Mistletoebird

Did you know?

In cold weather, the Mistletoebird can undergo torpor, which is the slowing down of bodily functions to conserve energy.

Calls
Very high-pitched single note; also repeated three-note song, warbles and some mimicry.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
No
Minimum Size: 
10cm
Maximum Size: 
11cm
Average size: 
10cm
Average weight: 
9g
Breeding season: 
September to March
Clutch Size: 
3
Nestling Period: 
15 days
Conservation Status
Federal: 
NSW: 
NT: 
QLD: 
SA: 
VIC: 
WA: 
Associated Plants
Plants associated with this species
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
Atlas Number: 
564
What does it look like?
Description: 

The small Mistletoebird is the only Australian representative of the flowerpecker family, Dicaeidae, and is also known as the Australian Flowerpecker. 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.

Similar species: 

Male Mistletoebirds may superficially resemble Red-headed Honeyeaters or Scarlet Honeyeaters in having a red and black colouring, but these two honeyeaters have red heads, while the Mistletoebird has a black head, lacks their long, curved bills, while also being stockier and smaller overall. Mistletoebirds may also be distinguished from the red robins (Petroica species) by having a much shorter tail, a totally dark head (no contrasting cap or spot) and a red undertail.

Where does it live?
Distribution: 

The Mistletoebird is found throughout mainland Australia. It is also found in Papua New Guinea and eastern Indonesia.

Habitat: 

The Mistletoebird is found wherever mistletoe grows and is important in the dispersal of this plant species.

Seasonal movements: 

Nomadic out of breeding season.

What does it do?
Feeding: 

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.

Breeding: 

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.

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