An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

  1. 154 Photo by David Cook Wildlife Photography
  2. 154_0 Central Queensland sub-species photo by David Cook Wildlife Photography

Lewin’s Honeyeater

Meliphaga lewinii


  • Colour: dark green-grey with a darker head and grey underparts. It has a creamy yellow gape (the fleshy corners of its mouth) and large, yellow crescent-shaped earmarks. Its flight feathers have pale yellow edges, which can be seen during flight. Its bill is black and its eyes are blue-grey (although young Lewin’s Honeyeaters have brown eyes).
  • Size: 19 – 22 cm.


  • Call: strong “machine gun” rattling notes that consist of a single “tchuuu” sound. It can be heard over large distances.
  • Diet: mainly small fruit but also insects and nectar. It feeds in the upper branches and on tree trunks, and catches some insects during flight.
  • Movement: it tends to stay in the same area all year round, although some may migrate to lower elevations in the cooler winter months. It is normally seen alone but may form loose groups of up to 10 birds.
  • Breeding: its nest is a large cup of loosely woven bark strips, leaves and moss which is bound together with spider webs and lined with soft material. The female lays two to three oval eggs which are incubated for 14 days. Both parents care for the young birds.

What to Observe

  • Presence
  • Courting/mating
  • Calling
  • Feeding
  • Bird on nest
  • Bird on eggs
  • Bird on chicks
  • Bird feeding young

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

We expect birds to start breeding and singing earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start appearing in new areas as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them. Help scientists answer the question: "How are our animals, plants and ecosystems responding to climate change?" by making the simple observations.

When To Look

  • From August to March
  • Breeding occurs mainly from September to January
  • Eggs hatch 14 days after being laid
  • Young birds leave the nest when they are 14 days old

Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes in the timing of these events so remember to keep a lookout from July! 

Where To Look

  • In rainforests and wet, thick eucalypt forests, although it can also be found in drier open forests and woodland. It is found at altitudes above 200 metres in rainforests in the north of its range and elsewhere up to 1,000 metres. In winter, some individuals move to lower elevations.
  • Along the east coast and inland ranges of Australia from northern Queensland to central Victoria, almost as far south as Melbourne.
  • Look high up in trees (usually a few metres above the ground) where it looks for food and builds its nest.

Lewin's Honeyeater Occurrence Map ALA



  • Both C, Artemyev AV, Blaauw B, Cowie RJ, Dekhuijzen AJ, Eeva T, Enemar A, Gustafsson L, Ivankina EV, Jarvinen A, Metcalfe NB, Nyholm NEI, Potti J, Ravussin P, Sanz JJ, Silverin B, Slater FM, Sokolov LV, Torok J, Winkel W, Wright J, Zang H, and Visser ME 2004. Large-scale geographical variation confirms that climate change causes birds to lay earlier. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 271: 1657–1662.
  • Hughes, L 2003. Climate change and Australia: Trends, projections and impacts. Austral Ecology 28: 423–443
  • Walther G, Post E, Convey P, Menzel A, Parmesan C, Beebee TJC, Fromentin J, Hoegh-Guldberg O, and Bairlein F 2002. Ecological responses to recent climate change. Nature 416: 389–395.

More information:

  • Higgins PJ, Peter JM and Steele WK (eds) 2001. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Vol. 6. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
  • Longmore NW 1991. The Honeyeaters & their Allies of Australia. Angus and Robertson and The National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.
  • Pizzey G and Knight F 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
  • Schodde R and Mason I 1999. The Directory of Australian Birds: Passerines. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Victoria.
  • Schodde R and Tideman SC (eds) 1990. Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds (2nd Edition). Reader's Digest (Australia) Pty Ltd, Sydney.

  1. Search Species

  1. What Else?

    • Graceful Honeyeater (Meliphaga gracilis): smaller, lighter in colour, has a longer and more slender bill, and the yellow earmark isn’t crescent-shaped. Its range only overlaps the Lewin’s Honeyeater’s in north-eastern Qld.
    • Yellow-spotted Honeyeater (Meliphaga notata): smaller, lighter in colour, and the yellow earmark isn’t as crescent-shaped as the Lewin’s Honeyeater’s. Its range only overlaps with the Lewin’s Honeyeater’s in north-eastern Qld.
    • Another honeyeater: won’t have the large, yellowish crescent-shaped earmarks or distinctive call of the Lewin’s Honeyeater which can also be identified by its overall size (19 – 22cm) and blue-grey eye colour.
  1. Did You Know?

    The call recording is by David Stewart Naturesound

    The tip of its tongue is divided into four sections and resembles a paintbrush so it can lick up large quantities of nectar at a time.

    Its average weight is only 34 grams.

  1. Listen to the Call