Pied Honeyeater

Quick Facts

Length: 17 cm
Height: -
Weight: 27 grams
Colour: Black and white
Habitat: Found in arid and semi-arid areas, in shrublands dominated by Emu-bush and grevilleas. Also in woodl
Food: Mainly nectar but also insects and sometimes fruit and seeds
Predators: -
Status: Vulnerable in NSW. Not present in TAS. Secure in all other states and territories in Australia

The Pied Honeyeater is a medium-sized honeyeater with a long curved bill and a small pale-blue patch of bare skin below the eye. Males are black and white, having a black head, neck and upper parts, a white lower rump and upper tail, black wings with a white stripe, and white underparts with a black tipped tail. Females are brown above, with a grey-white chin and throat grading into a whitish breast streaked and spotted dark-brown, with the rest of the underparts white. The wings have a white stripe along the edges of the secondary feathers, and there is a black and white shoulder patch formed by black feathers edged with white. The bare eye patch is less conspicuous in females and young birds than in males. This species is also known as the Black and White or Western Pied Honeyeater.

Similar species:

A similar related species is the Black Honeyeater, which is smaller, with a finer bill, shorter tail and lacks the bare eye patch. Males of this species also have a distinctive stripe down the centre of the chest and abdomen, while females have plainer wings and less streaking on the breast. The calls also differ. The superficially similar White-winged Triller may be distinguished by its short straight bill, and its habit of foraging on the ground rather than in trees (i.e. does not behave like a honeyeater), as well as its very different calls.

The Pied Honeyeater is found in south-central and south-western Queensland, south to 32° S in western New South Wales and is only sparsely scattered on the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range. It is found across the northern parts of South Australia, mainly in the north-west, and is widespread through Western Australia, north of Kalgoorlie to the southern parts of the Kimberley region. It is rarely recorded in the far south-west of the state. In the Northern Territory it is found mainly south or south-west of Alice Springs, and is found in the Top End only during severe droughts.

The Pied Honeyeater is found in the arid and semi-arid zones, in shrublands dominated by Emu-bush and grevilleas, as well as woodlands, sandhills, inland ranges and granite outcrops. It is sometimes found in coastal areas of north-western Western Australia.

Nomadic, moving in response to rainfall and flowering of food-plants.

The Pied Honeyeater feeds mainly on nectar, but also eats insects and occasionally fruit and seeds. It uses its long bill to probe flowers and foliage of trees and shrubs, especially Emu-bush, Eremophila, eucalpyts and grevilleas. May be seen alone, in pairs or small flocks, with large flocks sometimes forming around abundant food sources. Will often feed with Black Honeyeaters, White-fronted Honeyeaters and woodswallows.

Pied Honeyeater pairs may nest near other pairs, with males defending a breeding territory using calls and aerial displays. Both sexes build the shallow cup-shaped nest from twigs, grass (e.g. Spinifex), and other plant materials bound with spider-web and lined with soft grass, roots, flowers, wool, feathers and plant down. The nest is placed low in a shrub or small tree, suspended by the rim from a forked branch. Both sexes incubate the eggs and care for the young, continuing to feed them after they have fledged.

The Pied Honeyeater is listed as vulnerable in New South Wales, with key threats being the clearing and grazing of Emu-bush.

Author: Rosalyn Plunkett
Last Updated: Thursday 9th January, 2014
BirdLife Australia - www.birdlife.org.au


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