Painted Honeyeaters and Mistletoe in Acacia

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Painted Honeyeaters and Mistletoe in Acacia
From: Michael Todd <>
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2001 19:45:34 +1100
Hello Birdos,

I thought I might add to the recent discussion on Painted Honeyeaters- a little bit slow but better late than never. There are currently LOTS of Painted Honeyeaters in Binya SF, about 20 km east of Griffith. I've just got back from spending a couple of hours getting recordings of them. Their whistling was constant the whole time I was there. On the weekend Keith Hutton counted 24 birds, I think by walking a transect and counting responses to his whistles (I'll have to ask him exactly how he does it). I wouldn't be at all surprised if there are more birds than this present but I couldn't put a number on it. The key habitat characteristic seems to be the Grey Mistletoe in Yarran (Acacia homophylla). Its just finishing flowering and fruiting must be just around the corner. There were also numerous Mistletoebirds.

Elsewhere in the area, John Brickhill has heard Painted Honeyeaters on each of the last 3 weekends at Lake Wyangan to the north of Griffith. After talking with more experienced Riverina birdos than myself like Phil Maher and Keith Hutton I'm getting the impression that this influx of Painted Honeyeaters is a pretty regular occurrence at this time of year in the Riverina. The important habitats include woodland with Yarran, and woodlands that are dominated by Boree (Acacia pendula) or Acacia melvillei. The Painteds turn up in time for the fruiting of the mistletoe in these Acacias. I think I caught a large group of Painteds on migration about a month ago in Yelkin SF, 20 km S. of Lake Cargelligo.

These Acacia woodlands might be crucial to Painted Honeyeaters. A part of my current employment as NPWS Biodiversity Planning Officer for the Riverina has been to determine how much of the previously existing vegetation communities are left and which ones need to become conservation priorities. One of the major veg communities of the eastern Riverina was the Boree woodlands. The loss of most of the Boree from the eastern Riverina must have had an impact on Painted Honeyeaters. Thats not to say that there aren't other factors that may be impacting numbers but I feel this has to be one of them at least.


Mick Todd
Griffith, NSW

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