Great Birding Moments #6 New Holland Honeyeaters
We have many flowering trees and bushes in our garden on the outskirts of Murray Bridge in South Australia. As a result of all these plants there is a steady supply of food for many species of birds, especially a range of honeyeaters. Over the last 22 years we have recorded the following species of honeyeaters:
- Red Wattlebirds – resident, breeding, very common.
- White Plumed Honeyeaters – resident, breeding, very common.
- Spiny Cheeked Honeyeater – resident, breeding with only several present at any one time.
- Brown Headed Honeyeater – regular visitor, breeding and usually in groups of 8-12.
- Noisy Miner – only one doubtful record many years ago despite being common along the River Murray less than 5km away.
- Striped Honeyeater – occasional visitor, recorded breeding only once which remains probably the most south-westerly record of breeding in Australia.
- White Eared Honeyeater – occasional visitor despite being widespread in this area.
- Yellow Plumed Honeyeater – occasional visitor.
- New Holland Honeyeater – resident, breeding and very common.
- Singing Honeyeater – resident, breeding and common.
New Holland Honeyeaters
The most prominent species has to be the the New Holland Honeyeater. This was not always the case. When we moved here we never saw any New Hollands despite being very common throughout Murray Bridge and the district. After the first few migrated to our garden, the numbers increased rapidly until they are now the dominant species. They are also rather aggressive. (See my posting called “Aggressive bird behaviour in the garden.”)
Distribution and Habitat
New Holland Honeyeaters are widely distributed along coastal south-eastern Australia. They are also found in southern Western Australia and in Tasmania. They prefer gardens, parks, golf courses, orchards, mallee, heathlands, coastal scrubs and eucalypt woodlands. They are often found in association with other honeyeater species towards which it acts aggressively, chasing them away from their preferred flowering plants.
I have had many opportunities to photograph this species over the last year. The best is the one featured at the top of this post. I was near the neighbour’s fence looking at the old plough set as a garden ornament. The bird alighted on the handle only three metres away and settled long enough for me to zoom in, focus and shoot. I am very pleased with the result; it couldn’t have posed better if I’d given it instructions.
The photo below is of another bird, and yes, it is up the right way. It’s the bird that’s upside down!