White-plumed Honeyeater

Ptilotula penicillata

White-plumed Honeyeater. Credit: John Gitsham


White-plumed Honeyeaters. Photo: Trevor Cox

White-plumed Honeyeaters give clear melodious “chick-o-wee” calls with numerous variants, and are particularly noticeable early in the morning. Sharp penetrating “pee-pee-pee”, alarm calls are given in response to predators.

White-plumed honeyeaters feed on nectar, arthropods, lerp and manna. They forage at all levels of eucalypts but mainly in tree crowns.

Breeding occurs mainly in the spring months (late August to November). The nests are small cups of woven grass, placed several metres above the ground in the crown of a eucalypt. They are often parasitized by Pallid (Cuculus pallidus), Fan-tailed Cuckoos (Cacomantis flabelliformis), Horsfield’s (Chrysococcyx basalis) or Shining Bronze  Cuckoos (Chrysococcyx lucidus).

The breeding adults are sedentary but juveniles disperse widely.



This honeyeater is a pale olive-grey colour with a distinctive white plume on the neck.

Where to find it

White-plumed Honeyeaters are common throughout most of South Australia. They are typically found wherever river red gums occur, particularly along watercourses. For this reason the only part of SA where they are absent is the Simpson Desert where there are no red gum lined watercourses. They are also found in a wide variety of habitats including dry, open forests and woodlands, and swamps.