What’s Lurking In Your Backyard? – #21 Noisy Miner

This series looks at the variety of fauna that may be found in the suburban backyard or local reserve and the diversity may be surprising to some people. The obvious fauna are the vast array of birds that are readily seen by day and some by night, but there are numerous species that are nocturnal. Some of these nocturnal species people are familiar with as they tramp across the roof at night with what sounds like hobnail boots on, or they hear fighting in the backyard over food and territory. Others are cryptic and may only be seen infrequently when they enter the house for warmth and shelter. Each week I will highlight a different species that may be found in and around Melbourne’s backyards, parks and reserves, some may be familiar others less so.

#21 Noisy Miner
(Manorina melanocephala)

The Noisy Miner rightly deserves its name as it constantly chatters and calls as part of its social interactions. This honeyeater along with the Bell Miner is a social species, which forms territories, which it will defend aggressively from other birds in an effort to protect its food sources.

The Noisy Miner is grey in colour with black markings around the head. Just behind each eye is a distinctive yellow patch. Its beak and feet are yellow/orange in colour and it has a yellow almost olive tinge to the wings as well as white tips on its tail feathers.

The noisy Miner can be found over a wide area of Australia from far northern Queensland to South Australia and Tasmania. It can also be found in a wide variety of habitats that lack understory shrubs. This includes dry open forests and woodlands, farming and cropping areas as well as roadside reserves. It is also common in and around suburban areas such as parks and gardens and the backyard were an increase in eucalypts and flowering plants that don’t form a thick shrub layer occur.

The diet of the Noisy Miner consists of nectar, fruit and insects and like its cousin the Bell Miner it can glean much of its food from the exudate from trees called “manna” as well as “lerp” which are the sugary coating of the tiny sap-sucking insect called a psyllid and honeydew which comes from aphids. They will forage for their food on the ground as well as the trunks of trees and in the canopy.

Noisy Miners will breed all year round with the female laying 2-4 eggs in a deep cup shaped nest and she will solely incubate the eggs. However after hatching the task of tending to the young may be undertaken by up to 20 males at a time.

© Habitat Ecology 2012

Noisy Miner

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