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White-cheeked Honeyeater Lives Life Wholeheartedly

Active bird with a loud call as well as a loud plumage

White-cheeked Honeyeater by Maryse Jansen
White-cheeked Honeyeater

White-cheeked Honeyeater loudly shares its presence

A loud and ongoing call that sounds much like ‘chippy-choo … chippy-choo’ attracts my attention. It is not hard to find the bird that is responsible as it is perched on one of the few bare branches that protrude above the rest of the vegetation. Also it has black, white and bright yellow features that stand out in its environment. I wonder if this White-cheeked Honeyeater is trying to warn me about the incoming weather, which is looking quite threatening!

I’m standing on a headland and these birds love the heath ecosystem that it offers. They are particularly fond of the nectar of the Banksia flowers that you can find here. They also favour the nectar of Grevillea, Eucalyptus and Bottlebrush flowers. Their high vantage points also give them a great view on flying prey as they catch insects on the wing. They are very active feeders!

White-cheeked Honeyeater Feeding by Maryse Jansen
White-cheeked Honeyeater Feeding

Incoming weather has bird stand out against its backdrop

I have thoroughly enjoyed my walk up here, which led me through rugged bushland out into the open of the heathland here where I can enjoy magnificent vistas over the bay, islands and various secluded beaches! But now it’s time to turn around. The rain is approaching quickly and momentarily creates beautiful lighting and interesting cloud formations, but that doesn’t last long. Before I know it, I am huddling under my little umbrella and all the vistas disappear in a thick shroud of rain.

I think about the bird with its striking looks. It stood out magnificently against the backdrop of grey sky as you can see in the featured image. The medium-sized Honeyeater has heavily streaked black and white underparts and a black head with white brows and large, white cheek patches. It has a long, black, downward curved bill and a dark brown eye. The upper parts are dark but the wings and tail have large bright yellow panels, which I got a good look at when the bird turned to the side and flicked up its tail.

Two forms of White-cheeked Honeyeaters

White-cheeked Honeyeaters can be found in eastern Australia as well as in south-western Australia, mainly along the coastline in heathlands, wetlands and in the undergrowth. They are said to be common residents but this is only the second time I have consciously encountered one. The birds in south-western Australia have a slightly different appearance and are recognized as a different form (the western form). The main difference is that the eastern form has a larger, fan-shaped cheek patch and a shorter bill, while the western form has a longer bill and a narrower, pointed-shaped cheek patch.

The White-cheeked Honeyeater is easily confused with the very similar looking New Holland Honeyeater. The best way to distinguish them is by the colour of the eye. Our White-cheeked Honeyeater has a dark brown eye and the New Holland Honeyeater has a distinct white eye. As the New Holland Honeyeater is found throughout southern Australia, there is quite a bit of overlap in their distribution. Although they may be seen feeding side by side, the two species are said not to compete much as they perch in different places and nest at different times.

Read more posts about Australian Honeyeaters!

Breeding habits

The White-cheeked Honeyeater nests mainly in spring and autumn, depending on food availability. The female bird builds a cup-shaped nest, usually quite low to the ground, but well concealed by the foliage of the shrubs and trees or even tall grass. She will incubate the eggs for 15 days while the male aggressively defends the breeding territory. Both parents feed the chicks, who fledge 15 days after hatching. For a few more weeks after that, they will stay in their family group and be fed by the parents.

Join me on my amazing coastal walk and enjoy the stunning landscapes while looking out for the loudly calling White-cheeked Honeyeater in the latest episode of ‘Come for a walk in the Australian Bush’:

If you are interested in purchasing a print of the featured image ‘White-cheeked Honeyeater’ or would like to see what it looks like on the various products, please head to my shop. Check out other images of Australia’s beautiful honeyeaters in my Australian Honeyeaters Gallery.

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