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Honeyeater (Family: Meliphagidae) - Wiki
Subject: Honeyeater (Family: Meliphagidae) - Wiki
A wattle bird on a tree.jpg
Resolution: 860x856 File Size: 279956 Bytes Upload Date: 2007:09:02 19:02:30

Honeyeater (Family: Meliphagidae) - Wiki

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[Photo] A wattle bird sitting on a tree where it feeds on the honey from the yellow flowers. Date taken on 16/9/2006. Photo by Kboom

The honeyeaters are a large and diverse family of small to medium sized birds most common in Australia and New Guinea, but also found in New Zealand, the Pacific islands as far east as Hawaii, and the islands to the north and west of New Guinea known as Wallacea. Bali, on the other side of the Wallace Line, has a single species.

Honeyeaters and the closely related Australian chats make up the family Meliphagidae. In total there are 182 species in 42 genera, roughly half of them native to Australia, many of the remainder occupying New Guinea. Like their closest relatives, the Maluridae (Australian wrens), Pardalotidae (pardalotes and thornbills), and Petroicidae (Australian robins), they originated as part of the great corvid radiation in Australia-New Guinea (which were joined in a single landmass until quite recent geological times).

Although honeyeaters look and behave very much like other nectar-feeding passerines around the world (such as the sunbirds and flowerpeckers), they are unrelated, and the similarities are the consequence of convergent evolution.

Unlike the hummingbirds of America, honeyeaters do not have extensive adaptations for hovering flight, though smaller members of the family do hover hummingbird-style to collect nectar from time to time. In general, honeyeaters prefer to flit quickly from perch to perch in the outer foliage, stretching up or sideways or hanging upside down at need. All genera have a highly developed brush-tipped tongue, longer in some species than others, frayed and fringed with bristles which soak up liquids readily. The tongue is flicked rapidly and repeatedly into a flower, the upper mandible then compressing any liquid out when the bill is closed.

The extent of the evolutionary partnership between honeyeaters and Australasian flowering plants is unknown, but probably substantial. A great many Australian plants are fertilised by honeyeaters, particularly the Proteacae, Myrtaceae, and Epacridacae. It is known that the honeyeaters are important in New Zealand as well, and assumed that the same applies in other areas.

In addition to nectar, all or nearly all honeyeaters take insects and other small creatures, usually by hawking, sometimes by gleaning. A few of the larger species, notably the White-eared Honeyeater, and the Strong-billed Honeyeater of Tasmania, probe under bark for insects and other morsels. Many species supplement their diets with a little fruit, and a small number eat considerable amounts of fruit, particularly in tropical rainforests and, oddly, in semi-arid scrubland. The Painted Honeyeater is a mistletoe specialist. Most, however, exist on a diet of nectar supplemented by varing quantities of insects. In general, the honeyeaters with long, fine bills are more nectarivous, the shorter-billed species less so, but even specialised nectar eaters like the spinebills take extra insects to add protein to their diet when they are breeding.

The movements of honeyeaters are poorly understood. Most are at least partially mobile but many movements seem to be local, possibly between favourite haunts as the conditions change. Fluctuations in local abundance are common, but the small number of definitely migratory honeyeater species aside, the reasons are yet to be discovered. Many follow the flowering of favourite food plants. Arid zone species appear to travel further and less predictably than those of the more fertile areas. It seems probable that no single explanation will emerge: the general rule for honeyeater movements is that there is no general rule.

The genus Apalopteron (Bonin Honeyeater), formerly treated in the Meliphagidae, has recently been transferred to the Zosteropidae on genetic evidence.

A new taxon of honeyeater, not yet described but apparently close to the Smoky Honeyeater, has been discovered in December 2005 in the Foja Mountains of Papua, Indonesia.

