Bird feeder for New Holland Honeyeater

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KerryBritton's picture
Bird feeder for New Holland Honeyeater

Hi - I live in Collie in SW WA and have lots of New Holland Honeyeaters and a few silver eyes in our garden. I was thinking of making a feeder under our pergola. I attempted this some years ago but had trouble:

1. Excluding larger unwanted birds

2. Excluding bees

Any one have any photos/recommendations for a suitabe feeder.

Also - what would be best food? Honey? Jam?

Woko's picture

Hi there, Kerry. How lucky you are to have the delightful New Holland Honeyeaters & Silvereyes in your garden.

The most suitable feeder (or feeders) for New Holland Honeyeaters are, I’m sure you’ll appreciate, the plants which they would naturally feed on. These would be the indigenous plants which once grew in your area before people removed them to plant exotic species. Indigenous plants are what New Holland Honeyeaters evolved with over millions of years & therefore provide the most natural & appropriate food for them. 

Usually, people set up bird feeders & stock them with unnatural food not for the birds’ sake but so that the people can get up close & personal with the birds. In other words the bird feeders are for the people not for the birds. This can be disastrous for the birds because it can deprive them of their natural, healthy food, the food which they naturally eat. If you’re keen on getting up close & personal with the birds then a good pair of binoculars might be the way to go. 

By planting indigenous plants you will not only provide the New Holland Honeyeaters with natural food but you’ll also re-establish, at least in part, the original ecology of your property. This will also provide optimum conditions for other native critters such as insects & caterpillars which means you’ll establish a food web for a range of other native birds. And it’s important to remember that New Holland Honeyeaters, as well as being nectar feeders, also feed on insects, especially at breeding time when they feed their youngsters. As well, a natural garden provides protection for smaller birds from those large birds you’re concerned about. 

Breeding places are also provided New Holland Honeyeaters (& other bird species) by planting indigenous native vegetation. So, as you can see, there are a range of advantages in establishing an indigenous native garden. Oh, I forgot to mention that indigenous species, being adapted to local conditions, require much less water than exotic species. Time & money saved. 

Being nectar feeders, New Holland Honeyeaters really like Grevilleas, Banksias, Correas, Eucalypts, Eremophilas &, no doubt, a range of other natives which grow naturally in your area. To obtain a list of specific plant species the environmental officer of your local council, your nearest native plant nursery & your local Landcare or other environment group would be helpful to contact. 

KerryBritton's picture

Thanks so much for the detailed response - we have carefuly plannted a lot of Australian Natives in our garden (mainly grevilleas and bottle-brush) which is the reason I suspect that we have a good resident population of NHH and Silvereyes. We also have a very old grape vine (old wine variety I suspect ) which is a favorite for all sorts of birds late in the season when the grapes are getting old on the vine. I get your point about the dangers of feeders and will resist setting one up. 

Woko's picture

Ah, wise move, Kerry. At least in my opinion. Others think differently, of course.

Yes, if you have Grevilleas & Bottlebrushes they'll certainly attract New Holland Honeyeaters - to which you can attest!

You may be aware that Silvereyes are also nectar feeders & have a similar brush-tipped tongue to that of the New Holland Honeyeaters. They also eat small (& large) fruits. Have you noticed any birds with the staggers under your old grapes at the end of the season? I've heard that drunkenness sometimes afflicts birds late in the grape season when the juice has fermented.

By the way, I imagine you're blessed with a number of Banksia species in your area. They're fantastic for attracting honeyeaters.

All the very best, Kerry.

juliet799's picture

1.Cage Feeders
Bird feeders that are enclosed in wire mesh keep larger birds away from the feeding ports. While many of these feeders are designed to discourage squirrels, the same designs can be effective at discouraging larger bully birds. Adding coated wire around existing bird feeders can also exclude bully birds while allowing smaller birds to feed in peace.
2.Periodically move feeders
Just moving feeders by 3 or 4 feet will help insects lose track of them. Birds will still find them easily, but insects often won’t.

Woko's picture

Hi there Juliet. From your mention of squirrels I imagine you live somewhere in the northern hemisphere where there seems to be a much stronger culture of artificially feeding birds. In Australia there's a long standing debate about the wisdom, or otherwise , of artificial feeding. 

I'm rather curious about how long humans have been artificially feeding birds & whether birds have had the opportunity to adapt to this method of acquiring their food. That said, I'm aware that ecological health depends on a range of interactions between various elements in the natural environment, particularly between plants & animals. I'm wondering, therefore, if there's a case in the northern hemisphere for replacing artificial feeding with natural habitat restoration. Any thoughts? 

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