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Brown Honeyeater


The Brown Honeyeater is a medium-small pale grey-brown honeyeater with a distinctive yellow tuft behind its eye.


The Brown Honeyeater is a medium-small pale grey-brown honeyeater with a distinctive yellow tuft behind its eye. It also has yellow to olive wing patches and tail panels. It is pale grey below, darker olive brown above and has a long curved black bill. Young birds are paler with more yellow colouring and a yellow gape (open bill). It has a fast, undulating flight and is seen either singly, in pairs or small flocks in flowering trees and shrubs.


12 cm to 16 cm

Similar Species:

Dusky Honeyeater,Scarlet Honeyeater


The Brown Honeyeater is widespread in Australia, from south-western Australia across the Top End to Queensland, and through New South Wales on the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range to Swansea in the Hunter Region. It is rarely seen southwards from Lake Macquarie to the Parramatta River, Sydney, but is regularly recorded in suitable habitats such as Homebush Bay and Kurnell in small numbers, and is a vagrant to the Illawarra region. It is found west of the Great Dividing Range in New South Wales to Tamworth and Gunnedah and south-west to Hillston. The Brown Honeyeater is also found in Bali and the Lesser Sundas, Indonesia, Aru Island and in parts of Papua New Guinea.


The Brown Honeyeater is found in a wide range of wooded habitats, usually near water. It is often found in mangroves and woodlands or dense forests along waterways. It can also be found in mallee, spinifex woodlands, low dense shrublands, heaths and saltmarshes, as well as in monsoon forests or rainforests in the Top End. It is common in parks, gardens and street trees in urban areas as well as on farms and in remnant vegetation along roadsides.

Feeding and Diet:

The Brown Honeyeater feeds on nectar and insects, foraging at all heights in trees and shrubs. It may be seen in mixed flocks with other honeyeaters. In Western Australia, these include the Singing Honeyeater, White- fronted Honeyeater and the Red Wattlebird, while in the Top End it is often seen with the Dusky Honeyeater. However, it will be displaced at bird feeders by larger birds.


Clear, ringing, musical: 'whit, whit, whitchit'.

Breeding Behaviours:

During the breeding season, male Brown Honeyeaters defend a nesting territory by singing from tall trees and they stand guard while the female builds the nest and lays the eggs. The small neat cup-nest is made from fine bark, grasses and plant down, bound with spiders web, and is slung by the rim in a shrub, fern or tree at up to 5 m from the ground and is usually very well-hidden by thick foliage. Only the female incubates, but both sexes feed the young. Nest predators include Pied Currawongs, snakes and cats. Brush Cuckoos, Pallid Cuckoos, Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoos and Shining Bronze-Cuckoos will parasitise nests.
Breeding season: April to November in north; June to February in south
Clutch size: Two to three

Conservation Status:

Land-clearing in the Western Australian wheatbelt has reduced suitable Brown Honeyeater habitat, but they often occur elsewhere in urban and farmland habitats. Around Sydney, populations declined between the1950s and 1990s, but they now appear to be on the increase.