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Key plants used by Australian birds:
Birds as pollinators

Birds using plants Plants using birds
It is easy to see that birds use a variety of plants. There are various ways in which they do this. We have prepared a short summary of how birds use plants. Conversely, many native Australian plants use birds. For example, they can use birds (in addition to, or rather than, insects), in particular nectar-eating species, as pollinators, as described below, or - primarily fruit eaters - as seed distributors.

In nature, plants using birds is serious business, because the survival of some species may depend on pollenation by birds. For humans, this can lead to the detection of some funny-looking birds. A few examples are shown here.

Grevilleas

All plants known to us of the genus Grevillea offer nectar in exchange for the favour of being pollenated. The most prolific producer of nectar is the Grevillea robusta, a tree that attracts birds that are not traditional nectarivores (such as e.g. Pied Currawongs or Australian Ravens).

Little Friarbird with pollen on its bill and frons (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)

Immature Blue-faced Honeyeater with some pollen on its frons (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)

Immature Blue-faced Honeyeater all messed up with pollen (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)

Another example of a Blue-faced Honeyeater with pollen on its head (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)

Adult Blue-faced Honeyeater, top, and immature with pollen on its head feasting in a grevillea
(photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)

Callistemons

Plants in the genus Callistemon (bottlebrushes), which often stand in, or along, creek beds, are a major source of nectar, even in dry times or in the Australian winter. They can flower when many other plants don't.

White-eared Honeyeater with pollen all around the base of its bill

Other/unknown plants

Red-collared Lorikeet taking nectar and in the process pollenating the flowers (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Leanyer Swamp, Darwin, NT, October 2019]

Adult Blue-faced Honeyeater with some pollen on its frons (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)

Little Wattlebird with pollen on its bill (photo courtesy of I. Duncan)

Frontal view of an Helmeted Friarbird with pollen stuck to its bill (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)

Olive-backed Sunbird with some pollen on the tip of its bill (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)

Eastern Spinebill with pollen on its bill and frons (photo courtesy of I. Duncan)

Eastern Spinebill with pollen on its bill and frons (photo courtesy of I. Duncan)

Frontal view of a Bar-breasted Honeyeater with pollen stuck to its frons (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)

Introduced species: Calliandra haematocephala

Dusky Honeyeater with pollen all over its bill, head and breast (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)

Macleay's Honeyeater with pollen all over its bill and forehead (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)

Macleay's Honeyeater with pollen all over its bill and forehead (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)

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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