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18

Singing Honeyeater

(Gavicalis virescens)
Alternate name(s): "Black-face Honeyeater", "Dairy-bird",
"Grape-eater", "Grey Peter", "Forrest's Honeyeater"
Aboriginal name(s): Race "virescens": "dooromdoorom", "koolbot" (WA)

Size: 18-22 cm; wing span ca. 25 cm
Weight: 20-39 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 Singing 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 "virescens"

ADULT

Sex unknown

Frontal view of a Singing Honeyeater (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Near Cockburn, WA, April 2019]

Frontal view of a Singing Honeyeater looking sideways (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Near Cockburn, WA, April 2019]

Near-frontal view of a Singing Honeyeater (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Shark Bay, WA, May 2018]

Near-lateral view of a Singing Honeyeater (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Shark Bay, WA, May 2018]

Lateral view of a Singing Honeyeater (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Cook, SA, June 2016]

Lateral view of a Singing Honeyeater taking nectar (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, October 2022]

Dorsal view of a Singing Honeyeater (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, October 2022]

Race "sonorus"

ADULT

PAIR

Pair of Singing Honeyeaters at a local bird bath
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2023]

Sex unknown

Close-up frontal portrait of an adult Singing Honeyeater
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2019]

Close-up frontal portrait of a Singing Honeyeater, looking left and right
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2021]

Close-up frontal view of a Singing Honeyeater looking sideways
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

Close-up frontal view of a Singing Honeyeater looking sideways
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2018]

Close-up near-frontal view of a Singing Honeyeater straight out of the bathtub
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2017]

Near-lateral view of a Singing Honeyeater looking at the observer
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2023]

Close-up near-lateral view of a Singing Honeyeater
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2013]

Near-lateral view of a Singing Honeyeater issuing its contact call (a short, high-pitched trill)
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2012]

Lateral view of a Singing Honeyeater
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2013]

Close-up lateral view of a Singing Honeyeater looking away from the observer
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2023]

Near-dorsal view of a Singing Honeyeater
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2013]

Near-dorsal view of a Singing Honeyeater (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Arid Lands Botanical Garden, Port Augusta, SA, June 2022]

Close-up dorsal view of a Singing Honeyeater
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2022]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Close-up frontal view of a juvenile Singing Honeyeater looking sideways - note the yellow gape
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2020]

Close-up near-frontal view of a juvenile Singing Honeyeater
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2020]

Close-up lateral/ventral view of a juvenile Singing Honeyeater
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2011]

Frontal/ventral view of a fledgling Singing Honeyeater
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2008]

Fledgling Singing Honeyeater as it ventured out of its nest for the first time; minutes later it flew into a nearby tree
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2008]

Race "forresti"

ADULT

Frontal view of an adult Singing Honeyeater (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Desert Wildlife Park, Alice Springs, NT, July 2018]

Close-up frontal view of a Singing Honeyeater (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Mount Isa, QLD, June 2021]

Close-up frontal view of a Singing Honeyeater (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Mount Isa, QLD, June 2021]

Frontal/ventral view of a Singing Honeyeater in a grevillea (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[The Granites Gold Mine, inland NT, June 2015]

Near-frontal/ventral view of a Singing Honeyeater (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Victoria Highway, NT, September 2020]

Near-frontal/ventral view of a Singing Honeyeater (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Tablelands Highway, NT, September 2021]

Close-up near-lateral view of a Singing Honeyeater (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Mount Isa, QLD, June 2021]

Close-up lateral view of a Singing Honeyeater (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Mount Isa, QLD, June 2021]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Lateral view of a juvenile Singing Honeyeater (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Mount Isa, QLD, June 2021]

Lateral view of a fledgling Singing Honeyeater, left, with one of its parents on the right (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boolardy Station, Murchison, WA, August 2016]

Breeding information

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

Given the right conditions, Singing Honeyeaters can breed any time of the year.

Nest

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

Type: Suspended basket Material: Grass, webs Height above ground: 0.5 - 5

Singing Honeyeater with two near-fledging age chicks; they were already practicing their wingbeat when this photo was taken - the next morning they were gone
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2008]

From the eggs shown below, two Singing Honeyeater chicks grew that, at about one week old, were still downy, with their eyes closed and completely silent
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

Like many other bird species, such as e.g. also Little Friarbirds, Singing Honeyeaters keep their nest clean; after feeding a chick, the parent bird sticks around to see whether a back side is being lifted to present a poo sac...
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

... and if so, the poo is being disposed of immediately
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

Close-up view of Singing Honeyeater hatchlings in their nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2018]

Close-up view of Singing Honeyeater hatchlings in their nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2018]

We have noticed that Singing Honeyeaters, not only when the nestlings are near fledging age, approach the nest from high above and bend far down to feed the chicks
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

View of an incubating Singing Honeyeater on its nest in a Callistemon tree, where nest and bird are extremely well hidden; the bird stayed on the nest while an Australian Raven, having noticed the activities going on in the tree, was just 2 m away, looking for the nest - this brood survived
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

