Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Ptilotula ornata Click to enlarge image
Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Ptilotula ornata Image: sarinozi

Fast Facts

  • IUCN Conservation Status
  • Classification
  • Size Range
    14 cm to 18 cm

Groups of Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters may take part in 'corroborrees', where individuals perform wing-fluttering displays and call. Groups may also band together to repel intruders from their own and other bird species, fighting to the point of falling to the ground.

What do Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters look like?


The Yellow-plumed Honeyeater is a medium-sized honeyeater with a relatively long, down-curved black bill, a dark face and a distinctive, upswept yellow neck plume. It has a olive-green head, with a faint yellow line under the dark eye, grey-green upperparts, and heavily streaked grey-brown underparts. Young birds have a yellow bill base and eye-ring. This species is noisy and quarrelsome, moving in small groups and fighting off intruders. It is also known as the Graceful Honeyeater or Mallee Honeyeater.

Where do Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters live?


The Yellow-plumed Honeyeater is found in mallee and open woodlands of the temperate and semi-arid zones. It is mainly found in inland areas, but is also found on the coast of South Australia and Western Australia where mallee is found. It is also found in freshwater wetland areas.


The Yellow-plumed Honeyeater is endemic to southern mainland Australia, from western New South Wales and Victoria, through South Australia to south-west Western Australia.

What do Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters eat and how do they communicate?

Feeding and diet

The Yellow-plumed Honeyeater feeds on insects, lerps and nectar. It forages in the outer canopy of low trees and shrubs as well on the trunks and branches. It will sometimes forage on the ground. It feeds in pairs or small flocks.


Loud, ringing 'chick-o'wee'; far-carrying alarm chirps and trills.

What are Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters breeding behaviours?

Breeding Behaviour/s

The Yellow-plumed Honeyeater nests in loose colonies or singly, with aggressive defence of the nesting territory by the males, with some evidence that groups of birds hold territories together, and will repel intruders as a group. The open, cup-shaped nest is suspended by the rim from a thin fork or from foliage of mallee eucalypts and other small shrubs. It is made from wool, green grass and spider-webs, lined with wool, grasses, plant-down and brightly-coloured feathers. Both parents feed the young, sometimes with the assistance of helpers. This species is parasitised by Fan-tailed Cuckoos, Pallid Cuckoos, Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoos and Shining Bronze-Cuckoos.

Breeding Season: July to January.


Resident with some local movements in relation to food supply.

Economic/social impacts

The range of the Yellow-plumed Honeyeater has been severely contracted by the destruction and loss of its mallee habitat. It was common earlier in the 20th Century in the wheatbelt of Western Australia, but is now only found there in small populations in remnant woodlands. This species needs the most productive (i.e. with abundant food resources) habitats in a region, but these are the ones usually chosen for clearing, and remnants do not contain enough productive habitat for populations to remain sustainable.