Honeyeater breeding season: wins and losses

Honeyeater breeding season: wins and losses

We are suddenly seeing more birds, including many young ones. 

Some common species have been conspicuously absent for weeks, hidden away under dense cover during their breeding seasons. Other adult birds that have been out and about throughout Summer, now have demanding fledglings in tow.

It all makes for lots more action at the bird bath!

We see Yellow-faced Honeyeaters year 'round, but their numbers swell in Spring as large numbers migrate south to breed.


Yellow-faced Honeyeaters are vocal and boisterous birds, taking a variety of food including insects. Pairs swoop about their chosen sections of forest, attempting to defend their hunting ground from all comers, including other honeyeaters.

An event last week reminded us just how challenging breeding can be for birds. I spotted this neat little nest when the parent flew in with a mouthful of food. 


The nest was only two metres above the ground and close to one of our walking trails, yet it nearly escaped our notice.


Careful not to disturb the birds or the nest site, we were just pleased to get a glimpse of the three large chicks from a distance.

Two days later I heard a commotion in the area and looked out in time to see a group of Pied Currawongs attacking the nest. It was rather gruesome to see one chick carried off and another dead on the ground. The nest was empty and the four raiders flew off. I suspect the Currawongs were a family of four, with the parents teaching their youngsters how to hunt. Life and death in the forest.

But it's not all bad news for the Yellow-faced Honeyeater population.

Young Yellow-faced Honeyeater, not long out of the nest ... and totally dependent!

Young Yellow-faced Honeyeater, not long out of the nest ... and totally dependent!

Those lucky parents who managed to avoid the notice of predatory birds and goannas are busily tending their demanding youngsters. And ripening Leucopogon berries make excellent toddler food.


Adult birds only ever take ripe berries. The bushes bear fruit for months, and the birds regularly patrol and nip off the red, and sometimes orange, berries. But they leave the green ones alone.

This is a lesson the youngster has yet to learn.


He sampled this one on his own, but quickly dropped it ... and resumed his begging.