Mistletoebird (Flowerpeckers)

Family Nectarinidae

The Mistletoebird is the only Australian representative of the flowerpeckers that is widely distributed throughout the tropics of Southeast Asia and the Australasian tropics. Their closest relatives are the sunbirds.

They occupy a wide range of habitats, and the Mistletoebird occurs all across Australia except for the driest parts and Tasmania.

They eat nectar, fruit and insects and have a digestive system modified to deal with the berries of the 21 species of Mistletoe available for the species. The Mistletoe berries bypass the stomach to the small intestine, where the fleshy outer part of the fruit is quickly digested and the sticky seed is deposited onto a branch, quickly germinating to form a new plant.  Insects and spiders are treated differently, entering the stomach for a more thorough digestive process.



Dicaeum hirundinaceum

Mistletoebirds are summer migrants, although some over-winter, and feed mainly on the fruit of mistletoes, so they tend to be largely nomadic and fairly solitary, constantly in search of new sources of mistletoe berries. For such a tiny bird they often fly quite high, and their distinctive high-pitched call is heard more often than they are seen. The brightly coloured red, white and black males are more easily observed than the pale grey females, but they can be identified by their pale red undertail area.

Rarely recorded in the region in June and July, numbers increase from September and October to peak in November. Numbers have fluctuated widely over the duration of the survey.

Breeding takes place in the region from October to March, but there are no breeding records from the survey. R=73.