The singing honeyeater (Gavicalis virescens) is a small bird found in Australia, and is part of the honeyeater family, Meliphagidae. The bird lives in a wide range of shrub-land, wood-land and coastal habitat. It is relatively common and is widespread right across Australia west of the Great Dividing Range, through to the west coast and on Western Australian coastal islands. It does not occur in other countries.
The singing honeyeater was originally described as Meliphaga virescens lipferti. It was previously placed in the genus Lichenostomus but was moved to Gavicalis after molecular phylogenetic analysis published in 2011 showed that the original genus was polyphyletic.
Singing honeyeaters can vary in length from 17–22 cm. Their over-all appearance is grey-brown. The tail and wings are olive-green with flashes of yellow. There is a broad black stripe running from the behind the beak to the back, and a yellow streak immediately below this from the eye. The bird’s song ranges from scratchy to melodious. The song also varies according to where they live. The singing honeyeater has many close relatives that have a similar general appearance or some details in common, with overlapping ranges and similar voices, so a bird identification guide with clear visuals may be essential to attain clear identity.
Singing honeyeaters breed between July and February. They are capable of forming longtime relationships with partners. When they are breeding, they show aggressive actions. The eggs are a light cream-brown with some darker spots. Their nest is a cup of grass, plant stems, and spider webs.
Singing honeyeaters live in families. They will attack larger animals, if they feel threatened by them, or if they are in their territory. They have been known to attack intruders in mobs thus showing they are a community-like bird.
They associate with other species of birds, such as the brown honeyeater and the red wattlebird. It is different from many birds however, because it lacks the ability to communicate with other birds of the same species. As a study by M.C. Baker (1996) showed, the birds of the mainland did not respond to the songs of singing honey eaters found on an island off Australia’s west coast. The study showed that the songs of the birds on the island were smaller, had less song types, syllable types, and fewer syllables and notes per song.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Lichenostomus virescens". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Morcombe, Michael (2000). Field Guide to Australian Birds. Box 1058, Archerfield, Qld: Steve Parish Publishing. p. 256. ISBN 174021417X.
- "Meliphaga virescens lipferti". Western Australian Museum. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
- Nyári, Á.S.; Joseph, L. (2011). "Systematic dismantlement of Lichenostomus improves the basis for understanding relationships within the honeyeaters (Meliphagidae) and historical development of Australo–Papuan bird communities". Emu 111: 202–211. doi:10.1071/mu10047.
- Gill, Frank; Donsker, David (eds.). "Honeyeaters". World Bird List Version 6.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
- Simpson, K.; Day, N. (2010). Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Melbourne: Penguin Books. ISBN 9780670072316.
- "Birds in Backyards - Singing Honeyeater (Lichenostomus virescens) Fact sheet." Birds in Backyards.
- Baker, M.C.. Depauperate meme pool of vocal signals in an island population of singing honeyeaters. 51:4. Academic Press, 1996.
- "Birds at the AALBG." Australian-Aridlands-Botanic-Garden.
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