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Macleay's Honeyeaters are small nectar-eating birds. The head is near-black dark brown, with the exception of a brown ring around each eye and bold white scalloping on the back of the head that extends down the back and onto the dark-brown wings. The front is also heavily streaked, light-grey on olive-greenish brown. The vent is dark olive-brown, the tail is dark-brown. The irises are dark; the down-curved bill (which has a white gape), the legs and feet are all dark-grey.