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Helmeted honeyeater

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Helmeted honeyeater
Helmeted Honeyeater at Healesville Sanctuary in Healesville, Victoria, Australia. Birds are being bred under a captive breeding program for reintroduction into the wild over time.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Lichenostomus melanops
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The helmeted honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops cassidix) is an endangered species of bird. There is only a tiny population in the Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve, in Victoria, Australia. The helmeted honeyeater became the state of Victoria's official bird emblem in 1971.[1]

Famous ornithologist, John Gould first described the bird as being a separate species, which he named Ptilotis cassidix in 1867.[2] It now one of the three sub-species of the yellow-tufted honeyeater, Lichenostomus melanops. The other sub-species are not endangered.

Where the bird lives

This bird is only found in a five km long patch of forest along two streams in the Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve, 50 km east of Melbourne. A reserve was set up in the Bunyip State Park for releasing birds raised in captivity. In 2003 there were 103 individuals in the wild with 20 breeding pairs known as well as a further 34 birds in captivity at the Healesville Sanctuary.[3] The 2009 Victorian bushfires burnt to within 200 metres of bird colony at Bunyip State Park. Captive birds had to be moved to the Melbourne Zoo when the fires also came close to the Healesville Sanctuary.[4] However, on April 28, 2009, 13 birds bred in captivity were released back into the wild. The number of wild birds is now believed to be 113.[4]

Before the captive breeding program was started there were only about 50–60 birds left in the wild.[1] The birds have been bred at Healesville and at Sydney's Taronga Park Zoo.[4]


The Helmeted honeyeater is about 20 centimetres (8 inches) long. Their colour can be anywhere from black to olive green. They have a yellow patch on the heads.[1]

What they eat

Helmeted honeyeaters eat manna, which is like a sap from some eucalyptus trees. They also eat nectar from the eucalypt flowers as well as small insects and spiders.[1]

Saving the helmeted honeyeater

Several things are being done to save this bird from becoming extinct. One is a captive breeding program, where the birds are bred at Healesville and Toronga Park.[5] When they become old enough, between 6—8 months, the are put into the wild where they will hopefully begin breeding. Forest areas are being planted with the right sort of trees and plants to provide the birds with food and shelter. This is being done on private land as well as in the State parks. There is also planting to join the small patches of bush with corridors so the birds are not trapped in one small area.[6]

Other websites


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Helmeted Honeyeater". Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  2. Gould, J. (1867). The Birds of Australia. Supplement. London: J. Gould Pt 4 81 pls pp. [pl. 39]
  3. Menkhorst P, Smales I, Quin B (2003). "Helmeted Honeyeater Recovery Plan 1999-2003". Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Water Resources. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Morton, Adam (April 29, 2009). "New hope for species takes wing". The Age: 3. 
  5. "Helmeted Honeyeater:". Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  6. "Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater - What we do". Retrieved 2009-05-02.