Family Meliphagidae

Honeyeaters make up the largest family of Australian birds, occupying arboreal niches in all corners of the continent. They have specialised brush tongues that take up nectar and are an important pollinator of native plants. Many species, however, supplement their diet with fruit, honeydew, lerp and insects, sometimes relying most on sources other than nectar. Honeyeaters generally are nervously active, noisy and pugnacious, and often compete aggressively over food sources.

They are gregarious, and many species wander opportunistically in search of food and may be attracted into a garden by native plants such as banksias, callistemons, grevilleas and correas.

Many local species are either partial or complete altitudinal migrants, some coming into Canberra suburbs during winter from the mountain country. Two species, Yellow-faced and White-naped Honeyeaters have a particularly obvious migration through Canberra during April each year.

There have been occasional recordings in the Garden Bird Survey of many other honeyeaters: Yellow-tufted Honeyeater (36), Little Friarbird (16), Scarlet Honeyeater (9), Little Wattlebird (6), Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater (2), Lewin’s Honeyeater (2), Bell Miner (1) White-fronted Honeyeater (1) and Tawny-crowned Honeyeater (1).

Even though many honey-eaters are common, the only species with many breeding records are the two larger species, Red Wattlebirds and Noisy Friarbirds.