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Lewin’s Honeyeater

Lewin's Honeyeater perched on a branch of shrub in morning sunlight at West Byron Wetlands NSW. (Photographed by Peter Rowland)
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Scientific Name: Meliphaga lewinii

Size: 20 to 22 cm

What does it look and sound like?

The Lewin’s Honeyeater is small to medium in size. It is dark greenish grey in colour, with a creamy yellow gape (fleshy corners of the mouth). It has large, yellowish crescent-shaped ear patches, which identify it from other similar honeyeaters. In flight, the pale yellow edges of the flight feathers can be seen. The bill is black and the eye is blue-grey. Both sexes are similar in looks. Young Lewin’s Honeyeaters are similar to the adults, but have a brown eye. The strong ‘machine gun’ like rattling notes of Lewin’s Honeyeater are heard over long distances and shows its presence in an area.

Similar species found in tropical Queensland may be distinguished by size and voice, and the shape and size of the ear patch.

Where is it found?

The Lewin’s Honeyeater prefers the wetter parts of eastern Australia, from northern Queensland to central Victoria.

What are its habitats & habits?

It is found in both rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest, and often wanders into more open woodland. It is a common bird, and its call is often heard in these areas. It is a rather sedentary species, tending to stay in the same area all year round, although some migration is known in the cooler winter months.

Lewin’s Honeyeaters feed mostly on fruits. They favour berries and small fruits, but also eat insects and some nectar. Birds are normally seen alone, and feed in the upper branches and on the trunks of trees. Some insects are caught in flight.

Lewin’s Honeyeaters breed during September to January each year. The nest is a large cup of vegetation and other materials, bound together with spider web. It is lined with soft material. The 2 to 3 oval eggs are incubated for about 14 days and the young birds leave the nest after a further 14 days. It is unclear what roles the different sexes perform in nest building and incubation, but both care for the young birds.

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Front cover of Australia's Birdwatching Megaspots book showing a picture of an Eastern Spinebill

This species features in my book Australia’s Birdwatching Megaspots

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