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Painted honeyeater – Grantiella picta

Common name

painted honeyeater

Scientific name

Grantiella picta




Aves (birds)


Meliphagidae (honeyeaters and Australian chats)

NCA status


EPBC status


Wetland indicator


Intranational - naturally occurs in Queensland and interstate


The painted honeyeater lives in dry, open forests and woodlands (box, ironbark, yellow gum, melaleuca, casuarina, callitris, acacia). The species usually occurs in areas with flowering and fruiting mistletoe and flowering eucalypts. (Eddy 1961; Stewart 1988; Pizzey & Knight 1997; Higgins et al. 2001; Oliver et al. 2003).

Home range

(no information available)


The painted honeyeater has a pinkish coloured bill, black head and back, and bright yellow on the wings and upper tail. Male's underparts are white with black streaks on flanks (above legs). The females are brownish-black with white underparts. Juveniles are browner and have a greyish coloured bill. Painted honeyeaters grow to 14-15cm in size. (Pizzey & Knight 1997; Morcombe 2000; Simpson & Day 2004).


Painted honeyeaters are diurnal (active during the day), and are generally seen as singles or pairs, rarely in small flocks of up to six birds. They are migratory to nomadic, generally moving north-west into semi-arid regions of the interior in winter, and returning southward in spring or summer. These seasonal movements are in response to mistletoe flowering and fruiting. Breeding pairs establish territories of 3.4-25ha within loose colonies, the distance between nests depending on mistletoe availability. The species has a high site fidelity, using the same nest sites each season. (Eddy 1961; Blakers et al. 1984; Longmore 1991; Pizzey & Knight 1997; Higgins et al. 2001).


The painted honeyeaters diet primarily consists of the fruit of Amyema mistletoes, with occasional nectar and insects. The birds help to disperse the mistletoe seeds and sometimes all the trees in a popular breeding ground are infected by mistletoe. (Stewart 1988; Oliver et al. 1998, 2003; Higgins et al. 2001).


Painted honeyeaters breed between August and February, raising 1-2 broods per season. They lay clutches of 2 eggs in a nest, where the eggs are incubated for 13-15 days. The young fledge in 14-20 days. Both males and females nest build, incubate the eggs and care for the young. Most records of breeding come from the inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range between the Grampians in Victoria and Roma, Queensland. (Hindwood 1935; Beruldsen 1980; Whitmore & Eller 1983; Stewart 1988; Garnett 1992; Pizzey & Knight 1997; Tremont & Williams 1999; Higgins et al. 2001).


Nests are shallow, flimsy baskets of fine grass and rootlets bound with webs. They hang by the rim from branches in the drooping outer foliage of trees, 2-20m above the ground. (Beruldsen 1980; Whitmore & Eller 1983; Stewart 1988a).


(no information available)


(no information available)

Threatening Processes

Known : None.
Suspected : 1. Destruction of habitat for agriculture and grazing and due to insect-induced eucalypt dieback (Eddy 1961; Garnett 1992b).
2. Reduced regeneration in suitable habitat due to grazing by livestock and rabbits (Garnett 1992b).
3. Competition with Mistletoebird Dicaeum hirundinaceum and larger, more aggressive honeyeaters, especially in fragmented habitat (Garnett 1992b; Gilmore & Parnaby 1994).

Human uses

(no information available)


Barrett, G., Silcocks, A., Barry, S., Cunningham, R. & Poulter, R. (2003). The New Atlas of Australian Birds. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union, Hawthorn East, Victoria.
Beruldsen, G. (1980). A Field Guide to Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds. Rigby, Adelaide.
Blakers, M., Davies, S.J.J.F. & Reilly, P.N. (1984). The Atlas of Australian Birds. RAOU & Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.
Eddy, R.J. (1961). Twenty years of Painted Honeyeaters. Australian Bird Watcher 1, 122-128.
Garnett, S. (1992). Threatened and Extinct Birds of Australia. RAOU Report No. 82; RAOU & ANPWS, Melbourne.
Garnett, S.T. & Crowley, G.M. (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. Birds Australia & Environment Australia, Canberra.
Gilmore, A. & Parnaby, H. (1994). Vertebrate fauna of conservation concern in north-east NSW forests. North East Forests Biodiversity Study Report No. 3e, unpublished report, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Higgins, P.J., Peter, J.M. & Steele, W.K. (Eds) (2001). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Vol. 5, Tyrant-flycatchers to Chats. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
Hindwood, K.A. (1935). The Painted Honeyeater. Emu 34, 149-157.
Longmore, W. (1991). Honeyeaters & Their Allies of Australia. Angus & Robertson, Sydney.
Morcombe, M. (2000). Field guide to Australian birds. Steve Parish Publishing Pty Ltd, Archerfield.
Morgan, G., Lorimer, M., Morrison, A., Kutt, A. & Bode, T. (2002). The Conservation of Biodiversity in the Desert Uplands. Environmental Protection Agency, Townsville.
Oliver, D.L., Chambers, M.A. & Parker, D.G. (2003). Habitat and resource selection of the Painted Honeyeater (Grantiella picta) on the northern floodplains region of New South Wales. Emu 103, 171-176.
Oliver, D.L., Quin, B.R., Quin, D.G., Walpole, R.M. & Walpole, S.C. (1998). Observations of nectar- and insect-feeding by Painted Honeyeaters Grantiella picta. Australian Bird Watcher 17, 353-355.
Pizzey,G. & Knight, F. (1997). The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus & Robertson, Sydney.
Simpson, K. & Day, N. (2004). Field guide to the birds of Australia (7th edition). Penguin Group, Camberwell.
Stewart, F. (1988). Painted Honeyeater Grantiella picta (Gould, 1838). In : Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds. (Eds Schodde, R. & Tidemann, S.C.), pp. 529. Reader's Digest, Sydney.
Storr, G.M. (1984). Revised List of Queensland Birds. Rec. West. Aust. Mus. Suppl. No. 19, 1-189.
Tremont, S. & Williams, B. (1999). Observations at nests of the Painted Honeyeater Grantiella picta. Australian Bird Watcher 18, 49-58.
Whitmore, M.J. & Eller, C.M. (1983). Observations at a nest of Painted Honeyeaters. Emu 83, 199-202.


Contributors: David McFarland 23/03/1999; 26/10/2007; Mellisa Mayhew 16/10/2008; Wayne Martin 17/11/2008.

Further resources

This page should be cited as:

Painted honeyeater – Grantiella picta, WetlandInfo, Department of Environment and Science, Queensland, viewed 22 October 2019, <>.

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