Weebill and lerp

I’ve often observed Weebills gleaning lerp from eucalyptus leaves, but until last weekend had never been able to snap one in the act.

Lerp is the sugary secretion produced by sap-sucking psyllid insects – an extraordinarily important element of many Australian ecosystems. Honeyeaters, lorikeets, thornbills and a host of other birds depend on lerp for energy. The sugary casing can assume a range of configurations, often looking like ‘fairy floss’.

I was reclining on the front veranda to take this image – as usual a bevy of birds were visiting the bird bath – Yellow-faced Honeyeaters are a common visitor at this time of year, the Willie Wagtail I suspect was just passing through.

Weebill1

Weebill about to devour lerp, Wyndham Street Newstead, 25th April 2016

Weebill2

II

WW1

Willie Wagtail

WW2

II

YFHE

Yellow-faced Honeyeater

8 responses to “Weebill and lerp

  1. Seeing is believing. Now I believe it!

  2. Be alerp Australia needs more lerps! 🙂

  3. Suzi van Dorenmalen

    Just a short note to tell you that I enjoy your daily emails enormously. I am from the Mallee and moved to Castlemaine a few months ago. Your observations are a great help in identifying the local birdlife that I so enjoy. Thanks Suzi

    Sent from my Samsung GALAXY S5 Mini on the Telstra Mobile network

  4. Impressive to catch such a tiny bird in the act.

  5. Cracking shots as always, Geoff and just illustrates perfectly the acrobatic nature of the Weebill. Impressive work getting it so well framed and sharp detail! I love the YFHE shot too with that gorgeous sky background.

  6. Fantastic shots! I have been seeing a lot of yellow-faced honeyeaters lately – great groups of them moving along the rivers, mostly in the company of noisy friarbirds, it seems. I guess they are moving north? I wish I knew more about their movements. Interesting to see your picture of birds eating lerps. I’ve been reading Tim Low’s Where Song Began lately and he has a chapter about the role of sugar in the diet of Australian birds – including from lerps. Apparently it’s very unusual in an international context! All news to me. Thanks again for your marvellous pictures.

    • Hi there, I’ve read Tim Low’s book and enjoyed it immensely. Your question has prompted me to write a note about Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and their movements … stay tuned!
      All the best, geoff

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