Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Bird of the month: Yellow-tufted Honeyeater

Posted on 24 January, 2022 by Ivan

Welcome to our twenty-first Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are lucky to have the brilliant Damian Kelly share his writing and photographs with us this month, with assistance from the talented and charismatic Jane Rusden from BirdLife Castlemaine District. 

Yellow-tufted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops)

The effects of El Nina are very evident this year, with bird species populations increasing in line with their food sources. However moist gullies always play a significant role in the often dry Central Victorian Box-Ironbark forest due to higher nutrient and moisture levels, which means more food for wildlife. Birds such as the Yellow-tufted Honeyeater prefer these more productive gullies, particularly at drier times of the year, moving relatively short distances in response to food availability.

Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters usually forage in the canopy, plucking insects and other invertebrates from among the foliage, or taking the sugary manna that oozes from the branches (photo by Damian Kelly)


Chris Tzaros’s excellent book ‘Wildlife of the Box-Ironbark Country’ describes how Yellow-tufted  Honeyeaters use both the canopy and the shrub layers of Box-Ironbark forest. Insects are gleaned from canopy foliage, bark and tree trunks, or sallied after and taken from the air. Trees are also used to forage for lerp, manna, honeydew and nectar, which is also consumed from mid and low story shrubs such as heath including Cat’s Claw Grevillea.

Nesting sites are found often quite close to the ground in species such as Gold-dust Wattle and Drooping Cassinia. I’ve seen nests hanging hidden in low hanging Box leaves and low shrubs in Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve (Sandon VIC), where they are quite abundant. The nests are suspended cups woven from grass, bark, wool or moss, and spiders’ web. Two or three eggs are laid, but on occasion, they can be parasitised by Fan-tailed, Pallid and Shining-Bronze Cuckoos.

The Yellow-tufted Honeyeater is much brighter and more conspicuous than other honeyeaters that inhabit our region (photo by Damian Kelly)


To hear the call of a Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, please – click here

Damian Kelly
Jane Rusden
BirdLife Castlemaine District

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