Monday, 7 November 2011

Black honeyeater

Certhionyx niger

Photo by Brett Symons (Flickr)


Common name:
black honeyeater (en); melífago-preto-e-branco (pt); myzomèle cravaté (fr); mielero blanquinegro (es); trauerhonigfresser (de)

Taxonomy:
Order Passeriformes
Family Meliphagidae

Range:
The black honeyeater is endemic to Australia, being found throughout the inland areas of the country.

Size:
These birds are 10-13 cm long and weigh 9-10 g.

Habitat:
The black honeyeater is found in open woodlands and scrublands of arid and semi-arid regions, especially those with an understorey of emu bush Eremophila sp., as well as in mulga or mallee eucalypt woodlands and broombush Melaleuca uncinata. It will also be found in spinifex savanna where flowering scrubs such as grevilleas and paperbarks occur.

Diet:
They eat insects and nectar, particularly the nectar of the emu bush Eremephila sp.

Breeding:
Black honeyeaters breed in July-December. They nest in groups or loose colonies, with males aggressively defending a small breeding territory against members of their own species as well as other honeyeaters. The female builds the shallow, open, cup-shaped nest from fine twigs, grass, and other plant material bound with spiderweb, lining it with grass, roots, fibre, horse hair, flowers or wool. The nest is usually situated low on a dead limb or in a fork of a small tree or scrub. The female lays 2-3 buffy white eggs with reddish-brown spots, which she incubates alone for 15-16 days. Both sexes feed and care for the chicks until fledging, which takes place 16-18 days after hatching.

Conservation:
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and it is described as locally common. This population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat degradation.

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