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18

Blue-faced Honeyeater

(Entomyzon cyanotis)
Alternate name(s): "Banana-bird*", "Blue-eye", "Pandanas-bird"
Size: 25-31 cm; wing span 44 cm (average)
Weight: 85-135 g

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Blue-faced Honeyeater at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "cyanotis"

Not the photos you want? Or are you after even better quality? Have a look here .

ADULT

Close-up frontal view of an adult Blue-faced Honeyeater
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, September 2010]

Close-up frontal view of a Blue-faced Honeyeater checking out the photographer
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, March 2012]

Near-frontal view of an adult Blue-faced Honeyeater
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, March 2006]

Near-frontal view of an adult Blue-faced Honeyeater
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2006]

Lateral view of a Blue-faced Honeyeater displaying the full splendour of its blue face in brilliant sunlight
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, October 2006]

Dorsal view of a Blue-faced Honeyeater; photo courtesy of R. Druce
[Maules Creek, NSW, October 2012]

Dorsal view of a Blue-faced Honeyeater searching for insects in tree bark
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

While feeding in a bottlebrush tree, this Blue-faced Honeyeater clearly exhibits the white band around the nape of its neck
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2013]

Blue-faced Honeyeater hunting for insects in a eucalypt tree

Some Blue-faced Honeyeater acrobatics
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2010]

When jumping around in a Cypress pine tree, this Blue-faced Honeyeater released spores in a cloud of dust
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2015]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of an immature Blue-faced Honeyeater
[Near Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Near-frontal view of an immature Blue-faced Honeyeater (photo courtesy of J. Ross-Taylor)
[Ashmore, Gold Coast, QLD, February 2015]

Lateral view of an immature Blue-faced Honeyeater starting to moult into its breeding plumage
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, May 2012]

Lateral view of an immature Blue-faced Honeyeater with its tongue sticking out (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Ashmore, Gold Coast, QLD, August 2015]

Immature Blue-faced Honeyeater preening
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2008]

Immature Blue-faced Honeyeater on a low roost, just 2 m off the ground
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2017]

Immature Blue-faced Honeyeater on a low roost, just 2 m off the ground
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2017]

Family of Blue-faced Honeyeaters including immature birds making one big racket about a roosting Southern Boobook
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2016]

Adult Blue-faced Honeyeater feeding a juvenile (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Ashmore, Gold Coast, QLD, August 2015]

Clutch of immature Blue-faced Honeyeaters (photo courtesy of C. Kellenberg)

Two fledgling Blue-faced Honeyeaters (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Near-frontal view of a fledgling Blue-faced Honeyeater
[Brewarrina, NSW, September 2012]

Race "griseigularis"

ADULT

Adult Blue-faced Honeyeater - note the large blue skin patch characteristic of race "griseigularis" (photo courtesy of R. Russell)
[Mount Molloy, QLD, June 2008]

Race "albipennis"

ADULT

Lateral view of an adult Blue-faced Honeyeater - note the partly greenish skin patch characteristic of race "albipennis" (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Parry Creek Road turnoff, Wyndham, WA, January 2016]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Jul - Jan Eggs: 2 - 3 Incubation period: 17 days Fledging age: 20 days

Blue-faced Honeyeaters are known as prolific breeders, with up to several broods per season. Photos below show that we have seen a pair breeding through the winter in northern inland NSW (at Narrabri in May 2012). We witnessed another attempt at Eulah Creek in May 2013.

Blue-faced Honeyeaters do not always bother with building a nest, but sometimes take over abandoned nests or even nests that are in use or have just been completed (see photos below). The most frequent victims of such "misappropriations" are Grey-crowned Babblers.

Blue-faced Honeyeaters live in family clans and employ the services of previous broods to help feed the newest clutch in the nest. One can often see birds in sub-adult plumage feeding young in the nest.

Immature Blue-faced Honeyeater helping to feed a chick - only it isn't quite a sibling, but a juvenile Australian Koel instead (photo courtesy of N. Maclean)
[Noosaville, QLD, June 2016]

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Twigs, grass, fibre Height above ground: 3 - 20 m

Relatively unobstructed view of a Blue-faced Honeyeater pair's nest; note how, similar to other honeyaters in hanging basket-type nests, the bird's tail sticks out almost vertically
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2011]

The same Blue-faced Honeyeater nest was re-used in winter, when its lining was visibly improved
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, May 2012]

One of the Blue-faced Honeyeater parents feeding the greedy chicks
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, May 2012]

