Birds and Communal Bathing

New Holland Honeyeaters

New Holland Honeyeaters

Our bird baths give us many hours of delightful birding. Quite often the honeyeaters come in numbers to bathe communally. When this happens with the New Holland Honeyeaters are often the first – and the bossiest – species to take advantage of the water. Sometimes there can be between five and eight individuals bathing and squawking noisily. With the Brown-headed Honeyeaters the number can be as many as twelve to fifteen at once, but they are very polite and take it in turns to bathe.

During the hot weather we have had this summer the bird baths need frequent replenishing. The water is splashed in all directions. They obviously haven’t heard that we currently have severe water restrictions due to the drought. On one hot day we actually had five species present at the bath at the one time: New Holland, White-plumed and Singing Honeyeaters, House Sparrow and a Spotted Pardalote. Soon after a Red Wattlebird (which is also a species of honeyeater) joined the communal bathing.

More recently I have observed a large family of about a dozen White-winged Choughs coming to bathe and drink together.

The photos on this page are better viewed by clicking on them to enlarge.

This article was update on September 20th 2015.

Further reading:

New Holland Honeyeaters

New Holland Honeyeaters


6 Responses to “Birds and Communal Bathing”

  1. John Tongue says:

    Hi Trevor,
    You are obviously fortunate enough not to have any cats or other predators around, if you are able to have your birdbath on the ground.

  2. Trevor says:

    Yes John – the local cats get a quick send off when we see them. Our garden is about a hundred metres from each of the next door neighbours, who both have cats who rarely visit due to our active discouragement.

    We actually have three bird baths in a group. The one in the photo is on the ground and is used by lizards as well. The second is on a stand about 60cm above the ground and the third is on the ramains of a saw off tree trunk at about 1.5m. This gives the birds a choice – some prefer the lower one (esp. ST Doves and Crested Pigeons). The highest is preferred by the magpies and ravens but this is only anecdotal evidence.

    I have never recorded the data in any organised way. Most species show no preference. When I have several spare days I will “do the research” and record the data. It could be a very relaxing couple of days.

  3. Sean says:


    That’s interesting, we get large groups of New Holland Honeyeaters bathing as well. Ours also prefer a terracotta dish that is on the ground! Coincidence?

  4. Hi Trevor,

    Whilst Google searching for pics of the New Holland Honeyeater I came across your beautiful images and this then lead me to your website. I publish a magazine called Australian Aviary Life and will be featuring an article on the successful breeding of NHH’s in our upcoming issue. I am keen to source a couple more high res images to run with it, would it be possible for me to use one or more of the images featured on your website for this purpose?

    I will of course credit you for the photo and would be more than happy to send you copies of the issue in question.

    Best regards,


  5. Trevor says:

    This post was updated in September 2015.

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