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Key plants used by Australian birds:
Urn Heath (Melichrus urceolatus)

This species is also known as "Honey gland heath". Plants are up to 0.5 m tall shrubs with hard prickly leaves. The plant's special value for nectar-eating birds lies in the fact that it provides a valuable food source in wintertime, when nectar is usually scarcer than in spring and summer. It occurs along the Great Dividing Range, from the Atherton Tablelands in QLD to the highlands of VIC. The distribution extends into inland areas in central southern QLD and central western NSW, which makes the species a valuable food source for nectarivores living inland.

There are a number of other low, prickly shrubs of the family Epacridaceae that are often found in heath, but also as undergrowth in woodland.

Bird species found in this type of habitat or plant

This is not necessarily a complete list. We display here some examples of bird species found by us in this kind of habitat or plant. Hover your cursor on thumbnails to see names of species; click on thumbnail to go to the page describing the species.


Urn Heath shrub with white to greenish-white flowers

Flowers of the "standard" Urn Heath variety, with white to greenish-white petals

Flowers of the "standard" Urn Heath variety, with white to greenish-white petals

Urn Heath with dark-pink flower petals

Urn Heath with dark-pink flower petals

Close-up view of Urn Heath with dark-pink flower petals

Urn Heath with mature seed pods

While most Urn Heath plants seen by us have rather sparse foliage, this plant is much more leafy...

... with its flowers well hidden in between the long, hard and spiky leaves

Silvereye feeding on the nectar of Urn Heath
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, May 2013]

This Striated Thornbill was observed by us taking nectar from Urn Heath
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, August 2015]

Here a Buff-rumped Thornbill that, to the best of our knowledge, was also taking nectar (rather than insects inside the flowers)


This is not necessarily a complete list. We collate here various ways in which birds can use various types of plant.

Perch Roost Shade Food Nectar Fruit Seed Prey Nest
Shelter Vantage

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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