Length: 18-24 cm Common
One of the first birds to sing in the morning with the male bird singing from its roost 20 to 30 minutes before dawn. A pleasant voice with high, loud and clear musical phrases (not always that pleasant if his roost is right outside your bedroom window!)
Found throughout the Australian mainland with the exception of the east coast and Tasmania the Singing Honeyeater has a wide range of habitat – from suburban parks and gardens to the arid environs of all of Australia’s deserts.
The Singing Honeyeater has a plain grey-brown body with a faint olive tint. A distinctive black streak runs through the eye from the bill to the neck bordered by a yellow streak below the eye giving the throat a yellowish wash. Both males and females are similar in appearance.
There are slight differences in size and colouration around the continent but interestingly the Singing Honeyeaters on Rottnest Island are 25% larger than those on the mainland. Due to the isolation there has been a significant loss of territorial song and the island birds have lost ability to communicate with the mainland species.
Most exist on a diet of nectar and fruit supplemented by varying quantities of insects often taken mid-air. The evolutionary partnership between honeyeaters and Australian flowering plants is unknown but probably substantial. A great many plants are fertilized by honeyeaters.
The Singing Honeyeaters form monogamous pairs with some long term bonds. During breeding the birds can be very territorial and aggressive and won’t hesitate to attack much larger animals. Can become aggressive with their own species and be seen chasing each other, resulting in violent scuffles. After building a flimsy cup nest the female incubates the eggs alone but both adults feed the young.