Another of our summer time feathered visitors to our local area is the Noisy Friarbird, Philemon corniculatus, a large honeyeater that is a bit bigger than a Red Wattlebird and lives up to its name with a constant babble of sounds such as” ya-cob ya-cob” and “chock choc,” especially if defending one of their favourite flowering trees; the Silky Oak or Coral Tree.
They are one of the four Friarbirds found in Australia. The Little Friarbird is one of two found in NSW but generally the only one found around the south coast. They get their name from the bald head that is reminiscent of an olden times friar’s bald head, and has a generally plain grey plumage with a silvery ruff around the neck and fiery red eyes.
They are found on the eastern side of Australia where there are box woodlands with flowering trees. Flocks move south in the summer and then back to the warmer northern parts in the winter, generally following the presence of ample supplies of nectar as well as insects such as cicadas.
When not feeding, they often sit high in a tree calling for a mate, and if successful, make a quite large untidy nest. They will raise a chick or two, and by late summer, will disappear from our area heading for better climes up north. They are common in the flowering Coral Trees of the Milton Show Grounds as well as being scattered through the coastal and mountain woodlands, often disappearing as their food runs out, heading for the next mass flowering.
As much of the woodlands west of the dividing range have been converted to farm land, it is often only the larger honeyeaters that can make the longer distances between fuel stops leaving some of the others like the Regent Honeyeater to become almost extinct.
Prepared by the Milton Ulladulla District Birders (U3A) with information by Birdlife Australia and photograph by Charles Dove. Contact Chris Brandis for more information or check out the Birdlife Australia, Shoalhaven website.