Evidence of an immature Blue-faced Honeyeater, from the previous (summer) brood, helping feeding the chicks
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, May 2012]

Blue-faced Honeyeater near its rather bulky nest in an eucalypt
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2015]

Blue-faced Honeyeaters collecting nesting material
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2013]

Blue-faced Honeyeater pinching the nest of a clan of Grey-crowned Babblers (photo courtesy of R. Russell)
[Mount Molloy, QLD, June 2008]

Blue-faced Honeyeaters occasionally pinch the nests of Grey-crowned Babblers; here the builder of the nest is looking on helplessly as the competition moves in uninvited
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, July 2017]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 32 x 21 mm Colour: Creamy, with brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal? Mobility: Dispersive Elementary unit: Pair/family clan

One can set the clock by the regular habits of Blue-faced Honeyeaters around our place. They appear almost all year round, around sunrise and sunset. Only when there are lots of flowers on our trees they will also come at other times of the day. They visit as pairs or families, rarely alone.

It is possible that Blue-faced Honeyeaters have received their popular name of "Pandanas-bird" because they like to collect the strong, flexible fibres of various types of palms as nesting material.

Blue-faced Honeyeaters are omnivores - they use their long sticky tongues not only for retrieving honey or nectar from blossoms, but also to catch small insects, for example from cracks and cavities in walls of buildings or the bark of trees.

Blue-faced Honeyeater searching the bark of an eucalypt for insects
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2010]

Blue-faced Honeyeaters can have more than one brood per season; sometimes one can see whole family clans on the move, usually with quite a racket (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, September 2012]

"I trip him, you whack the serial pest over the head!" Two Blue-faced Honeyeaters gaining the upper hand against a pesky Noisy Friarbird that was trying to claim a bottlebrush tree for itself (note the foothold)
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2013]

Food, Diet

Like many other honeyeaters, Blue-faced Honeyeaters do not exclusively feed on nectar, but use their sticky tongue to take insects too. They are the species that most conspicuously uses its long, rough tongue to pry insects out of crevices. In particular, they search for insects behind the loose ends of bark strips coming off the trunks of various types of eucalypt trees.

Blue-faced Honeyeater taking nectar from a Grevillea flower (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, August 2012]

This Blue-faced Honeyeater still has pollen sticking to its feathers, possibly from a Grevillea flower (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, July 2013]

Blue-faced Honeyeater taking nectar from mistletoe
[Near Mungindi, NSW, June 2013]

Blue-faced Honeyeaters feeding on nectar from a lemon-scented eucalypt (Eucalyptus citriodora)
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2014]

Immature Blue-faced Honeyeater using its sticky tongue to lick sap from a eucalypt tree (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, September 2013]

Adult Blue-faced Honeyeater teaching one of its offspring how to pry behind loose eucalypt bark in search of insects; by sitting on the ends of such slabs the birds brought down some which were then inspected on the ground before the crevice left behind on the trunk was also searched for food
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2011]

Blue-faced Honeyeater taking nectar from a Strelitzia flower
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2013]

Immature Blue-faced Honeyeater with its prey, a caterpillar (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Ashmore, Gold Coast, QLD, March 2015]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

blufhon_20140910.mp3 cyanotis
(NW NSW)
Contact call © MD
blufhon_20140910_3.mp3 cyanotis
(NW NSW)
Contact calls © MD
blufhon_20141204.mp3 cyanotis
(NW NSW)
Contact calls (immature) © MD
blufhon_20140201.mp3 cyanotis
(NW NSW)
Pair Q&A © MD
blufhon_20140201_2.mp3 cyanotis
(NW NSW)
Pair Q&A © MD
blufhon_20150726.mp3 cyanotis
(NW NSW)
Territorial calls? (break of dawn) © MD
blufhon_20170912_2.m4a cyanotis
(NW NSW)
Warning/departure (family clan) © MD
blufhon_20170912.m4a cyanotis
(NW NSW)
Defending food source (family clan) © MD
noifriar_20170912.m4a cyanotis
(NW NSW)
Fighting over food source (against Noisy Friarbird) © MD
redwatt_20140508_3.mp3 cyanotis
(NW NSW)
Fighting (with Red Wattlebird) © MD
blufhon_20150114_1.mp3 cyanotis
(NW NSW)
Fighting (with Little Friarbird) © MD
blufhon_20150221.mp3 cyanotis
(NW NSW)
Upset (with Noisy Miners) © MD
blufhon_20140408.mp3 cyanotis
(NW NSW)
Various © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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