Family Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae)

Least Concern

Singing Honeyeater (Gavicalis virescens)


French: Méliphage chanteur German: Pfeifhonigfresser Spanish: Mielero cantarín

Melithreptus virescens


, 1817,

Nouvelle Hollande = Shark Bay, Western Australia


Formerly considered conspecific with G. versicolor. Races intergrade where they meet: cooperi with forresti in N Northern Territory; forresti with sonorus in narrow band from N Queensland (E drainage of Gulf of Carpentaria) S through C Cooper Creek Drainage to N Flinders Ranges and Gawler Ranges (South Australia), and with nominate from W Western Australia (between North West Cape and Shark Bay) E to W Eyre Peninsula (South Australia); in S South Australia, nominate, forresti and sonorus overlap in three-way melange SW of Gawler Ranges. Proposed race insularis (Rottnest I, in Western Australia) is indistinguishable from nominate, and westwoodia (Westwood, in S Queensland) synonymized with sonorus. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. v. cooperi (Mathews, 1912) – Tiwi Is (Bathurst I, Melville I) and N Northern Territory (S to Victoria R and SW Gulf of Carpentaria, including Groote Eylandt and Sir Edward Pellew Is), in N Australia.
  • G. v. forresti (C. Ingram, 1906) – Western Australia from Kimberley Division S to Shark Bay and Wheatbelt, E to SE Gulf of Carpentaria and NC Queensland, South Australia (N Eyre Peninsula and N Flinders Ranges) and NW New South Wales.
  • G. v. sonorus (Gould, 1841) – CN Queensland (Burdekin–Flinders Rivers to Dawson–Mackenzie Basin) S, W of Great Divide, to SE South Australia (E from Eyre Peninsula) and W Victoria (W of Westernport Bay).
  • G. v. virescens (Vieillot, 1817) – coastal and subcoastal SW & S Western Australia from Carnarvon–Shark Bay S (including Rottnest I) to SW capes (absent from wetter far SW), inland to Wheatbelt, and E to SC South Australia (E to W Eyre Peninsula).
  • Descriptive notes

    16–24 cm; 29·3 g (nominate), male 20–28 g (cooperi), male 24·2–35 g and female 21–34 g (sonorus), male 21·8... read more


    One of first birds to call in morning, male singing from roost 30–20 minutes before dawn.... read more


    Open wooded habitats. Primarily open shrublands and low open woodlands, frequently dominated by... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes nectar, invertebrates (mainly insects, also spiders and molluscs) and fruit; ratio of nectar to invertebrates estimated at 26... read more


    Breeds in all months; of 219 clutches, most (72·6%) mid-Aug to late Nov. Nest an open cup, typically substantial (at least in W of... read more


    Resident, usually with some local movements or fluctuation in numbers at specific locations. At... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common; recorded densities of up to 4·33 birds/ha and 1·3 breeding pairs/ha. Declines reported in some areas but may have... read more

    Recommended citation

    Higgins, P., Christidis, L. & Ford, H. (2020). Singing Honeyeater (Gavicalis virescens). 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).