The plumaged in contrasting black, white and yellow, the Painted Honeyeater (Grantiella picta) feeds almost exclusively on the drupes of mistletoe. It has been recorded feeding on no more than five species of mistletoe Amyema, and to keep itself in food it follows their fruiting nomadically north and south over inland eastern Australia.
At the beginning of breeding, males may arrive several weeks before females and establish territory with tree-top singing and near-vertical song flights. The beautifully painted honeyeater is a species of honeyeater in a monotypic genus.
Competitors are driven off in silent, weaving flights low among trees. Both sexes construct the nest, taking up to three weeks, and both share incubation, changing over within hourly intervals. Both also feed the young, on insects as well as mistletoe drupes, and rear two foods in a good season. The size of the painted honeyeater is 155-160 mm.
The male bird’s head, upper parts, wings, and tail are black; flight and tail feathers broadly edged yellow; tail tipped white; white ear tuft. Underparts white, streaked black on flanks. The eyes are brown with a pink bill and, a dusky tip. The feet are slate color. The female bird’s upperparts are grayer, flanks plainer. Painted Honeyeater call is undulating whistle; churr.
The song of painted honeyeater is stridently whistled tort-tee, tort-tee or et-tee, et-tee. The breeding and nesting season is October-March. Nest a frail cup, 50 x 45 mm inside, of fibrous rootlets, casuarina needles, or grass bound with cobweb; attached to leafy twigs at end of drooping branch 3-20 m above ground. There are two eggs, salmon-pink, with small spots of red-brown and lilac, particularly at the larger end; oval, 20 x 15 mm. There are rarely seen 1 or 3 eggs.
The incubation period is about 13-14 days, for both sexes. Young fledge in 12-14 days. The distribution of Painted Honeyeater is open forest and woodland in much of inland eastern Australia. It is uncommon and nomadic but very elusive. The bird is rarely seen in flocks, usually individually or as pair. Like other honeyeaters, it has a mixed diet, consuming mistletoe plants and fruits i.e., berries, however when fruits are not available, they prefer to eat nectar, and insects from a range of sources and their locations.
Painted Honeyeater call is undulating whistle; churr. Photo Credit – Wikimedia