generally poorly understood and unpredictable (2), although it has been reported to appear in large numbers in some areas after rainfall (10).
The crimson chat is primarily insectivorous (2) (5) (6), feeding on a wide variety of small insects from beetles and grasshoppers to butterflies and ants (2). However, this species also eats spiders (2) (6), as well as nectar, fruit and seeds (2). Feeding largely on the ground (2) (3) (6), the crimson chat is one of the few small species of Australian birds that walk and run rather than hop (3), although it is also known to perch on low bushes or reeds (3) (6), where it probes for food among the foliage and flowers (2).
The crimson chat often feeds by roadsides (10), and is usually found in small flocks of up to 30 individuals, sometimes in mixed-species flocks with other chats (2). This species’ brush-tipped tongue may be useful in feeding on nectar, but is also thought to be an adaptation for drinking dew and other sources of water (6).
The breeding season of the crimson chat usually runs from July or August to November or December. However, breeding may occur in other months following good rainfall (2), during the flush of vegetation and insects which follows (4). Crimson chats form breeding pairs (2), and the male attracts a mate by impressing the female with a display flight and by erecting its beautiful scarlet crown feathers (4).
Both sexes take part in nest building, incubation and rearing of the young (2). The crimson chat builds a neat, cup-shaped nest made from grass, fine stems, bark fibre and twigs (2) (6), often bound with hair and feathers (2). The nest is usually placed in low shrubs (6), not usually more than 40 centimetres above the ground (2).
The female crimson chat lays a clutch of between two and four eggs (2), which are whitish with black, red, brown and grey spots (6). The eggs are incubated for a period of between 10 and 14 days, and the nestlings remain in the nest for a further 9 to 11 days after hatching. Domestic cats are known to kill nestlings, while introduced foxes (Vulpes) sometimes destroy nests (2)