Great Birding Moments #9 Brown-headed Honeyeaters
We have quite a range of honeyeaters resident in our garden. One of the more endearing species is the smallest of them all, the Brown-headed Honeyeater. This species is usually seen in loose flocks of 12-20 or more. I enjoy hearing their chittering calls as they pass through the garden or the mallee scrub at the back of our house. They seem to be always on the move, rarely settling for more than a few moments.
One exception to this is when they come to the birdbath for a drink or a communal bathing session. We have often been amused as they all line up on a nearby branch, all waiting to take a turn at bathing. Water droplets spray in all directions.
A few days ago I counted at least 18 of them all lined up on the gutter on the roof of the cabin near the house. This time they weren’t politely waiting for their turn to bathe. They all seemed to want a bath at the same time. Again, water droplets sprayed in all directions.
Here is my dilemma: leave the gutter/bath as it is – or should I clean it out thus denying them of this delightful fun?
One of my favourites too Trevor, always thought Graham Pizzey’s description likening them to sittellas was very apt. I saw them first in the Little Desert and made the connection straight away as they worked through the foliage of a big E. leucoxylon.
Ah – the Little Desert – now there’s a great place to camp and go birding. We had a brief couple of hours to visit the southern part of the NP two years ago. We are overdue for a return visit – but then I could say that about dozens of places. So many birds – so little time.
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I’ve always loved these little guys. I first discovered them in the 80’s hanging upside down and preening the leaves of a Box-Ironbark we had in the front yard…it took me ages to identify them as they wouldn’t sit still. After that they arrived every year on the mark.
The NSW genus seems to have a darker brown crown. Calls also are drawn out and more animated than VIC genus – best described as “…click-click-click-click-jerp-jerp-jerp-jerp…”
Always welcome at the end of winter….as pugnacious as they are.
You’ve described the call beautifully.
They do not seem to be always in our garden but they are regular visitors, bringing a cheerfulness with their constant calling. I have not noticed whether they have seasonal movements as they appear to be around for most of the year.