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18

White-plumed Honeyeater

(Lichenostomus penicillatus)
Alternate name(s): "Greenie", "Linner", "Chickoowee", "Ringeye", "Ringneck", "Australian Canary*"
Aboriginal name(s): "chickowee"

Size: 15-17 cm
Weight: 15-24 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 White-plumed Honeyeater at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "penicillatus"

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

ADULT

Frontal view of a White-plumed Honeyeater; note the clearly visible passerine foothold
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, May 2012]

Frontal view of a White-plumed Honeyeater (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Durikai SF, near Warwick, QLD, March 2018]

Near-frontal view of a White-plumed Honeyeater; note the clearly visible passerine foothold
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, May 2012]

Close-up portrait of an adult White-plumed Honeyeater
[Near Narrabri, NSW, June 2012]

Lateral view of a White-plumed Honeyeater
[Near Narrabri, NSW, June 2012]

Lateral view of a White-plumed Honeyeater, different posture
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2011]

Near-dorsal view of a White-plumed Honeyeater approaching a waterhole (photo taken by R. Druce)
[Pilliga scrub, NSW, July 2011]

Frontal and dorsal view of White-plumed Honeyeaters (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Pilliga scrub, NSW, July 2011]

White-plumed Honeyeater checking the surroundings while drinking from a waterhole
[Pilliga scrub, NSW, December 2011]

Here the same White-plumed Honeyeater seen drinking
[Pilliga scrub, NSW, December 2011]

White-plumed Honeyeater scooping up water
[Pilliga scrub, NSW, December 2011]

White-plumed Honeyeater with an itch...
[Manilla, NSW, May 2013]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of a juvenile White-plumed Honeyeater; note the absence of a black plume and the last remnant of an orange gape
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2016]

Frontal view of a juvenile White-plumed Honeyeater; note the absence of a black plume, the pale colours and the orange-yellow bill
[Pilliga scrub, NSW, December 2011]

Frontal view of a juvenile White-plumed Honeyeater; different posture
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2012]

Near-frontal view of a juvenile White-plumed Honeyeater
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, February 2016]

Near-lateral view of a juvenile White-plumed Honeyeater
[January 2011]

Immature White-plumed Honeyeater, slightly different posture
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, March 2008]

Lateral view of a juvenile White-plumed Honeyeater with its tongue sticking out
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2016]

This immature White-plumed Honeyeater is studying the photographer
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2012]

Lateral view of a juvenile White-plumed Honeyeater
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, March 2008]

Dorsal view of a juvenile White-plumed Honeyeater
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, February 2016]

Dorsal view of a juvenile White-plumed Honeyeater seen preening
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, February 2016]

Immature White-plumed Honeyeater having a drink
[O'Brien's Creek, Narrabri Lake, NSW, January 2011]

This immature White-plumed Honeyeater and its mates were fascinated by a piece of netting
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2012]

Juvenile White-plumed Honeyeater being fed by its parents
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2012]

Juvenile White-plumed Honeyeater begging for food
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, March 2009]

Fledgling birds, like these two White-plumed Honeyeaters, will often groom one another while waiting to be fed by their parents
[Near Narrabri, NSW, January 2017]

Ventral view of a fledgling White-plumed Honeyeater (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Bowra Station, near Cunnamulla, QLD, September 2017]

Race "carteri"

ADULT

Frontal view of a White-plumed Honeyeater (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boolardy Station, Murchison, WA, August 2016]

Lateral view of a White-plumed Honeyeater (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Murchison River, near Ajana, WA, May 2018]

Lateral view of a White-plumed Honeyeater (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boolardy Station, Murchison, WA, August 2016]

Lateral view of a White-plumed Honeyeater foraging in a casuarina tree (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boolardy Station, Murchison, WA, January 2014]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of a juvenile White-plumed Honeyeater in a casuarina tree (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boolardy Station, Murchison, WA, January 2014]

Race "leilavalensis"

ADULT

Near-lateral view of a White-plumed Honeyeater feeding in an eucalypt tree (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Yulara, NT, March 2015]

Lateral view of a White-plumed Honeyeater (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Yulara, NT, March 2015]

Lateral view of a White-plumed Honeyeater feeding in an eucalypt tree (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Yulara, NT, March 2015]

White-plumed Honeyeater feeding in an eucalypt tree (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska)
[Yulara, NT, March 2015]

Race "calconi"

ADULT

Near-frontal view of a White-plumed Honeyeater seen from underneath; note the characteristic light-yellow head and otherwise pale plumage (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[The Granites Gold Mine, inland NT, June 2015]

Near-lateral view of a White-plumed Honeyeater seen from underneath; note the characteristic light-yellow head and otherwise pale plumage (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[The Granites Gold Mine, inland NT, June 2015]

Breeding information

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

Given the right conditions, White-plumed Honeyeaters can breed any time of the year.

