01 March 2020

62. In a Hurry Honeys

Coming back from a weekend walk, two White-plumed Honeyeaters flew past my ear. Both came close enough for me to hear the wind beneath their wings. In a manic rush to mate and nest, they collide with things like windows and me.

In spring all the birds play chases. 

The male follows the female. 

He perfectly imitates her fast flight pattern. 

As synchronised as a royal ballet, I watch them wheel about and glide, pivot and curve. 

In typical spring-fling breeding behaviour, one becomes a mirror image of the other. 

Only this isn’t spring, it isn’t summer either, its the first day of Autumn.

A picture taken in drought and heat haze last November.
In the driest continent on earth, some birds mate, nest build and sit on eggs within ten days of good rain, regardless of the season. 

And we have had plentiful rain, a whole 12 inches or 310 mm of the stuff.

Climate change is confusing them; the darling things with wings think it’s spring again.

After the worst summer imaginable, the heavens opened. 

It sprinkled, it rained, it poured, it stormed-sometimes all in one day. 

Such a relief, now there are flowers, mushrooms, butterflies and grass that needs mowing after a three-year break between trims.

The garden domain of the White-plumed Honeyeaters; picture taken March 1st 2020.
The birds repair nests they used last spring or rush to make new ones. Given plentiful food and puddles of water in every dip in the ground, they aren’t wasting time.
A juvenile honey hatched last September looking at its own reflection.
They are busting to raise chicks six months after their first brood hatched. 
The White-plumed Honeyeaters have been regulars at the house for five years. 
It is hard to get a photo of them anywhere else but on the bath. 

They love the water, but tend to be speed bathers. Flying in and out in two second bursts, the White-plumes will often have six baths in a row. 

Blink and you might miss it.

These Honeyeaters love the Bottle Brush and Grevilleas in my garden. They poke their long tongues out all the time.

The sticky nectar they eat must make them thirsty because they drink every two hours in daylight regardless of the weather. 

A Honeyeater who wasn't impressed by drowned bees in the birdbath a few weeks ago.
 They chase eagles away from their nests, as plucky as can be. These sleek grey and yellow honeys are also opportunists.   

The birds might look like honey wouldn’t melt in their beaks, but they regularly bash up smaller birds. Having seen it so many times, I think these nectar lovers enjoy shooing finches off their bath.
Parent and new fledgling White-plumed Honeyeater.

Even so, I can’t wait to see another round of chicks begging food from parents. It’s something I’ll never get tired of.


  1. ❤ Sun's out here Thérèse - the first day of full sun since Christmas I think, though it is still blowing at 65kph. I'll go out and look for some of our own birds desperately preparing for the next generation; it's always a joy to see.

  2. Soak up some rays Steve, hope the wind dies down so it doesn't blow your hat off and you get to see something beautiful in the countryside. Birds get so distracted in Spring, they go all out to impress, just like high school teenagers at a dance. It is a real joy to witness that first buzz of spring. Good luck in seeing lots of flitters and flyers.