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White Eared Honeyeater

The White Eared Honeyeater is one of medium size. Looking at the photos, you’re probably wondering how it got its name.  The white ear is very distinctive and adds some brightness to this bird.

The White Eared Honeyeater is relatively common in the bush around Wedderburn, Vic, although not known for its willingness to sit and pose for a while. It calls regularly and moves quickly from tree to tree.

Wikipedia Information

Description

The white-eared honeyeater has an olive-green upper and lower body; its wings and tail are a mix of brown, yellow and olive; the crown is dark grey with black streaks; its cheeks and throat are black; its ear-coverts are white. Its iris is red or brown (juvenile); its bill is black and its legs are dark grey. The white-eared honeyeater is a medium-sized honeyeater 19–22 centimetres (7.5–8.7 in) in length. There is no sexual dimorphism, with males and females looking alike. They weigh approximately 20 g (0.71 oz) [9] and have a beak length of approximately 17 mm (0.67 in).

Voice

Their voice is deep and mellow but slightly metallic chwok, chwok, chwok-whit and kwitchu, kwitchu; very sharply scratchy, metallic chwik!.

Distribution and Habitat

The white-eared honeyeater’s preferred habitat is in forests, woodlands, heathlands, mallee and dry inland scrublands. A eucalyptus canopy, rough bark and a shrub layer are the most important requirements for white-eared honeyeaters. The canopy can provide nectar in spring, the bark can provide insects year round, and the shrub layer is used for nesting and shelter. The white-eared honeyeater prefers mature vegetation with a dense understory. They are relatively unselective regarding habitat, both floristically and structurally, as they can be found in many different forest and woodland types, and either edge or interior habitats. White-eared honeyeaters can be found in small (< 2 ha) woodland patches. Habitats they do not like are those that are heavily degraded, recently burnt, or have little to no understory.

Behaviour

White-eared honeyeaters are usually solitary, but may also be found in small family groups. They can be sedentary, nomadic or locally migratory.[3]

Breeding

White-eared honeyeaters breed and nest from July to March. The nest is built among tangled twigs and leaves, low in a small shrub, bracken or coarse grass from 0.5 to 5 m high. The cup-shaped nest is constructed out of dry grass, fine stems, thin strips of bark and held together with cobwebs. The nest is lined with soft vegetation, down, feathers, hair, or fur. White-eared honeyeaters will pluck fur and hairs from livestock, humans, and native wildlife, such as kangaroos and wallabies. White-eared honeyeaters form territories, which can expand during winter when some key resources are in lower densities. A clutch is typically 2 or 3 eggs. The eggs are oval shaped, white with brown speckles at the large end and measure 21 x 15mm. A clutch is typically 2 or 3 eggs. The parents are obligate cooperative breeders of their chicks.

Food and feeding

White-eared honeyeaters feed on nectar and insects. They are often considered nectarivores, but feed on insects just as much. They feed on nectar during the spring and summer (August – December), but switch to insects for the rest of the year. White-eared honeyeaters actively probe for insects on tree trunks and branches. They prefer trees with soft, peeling and flaking bark, where insects may be present. They mostly collect termites and spiders, but will also feed on the lerp and honeydew produced by insects. While foraging, the white-eared honeyeater searches intensively for its insect prey, averaging one insect every 5 seconds. This high-volume approach to foraging indicates that the insects being consumed are of low nutritional value.

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