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Meliphagidae – Honeyeaters

White-gaped Honeyeater in Australia: Photo by Jill Duncan & Ken Bissett

The Meliphagidae family, commonly known as honeyeaters, comprises around 190 species primarily found in Australia, New Guinea, and the Pacific islands.

Overview of Meliphagidae

Although a few species of this diverse group have dispersed north and east into the Pacific islands, the vast majority are found in Australo-Papua, with none crossing Wallace’s Line into Asia. Named for their diet of pollen and nectar, which they harvest with their brush-tipped tongues, they play a vital role in pollinating native plants. Many Australian species exhibit complex and poorly understood movement patterns, tracking the blooming of specific flowering plants across the continent. Most have slightly decurved bills, often adorned with brilliantly colored skin or feather tufts on the head and upper breast.