Brown honeyeater

Lichmera indistincta

TAXONOMY

Meliphaga indistincta Vigors and Horsfield, 1827, King George Sound, Western Australia.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Least honeyeater, warbling honeyeater; French: Méliphage brunâtre; German: Braunhonigfresser; Spanish: Pájaro Miel Castaño.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

4.3-6.3 in (11-16 cm); 0.3-0.4 oz (9-11 g). Drab olive-brown upperparts with a whitish patch behind eye. Underparts fade from light brown throat to whitish belly.

DISTRIBUTION

Most of Australia, except for the southeast, southern coast, and parts of the center. Trans-Fly region of southern New Guinea, Aru Islands, and Lesser Sundas from Tanimbar Islands west to Bali. The only honeyeater to cross Wallace's Line. The form found in the Lesser Sundas is sometimes regarded as a distinct species (L. limbata). Three subspecies recognized in Australia.

HABITAT

Mangroves, paperbark, and eucalyptus forests and woodlands, heathlands, semi-arid shrublands in Australia; also in parks and gardens. Mangroves, monsoon woodlands, scrub, secondary growth, and cultivated areas in Lesser Sundas, from sea level to 8,000 feet (2,600 m).

Lichmera indistincta H Resident

BEHAVIOR

Usually singly or in pairs, sometimes in small groups. Present year-round in many areas but also show local movements in response to flowering, and occasionally found outside normal range. A renowned singer with loud song described as rich, cheerful, pleasing, and musical.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feed on nectar from flowers of trees and shrubs, including mangroves, eucalyptus, tea trees, and grevilleas. Insects are taken from foliage and by aerial capture.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Long breeding season, although birds in northern Australia breed in the dry season from April to September and those in the south breed in spring and summer (July to January). Tightly woven cup-shaped nest is usually within 6 ft (2 m) of the ground. Clutch of two (occasionally one or three) eggs. Probably only the female incubates, but both sexes feed young. Incubation period lasts 12-14 days, and fledging occurs at about 14 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened; common in many parts of range. SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Successful in towns, where their song is appreciated by many. ♦

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