Bossy New Holland Honeyeaters

Golden Whistler (male) harassed by New Holland Honeyeater

Golden Whistler (male) harassed by New Holland Honeyeater

Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

Yesterday I wrote about the male Golden whistler I tracked down in our garden. I showed a nice photo I managed to get of this beautiful bird. A few seconds after taking that photo the whistler was swooped by one of our resident New Holland Honeyeaters. This species can be very aggressive towards other bird species. In my opinion they are second only to the Red Wattlebird as far as their aggressiveness goes.

Well, the male Golden Whistler was not going to take this affront lightly. I managed to capture the moment on my camera. The head of the honeyeater can just be seen in the lower right hand corner. The whistler, on the other hand, is showing signs of being somewhat upset. It has raised the feathers on the top of its head – almost like a crest. It has spread out its wings and the beak is wide open giving a harsh warning call to the aggressor.

Although the shot is not the best photo I’ve ever taken, I am quite pleased with the result. It is not often one is able to catch moments like these. A split second later would have seen a totally different scene as the honeyeater flew off.


8 Responses to “Bossy New Holland Honeyeaters”

  1. Tricia says:

    Hi Trevor

    Greetings for the New Year. This story caught my eye. I have a gang of “hoon” New Hollands who visit my garden. At my bird bath the other morning they were chasing away a sweet little White Plumed Honeyeater, really ganging up on it and not allowing it to take nectar from the flowers or have a drink. The White Plumed has learnt to come to my garden now when those bullies aren’t around.

    Shocking day here in Melbourne with hot northerlies gusting up to 38 knots and temps over 44, but looks like you are having another bad one too.

  2. Trevor says:

    Hi Tricia, you are so right about those bullies. Only the Magpies and Red wattlebirds can out-boss them.

    Yes – today is terrible currently (at 1:25pm) there is a hot northerly gale with dust. No sign of the promised cool change that is supposed to come through this afternoon. Currently 45C.

  3. Tricia says:

    Do you have a bush fire plan in place where you are Trevor, you are a bit out of town aren’t you?

  4. Trevor says:

    Yes Tricia – though it could probably do with some refinement. You are right – we are on the outskirts of the city with farmland to the south, mallee scrub to the west and north, so we are potentially at risk.

    We developed a plan after a fire threatened us in December 2005. If the wind had changed that day it would have come straight at us across a wheat paddock. We actually had enough time to pack bags and a few essentials and have the cars ready for a retreat into town. You can read about that incident here:

    It is now 2:35pm and the cool change has arrived, dropping the temperature 8C in 20 minutes. Nice.

    Thanks for your concern.

  5. Allan Brooker says:

    Chanced upon your site.

    My query is a complete disappearance of White Plumed Honeyeaters from my garden. They used to be very abundant and in flocks of up to 20 at a time. (first appeared here in Belfield, Sydney…near Strathfield ….early 1970’s but have not seen or heard one for about 2-3 years)

    Have a lot of Grevilleas, several species & various colours, in my garden, back and front. Have Red Wattle Birds and Little Wattle Birds and occasional New Holland Honeyeaters (latter,usually only a couple at a time)but now hordes of Noisy Miners.

    Suspect the noisy miners are the culprits, but have not witnessed them actually chasing away the White Plumed Honeyeaters.

    The white Plumed Honeyeaters have just literally vanished…..don’t even hear them in the distance.

    Can anyone throw light on the situation? What can I do to entice them back?

    Allan Brooker

  6. Denis Barden says:

    I live at Lara Vict.We have severe water restrictions-Is there a mixture I can make up to feed the Holland Honeyeaters that come to my place for water and food.Please help
    Regards Denis

  7. Tricia says:

    Hi Denis,

    I don’t know about feeding the New Hollands, but you could plant some correas around your place, they love them. Look out for the ones labelled “bird attracting”. They also love the flowering gums, lilly pillies and even the succulents with the bell shaped flowers. I’m at Point Cook and have come to enjoy my family of New Hollands with their cheery calls. Good luck!

  8. Trevor says:

    Hi Denis and Tricia,

    Thanks for your contributions. As Tricia said, planting bird attracting plants is a good way to bring and keep birds in your garden. By all means continue to provide water but resist the urge to feed them. For more information about the reasons, and what else you can do, go to the “Birds in Backyards” website here;

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