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18

Fuscous Honeyeater

(Ptilotula fusca)
Size: 15-17 cm
Weight: 13-24 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 Fuscous Honeyeater at Wikipedia .

Click here for classification information

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "fusca"

ADULT

Sex unknown

BREEDING

Near-frontal view of an adult Fuscous Honeyeater in breeding plumage
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2011]

Near-lateral view of a Fuscous Honeyeater in breeding plumage looking sideways while approaching a waterhole
(photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Durikai SF, near Warwick, QLD, August 2017]

Close-up lateral view of a Fuscous Honeyeater in breeding plumage
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2011]

Lateral view of a Fuscous Honeyeater banking to land (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, September 2018]

NON-BREEDING

Near-lateral view of a Fuscous Honeyeater in non-breeding plumage approaching a rocky waterhole
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, March 2009]

Lateral view of a Fuscous Honeyeater in non-breeding plumage; note the yellowish gape and base of the bill and the (albeit inconspicuous) yellowish eye-ring (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Leard State Forest, near Maules Creek, NSW, October 2012]

Near-dorsal view of a Fuscous Honeyeater in non-breeding plumage (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Coolmundra, QLD, May 2018]

Dorsal view of a Fuscous Honeyeater taking psyllids off the underside of eucalypt leaves
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, October 2008]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Near-frontal view of a juvenile Fuscous Honeyeater looking sideways; note the orange bill with yellow gape and dark tip and the thin yellow eye-ring (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)
[West Goondiwindi, QLD, June 2014]

Near-frontal view of a juvenile Fuscous Honeyeater looking sideways; the typical yellowish gape of the otherwise orange bill and the fine yellow eye-ring are clearly visible
[Near Barraba, NSW, January 2006]

Lateral/ventral view of a juvenile Fuscous Honeyeater with its tongue sticking out
[Near Barraba, NSW, January 2006]

Near-dorsal view of a juvenile Fuscous Honeyeater (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Leard State Forest, near Maules Creek, NSW, October 2012]

Dorsal view of a juvenile Fuscous Honeyeater looking sideways (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Leard State Forest, near Maules Creek, NSW, October 2012]

Frontal view of a fledgling Fuscous Honeyeater; note the orange bill ending in a brownish tip and the still growing tail feathers
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, October 2013]

Race "subgermanus"

ADULT

Sex unknown

BREEDING

Near-lateral/ventral view of an adult Fuscous Honeyeater in breeding plumage
(photo courtesy of J. Boettcher, FNQ Nature Tours)
[Wondecla, Atherton Tablelands, QLD, July 2020]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Jul - Jan Eggs: 2 - 3 Incubation period: ca. 14 days Fledging age: ca. 15 days

Nest building: ? Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female & male

Nest

"bungobittah", "lar", "malunna", "jindi" [bundjalung] = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Suspended basket Material: Grass stems, bark strips, webs; fine grass, wool or fur lining Height above ground: 1 - 15 m

Fuscous Honeyeater on its nest; note the all-black bill and eye-ring indicative of breeding plumage
(photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Capertee Valley, NSW, September 2012]

Eggs

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

Size: 20 x 15 mm Colour: Light-brown, with mid-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Dispersive Elementary unit: Solitary/pair

Fuscous Honeyeaters are the only honeyeaters observed by us so far foraging on bare soil, see photo. It is unknown to us what kind of food they find there.

Similar to other honeyeaters, Fuscous Honeyeaters have well-defined limits to their range. We have seen a Fuscous Honeyeater only once yet (in May 2014) at Eulah Creek, 20 km East of Narrabri, just 5-10 km further inland than the bushland of Deriah Aboriginal Area and the Nandewar Range, where they are common to abundant.

Food, Diet

Adults: Nectar, insects Dependents: Insects Water intake: Daily

Like many other honeyeaters, Fuscous Honeyeaters do not exclusively feed on nectar, but take insects too.

Lateral view of a Fuscous Honeyeater in breeding plumage feeding on nectar (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, September 2018]

Near-lateral view of a Fuscous Honeyeater feeding on nectar of a bottlebrush
[Near Narrabri, NSW, July 2020]

Near-frontal view of an immature Fuscous Honeyeater and a Yellow-tufted Honeyeater hawking for insects from a Casuarina, together with more birds of the same species and with Singing Honeyeaters and White-plumed Honeyeaters, all hunting out of the one tree
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, December 2012]

Lateral view of Fuscous Honeyeaters in breeding plumage drinking water from a waterhole; in the background a Yellow-tufted Honeyeater (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Durikai SF, near Warwick, QLD, August 2017]

Near-dorsal view of a Fuscous Honeyeater in breeding plumage, right, and Brown Honeyeater at a waterhole
[Mt. Kaputar NP, near Narrabri, NSW, October 2018]

Dorsal view of a Fuscous Honeyeater and a White-eared Honeyeater drinking from a waterhole
[Near Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, December 2019]

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.

fuschon_20190804_2.m4a fusca
(NW NSW)
Contact call © MD
fuschon_20230909.mp3 fusca
(NW NSW)
Contact call (with lead-up) © MD
fuschon_20200529.m4a fusca
(NW NSW)
(Extended?) contact call © MD
fuschon_20230909_2.mp3 fusca
(NW NSW)
Territorial calls © MD
fuschon_20230909_3.mp3 fusca
(NW NSW)
Territorial calls © MD
fuschon_20200719.m4a fusca
(NW NSW)
Territorial calls © MD
fuschon_20150817_2.m4a fusca
(N NSW)
Extended territorial call(?) © MD
fuschon_20220806.m4a fusca
(N NSW)
Extended territorial calls(?) © MD
fuschon_20210521.m4a fusca
(NW NSW)
Extended territorial calls(?) © MD
fuschon_20210521_2.m4a fusca
(NW NSW)
Extended territorial calls(?) © MD
fuschon_20161024_2.mp3 fusca
(NW NSW)
Pre-dawn call (repeated many times) © MD
fuschon_20150817.m4a fusca
(N NSW)
Alarm calls (raptor) + territorial calls © MD
fuschon_20200719_3.m4a fusca
(NW NSW)
Squabbling © MD
fuschon_20240430_2.m4a fusca
(NW NSW)
Feeding calls(?); juvenile "lerping" © MD
fuschon_20240430.m4a fusca
(NW NSW)
Feeding calls(?); juvenile "lerping" © MD
fuschon_20200719_2.m4a fusca
(NW NSW)
Various © MD
fuschon_20190804.m4a fusca
(NW NSW)
Various © MD
fuschon_20150817_3.m4a fusca
(N NSW)
Various © MD
fuschon_20150817_4.m4a fusca
(N NSW)
Various © MD
fuschon_20150905.m4a fusca
(NW NSW)
Various © MD
fuschon_20181008.m4a fusca
(NW NSW)
? © MD

More Fuscous Honeyeater sound recordings are available at xeno-canto.org .

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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