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Grey Honeyeater

Conopophila whitei

The Grey Honeyeater, scientifically known as Conopophila whitei, is a diminutive and inconspicuous avian species belonging to the honeyeater family. With a length ranging from 10.5 to 12 cm, this bird's plumage is predominantly a cold grey on the upper body, with paler underparts that may exhibit a brownish hue prior to molting. The tail and flight feathers are blackish-brown, and a subtle, darker streak runs from the eye to the bill. The tail feathers are tipped with white, which fades to buff with age. The bill is short and slightly curved downwards, with a grey base darkening towards the tip. A faint, buff-tinted ring of feathers encircles the brown iris, and the legs are a steel grey color.

Identification Tips

When observing the Grey Honeyeater, look for its relatively short, grey bill and the indistinct buff ring around the eye. Juveniles can be identified by the yellowish tinge to their eye-ring and throat, as well as a yellow-green wash on their grey flight feathers. The white tips on the tail feathers are a key feature to distinguish this species from similar birds.

Habitat

This species thrives in semi-arid regions, favoring mulga (Acacia aneura) and similar acacia scrublands. The presence of mistletoe in these habitats may play a significant role in their distribution.

Distribution

The Grey Honeyeater is endemic to central Australia, with its range spanning from the mid-west to the center of the continent, particularly in the Pilbara and Murchison regions of Western Australia, and the southern and central parts of the Northern Territory.

Behaviour

The Grey Honeyeater is generally sedentary, though it may exhibit some nomadic tendencies. It is often found in mixed-species flocks, which may include the Western Gerygone and various Acanthiza species.

Song & Calls

This bird's vocalizations include a piercing, metallic "chirra-wik-chirra-wik" or "cre-seek," reminiscent of the White-bellied Cuckooshrike's call. Additionally, it produces a weak, grating, high-pitched tinkling or a plaintive series of notes that sound like "troo-whee, troo-whee."

Breeding

The breeding season spans from August to November and may extend to May with summer rainfall. The nest is a delicate cup of fine grass stems, lined with hair and plant down, and secured with spider web. It is suspended from slender twigs in the outer foliage of a mulga shrub. The clutch typically consists of 1 or 2 eggs, which are slightly glossy white with reddish-brown spots.

Similar Species

The Grey Honeyeater can be confused with the Western Gerygone, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, and other Acanthiza species. Care should be taken to differentiate it from the female Redthroat as well.

Diet and Feeding

Primarily insectivorous, the Grey Honeyeater actively searches for lerp and similar insects on foliage surfaces and captures flying insects in mid-air. It also feeds on nectar from deep, tubular flowers and consumes nectar and berries from mistletoe.

Conservation Status

The IUCN Red List categorizes the Grey Honeyeater as Least Concern. However, it is considered endangered in Western Australia, with threats including uncontrolled fires and grazing by introduced animals that damage its habitat.

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Grey Honeyeaters on Birda

Sightings
A map showing the sighting location
Profile picture for Jonah Weilandt
Jonah Weilandt
29 Jun 2024 - 4:00am
Australia

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Acanthagenys rufogularis
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