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It’s easy to see where the White-cheeked Honeyeater gets its name, the white feathers either side of its cheeks sit like a soft feather fan that flutters becomingly in the breeze. It’s a small bird, usually 16-19cm. When nesting they prefer an untidy cup of grass, rootlets and twigs in a small bush or clump of grass. If all goes to plan 2-3 pinkish eggs will be laid.
This adorable little White-cheeked Honeyeater (Phylidonyris niger) is only 16-19 cms top to tail. It’s referred to as the eastern form as its habitat is the eastern coastal strip of the mainland, as opposed to its western cousin that lives in the south-west coastal strip of Western Australia. While similar in most respects, the western form has a slimmer and pointy cheek patch and a longer beak. The little fellow in the photo is enjoying sucking on a banksia stamen, giving the impression of a super long beak or an elongated tongue, the pale serrated leaves of the banksia tree are visible in the background. Both bird and banksia are prolific in this part of the New South Wales north coast.
Most birds tend to keep their distance from other species unless they are protecting their young, but this Rainbow Bee-eater and White-cheeked Honeyeater were quite content to share the same perch while they took in the sights.
Side view of the White-cheeked Honeyeater, its colours blend perfectly with the Banksia tree and compliment the flowers it feeds on.
There are a prolific number of honeyeaters at Moonee Beach Nature Reserve on the north coast of NSW Australia and this is one of the species that can be spotted darting and feeding on Banksia flowers. It is a White-cheeked Honeyeater (eastern form) approx. 15-17 cm with a distinctive streaked breast. They have a number of ‘songs’ and often sing in harmony with other honeyeaters.
White-cheeked Honeyeaters are around 16-19cm and this eastern variety has a fan-shaped white cheek patch. They are very fast and camouflage themselves amoung the flowering banksia trees. They enjoy this area with its woodlands and thick undergrowth and will make nests out of cups of grass and twigs in low bushes and lay 2-3 spotted and blotched pinkish eggs.
Acknowledgement: The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds, 2nd ed.