Wildlife. Native. Birds. Australian. Queensland. Bribie Island. Brisbane. Moreton Bay (1)

Tags: Wildlife. Native. Birds. Australian. Queensland. Bribie Island. Brisbane. Moreton Bay

Noisy Friarbirds are one of the two very common honeyeaters found on Bribie Island and surrounds. Little Friarbirds are also found here but are in smaller numbers. Noisy Friarbirds are large passerines 30-35 cm in length and weigh about 85-130g. Their heads and part of their necks are completely naked of feathers and covered with black skin. Because of this, they are often referred to as “Leatherheads”.

Featured Image(above): Noisy Friarbird on Calistemon bush

They have the barest head of any of the four Australian species of Friarbirds. Another of their prominent features is a knob on the top of their beak. Upper feathers are a dark brownish colour while the underparts are light grey with a tuft of whitish feathers under the chin. Eyes are red.

Their calls are harsh and loud with “Tobacco” and “Four O’clock” being two of their many sounds. Their name implies their noisiness. Most of Queensland, NSW, Victoria and the Murray River region in SA are where they are most likely to be seen in woodlands, swampy forests, heathlands and parks and gardens in suburban areas. They are also found in PNG. Nectar, pollen, insects, and fruit such as berries are their favoured foods.

Their behaviour becomes quite aggressive and noisy when feeding, often fighting among themselves and harassing other bird species and chasing them away. In our area, the Friarbirds are locally nomadic following the flowering trees for their nectar. In southern areas, they are mostly migratory flying north in the winter months. In some areas where farmers grow grapes and berries, they are considered a pest as they can be very destructive to crops.

July to February is their favoured time for breeding. Females build open cup-like nests of bark and woven with cobwebs between thin branches and up to 17 m above ground. Nests are lined with soft grass and wool if available. Clutches of 2-4 pinkish, mottled eggs are laid and incubated by females. Both parents defend the nests and feed the chicks for up to 21 days after fledging. Noisy Friarbirds were first recorded in 1790 by John Latham. They were called Friarbirds because their heads resembled the shaven heads Friars. Common Koels are parasitic cuckoos which favour Friarbird nests.

They push the existing eggs from the nest and lay their own which when hatched are parented by the Friarbirds causing the loss of a seasons breeding for them. Their conservation status is secure for now. Feral cats are always a worry. Land clearing decreases habitat but they have adapted well to suburbia and do well on the planted native trees in towns and cities.