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Pied Honeyeater

Certhionyx variegatus

The pied honeyeater, Certhionyx variegatus, is a striking bird endemic to Australia. It is the sole species within its genus, Certhionyx, and is also referred to as the black and white honeyeater or western pied honeyeater. Males exhibit a bold black and white plumage, while females and juveniles are more subdued in coloration. This mid-sized honeyeater possesses a long, curved bill and a distinctive pale-blue patch of bare skin below the eye.

Identification Tips

Adult males are characterized by their black head, neck, and upper parts, contrasted with white underparts and a white lower rump. Their wings are black with a white stripe, and their tails are black with white tips. Females, on the other hand, are brown above with a grey-white chin and a whitish breast streaked with dark brown. Both sexes have a white stripe along the secondary wing feathers. The species can be distinguished from the similar black honeyeater by its larger size, longer tail, and the presence of the bare eye-patch.

Habitat

The pied honeyeater is found in arid and semi-arid zones, favoring sandhills, inland ranges, and granite outcrops. It is also known to inhabit coastal sandhills in Western Australia. Preferred habitats include shrublands dominated by emu bush and grevilleas, as well as woodlands with a prevalence of mulga.

Distribution

Historically widespread across the southern half of Australia, the pied honeyeater's range includes central and western New South Wales, the arid interior, and eastern parts of South Australia. It extends from central Queensland through central New South Wales and Victoria to the Western Australian coastline.

Behaviour

The pied honeyeater is a nomadic species, with movements that are not well understood. It is known to be both sedentary and irruptive, appearing in large numbers outside its usual range following heavy rains. The species is often seen alone or in pairs, but can also form large flocks. It is considered very shy and quick on the wing.

Song & Calls

The call is described as a mournful whistle, similar to that of the little grassbird. During the breeding season, the pied honeyeater emits a melancholy piping note.

Breeding

Breeding typically occurs from June to November, with nests and eggs more commonly found in August and September. Both sexes participate in nest building, incubation, and care for the young. Nests are open, deep, and saucer-shaped, constructed from twigs or grass stems and bound with spider-web.

Similar Species

The black honeyeater, Sugomel nigrum, is similar in appearance but can be differentiated by its smaller size, finer bill, and lack of the bare eye-patch. Males of the black honeyeater also have a distinctive stripe down the center of the chest and abdomen.

Diet and Feeding

Pied honeyeaters primarily feed on nectar but also consume insects, fruit, and seeds. They forage in trees and shrubs, particularly favoring emu bush and various eucalypts. They have been observed feeding on the seeds of harlequin fuchsia-bush and turpentine.

Conservation status

The pied honeyeater is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, with a stable population size across an extremely large range. However, it is considered vulnerable in New South Wales under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. Conservation efforts include protecting nectar-rich woodland patches and developing educational materials to raise awareness of the species' status.

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Pied Honeyeaters on Birda

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Profile picture for Antre_oiseaux 🐥
Antre_oiseaux 🐥
08 Sep 2023 - 2:30pm
Australia

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