Friday, 6 January 2012

Crow honeyeater

Gymnomyza aubryana

Photo Frédéric Desmoulins (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
crow honeyeater (en); melífago-preto (pt); méliphage toulou (fr); mielero cuervo (es); rotgesicht-honigfresser (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Meliphagidae

This species is endemic to the island of New Caledonia, in the Pacific Ocean. It is now restricted to small populations scattered mostly in the southern parts of the island.

These birds are 35-41 cm long and weigh 200 g.

Crow honeyeaters occur in a humid forest/maquis matrix, usually on ultrabasic soils. They have also been recorded in dry forests and in maquis scrubs up to 2 km away from forested areas. These birds are present at altitudes of 100-1.000 m.

They forage on the canopy or mid-storey, feeding on invertebrates and nectar.

Crow honeyeaters nest in a crud cup with a thick wall and little to no lining. The nest is placed at the end of a branch, in a tree 10-20 m above the ground. There the female lays 2 eggs which are incubated for 21 days. The chicks fledge 27 days after hatching.

IUCN status - CR (Critically endangered)
This species has a very small breeding range and a global population estimated at 50-250 individuals. Although there is no detailed data on population trends, the available information suggests a very rapid decline is taking place. This is mostly due to forest loss and degradation caused by logging, nickel mining and fires, as well to severe predation pressure by introduced rats. Nests are poorly camouflaged and presumably easy to locate, also being depredated by endemic predators such as the New Caledonian crow Corvus moneduloides and the white-bellied goshawk Accipiter haplochrous.

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