High flying honeyeater

Tawny-crowned 280716c

A silvery fluting drifts across the heath and enters your consciousness like fragments of a half-remembered dream. You listen harder but the fragments escape. The notes waft about, coming and going. You scan the surrounding shrubs but there’s no knowing which way the sound comes from.

As it turns out, the song comes from high above. Look carefully and you might see a tiny speck in the sky, rising higher and higher on fluttering wings before spiralling back to earth. The male Tawny-crowned Honeyeater is proclaiming his territory in preparation for nesting.

Grassland birds like songlarks, pipits, bushlarks and the introduced skylark are well known for their song-flights. So too are shorebirds that breed in the treeless Arctic. A surprising number of honeyeater species also display in this manner. The Pied, Painted, White-fronted and Spiny-cheeked readily come to mind. These four are found in the arid or semi-arid interior where the wide open landscape seems particularly suited to singing from aloft.

The Tawny-crowned is a bird of dense shrubs and open spaces. Its domain is in the wide expanses of low heathland, whether in coastal or mountain environments or further inland in the mallee regions of southern and western Australia.

Mtn heath
Heathland habitat of Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters in the higher Blue Mountains

It was on a windswept ridge in the upper Blue Mountains that I saw them displaying last week. July may be the coldest month of winter here but the days are getting longer, which spurs many non-migratory birds to start nesting. The Tawny-crowned Honeyeater is one such species. Its nesting season extends from July to February.

You can listen to a beautiful example of the Tawny-crowned Honeyeater’s song on Graeme Chapman’s website [click here].

Tawny-crowned 280716a
Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, a bird of dense heath and wide open spaces

5 thoughts on “High flying honeyeater

  1. arv! 3 August 2016 / 12:55 am

    nice post.
    BTW, which binoculars do you use?


    • Carol Probets 3 August 2016 / 8:54 am

      Thanks Arv! I’m currently using Nikon Monarch M711 8×30. The smaller size is handy when bushwalking. I love the Nikon Monarch range, great quality for the price and well suited to birding.

      Liked by 1 person

      • arv! 5 August 2016 / 11:16 am

        I already own Olympus 8*22 -I guess so, it’s small one. I feel a bigger and better would be more useful -something like 10*50. What do you think?
        I’m also contemplating Nikon purchase.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Carol Probets 5 August 2016 / 5:22 pm

        10×50 will be quite big and heavy if you intend to carry them a lot. Most birders opt for something like 10×42, but the 10×50 will give you a wider field of view and greater light gathering capacity if you don’t mind the size. In any case, don’t be tempted to go any stronger than 10x as they will be too powerful for normal birding situations. Hope that helps!

        Liked by 1 person

      • arv! 5 August 2016 / 10:39 pm

        Great. I agree it’s a big binocular and heavy too. Let me search for something suitable. Thanks for detailed suggestion!

        Liked by 1 person

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