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  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


  • 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.


  • 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 compiled distribution map - BirdLife International

White-cheeked Honeyeater compiled distribution map - BirdLife International

Where To Look

Maps of Habitat Suitability


Current probability
of occurrence
2070 probability
of occurrence (RCP 8.5)
Species range change from
current to 2070 probability

Above, the left and middle maps show the modelled habitat suitability for the the species under current and potential future climate conditions. The colours indicate the predicted habitat suitability from low (white) to high (dark red).

The future habitat suitability is modelled for the year 2070 under a climate change scenario that represents 'business as usual' (RCP 8.5). The map on the right shows how the range of the species might change between now and 2070, with orange areas indicating where the species might disappear, green areas where the species range might expand, and blue areas where the habitat is predicted to be suitable for the species now and in the future.

The models for this species were run in the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory. Please note that while models can be very informative, they are only a representation of the real world and thus should always be viewed with caution. You can read more about the science behind these models here.



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.

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  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