07 September 2020

77. Whiskered Honeys

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters are at my home again. 

Unlike most of the world in a travel ban, they’ve been enjoying a warmer winter in arid central Australia; now they’re back for breeding. 

These birds have pink beaks with black tips and blue eye rings. 

Long tufts of yellow feathers stick out like whiskers on their cheeks. 

My theory is that pollen from grevillea and bottlebrush shrubs collect in those spines to pollinate more spring flowers.

I’ve caught these beauties high in the; heard them before spotting. 

A fresh lot of flowers excites them to sing together like a choir. 

Strange, their whistles are a big mix of whining, shrilling, gurgling and high trilling. Sometimes they even sound mechanical.

After a couple of minutes, these spiky honeyeaters give up on the vocalizations and concentrate on gleaning all the nectar from new spring growth. 

With all the streaks and blended greys of their plumage, these whiskery honeyeaters have the best camouflage of any of the birds in my backyard.

Hard to see, moving branches betray where they are.

Communally, they work from the inside to outside of a shrub.

Going every which way to feed, they seem equally comfortable upside down, sideways or horizontal.

I left the camera outside on a tripod to film these cheeky birds.

Heading out ten minutes later, I found a Spiny-cheek hanging off the camera, pecking at the lens.

No damage to the equipment, but it confirms that the birds are breeding again. 

They also bravely chase off other birds from their egg-laying territory, including me - a very large old bird indeed.

With nectar as their staple diet, they need to drink frequently to wash down the sticky, sugar syrup. 


Always near the birdbath, I can usually get a photo there.


The video hardly does these birds justice. They are really difficult to spot without a pair of binoculars. There were at least six birds in the bottle brush tree yesterday, in the first week of spring for 2020.

Watching Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters play in my garden is so good, I can forget all the viral troubles with the world and bliss out. 


  1. Very nice post, great photos. I’m glad your camera was ok, LOL

    1. Thanks so much Patrick. Camera all good, no scratches. It wasn't the first time that it has happened. The Grey Shrike-thrush has had a go at the lens as well! Cheers.