Feeding ecology and diet

All species of honeyeaters consume varying amounts of nectar and invertebrates, especially insects. Honeyeaters visit a wide range of native and exotic flowers, with eucalyptus, banksias, bottlebrushes, grevilleas, and mistletoes being among the most popular. Sugarbirds favor proteas. Other sweet food sources include honeydew from bugs (Hemiptera), manna (sugary exudate from damaged foliage), and lerp (the sugary coating on scale insects of the family Psyllidae). Hon-eyeaters also consume sap exuding from scars on branches caused by gliding possums. Smaller honeyeaters may consume tiny insects that they capture in flight, and they also glean caterpillars and beetles from foliage. Strong-billed (Melithrep-tus validirostris) and white-eared honeyeaters (Lichenostomus leucops) frequently probe bark for insects and honeydew. Spiders are also taken, and more unusual foods include crustaceans and small lizards. A few larger species prey on eggs and nestling birds. Miners (Manorina) and tawny-crowned honeyeaters (Phylidonyris melanops) often forage on the ground and walk well. Fruit is a major food for honeyeaters in the wetter forests, especially in New Zealand and New Guinea.

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