|Australian Bush Birds|
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|Noisy Miner - Manorina melanocephala|
|Two views of Noisy Miner heads. Differences in the extent of the black markings are distinct.|
The Noisy Miner - Manorina melanocephala - has a black crown/mask extending from the crown, behind the eyes, to chin. Throat and back of head are pale grey, finely barred darker grey. Bill and bare skin behind eye are yellow. Forehead white-grey, lores whitish. Back and rump are grey. From the back of the neck down the back to the rump is mid-grey, mottled dusky and flecked white on the nape. Under parts are very pale grey, mottled grey on the throat and breast. Tail is dark grey, broadly tipped white. Legs and feet brown to orange-yellow. Eye is brown. Size 24 to 38 centimetres. Males and females are similar; males are larger. Juveniles are less distinctly marked and have a light brown tint on the back, rump and wing coverts.
Found along the east coast and inland slopes from north Queensland to south-east South Australia including Victoria and Tasmania.
Lives in open grassy forests and woodlands. Feeds mainly on insects and other invertebrates hopping and fluttering about mid-level in woodland trees poking along branches and prising under bark for prey; sometimes working over litter on the ground. They take fruit and harvest nectar from blossoms as well as taking other sugary tree products such as lerps, manna and honeydew
Social organisation is complicated. Territorial groups of 6 to 30 birds combine into loose colonies of up to several hundred birds. Noisy miners engage in a range of communal activity including greetings with beaks open and tongues lifted while slowly waving the wings. They feed, bathe and sleep together.
|Noisy Miner - page 2|
There is a communal song for about 10 minutes before sunrise form May to January comprising pure whistling contrasting with the miners usual raucous and discordant noise.
Noisy Miners noisily defend their territory from other birds, especially other species of honeyeaters which are vigorously chased away. Many small birds are also driven from the area, and sometimes miners will even chase larger birds or harass them if they perch somewhere in the miners' territory. Because of this aggressive behaviour, areas inhabited by Noisy Miners often support few other birds.
When attacking, they vary feathers around the patch of bare skin behind the eye to make the patch look bigger making the eyes, when viewed from the front, look larger and more intimidating.
There is considerable variation within this species and agreement on subspecies has not been attained.
Breeding takes place mainly from June to December; but can occur at any time. The nest is a cup of twigs, grasses and leaves bound by cobweb, sometimes lined with hair. Supported in upright outer branches up to 20 metres from the ground or sometimes as low as 0.5 metres. The female builds the nest without assistance in about six days advertising the nest location by a display flight as she brings material to the site. Males carry twigs but always drop them short of the nest site.
Eggs are laid at daily intervals from two to ten days after the nest is finished. Two to four, rarely five, eggs; creamy-white, spotted heavily with red-brown, mostly at the larger end; oval, 27 by 18 millimetres. Incubated by the female only for 15 to 16 days; Ten or more males may visit the nest while the female is incubating, then help feed the nestlings. In one season a female may be helped by as many as 24 males and feeding visits to the nest may exceed 50 an hour. After fledging the young huddle together in foliage and are fed for another five weeks. Several broods may be raised in one season.
Similar: Yellow-throated Miner. Black-eared Miner in the SA/Vic Riverland may be different species or subspecies.
|Noisy Miner. Grey underside and orange feet show when seen from below.|
¶ Field Guide to Australian Birds - Morecombe, pages 252-253.
¶ Field Guide to the Birds of Australia - Simpson & Day, pages 198-199.
¶ Readers Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds - page 505.
¶ BirdLife Australia at - "www.birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/noisy-miner".