White-cheeked Honeyeater

The White-cheeked Honeyeater (Phylidonyris nigra), is endemic to eastern and south-western Australia, ranging from east of the Great Divide in Queensland through coastal New South Wales, becoming scattered south to Jervis Bay. It is also found in south-western Western Australia and from Perth northwards to Murchison River. It is usually found in moist heath lands, as well as around wetlands and in forests or woodlands with a heath under storey. Found in both temperate and subtropical zones. Found in parks, gardens and flowering street trees throughout range. Not afraid of humans and adapting easily to settlement activity, they are sometimes killed by cats.

The White-cheeked Honeyeater is a medium-sized (6.3 – 7.5 inch) black and white honeyeater, with a long, sturdy bill that curves downwards. It has large bright yellow tail and wing panels, with a large conspicuous white cheek patch on a mainly black head. The eye is dark brown. Young birds are duller (brownish) and paler with softer, fluffier plumage. Gregarious, active and noisy with swift, erratic flight. They feed mainly at flowers, in foliage, on bark or in the air and mainly eat nectar, but also insects. They often feed in small groups and may feed beside New Holland Honeyeater groups.

White-cheeked Honeyeaters pair monogamously for the breeding season, with males defending breeding territories that can be held for several years. Males aggressively attack other birds of their own and other species during the breeding season, but not familiar birds such as their own mates, relatives and resident neighbors. There is not much competition between White-cheeked and New Holland Honeyeaters, as they choose different perching sites and have different nesting seasons. The female builds a cup-shaped nest from twigs, bark, and other plant materials, lined with pieces of flowers. The nest is placed low in forked branches of trees or shrubs, often close to the ground, but well-concealed in dense foliage or in grass below shrubs and ferns. Both parents feed young.

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