The White-plumed Honeyeater is one of the first birds to call in the morning and the last to call in the evening. It is a medium-sized honeyeater with a slightly down-curved bill and distinctive white neck-plume, giving the bird its name.
What do White-plumed Honeyeaters look like?
The White-plumed Honeyeater is a medium-sized honeyeater with a slightly down-curved bill. It is yellowish-olive to grey above, pale brown-grey below, with a yellowish head and a distinctive white neck-plume, giving the bird its name. The males are slightly larger but the sexes are otherwise similar. Young are duller, with much less distinct plumes and a paler bill. Usually gregarious and seen constantly moving from tree to tree with rapid darting movements.
Where do White-plumed Honeyeaters live?
The White-plumed Honeyeater is found in open forests and woodlands, often near water and wetlands. It is scarce or absent in arid regions unless water is artificially supplied (e.g. water troughs for stock). Its overall distribution is linked to River Red Gums. It is also found in remnant bushland in urban areas, as well as parks and gardens.
Endemic to mainland Australia, the White-plumed Honeyeater is found everywhere except in the tropical north, Cape York Peninsula and the most arid areas. Originally a 'straggler' to Sydney until the 1940s, it is now very common and well-established, and has also expanded its range into the upper Hunter Valley all the way to Newcastle, New South Wales. It may also be extending its range into south-western Western Australia, but this is yet to be confirmed.
What do White-plumed Honeyeaters eat and how do they communicate?
Feeding and diet
The White-plumed Honeyeater feeds very actively from leaves and flowers in the crowns of trees and in shrubs between 5 m and 13 m from the ground. Its main foods are nectar, insects (and their products such as lerps and honeydew), manna and fruit, with some seeds. Very strongly associated with River Red Gums. They sometimes also feed in the air or forage upon the ground.
The White-plumed Honeyeater is one of the first birds to call in the morning and the last to call in the evening, with several songs e.g. 'chick-ick-o-wee' or 'chirrapo-we-weet, other calls and musical whistles. Also has a piping alarm call.
What are White-plumed Honeyeaters breeding behaviours?
During the breeding season, male White-plumed Honeyeaters make several 'Song Flights' throughout the day above the treetops (10 m – 20 m above ground) while singing a special song, before diving steeply into nearby tree. Females build a small cup-shaped nest in the crown of a tree from 1 m to 20 m off the ground. It is woven from grass and spider web and lined with wool, hair or feathers. Females incubate the eggs but both parents feed the young, sometimes with the assistance of helpers. Two to three clutches are laid each year.
Breeding Season: Anytime but mainly August to December.
Seasonal migration from ranges to lower areas in winter.
The removal of trees along creeks has a negative impact on the White-plumed Honeyeater in its natural habitat, but it is very adaptable to urban environments. Cats and dogs are common threats. It has also been known to damage soft fruit in orchards.