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!
Great shot of the New Holland Trevor, certainly helps when they’re close. They used to be the dominant species in our garden too, but over the last 12 months they seem to have gone elsewhere, meaning we now get Eastern Spinebills for a welcome change. It could be that nectar has been scarce and they migrated to the coastal banksia country, time will tell if they return.
Thanks Duncan. I’d like to have Spinebills in our garden for a change too. We have to go up into the Adelaide Hills to see them – and they always delight. Such beautiful colours and markings. I only have managed 2 very fuzzy shots of them so far. Must keep trying – but they do move rather quickly.
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I often get these little birds in my wooly bush when it is flowering. It is fun to watch them out my lounge room window, hanging off the branches darting from flower to flower then going to my grevillea.
We have New Holland Honeyeaters nesting a few metres from our sun room. They currently have two tiny balls of fluff in the nest that demand to be fed every few minutes! Very entertaining for us watching from the house.
We’ve been watching a pair of New Holland Honeyeaters building their nest in an ornamental tree in our courtyard in Kensington (SA). Really been lovely to watch them.
Do they stay together as mates?
Hi there Tony. It is indeed a great delight to watch birds nesting and as they go about feeding the young. The urge to breed is very strong and they will tolerate people going about their daily lives only metres away. Try not to disturb them too much.
The pair that have mated and built the nest will generally feed the young together. In some bird species only the female sits on the eggs and feeds the young while the male defends the territory (eg Magpies). In other species the whole thing is a cooperative affair. With blue wrens for example, the whole extended family will build the nest and feed the young.
As far as New Holland Honeyeaters are concerned they tend to breed in monogamous pairs ie they stay together as mates for the entire breeding cycle. They will often breed several times in a season. If still alive the next breeding season they will also bond together again as a pair.
Good question – thanks for stopping by.
[…] of my readers left the following comments and question on a post from last year about New Holland Honeyeaters: WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been watching a pair of New Holland Honeyeaters building their nest in an ornamental tree […]
[…] Next we are heading over to Trevor’s Birding to find out what is new in Australia. What luck! His newest post on New Holland Honeyeaters is quite interesting and they are so beautiful! […]
[…] this morning when the birds in the bushes in our garden erupted in noise and confusion. The New Holland Honeyeaters suddenly began screeching and smaller birds like the House Sparrows went scurrying for cover. The […]