Honeyeaters are a diverse group of Australian birds belonging to the family Meliphagidae. One of their special characteristics is a 'brush-tipped' tongue, with which they take up nectar from flowers. However, nectar is only one of their foods. Most honeyeaters also eat insects, and some eat more insects than nectar. Many honeyeaters also feed on pollen, berries and sugary exudates (e.g. sap) of plants as well as the sugary secretions of plant bugs (e.g. psyllids).
Mobile or sedentary and sometimes territorial
Many honeyeaters are highly mobile, searching out seasonal nectar sources. Mass-flowering eucalypts are particularly popular with these nomadic honeyeaters (e.g. Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater). Other species are sedentary (e.g. Little Wattlebird, Eastern Spinebill) and some species are strongly territorial (e.g. New Holland Honeyeater, Noisy Miner).
Competing for resources
Several different species of honeyeater often compete for plant resources in the same area, but the larger species tend to win the battles for access to flowers (e.g. Red Wattlebirds and Noisy Miners). However, some smaller species (e.g. Eastern Spinebills) can coexist with the large species because they don't need as much food and can 'sneak' into flowering plants if there is enough foliage cover for them to hide in.
How do gardens contribute?
Because gardeners tend to grow plants with large and long-lasting floral displays, urban areas can provide plenty of food for honeyeaters. However, it is often the large honeyeaters that dominate gardens. This is probably because there is often not enough dense shrubbery in gardens to provide cover for small species
Other birds that eat nectar
Members of the honeyeater family (Meliphagidae) are not the only bird species that feed on nectar. Silvereyes (Family Zosteropidae) and several species of lorikeet (Family Psittacidae) are also prominent nectar-feeders of urban areas.
Other nectar-feeding birds fact sheet list
- Yellow-faced Honeyeater Breeding gallery
- Birds in Backyards Noisy Miner research
- History of Sydney's birds
- Birds behaving badly: Noisy Miner article
Some Honeyeaters include:
|Scientific Name: Sugomel niger||Scientific Name: Melithreptus gularis|
|Scientific Name: Melithreptus affinis||Scientific Name: Entomyzon cyanotis|
|Scientific Name: Lichmera indistincta||Scientific Name: Melithreptus brevirostris|
|Scientific Name: Phylidonyris pyrrhopterus||Scientific Name: Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris|
|Scientific Name: Lichenostomus fuscus||Scientific Name: Meliphaga lewinii|
|Scientific Name: Philemon citreogularis||Scientific Name: Anthochaera chrysoptera|
|Scientific Name: Phylidonyris novaehollandiae||Scientific Name: Philemon corniculatus|
|Scientific Name: Manorina melanocephala||Scientific Name: Grantiella picta|
|Scientific Name: Certhionyx variegatus||Scientific Name: Anthochaera carunculata|
|Scientific Name: Myzomela sanguinolenta||Scientific Name: Lichenostomus virescens|
|Scientific Name: Acanthagenys rufogularis||Scientific Name: Plectorhyncha lanceolata|
|Scientific Name: Melithreptus validirostris||Scientific Name: Glyciphila melanops|
|Scientific Name: Phylidonyris niger||Scientific Name: Lichenostomus leucotis|
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