Family Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae)

Least Concern

White-eared Honeyeater (Nesoptilotis leucotis)


French: Méliphage leucotique German: Schwarzkehl-Honigfresser Spanish: Mielero orejiblanco

Turdus leucotis


, 1801,

Nova Hollandia = region of Port Jackson, New South Wales, Australia


Nominate and race novaenorciae intergrade along inner slopes of Great Divide from SE Queensland S to SE South Australia. Recent genetic study#R, using mtDNA phylogeographical data, suggests race thomasi may be better included in nominate. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • N. l. novaenorciae (Milligan, 1904) – S Western Australia (S from Kalbarri area) E to W edge of Nullarbor Plain, and across coastal and subcoastal mallee to SE South Australia (E to SE Eyre Peninsula).
  • N. l. leucotis (Latham, 1801) – E & SE Queensland (S from Burra Range, E of Hughenden; and from about Bunya Mts) S, including E Murray–Darling Basin, to SE South Australia (S from S Flinders Ranges) and Victoria.
  • N. l. thomasi (Mathews, 1912) – Kangaroo I, in SE South Australia.
  • Descriptive notes

    16·5–21·5 cm; male 18·9–35 g and female 18–30 g (nominate), male 15–28 g and female 15·2–21 g (novaenorciae... read more


    Generally noisy (seasonal switch in main calls used). Eight main calls: most frequent “Chew... read more


    Dry woodlands and open forests dominated by eucalypts, usually where trees have decorti­cating... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly invertebrates (insects, also spiders), as well as nectar, lerp, manna and honeydew, and some fruit; estimated ratio of insect-... read more


    Recorded in all months, mainly late winter to mid-summer and with resurgence in activity in autumn, most clutches Aug–Dec, and in S... read more


    Resident; some local movements. Partial altitudinal migration in highlands of SE Australia:... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common but somewhat patchily distributed, e.g. nominate race largely absent from coastal areas of SE Queensland (S of Rock­hampton) and NE... read more

    Recommended citation

    Higgins, P., Christidis, L. & Ford, H. (2019). White-eared Honeyeater (Nesoptilotis leucotis). 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 10 December 2019).