Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Brown Honeyeater in the garden

Of all the birds that pass through my garden the Brown Honeyeater is the hardest to ignore. Its song is certainly the loudest per body weight of any other bird. However, it is so small that I usually find it is hard to see among the tree leaves unless it obligingly breaks into song right in front of me.
Yesterday I had been listening to and intermittently trying to photograph a couple of these birds. Then I heard such a noise! It was the harsh sound that the bird makes for alarm or distress and there was such a fuss going on that it had to be more than one bird. I hurried out and tracked the birds from one bush and tree to another. There were three of them and making such a noise! They were so intent on each other that I got quite close to them before they even saw me and then one flew away. The other two immediately started to settle down. There were still a few bursts of harsh noise but when these were not answered they settled down and started on the important job of finding honey in the flowers of a banksia plant.
So what was I seeing and hearing? Was this a matter of three being a crowd - prior to mating and breeding? I don't even know when the nesting season happens in my area. I still find the seasons in this tropical area where I now live so very different! I am hoping that some of the Aussie nature bloggers will be able to give me some answers.
A Brown Honeyeater hidden among the leaves and singing loudly.
Hanging upside down on a banksia flower.
Please let me see a front view!
Finally one clear view.
Poor DOF but a record shot to show the two birds.


  1. Well done on capturing this one as its colouring obviously act as camouflage when it's in the foliage.

  2. Hi Frank - you are right about the camouflage! More easily heard than seen.

  3. Great series of photos Mick. I really like the first silhouette like photo.
    It's interesting that some of the smallest birds have the loudest songs. I am often deafened by the local Robins.

    A trawl of the net eventually found a short reference saying that they breed Winter to Summer.

    I was also fascinated by the plant with its large flowers and almost cactus like leaves.

  4. Hi John, thanks for your comments and thanks for looking for the reference for when these birds breed. re the plants - there are dozens of different banksia species in Australia - named originally for Joseph Banks the botanist on one of the first expeditions to Australia. The birds love the nectar from the flowers and later the seed eating birds all come for a feed too.