Occurring throughout mainland Australia (but absent in Tasmania) and some islands further north, the small Mistletoebird is the only Australian representative of the flowerpecker family, Dicaeidae, and is also known as the Australian Flowerpecker. They feed mainly on the berries of the mistletoe and play important part in the dispersal of misteltoe.
Males have a glossy blue-black head, wings and upperparts, a bright red throat and chest, a white belly with a central dark streak and a bright red undertail. Females are grey above, white below, with a grey streak on the belly, and a paler red undertail. Young birds resemble females but are paler and have an orange, rather than dark, bill. These birds are swift and erratic fliers, moving singly or in pairs, usually high in or above the canopy.
Very high-pitched single note; also repeated three-note song, warbles and some mimicry. Bird call recorded by: Nick Talbot
Occurring throughout mainland Australia (but absent in Tasmania) and some islands further north.
The Mistletoebird is mainly found wherever mistletoe grows and the species is important in the dispersal of this plant species.
Mistletoebirds are often seen restlessly flitting about in the canopy of trees, or flying overhead while uttering a strident tzew. These birds are swift and erratic fliers, moving singly or in pairs, usually high in or above the canopy. Their preferred food is the berries produced by mistletoe. The Mistletoebird is found throughout mainland Australia and are nomadic while out of the breeding season. Their call consists of a very high-pitched single note; also repeated three-note song, warbles and some mimicry.
The Mistletoebird is highly adapted to its diet of mistletoe berries. It lacks the muscular gizzard (food-grinding organ) of other birds, instead having a simple digestive system through which the berries pass quickly, digesting the fleshy outer parts and excreting the sticky seeds onto branches. The seed can then germinate quickly into a new plant. In this way, the Mistletoebird ensures a constant supply of its main food. It will also catch insects, mainly to provide food for its young.
The Mistletoebird builds a silky, pear-shaped nest with a slit-like entrance, made from matted plant down and spider web, which is suspended from a twig in the outer foliage of a tree. The female alone builds the nest and incubates the eggs, while both sexes feed the young.