Family Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae)

Least Concern

Grey-fronted Honeyeater (Ptilotula plumula)


French: Méliphage à plumet noir German: Grünscheitel-Honigfresser Spanish: Mielero de plumón

Ptilotis plumulus


, 1841,

York district, Western Australia


Race graingeri intergrades with nominate in narrow zone in CE South Australia (W slopes of Flinders Ranges and Willouran Range), and appears to intergrade with planasi in CE Queensland (but few data); not known if planasi and nominate intergrade where they meet (C Northern Territory). Name ethelae has priority (c. 7 months) over graingeri, but its type locality of Port Augusta (South Australia) lies within zone of intergradation, so graingeri used preferably meantime; DNA testing of type of ethelae may be used to clarify situation#R. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. p. planasi (A. J. Campbell, 1910) – N Western Australia (S & E Kimberley Division) E across S Top End to N Queensland (S Gulf of Carpentaria–Selwyn Range and, in NE, W of Great Divide).
  • P. p. plumula (Gould, 1841) – SW & C Australia from near W coast (between Pilbara region and Geraldton) E to C ranges of S Northern Territory and to EC South Australia (S to E Nullarbor Plain, E to Gawler Ranges and W edge of L Eyre Basin).
  • P. p. graingeri (Mathews, 1912) – inland E Australia sparsely from CE Queensland (c. 20–21° S) S, E to W fringes of Great Divide, to SW New South Wales and NW Victoria, and through Murray–Darling Basin W to Flinders Ranges of South Australia.
  • Descriptive notes

    14–16·5 cm; male 13·5–18·5g and female 15–16·5 g (nominate), male 15–22·5g and female 16–27·5 g (... read more


    Vocalizations described as sharp, shrill, loud, and repeated often, but can be silent for long... read more


    In S mainly mallee eucalypt woodlands or shrublands or associated habitats, and commonly in low,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Nectar, particularly of Eucalyptus, Eremophila and mistletoes (Loranthaceae), and arthropods (mostly insects, some... read more


    Recorded in all months, but centred on winter-spring; clutches Jun–Mar. At one nest, only one member of pair appeared to build (... read more


    Resident in many places. Numbers can fluctuate, e.g. around Mt Isa, in NW Queensland, numbers... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Formerly listed as “endangered” in Victoria. Uncommon and rather sparsely distributed; no estimates of population. Adversely affected by... read more

    Recommended citation

    Higgins, P., Christidis, L. & Ford, H. (2020). Grey-fronted Honeyeater (Ptilotula plumula). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 January 2020).