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Honeyeater plucks koala for nest material

Cody, ML 1991, EMU, vol. 91, pp. 125-126.

This report describes an observation of a single yellow-faced honeyeater repeatedly plucking fur from a koala and incorporating it into its nest in Fairyland, southeast Queensland. This interaction is thought to be the first observed between honeyeaters and koalas, although similar plucking and nesting habits have been previously described between honeyeaters and cows, humans and some other marsupial species.

  Hair materials are common constituents of nests and are believed to be favoured by birds for the insulation they provide. An opportunistic approach to obtaining loose hair, either on the ground or from snags, is apparent in a number of bird species such as the European Robin (observed using horse hair for nest linings) as opposed to plucking it directly from live mammalian species. However, the observed plucking behaviour from live animals as in the honeyeater described here is not isolated, as some bird species in the United States have been noticed obtaining hair from dogs.

  This report contributes to our understanding of the intricate ecological interactions that occur within koala habitat as well as the value of the koala to its ecosystem.


Summarised by Lauren Mousley


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