Behavior

Honeyeaters are rarely solitary and often occur in family groups or loose flocks. Miners occupy colonies that have a complex structure. Migratory species may occur in large flocks. Large aggregations gather at rich nectar sources such as ironbarks (e. g., Eucalyptus sideroxylon), banksias, and bot-tlebrushes (Callistemon). These groups are frequently noisy, with much chasing and displacement. Larger species such as wattlebirds and friarbirds often dominate such gatherings, with smaller species being displaced to less rich areas. Aggression is often displayed to other nectar feeders. While breeding and also when molting (which follows breeding), even aggressive species can become quiet and inconspicuous.

Whereas some honeyeaters are sedentary, most species show some seasonal movements; these may consist of local wandering outside the breeding season to visit flowering or fruiting trees and shrubs. Quite likely there are fairly sedentary and more mobile components to the populations of many species. A few species show clear migratory behavior with large flocks flying north in autumn and south in spring. Many hon-eyeaters, especially those of arid and semi-arid habitat, have been described as nomadic. Whereas their movements may be complex, they are probably not random but may follow fairly predictable routes. Where the birds settle, though, probably depends on the availability of nectar or other food sources.

The calls and songs of honeyeaters range from beautiful to harsh and grating. Smaller species have whistling calls and twittering songs. Medium-sized spiny-cheeked (Acanthagenys rufogularis) and striped (Plectorhyncha lanceolata) honeyeaters have attractive repertoires, whereas large wattlebirds emit harsh cackling and coughing calls. Tuis (Prosthemadera no-vaeseelandiae) of New Zealand are regarded as one of the finest singers in the world, while the friarbirds and forest hon-eyeaters of the Pacific have loud bugling and even comical calls.

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