Monday, 17 March 2008

Birding at the Arboretum II

New Holland honeyeaters (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) are common in heath and open woodland in southern Australia. They often set up house in gardens, especially those planted with grevilleas, banksias and other native plants. If you have New Holland honeyeaters in the backyard, you'll know about it.

They defend their nectar sources against intruders. Should the intruders try to feed, they'll feel the wrath of the NHHs. Smaller species are chased away. Those with lower nectar requirements may leave because it's just not worth the aggravation for such a small reward. Red wattlebirds, which are hulking big things that consume large amounts of nectar, usually disregard the harassment. While a wattlebird feeds, the New Holland honeyeaters flutter close to the intruder until it moves on in exasperation or pursues them. Whatever works. At least it's not raiding the larder anymore.

But New Holland honeyeaters reserve their greatest hostility for other members of the same species. If another individual wanders in — even if it's only passing through — the territory owners attack and drive it away.

I photographed this NHH at the Points Arboretum at Coleraine, where it was feeding on banksias and marri flowers and the occasional insect. Three chicks, which looked like black and white dust bunnies, were more elusive but I managed a single shot.



From the look in that birds' eyes, it looks like you were next in line for a dose of harassment.

Anonymous said...



Duncan said...

That new camera is hot stuff Snail, great pictures of some of my favourite birds and eucs.

Snail said...

They're mad birds, Aydin!

The camera's a lot of fun, Duncan, but it'll take me a while to get the hang of it.