SOMETIMES in bird watching circles this wonderfully diverse continent of ours is referred to as “The Land of Parrots.”
This article was first published in the 15 August 2014 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. Words and photos by ‘Gouldiae’.
A quick look in any bird field guide will however show that Australia’s approximately 30 species of parrots are easily surpassed by the over 50 species of honeyeater. And with spring just around the corner, the honeyeaters will soon be back in full flight.
In gathering their diet of nectar, honeyeaters provide a vital role in fertilising many of our native flowering trees and shrubs, particularly the hakeas, grevilleas, bottlebrushes, banksias, eucalypts, heaths and so on.
Nectar is not their sole diet though – many honeyeaters also eat insects, pollen, fruit and seeds.
Those species of honeyeater that are heavily reliant on a diet of nectar tend to be highly mobile, even migratory, as they follow the bloom of their favourite flowering tree or shrub around the country.
Some honeyeaters are able to survive on a nectar-poor diet for many months, relying on insects and fruits, and may remain in the one locality for the whole year.
The tendency for gardeners to plant Australian native species these days has aided many different honeyeater species to stay longer in some places. Rainbow Lorikeets for example were once a very transient species in Gippsland, but now there are numerous populations of these birds that are quite sedentary.
Honeyeaters are often colourful, active birds and are always a delight to observe.
For more from the author visit gouldiaesblog.blogspot.com.au.
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