Use of heathland and adjoining forest by honeyeaters: Results of a radiotracking study


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Abstract New Holland (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) and White‐cheeked (Phylidonyris nigra) Honeyeaters that are resident in heathland during February and March, when there is negligible nectar production in that habitat, are expected to forage for nectar at that time in the adjacent open forest habitat. As nectar production in the heathland increases from then to June, while that in the forest decreases, the proportion of time spent by these birds in the forest should decrease over the same period. Radiotracking revealed that during February the residents did, as expected, spend time feeding on nectar in the forest and more time was spent in the forest in February than in April or June. However, the residents spent time away from the heathland throughout the year and spent more time away in June than in April. The resident honeyeaters spent about 80% of their time on our heathland grid overall. Radiotracking also indicated that there was no sharp distinction in behaviour between residents and other birds because birds that had been resident in the past but were not considered to be so at the time (absent residents), birds that would later be considered resident (future residents) and some birds that were never resident, all spent about half their time on the grid. The area that included 90% of heathland locations, estimated by radiotracking, for P. novaehollandiae and P. nigra averaged 0.48 ha per bird.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-274
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of Ecology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


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