ClimateWatch

An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

  1. 113 Photo by Keith Lightbody
  2. 113_0 Photo by Marj Kibby
  3. 113_1 Photo by Marj Kibby

White-cheeked Honeyeater

Phylidonyris nigra

Appearance

  • Colour: a medium-sized black and white honeyeater. It has large bright yellow tail and wing panels, with a large conspicuous white cheek patch on a mainly black head. Young birds are duller with brownish plumage.
  • Size: 16-18 cm.

Behaviour

  • Call: Squeaky  “chip-chew, chippy chew”;  “quick chip”” or “hiccup”.  Flight song “twee-ee-twee-ee” Alarm call rapid “hee-hee-hee”
  • Diet: Mainly nectar and some insects Foraging on flowers, bark or in the air
  • Flight: Active and noisy with swift, erratic flight.
  • Breeding: Birds pair monogamously for the breeding season, with males defending breeding territories that can be held for several years. Males aggressively attack other birds of their own and other species during the breeding season, but not familiar birds such as their own mates, relatives and resident neighbours. The female builds a cup-shaped nest from twigs, bark, and other plant materials, lined with pieces of flowers (e.g. Banksias, Isopogons). The nest is placed low in forked branches of trees or shrubs, often close to the ground, well-concealed in dense foliage or in long grass. The female lays 1 - 3 eggs.  The female incubates the eggs for around 15 days.  Both parents feed nestlings for 15 days.

What to Observe

  • Courting/mating
  • Calling
  • Feeding
  • Bird on chicks
  • Bird on eggs
  • Bird on nest
  • 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.

When To Look

From April to November. 

Breeding occurs:

  • April – November in North East Queensland
  • August – November in NSW and South WA

Where To Look

  • Endemic to eastern and south-western Australia, ranging from east of the Great Divide in Queensland through coastal New South Wales, becoming scattered south to Jervis Bay. Also in south-western Western Australia and from Perth northwards to Murchison River. 
  • Usually found in moist heathlands, as well as around wetlands and in forests or woodlands with a heath understorey. Found in both temperate and subtropical zones.
  • In Perth, particularly in the botanic gardens, but seasonally more common in gardens in northern Perth suburbs.  Yanchep NP, Bungendore Park, Kalbarri NPBadgingara NP, Lesueur NP, Tutanning NR, Dryandra Woodland, and Heathland 65km east of Hyden on the Norseman Road.
  • Look in parks, gardens and flowering street trees throughout range. Sometimes killed by cats.

white-cheeked honeyeater occurence

References

Higgins, P.J., Peter, J.M. and Steele, W.K. (eds) 2001. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Volume 5 (Tyrant-flycatchers to Chats). Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Longmore, N.W. 1991. The Honeyeaters and their Allies of Australia. Angus and Robertson and The National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.

  1. Search Species

  1. What Else?

    • The New Holland Honeyeater, Phylidonyris novaehollandiae, is very similar in size, shape and appearance, but can be distinguished mostly easily by its white eye. Other difference from the White-cheeked Honeyeater include the much smaller white cheek patch and an eybrow starting from behind the eye (as opposed to starting at the base of the beak).
    • Other black and white honeyeaters are much smaller, including the Crescent (P. pyrrhoptera), Tawny-crowned (P. melanops) and White-fronted Honeyeaters (P. albifrons).
  1. Did You Know?

    Although they look very similar, there is not much competition between White-cheeked and New Holland Honeyeaters, as they choose different perching sites and have different nesting seasons.

    The call recording is by David Stewart Naturesound

  1. Listen to the Call

    Play