Birds in our village - blue faced honeyeater

10 October 2017

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The Blue-Faced Honeyeater (Entomyzon cyanotis) is also colloquially known as the Bananabird. At around 30cm long, this bird is large for a honeyeater. In general shape, it has broad wings with rounded tips and a medium squarish tail. The sturdy slightly down curved bill is shorter than the skull, and is 3-3.5cm long. 

It's plumage is distinctive, with olive upperparts, white underparts and a black head and throat with white nape and cheeks. Males and females are similar in external appearance. However, adult birds have a blue area of bare skin on each side of the face, which readily distinguishes them from juveniles, which have yellow or green patches of bare skin. 

The blue-faced honeyeater is common in northern and eastern Australia and southern New Guinea. They live throughout rainforest, dry Eucalyptus forest, open woodland, Pandanus thickets, paperbarks, mangroves, watercourses and wetter areas of semi-arid regions, as well as parks, gardens and golf courses in urban areas.

The bulk of their diet consists of insects, including cockroaches, termites, grasshoppers, bugs, beetles, ladybirds, weevils, as well as flies, moths, bees, ants and spiders. Birds have been reported preying on small lizards. 

Its diet is mostly composed of invertebrates, supplemented with nectar and fruit. The remainder of their diet is made up of pollen, berries, nectar and crops such as bananas or particularly grapes. Usually very inquisitive and friendly birds, they will often invade a campsite, searching for edible items. Parent birds feed the young on insects, fruit and nectar, and have been recorded regurgitating milk to them as well. 

The breeding season is from June to January, with one of two broods raised during this time. The nest is an untidy deep bowl of sticks and bits of bark in the fork of a tree, Staghorns, bird's nest ferns, grasstrees and Pandanus palms are popular as nest sites. They often take over and renovate old nests, in which the female lays and incubates two or rarely three eggs. The female alone incubates the eggs, over a period of 16 or 17 days. Both parents feed the young, and are sometimes assisted by helper birds. 

The blue-faced honeyeater produces a variety of calls, including a piping call around half an hour before dawn, variously described as ki-owt, woik, queet, peet or weet. Through the day, it makes squeaking noises while flying, and harsh squawks when mobbing. Blue-faced honeyeaters make a soft chirping around nestlings and family members. 

They can be noisy when they congregate, as they are very social birds. When feeding in groups, they seem to keep in contact with each other by soft chirping calls. 

They mob potential threats such as some other birds. Sometimes some breeding pairs have one or more helper birds. The parent birds will dive at and harass intruders to drive them away from nest sites. These include dogs, owls and goannas. 

This article is reproduced, with permission, from the 'Victoria Village Voice' a quarterly newsletter produced by residents of Renaissance Victoria Point and issued on behalf of the Residents' Association.  

Category: Birds in our village - blue faced honeyeater

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