Backyard Buddies
Scarlet Honeyeater

Photo: Chris Grounds

Scarlet Honeyeater

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The Scarlet Honeyeater is a small honeyeater which tends to live a solitary life but is occasionally seen in pairs or as part of a flock.

Their distinctive red colouring has earned them the nickname 'bloodbird.'

Although they mainly prefer foraging for blossom in the tops of mature Turpentine, Melaleuca and Pittosporum trees, the Scarlet Honeyeater will drop down to ground level to drink from your birdbath and feast on the blossoms of smaller bushes.

Scarlet Honeyeaters live on the east coast of Australia but are less common south of Sydney. They prefers open forests and woodlands with a sparse understorey, especially near wetlands. You may spot them in urban areas near flowering plants, looking for nectar, fruit and insects.

As the cooler weather closes in, Scarlet Honeyeaters seek out winter flowering natives like grevilleas and banksias. If you have these plants in your garden this little honeyeater will hover about to collect the nectar, tiny wings beating rapidly and the curved beak dipping in and out of flowers.

Come breeding time, Scarlet Honeyeater males enthusiastically call and display to attract the quieter females. They build their small cup-shaped nest suspended from a horizontal branch or in a fork, and construct it from fine bark and grass bound with spider web and lined with fine plant materials.

Listen also for the tinkling, descending call of the male, a perfect giveaway that these beautiful buddies are nearby.

Tip

Plant winter flowering natives to provide winter food for this discerning honeyeater. Protect tall, mature trees which these birds prefer for nest-building.

Did you know?

Scarlet Honeyeaters were once common in Sydney and still visit local parks and gardens, particularly in winter to seek blossom. They range along the east coast of Australia from Gippsland in Victoria to Cooktown in Queensland as well as tropical Asia and some Pacific islands, and tend to move north in winter. Their numbers may be declining across their range due to loss of mature habitat trees.

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Photo: OEH