North Queensland Naturalist 51: 30-37

Food plants of the Eungella Honeyeater (Bolemoreus hindwoodi)

 

A. J. Bean, D. S. Braithwaite, R. E. Braithwaite and J. T. Coleman

Abstract

The Eungella Honeyeater (Bolemoreus hindwoodi) is classified as Vulnerable under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 due to its limited distribution to rainforest between Cathu State Forest and Crediton State Forest centred on the Clarke Range 70 km to the west of Mackay, Qld. Between January 2019 and December 2020, the feeding habits of banded and unbanded Eungella Honeyeaters were monitored at four sites in the Dalrymple Heights area and one site in Crediton State Forest, 11 km north and south respectively from the township of Eungella, Qld. Individuals were observed feeding on the flowers and fruits of thirty species of native trees and a further seven species of cultivated or non-native species, a far broader range of plant species than previously recorded for this species.

Mean body mass of captured individuals remained constant throughout the period of study. There was evidence of movement to preferred feeding plants at different times of the year consistent with the wide range of flowering and fruiting species that are utilized throughout the year. There was also evidence of adaptive behaviour by the Eungella Honeyeater, with certain plant species used only in times of limited food availability and ignored when other food sources were available. A preference for certain non-native plant species (e.g. Lantana camara) when those species were in flower was evidenced by flocking behaviour, providing a further indication of adaptability to changing food types in this honeyeater. Gaining an understanding of the food needs of this honeyeater will help to shed light on its vulnerability to climate change and the influx of non-native plant species.