Kangaroos and Honeyeaters: a happy arrangement

Brown-headed Honeyeater

Brown-headed Honeyeater

Quite often I receive some fascinating accounts about birds from my readers. Often these are left in the comments box and all are able to read them.

On other occasions people use the contact form and this is fine too, but only I get to read them. Some of these are too good to keep to myself.

Kerry is one such reader. By coincidence she lives only a fifteen minute drive from where I live. Her experience of the relationship between kangaroos and honeyeaters is fascinating. I have also seen this kind of behaviour with koalas in Victoria.

Thanks to Kerry for giving me permission to quote her.

Hi Trevor, I have just discovered your site and I absolutely love it!

My husband and I are wildlife carers through Fauna Rescue and we have just recently moved into the area (we are half way between Murray Bridge and Tailem Bend on 120 acres of mallee scrub) so your site is proving very helpful in identifying local species.

One of our favourites is the Brown-headed Honeyeater. We raise orphan kangaroos and we have 2 acres of mallee scrub fenced in to raise the kangaroos (we have western greys and reds). Come late winter, the little Brown-headed Honeyeaters assiduously collect fur from our kangaroos to line their nests and this continues all the way through to December (for refurbishment purposes we assume).

They only ever pluck fur from the western greys and ignore the reds completely. We assume that is because the greys have longer fur than the reds, which are more desert dwelling. The honeyeaters land on the backs of the western greys and pluck fur out until their beaks are completely stuffed and then they fly off. I have seen up to three birds on the back of one roo, busily plucking out fur. The roos don’t mind at all and make no effort to move away or brush the birds off – maybe they like the sensation of being groomed so it is a symbiotic relationship! They are extraordinary little birds.


One Response to “Kangaroos and Honeyeaters: a happy arrangement”

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