A Case of Mistaken Identity
The Case of the Unwashed Birdie.

By Mike Jagoe

It was a beautiful sunny morning and I was enjoying a very leisurely breakfast on the back patio when an unknown bird landed on the flowering New Zealand flax bush a few meters away. It quickly started to have its breakfast from the flax flowers dipping its long honeyeater like bill into the slender flowers. "What on earth was it?" I asked myself. A honeyeater-type bird with a gorgeous orange cap.

Quickly I went into the house returning with my camera - a Nikon D70 with 70-300 lens. About 20 "clicks" later it was off to the computer to have a close-up look at my new friend. It was beautiful BUT what was it ? Over to the bird book and flick, flick, flick through the pages alas, no orange capped honeyeater type bird. Flick, flick again and again but nothing. Frustrated it was back to the computer to email Marcus Pollard images of the unknown species. Three emails later and we had a rare Rufous something or maybe a Tawny crowned honeyeater and last but not least a youngish Crescent honeyeater covered in pollen. To the last I emailed back "I think you jest!" I spent some time on the computer looking up orange capped this and orange headed that all to no avail so reluctantly I gave up (for a while).

Next morning just after another very leisurely breakfast I walked round the side of the house past a couple of red callistemon bushes in full flower. There were about half a dozen New Holland honeyeaters having a grand old squabble over who really owned the bushes. I stopped dead in my tracks - another new species? No a honeyeater with pollen all over his face. With egg all aver mine I quickly went to the flax bushes and examined the flowers. I wiped of my finger over the stamen, result, an orange pollen covered finger Oh dear! Pollard was correct!

After eating a big slice of humble pie I emailed Marcus P and sent him the image shown below and told him what I had seen - a young "pollen headed" Crescent honeyeater. How could I have gotten it so wrong?!!!


The Mysterious "Coloured" Honeyeater!!!