Nest

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

Type: Suspended basket Material: Root fibres, grass stems, webs Height above ground: 1 - 10 m

White-plumed Honeyeater chicks in their nest, waiting to be fed
[Near Coonabarabran, NSW, November 2010]

Here a White-plumed Honeyeater's nest in a more open spot
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, 2005]

This White-plumed Honeyeater nest was being built in a drooping branch of a eucalypt tree, less than 2 m above a dirt track
[Near Coonabarabran, NSW, October 2015]

White-plumed Honeyeater carrying rootlets for its nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2012]

Eggs

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

Size: 20 x 15 mm Colour: Creamy, with light-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

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

White-plumed Honeyeaters are one of the species that like a good splash every day; however, they do not only use shallow bowls or puddles for taking their bath - instead they fly from perches onto the surface of standing water fluttering their wings, just touching the surfaces and getting half-emersed before taking off back to the perch again (see photo below).

Action shot of a White-plumed Honeyeater flying in for a bath
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, April 2006]

White-plumed Honeyeater making a splash; it is normal for birds of this species to fully immerse themselves before flying back to their perches soaking wet; they will repeat this up to about 10 times
[O'Brien's Creek, Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2013]

Soaking wet White-plumed Honeyeater preening after a bath
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2016]

Three White-plumed Honeyeaters settling a dispute high up in the sky
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2014]

Food, Diet

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

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

White-plumed Honeyeater feeding on nectar in a bottlebrush tree
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, 2005]

Dorsal view of a juvenile White-plumed Honeyeater feeding head-down on nectar
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, December 2005]

White-plumed Honeyeater with an insect it has just caught
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, April 2013]

This White-plumed Honeyeater is taking psyllids and lerps
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2011]

Additional information

There is a separate page with a short description of psyllids and lerps.

This White-plumed Honeyeater is taking a psyllid with lerp
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2013]

Here the same White-plumed Honeyeater as shown above is seen taking a psyllid without lerp
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2013]

White-plumed Honeyeater having a drink from a muddy waterhole (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Timmallallie NP, NSW, November 2018]

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.

wplume_20170802_3.m4a penicillatus
(NW NSW)
Contact call(?) © MD
wplume_20170802_2.m4a penicillatus
(NW NSW)
Contact calls(?) © MD
wplume_20150619.mp3 penicillatus
(NW NSW)
Q&A © MD
wplume_20151222_2.mp3 penicillatus
(NW NSW)
Territorial song (male display flight) © MD
wplume_20171209.m4a penicillatus
(NW NSW)
Territorial call (break of dawn) © MD
wplume_20151017.mp3 penicillatus
(NW NSW)
Territorial calls (break of dawn) © MD
wplume_20180419.m4a penicillatus
(NW NSW)
Warning/alarm calls © MD
wplume_20151203.m4a penicillatus
(W NSW)
Alarm calls (Laughing Kookaburra) © MD
wplume_20140324_2.mp3 penicillatus
(NW NSW)
Feeding calls © MD
wplume_20151222.mp3 penicillatus
(NW NSW)
Feeding calls © MD
wplume_20140619.mp3 penicillatus
(NW NSW)
Annoyed call © MD
wplume_20140619_2.mp3 penicillatus
(NW NSW)
Annoyed calls © MD
wplume_20140715.mp3 penicillatus
(NW NSW)
Squabbling (food competition) © MD
wplume_20180105.m4a penicillatus
(NW NSW)
(Food competition) © MD
wplume_20140206.mp3 penicillatus
(NW NSW)
(Competition near water) © MD
wplume_20140404.mp3 penicillatus
(NW NSW)
? (foraging for insects) © MD
 
wplume_jg_20160806.m4a carteri
(Ctl WA)
Contact call © JG
wplume_jg_20160806_2.m4a carteri
(Ctl WA)
Contact call Q&A © JG
wplume_jg_20160803.m4a carteri
(Ctl WA)
Upset/fighting © JG
wplume_jg_20160806_3.m4a carteri
(Ctl WA)
Feeding/begging calls © JG
Click here for more recordings

We have also recorded the wing beat of a (wet) White-plumed Honeyeater, flying back to its perch after dipping into water.

wplume_20140206.mp3 penicillatus
(NW NSW)
Competition near water © 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.

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