Bell miner

Manorina melanophrys

TAXONOMY

Turdus melanophrys Latham, 1802, Port Jackson, New South Wales, Australia.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Bellbird; French: Mélephage a sourcils noirs; German: Glockenhonigfresser; Spanish: Manorina Campanera.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

7.3 in (18.5 cm); 0.9-1.25 oz (25-35 g). Mostly olive-green with darker wings and yellow-orange eye patch.

DISTRIBUTION

Southeastern Australia from north of Brisbane to Melbourne.

HABITAT

Eucalyptus forests in the ranges and coastal plains, typically in wet gullies with a good shrub layer. Less commonly in eucalyptus woodlands.

BEHAVIOR

Highly colonial, with intense aggression keeping out most other small and medium-sized birds. Larger birds and mammals are mobbed. Colonies are easy to locate with the constant bell-like calls and chipping and chucking calls. Highly sedentary, with only occasional movements out of the colony.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Glean insects, especially psyllids and their lerp, from foliage. Less commonly forage on bark. Feed on nectar when available in their colony.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Coteries in colonies are groups of breeding pairs, among which there is strong cooperation. May breed at any time of year but mostly June to November in the north and August to January in the south. Nests are typically placed in the understory at 3-10 feet (1-3 m) high and are made of grass and twigs and are built only by the female. Usually two eggs (occasionally one or three), which are laid and incubated by the female for about 14 days. About half of feeding visits to the young are by the parents; the remainder are by numerous helpers, mostly male, some of which are breeding themselves. Young fledge at 12 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Bellbirds' aggressive behavior means that they can deter threatened species from remaining in an area. ♦

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