Inquisitive active honeyeaters

If your garden is covered in banksias and grevilleas, then you may be lucky enough to spot nectar-loving native birds known as New Holland Honeyeaters (Phylidonyris (Meliornis) novaehollandiae), or Bandin in the Noongar language. They are a highly active bird, flying briskly and not staying in one place for too long. They are inquisitive, curious birds that will sometimes even approach people.1

The New Holland Honeyeaters are mostly black and white, with a characteristic large yellow patch on their wings and yellow sides on their tail. They have a small white ear patch, with thin white whiskers at the base of their beak and white iris’.1 The birds have a long, narrow beak with a protruding tongue to access the nectar. Honeyeaters are between 17 and 20 cm in length and the females tend to be slightly smaller than the males.

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Photos (left to right, top to bottom): Naomi Rakela, Kimberley Page, Naomi Rakela.

These native Australian birds are common in forests, woodlands, heaths and gardens.1 The New Holland Honeyeaters diet consists mainly of flowers nectar, namely from banksias and grevilleas. They are active feeders, in that they busily dart from flower to flower when eating. If nectar is not plentiful, these omnivores will also eat fruit, insects or spiders.3 While they may feed alone, they prefer feeding in large groups, mostly in lower areas of bushes and thickets.1

Pairs may raise two to three broods in a year, although their preferred breeding seasons are summer and winter. They often nest within 6m of the ground. Young chicks are browner in colour and have grey eyes.2

Honeyeaters communicate with each other through chattering sounds, as well as a loud ‘chik’ and a fainter ‘pseet’ noise. When they are in danger, a group of honeyeaters will sound a loud alarm call together.1

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Distribution map of the New Holland Honeyeater.
Map: Department of Parks and Wildlife.

 

Sources:

1Australian Museum

2Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania

3Atlas of Living Australia