Helmeted Friarbird

Helmeted Friarbird in Poplar Gum
Helmeted Friarbird hunting insects in our Poplar Gum

Helmeted Friarbirds (Philemon buceroides) are regular visitors to our garden. They make good use of our birdbath and share the poplar gum with Peaceful Doves, Rainbow Lorikeets, Blue-faced and White-gaped Honeyeaters, and several other species which visit less often.

Friarbirds are closely related to the honeyeaters, being grouped with them in the family Meliphagidae (see this page on Birdway for the whole Australian and New Zealand family). They are larger than most of the family and are characterised by bare skin on the face and a knob on top of the beak. Like other honeyeaters, they feed on insects as well as nectar.

Friarbird on banana trunk
Friarbird on banana plant

I have been surprised to see them feeding on the flowers of Yellow Bells, also known as Yellow Oleander (Thevetia peruviana). Is the nectar the only part of the plant which isn’t poisonous?

brown bird on yellow flowering tree
Friarbird in Yellow Bells (Yellow Oleander)
Bird with beak in flower
Yes, it really is feeding on the Yellow Bells’ flowers

5 thoughts on “Helmeted Friarbird”

    1. Happy to help, Ash :-)
      At the moment the Friarbirds are sharing blossom on our Poplar Gum and Paperbark with Rainbow Lorikeets, as you say, plus Blue-faced Honeyeaters (about the same size) and White-gaped Honeyeaters (smaller and mostly dull brown).
      – Malcolm

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