Eggs

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

Size: 23 x 16 mm Colour: Creamy, with tiny light-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

View from above into a Singing Honeyeater nest in a Callistemon tree with two eggs in it
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2016]

View from above into a Singing Honeyeater nest in a Callistemon (bottlebrush) tree with two eggs in it
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2018]

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Dispersive Elementary unit: Pair

Near-frontal view of an immature Singing Honeyeater (one can still see its yellow gape) exploring its mirror image in a window
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2013]

Food, Diet

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

Like many other honeyeaters, Singing Honeyeaters do not exclusively feed on nectar, but take insects too. While previously we had seen them looking for insects in trees and bushes only, the photo below shows a bird foraging on our lawn - behaviour we do not regularly observe from honeyeaters.

Lateral view of a Singing Honeyeater feeding in a bottlebrush
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2013]

Singing Honeyeater feeding head down in a bottlebrush
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2015]

Lateral view of a Singing Honeyeater taking nectar from Mistletoe
[Near Mungindi, NSW, June 2013]

Lateral view of a Singing Honeyeater at full stretch hunting for insects in the bark of a tree
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2009]

Singing Honeyeater tackling big prey, a Silken Orb Weaver spider
[Lightning Ridge, NSW, April 2024]

It was surprising to find Singing Honeyeaters, amongst other honeyeater species, taking the fruit of this Pittosporum(?) shrub
[Near Bugilbone, NSW, May 2017]

Singing Honeyeater scavenging food from humans (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Shark Bay, WA, May 2018]

Close-up lateral view of a Singing Honeyeater scooping up water (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Mount Isa, QLD, June 2021]

Singing Honeyeater drinking water from a shallow puddle (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Currawinya NP, QLD, October 2008]

Singing Honeyeater drinking from a waterhole together with a Striped Honeyeater, centre, and a White-eared Honeyeater, back right
[Near Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2019]

Close-up near-lateral view of a Singing Honeyeater having a drink at the local bird bath
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2008]

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.

singhon_20170831.m4a sonorus
(NW NSW)
Contact calls © MD
singhon_20170912.m4a sonorus
(NW NSW)
Modified contact calls(?) © MD
singhon_20140324.mp3 sonorus
(NW NSW)
Contact call © MD
singhon_20140107.mp3 sonorus
(NW NSW)
Contact call(?) © MD
singhon_20140324_2.mp3 sonorus
(NW NSW)
Q&A © MD
singhon_20140220_3.mp3 sonorus
(NW NSW)
Answer call © MD
singhon_20160105.mp3 sonorus
(NW NSW)
Territorial calls? © MD
singhon_20160123.mp3 sonorus
(NW NSW)
Territorial calls? © MD
singhon_20210117.m4a sonorus
(NW NSW)
Territorial calls (break of dawn) © MD
singhon_20210117_2.m4a sonorus
(NW NSW)
Territorial calls (break of dawn; long sequence) © MD
singhon_20191216.m4a sonorus
(NW NSW)
Alarm calls (Grey Butcherbird) © MD
singhon_20200302.m4a cyanotis
(NW NSW)
Alarm calls (goanna) © MD
blufhon_20200302.m4a cyanotis
(NW NSW)
Alarm calls (goanna; with Blue-faced Honeyeater) © MD
singhon_20140203.mp3 sonorus
(NW NSW)
Warning call © MD
singhon_20140715_3.mp3 sonorus
(NW NSW)
Warning calls © MD
singhon_20200731.m4a sonorus
(NW NSW)
Family foraging © MD
singhon_20170427.mp3 sonorus
(NW NSW)
Defending food source © MD
singhon_20140310.mp3 sonorus
(NW NSW)
Fighting in-flight © MD
willie_20200120.m4a sonorus
(NW NSW)
Interacting with Willie Wagtail © MD
singhon_20200107.m4a sonorus
(NW NSW)
Begging calls (juvenile) © MD
singhon_20180122_2.m4a sonorus
(NW NSW)
Parent at nest + begging nestlings © MD
singhon_20180122_3.m4a sonorus
(NW NSW)
Begging calls (nestlings) © MD
singhon_20200413.m4a sonorus
(NW NSW)
Various (family of 4) © MD
singhon_20140307.mp3 sonorus
(NW NSW)
Various © MD
singhon_20140206.mp3 sonorus
(NW NSW)
? © MD
singhon_20200211.m4a sonorus
(NW NSW)
? © MD
Click here for more recordings

Below a recording of three different species of honeyeaters competing for territorial supremacy: First to call is a Singing Honeyeater, with answers from a Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater and then also a pair of Striped Honeyeaters.

singhon_20150911.mp3 (NW NSW) Competing territorial calls © MD

We have also recorded the wing beat of a Singing Honeyeater.

singhon_20140715_7.mp3 sonorus
(NW NSW)
Weaving © MD
singhon_20140715_4.mp3 sonorus
(NW NSW)
Squabbling (food competition) © MD

More Singing 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.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.