The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas.
( click here
to see geographic restrictions).
The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Lichenostomus cratitius
Profile last updated:
20 May 2014
The Purple-gaped Honeyeater is a medium-sized (16 - 19 centimetres) honeyeater which is generally grey-olive above and buffish yellow below. The patterning of its head, consisting of a black eyestripe against a grey background and purple gape above a yellow streak on the throat and pointed yellow ear coverts, should separate it from other mallee frequenting honeyeaters, such as the Yellow-plumed and Grey-fronted Honeyeaters (both of which also exhibit streaked underparts). Although the purple gape is diagnostic, it can also be inconspicuous. Generally considered wary and shy, it is more often seen than heard, but is also aggressive and frequently chases other birds, particularly when feeding.
Occurs in disjunct populations across southern Australia east from southern Western Australia, with the eastern population largely occurring south of the Murray River. NSW forms the extreme north-east of its range, with occasional sightings in the far south west.
Habitat and ecology
- Inhabits mallee heathlands and less commonly in associated mallee with a more open understorey (such as Spinifex associations). Is also occasionally recorded in River Red Gums bordering waterways.
- Generally thought to be sedentary, moving only locally in response to flowering. They may gather in large numbers where flowering is prolific.
- The nest is a small cup of bark strips, grass and down, bound with spider web and egg sacs, slung in a horizontal fork or from slender branchlets within dense foliage (usually Broombush or eucalypts), normally less than three metres above the ground.
- Primarily feeds on nectar from mallee eucalypts and banksias but also take insects from foliage and bark or whilst on the wing. Seeds, pollen and honeydew from scale insects (coccids) are less frequently consumed.
Regional distribution and habitat
Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.
- Clearing of mallee destroys habitat by removing food plants and nesting sites.
A targeted strategy for managing this species has been developed under the Saving Our Species program; click here
for details. For more information on the Saving Our Species program click here
Activities to assist this species
- Reduce stock intensity of, or exclude grazing in, some areas to allow regeneration of vegetation for habitat, such as food sources or nest sites, for this species.
- Prevent clearing of habitat such as nesting sites and food sources.
- Confirm any new records in NSW to gain a better understanding of this species' habitat requirements.
- Higgins, P.J., Peter, J.M. and Steele, W.K. (eds) (2001) Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 5: Tyrant-flycatchers to Chats. (Oxford University Press, Melbourne)
- Pizzey, G. and Knight, F. (2003) The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. 7th edition
Known or predicted
Geographic restrictions region