Blue-faced honeyeater ~ Entomyzon cyanotis

Adult Blue-faced honeyeater ~ Entomyzon cyanotis

Of all the avifauna in Australia two groups stand out as the most conspicuous: the parrots and cockatoos, and the honeyeaters. Of the honeyeaters the Blue-faced honeyeater is one of the largest and most striking, with its brilliant blue eye patch and somewhat aggressive nature.

These birds are found widely throughout our local area, and are well adapted to urban environments, having originally been found in eucalypt and rainforests. Despite their name they are in fact omnivores and will hunt insects on the wing, as well as consuming nectar and fruit. Insects are an important part of the diet of Australian honeyeaters as they provide many nutrients and minerals the birds can’t obtain from nectar. It is not unusual for honeyeaters to expend more energy in hunting insects, than they gain from them, but do so for the nutritional value.

Not happy Jan!

Blue-faced honeyeaters usually breed in pairs, but sometimes will breed co-operatively. Often they’ll use nests from other birds, in particular Grey-crowned babblers, but will also at times build their own nests. They lay 2 to 3 eggs and the immature birds have a green eye patch, which sometimes causes people to misidentify them as another species. They love to roost in small groups in palm trees, and usually forage well away from their roosting site. The Blue-faced honeyeater’s predilection for bananas has caused them to be called banana birds in some places. Occasionally they can be seen bathing on the wing, whereby they skim into a body of water and then fly to a nearby tree to preen and clean themselves.

This article first appeared in the High Country Herald 29th of April, 2024

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