Species of Meliphagidae (Part of the Meliphagoidea superfamily)
Red Wattlebird, Anthochaera carunculata
Yellow Wattlebird, Anthochaera paradoxa
Little Wattlebird, Anthochaera chrysoptera
Western Wattlebird, Anthochaera lunulata
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Acanthagenys rufogularis
Striped Honeyeater, Plectorhyncha lanceolata
Helmeted Friarbird, Philemon buceroides
Silver-crowned Friarbird, Philemon argenticeps
Noisy Friarbird, Philemon corniculatus
Little Friarbird, Philemon citreogularis
Regent Honeyeater, Xanthomyza phrygia
Blue-faced Honeyeater, Entomyzon cyanotis
Bell Miner, Manorina melanophrys
Noisy Miner, Manorina melanocephala
Yellow-throated Miner, Manorina flavigula
Black-eared Miner, Manorina melanotis
Macleay's Honeyeater, Xanthotis macleayana
Tawny-breasted Honeyeater, Xanthotis flaviventer
Lewin's Honeyeater, Meliphaga lewinii
Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Meliphaga notata
Graceful Honeyeater, Meliphaga gracilis
White-lined Honeyeater, Meliphaga albilineata
Bridled Honeyeater, Lichenostomus frenatus
Eungella Honeyeater, Lichenostomus hindwoodi
Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Lichenostomus chrysops
Singing Honeyeater, Lichenostomus virescens
Varied Honeyeater, Lichenostomus versicolor
Mangrove Honeyeater, Lichenostomus fasciogularis
White-gaped Honeyeater, Lichenostomus unicolor
Yellow Honeyeater, Lichenostomus flavus
White-eared Honeyeater, Lichenostomus leucotis
Yellow-throated Honeyeater, Lichenostomus flavicollis
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Lichenostomus melanops
Purple-gaped Honeyeater, Lichenostomus cratitius
Grey-headed Honeyeater, Lichenostomus keartlandi
Yellow-plumed Honeyeater, Lichenostomus ornatus
Grey-fronted Honeyeater, Lichenostomus plumulus
Fuscous Honeyeater, Lichenostomus fuscus
Yellow-tinted Honeyeater, Lichenostomus flavescens
White-plumed Honeyeater, Lichenostomus penicillatus
Smoky Honeyeater, Melipotes fumigatus
Black-chinned Honeyeater, Melithreptus gularis
Strong-billed Honeyeater, Melithreptus validirostris
Brown-headed Honeyeater, Melithreptus brevirostris
White-throated Honeyeater, Melithreptus albogularis
White-naped Honeyeater, Melithreptus lunatus
Black-headed Honeyeater, Melithreptus affinis
Stitchbird, Notiomystis cincta
Green-backed Honeyeater, Glycichaera fallax
Brown Honeyeater, Lichmera indistincta
White-streaked Honeyeater, Trichodere cockerelli
Painted Honeyeater, Grantiella picta
Giant Honeyeater, Gymnomyza viridis
Mao, Gymnomyza samoensis
Crow Honeyeater, Gymnomyza aubryana
Crescent Honeyeater, Phylidonyris pyrrhoptera
New Holland Honeyeater, Phylidonyris novaehollandiae
White-cheeked Honeyeater, Phylidonyris nigra
White-fronted Honeyeater, Phylidonyris albifrons
Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Phylidonyris melanops
Brown-backed Honeyeater, Ramsayornis modestus
Bar-breasted Honeyeater, Ramsayornis fasciatus
Rufous-banded Honeyeater, Conopophila albogularis
Rufous-throated Honeyeater, Conopophila rufogularis
Grey Honeyeater, Conopophila whitei
Eastern Spinebill, Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris
Western Spinebill, Acanthorhynchus superciliosus
Banded Honeyeater, Certhionyx pectoralis
Black Honeyeater, Certhionyx niger
Pied Honeyeater, Certhionyx variegatus
Dusky Honeyeater, Myzomela obscura
Red-headed Honeyeater, Myzomela erythrocephala
Cardinal Honeyeater, Myzomela cardinalis
Scarlet Honeyeater, Myzomela sanguinolenta
New Zealand Bellbird, Anthornis melanura
Tui, Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae
Crimson Chat, Epthianura tricolor
Orange Chat, Epthianura aurifrons
Yellow Chat, Epthianura crocea
White-fronted Chat, Epthianura albifrons
Gibberbird, Ashbyia lovensis
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