The brown honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta) is an effective pollinator in Australian blueberry orchards.
The brown honeyeater (Lichmera indistincta) is a common bird species in Australia and is a pollinator of many native plant species but there are no records demonstrating evidence of effective pollination by honeyeaters in commercial cropping systems. We observed L. indistincta visiting rabbiteye blueberry flowers at a commercial berry orchard on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales and evaluated their capacity to transfer pollen. We did this by bagging flowers to prevent visitation prior to anthesis; after anthesis, we unbagged the flowers and waited for L. indistincta visits. After a single visit, we collected the stigma and mounted it on a slide to evaluate stigmatic pollen load. We observed the birds visiting blueberry flowers and foraging on nectar. We also found that L. indistincta deposited similar amounts of pollen to other common insect pollinator species, such as honeybees and stingless bees. As the commercial berry orchard blocks are surrounded by diverse remnant vegetation, we hypothesize that the vegetation is likely providing habitat for these birds. Our results indicate that berry growers with management practices that protect and support remnant vegetation surrounding blueberry orchard blocks may benefit from higher blueberry pollination services by supporting diverse pollinators within fields.