Scarlet Honeyeaters at ANBG

To: Mark Clayton <>, "" <>
Subject: Scarlet Honeyeaters at ANBG
From: Con Boekel <>
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2017 23:59:26 +0000

Mark, Michael, Julie and Geoffrey

I have looked at my two brown birds and the one I had identified as a female is a juvenile/immature male without any of the adult male scarlet replacement colouring. I will forward to Mark for a determination. Julie, you may wish to forward your brown birds for a similar determination.

The possibility now exists that all six birds are males.


Yes, that one grevillea is THE honeyeater magnet in the gardens. It was the same last year. And, yes, that grevillea is a hotspot for the heaving masses of humanity. Fortunately, the Scarlet Honeyeaters are extremely forgiving and stick around nicely despite all the humans.



On 10/7/2017 10:09 AM, Mark Clayton wrote:

Good morning all,


In some respects I think Con has partially answered his own question. A bird with a hint of red on the area around the face could indicate a female or a bird moulting to its first basic male plumage, but one with red coming through in other areas is almost certainly a male . It is not possible therefore to tell an immature (as opposed to a juvenile which can’t be sexed) male from a female on feather colouring alone, there are other factors to be looked at, e.g. gape colour. Juveniles are pretty easy to tell in the hand but unfortunately none of the field guides and HANZAB actually show a true juvenile. I banded my first Scarlet Honeyeaters at a site near Moruya a few years ago and the vast majority of the birds caught were juvenile. By then, unfortunately for Peter Marsack who did the passerine illustrations for the new Australian field guide, the plate for the Scarlet Honeyeater had already been done using what appears to be misidentified “juvenile” museum skins. Regrettably, I didn’t have a camera with me at the time so no photographs were taken. The terms juvenile and immature are thrown around pretty loosely and this often leads to confusion.


Perhaps if all the photos taken by the respective photographers are all put together then it may be possible to work out what is an “immature” male and what is an adult female. I am prepared to have a look if people are interested.





From: Con Boekel [m("","con");">]
Sent: Saturday, 7 October 2017 8:18 AM
To: m("","canberrabirds");">
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Scarlet Honeyeaters at ANBG


Hi All

Jule and myself have been working on our numbers using our observations and images. It comes to this: three adult males, one immature male in the process of gaining some male plumage and two other brown birds. These may be either females or immature, but unmarked males. I have just checked Morcombe who states that immature males 'resemble' females, so the question that arises is this: is it possible to differentiate a female from an unmarked immature male?

Any advice appreciated.




On 10/6/2017 9:19 PM, Julie Clark wrote:

Hi All,


Following on from Con's emails regarding the Scarlet Honeyeaters, I too have gone through my photos, most of which were taken earlier in the day, and I think that I snapped a third brown bird. It has some colour on the head and face, but is definitely a different bird to the one Con has shown (which I also photographed.) I'm not sure if it's a second female or another younger male (photo NoC8A8602 on Flickr). Advice would be appreciated.


Photos of each of the 5 birds that I snapped are on Flickr. I'm not sure that I actually saw a third adult male, but it was hard to keep track of them.



Richard, Lindell and I also saw the Olive Whistler today in the region of the Owlet Nightjar (one photo also on Flickr).







Julie Clark



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