The scarlet myzomela (Myzomela sanguinolenta) also known as crimson honeyeater, scarlet honeyeater, sanguineous honeyeater or, colloquially, bloodbird, is a small passerine bird of the honeyeater family Meliphagidae native to the east coast of Australia, Indonesia and New Caledonia. It is the smallest honey-eater in Australia. The male is a striking bright red with black wings; the female is entirely brown.
It was originally described as Certhia sanguinolenta by ornithologist John Latham in 1802. It is a member of the small genus Myzomela with two other red species, the red-headed myzomela of northern Australia and the cardinal myzomela of Vanuatu, as well as the dusky myzomela. It belongs to the honeyeater family Meliphagidae. More recently, DNA analysis has shown honeyeaters to be related to the Pardalotidae, and the Petroicidae (Australian robins) in a large corvid superfamily; some researchers considering all these families in a broadly defined Corvidae.
The male scarlet myzomela is 10–11 cm (4 in) long with a bright red head, breast, back and rump, black tail and wings (wing feathers have white margins) with a white abdomen. The female is a pale brown with a whitish abdomen. Both have black bills and eyes. A variety of calls have been recorded, including a bell-like tinkling.
Males could be mistaken for the similar looking red-headed myzomela in north Queensland where their ranges overlap, though the latter's red colouration is restricted to the head.
Distribution and habitat
It is found in forested areas and is omnivorous, feeding on insects as well as nectar.
Breeding season is from winter through to summer, with one or two broods a year. The nest consists of a tiny cup of shredded bark with spider web as binding, high up in tree canopy, or even mistletoe. The small eggs are white with the larger end flecked with dull red-brown or grey-purple.
Scarlet myzomelas are rarely seen in aviculture. Keeping them successfully requires a large commitment in time and experience. Various State regulations govern the keeping of the species, for instance, in South Australia a Specialist License is required, while in New South Wales a Class 2 licence is required. N.S.W. applicants must have at least 2 years experience keeping birds, and be able to demonstrate that they can provide the appropriate care and housing for the species they wish to obtain.
The late Mr. Neil Tuthill, of Murray Bridge, was awarded an R.W. McKechnie Memorial Medal by The Avicultural Society of South Australia Inc., for the first breeding of the scarlet honeyeater in South Australia.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Myzomela sanguinolenta.|
- BirdLife International (2012). "Myzomela sanguinolenta". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Latham, J. (1802). Supplementum Indicis Ornithologici, sive Systematis Ornithologiae. London: G. Leigh, J. & S. Sotheby 74 pp. 
- Simpson K, Day N, Trusler P (1993). Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Ringwood, Victoria: Viking O'Neil. p. 392. ISBN 0-670-90478-3.
- Cooney SJN, Watson DM, Young J (2006). "Mistletoe nesting in Australian birds: a review". Emu (CSIRO Publishing) 106: 1–12. doi:10.1071/MU04018. Retrieved 2007-06-07.
- Beruldsen, G (2003). Australian Birds: Their Nests and Eggs. Kenmore Hills, Qld: self. p. 329. ISBN 0-646-42798-9.
- NSW NPWS (2003). "NSW Bird Keepers’ Licence Species Lists". NSW NPWS. Retrieved 2007-06-06.