Yellow-spotted or Graceful Honeyeater?

To: Nikolas Haass <>, Birding Aus <>
Subject: Yellow-spotted or Graceful Honeyeater?
From: David James <>
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2013 02:52:11 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Nikolas,
The two species are similar looking, everyone agrees. Seeing the two species 
together a few minutes apart or at the same time is not unusual, so it is not 
only a circumstantial argument but a dubious one too. If you can only see one 
bird pictured I would politely suggest that you are missing the detail. The 
differences are subtle, yet obvious to an experienced eye. I lived in 
Townsville, where all 3 occur, for 11 years, studied them throughout their 
Australian ranges in the field and looked at museum skins for my ID article, 
and have since found the characters I proposed to be fail safe. I think the 
'streaking' on the underparts of the first photo is very narrow shaft streaks 
(only noticeable with too much scrutiny) and is due to pale feather edges on 
the 2nd, so quite different (hence the term I use, 'shaggy' rather than 
'streaky'). The first has a yellow belly strip, the second a yellow belly wash. 
The first has a more orange tinge to the fleshy
 part of the gape, where as the 2nd has a gape all the same SHADE of yellow but 
a little BRIGHTER on the fleshy bit. The angles are not good for comparing the 
shape of the stripe. The bills are different shapes, long, fine, decurved in 
the 1st, stubbier and chunkier in the 2nd. The shape of the ear patch is 
unreliable. The size of the ear patch tends to be bigger in Y-S and to my eye 
it looks bigger in the 2nd photo. All these characters and others are explained 
much more clearly in my article, but unfortunately I don't have a scan to send 


From: Nikolas Haass <>
To: David James <>; Birding Aus 
Sent: Friday, 13 September 2013 1:14 PM
Subject: Yellow-spotted or Graceful Honeyeater?

Hi David,

I see your and Lloyds reasoning for the two-bird theory. However, the two 
pictures were taken a few minutes apart from each other, and to my memory Jeff 
said he had never seen more than one bird at a time. So, I am not sure if the 
differences seen in the two pictures are really species-related or rather 
photography-related (funny angle, different light, frozen snapshot that may or 
may not show the typical posture...). We all agree that the second picture 
shows a Yellow-spotted Honeyeater. I can only see one bird pictured, not two: 
If you look carefully at the details such as the exact shape of uneven areas in 
the naked skin of the gape as well as the detailed shape of the ear patch, they 
appear identical in both pictures. There is also no obvious difference in bill 
shape between the two pictures, although this is hard to tell because the bill 
is open in the first picture. I also don't see a difference in the intensity of 
stripes on the underparts.



Nikolas Haass

Brisbane, QLD

From: David James <>
To: Birding Aus <> 
Sent: Friday, September 13, 2013 12:02 PM
Subject: Yellow-spotted or Graceful Honeyeater?

Nikolas has sent me the other photo and I agree with Lloyd. The first is a 
Graceful and the second is a Yellow-spotted. It would be worth putting the 
second photo on the blog so everyone can see. The characters I mentioned in my 
first post should highlight the main differences between the two birds

David James

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