Here’s a small tropical Honeyeater that we encountered frequently in the Top End of the Northern Territory in September: the Rufous-banded. It’s appeal is subtle rather than spectacular, but I think it looks rather smart with its grey head, white-throat, rufous breast band and brown and yellow wings and tail.
It has a restricted range, being confined to the Top End of the Northern Territory and the northern half of Cape York in Queensland. It is rather similar to its close relative the Rufous-throated Honeyeater, which, in addition to the different throat colour of adult, lacks the rufous band and has a brownish head. The difference in head colour is diagnostic, as juveniles of the Rufous-banded and Rufous-throated lack the rufous band and throat respectively. Rufous would seem to be important in signalling sexual maturity, though the sexes are identical. The ranges of the two species overlap, with the Rufous-throated extending farther south in the tropics to include the Kimberley in Western Australia, the centre of the Northern Territory and Northern Queensland as far south as Townsville.
I’m in Mission Beach for the annual Pied Imperial Pigeon count http://www.birdsaustralianq.org/projects.htm and the BANQ Christmas get-together en route to Cape York to help in a survey in Mungkan Kandju national park between Coen and Arthur River. The survey will take several days and I plan to stay on for a few extra days to chase a few Cape York specialties.
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115 Mobile +61-411 602 737
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Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24 KJV)
“The honeyeaters are a large and diverse family of small to medium sized birds most common in Australia and New Guinea, but also found in New Zealand, the Pacific islands as far east as Hawaii, and the islands to the north and west of New Guinea known as Wallacea. Bali, on the other side of the Wallace Line, has a single species.
Honeyeaters and the closely related Australian chats make up the family Meliphagidae. In total there are 182 species in 42 genera, roughly half of them native to Australia, many of the remainder occupying New Guinea. Like their closest relatives, the Maluridae (Australian wrens), Pardalotidae (pardalotes and thornbills), and Petroicidae (Australian robins), they originated as part of the great corvid radiation in Australia-New Guinea (which were joined in a single landmass until quite recent geological times).” From “Honeyeaters” by AvianWeb