Fuscous Honeyeater

Did you know?

Fuscous Honeyeaters are often found in association with rosellas, as well as with other nectar-eating honeyeaters e.g. White-naped Honeyeaters, aerial-feeding insect-eating birds e.g. Willie Wagtails, Restless Flycatchers and Dusky Woodswallows, and larger insect-eaters e.g Grey Shrike-thrushes.

A rolling chitter: 'arig arig a taw taw'; also deep metallic flight song 'tew-tew-tew', and contact call is short 'jeow'.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
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Breeding season: 
August to December
Clutch Size: 
1 to 3 eggs
14 days
Nestling Period: 
15 days
Conservation Status
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The Fuscous Honeyeater is a medium-small 'plain' olive-brown honeyeater with an unmarked face, apart from a slightly 'bruised' colouring around the eye. It has a small, indistinct yellow ear tuft bordered black. The eye is brown. The eye ring and base of bill are yellow out of breeding season and dark during breeding. The slightly curved bill is medium-sized. The sexes are similar, with males slightly larger than females.

Similar species: 

The Fuscous Honeyeater is the plainest of the 'tufted' honeyeaters (Lichenostomus sp.), with the least obvious tuft. It is similar to the Yellow-tinted Honeyeater, L. flavescens, which shares its range in north-eastern Queensland, but this species tends to be more yellow, with a more conspicuous black crescent-shaped mark at the ear. Other similar honeyeaters, such as the Grey-fronted, L. plumulus, and the Yellow-plumed, L. ornatus, have larger and more conspicuous yellow plumes, boldy bordered with black, and have more streaked underparts, while the White-plumed Honeyeater, L. penicillatus, has an olive-green to yellow head and a white neck plume.

Where does it live?

The Fuscous Honeyeater is found in mainland eastern Australia from Cooktown and the Atherton Tableland, Queensland, south to eastern South Australia. In New South Wales, it is found mostly from the foothills to western slopes of the Great Dividing Range, being more scattered along the coast.


The Fuscous Honeyeater prefers open dry eucalypt forests and woodlands with shrubby or open grassy understorey. Sometimes found on farms with remnant forest patches and sometimes seen in gardens.

Seasonal movements: 

Some local seasonal movements; altitudinal migration in south-east, with birds moving down from higher regions during autumn and winter, e.g. in Canberra, the Fuscous Honeyeater becomes common from May to August, but is rarely seen during the summer.

What does it do?

The Fuscous Honeyeater feeds mainly on insects, including their products (e.g. honeydew, lerps), and other invertebrates, as well as on nectar. It forages on foliage in trees and shrubs, less often on branches and trunks. In the non-breeding season, may form flocks of up to 20 birds, and will sometimes feed in association with other species, such as White-naped Honeyeaters, thornbills and Little Lorikeets.


Fuscous Honeyeaters are semi-colonial, living in groups that jointly defend a permanent territory. However, they breed in monogamous pairs, with the female building the nest and incubating the eggs. Both sexes feed the nestlings. Nests may be built on their own or as part of colony. The nest is a delicate rounded cup suspended in high foliage and made from grass, spider web, bark and wool, lined sparsely with grass or wool.

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