Family Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae)

Least Concern

Purple-gaped Honeyeater (Lichenostomus cratitius)


French: Méliphage grimé German: Purpurzügel-Honigfresser Spanish: Mielero de boqueras

Ptilotis cratitius


, 1841,

interior of South Australia and Kangaroo I = Kangaroo Island, South Australia


Type locality formerly thought to be mainland South Australia (either “interior of South Australia” or “Upper Torrens” R), but shown to be Kangaroo I; as a result, mainland populations took oldest applicable name, occidentalis. Name halmaturinus (type from Kangaroo I) becomes junior synonym of nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. c. occidentalis Cabanis, 1851 – mallee from S Western Australia (area from Wheatbelt E to Kalgoorlie, S to Albany and Cape Arid) E, discontinuously, to S South Australia and the SW Murray Mallee E to NW & NC Victoria.
  • L. c. cratitius (Gould, 1841) – Kangaroo I, off South Australia.
  • Descriptive notes

    16–19 cm; male 19·5–24·7g and female 15·5–22·5 g (occidentalis), four males 12·5–23·2 g and two... read more


    Sometimes noisy; at Eyre Bird Observatory (Western Australia) most vocal Sept–Oct.... read more


    Mallee eucalypt associations, preferring mallee heathland, but also often in mallee woodland and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates (mostly insects, including psyllids and coccids; some spiders) and nectar (frequently of Eucalyptus, Banksia... read more


    Mainly spring and autumn, apparently also unseasonally after rain; clutches recorded Aug–Nov, Jan and Mar–Apr. Nest built... read more


    Resident, with local movements in response to food availability, particularly flowering eucalypts.... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Uncommon. No estimates of total population; recorded densities of 0·02 to c. 5 birds/ha. Numbers have declined following clearing, degradation... read more

    Recommended citation

    Higgins, P., Christidis, L. & Ford, H. (2019). Purple-gaped Honeyeater (Lichenostomus cratitius). 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 15 December 2019).