Photo courtesy of Eric Sohn Joo Tan.
Range and abundance
The Painted Honeyeater occurs across most of eastern mainland Australia except for the far north of Cape York Peninsula and coastal areas. It occurs in low densities throughout its range, and is nomadic, being more commonly seen in the northern parts of its range during winter. It has declined significantly throughout its core range of eastern and south-eastern Australia.
An adult bird is 14 - 16 cm in length and weighs 22 g. It has a black head and back, and white underparts with dark streaks on the flanks. The wings and tail are black with bright yellow edges. The fairly short bill is pink with a dark tip. During breeding it often makes erratic, steep display flights from high perches.
Painted Honeyeaters are associated with woodlands that contain abundant mistletoe, the fruits of which are their primary food source. In Queensland, they occur in woodlands of Boree, Brigalow, Yarran, Gidgee, ironbark and box forests, and in other states they have been recorded in riparian river oak, Belah, Yellow Box, Red Gum and box-ironbark communities. Breeding is now restricted to south-eastern parts of Queensland, and eastern NSW. They feed alone or in groups, mainly on mistletoe fruits and flowers but also take insects. The timing of breeding is dependent on the flowering and fruiting of mistletoes, and they nest in loose colonies. The nests are a shallow flimsy basket of fine grass and roots, bound with webs and hung from twigs amongst foliage of trees. Two chicks are usually reared.
Clearing of their habitat is a major threat. Removal of trees with large mistletoe infestations continues to be a practice in some areas. Repeated hot fires can kill old trees and the mistletoes on them.
What is AWC doing?
AWC protects the non-breeding habitat of the Painted Honeyeater at Bowra, by reducing numbers of feral herbivores which prevent tree regeneration and by implementing fire management. The presence of these birds is monitored by Birds Queensland.