Birds | Honeyeaters >

Whilst described as a nondescript bird, the Brown Honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta) is said to be the best songster among Australian honeyeaters.

A small-medium bird, brownish-grey in colour, with yellow-olive panels in the tail and wing and a yellow tuft behind the eye. The wings are a darker brown. There is slight difference between the sexes. The adult male bird has a dark brown-grey forehead and crown, that is contrasting with a brownish nape. The adult female forehead and crown is a similar olive-brown to the rest of the upper body. The female is slightly smaller then the male. The juvenile bird is similar the female, and may lack or have a trace of the yellow tuft behind the eye. The gape (the interior of the open mouth of a bird) in the male is black during breeding, and pale yellow at other times, whilst the gape of the female is always pale yellow. In the juvenile the gape is bright yellow and swollen. They have a long, slender, slightly downward curved black bill, that is adapted for probing deep tubular flowers. The iris is brown, the feet and legs are grey-black.

Seasonally nomadic, usually following the plants in flower, they are widespread across western, northern and eastern Australia, and found in a range of habitats from mangroves to eucalypt woodlands. Their diet consist of nectar and insects.

They are known to occupy the same breeding territory annually. Both sexes help to build a cup-shaped nest that is woven from grasses and soft bark. They female lays two to three eggs with both sexes feeding the young.

Images © Dorothy L


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Meliphagidae
  • Genus: Lichmera
  • Species: L. indistincta
  • Binomial name: Lichmera indistincta
  • Synonyms:
    • Meliphaga indistincta
    • Gliciphila indistincta