Black-backed honeyeater Ptiloprora perstriata, photographed by Nik Borrow.

Belongs within: Meliphagoidea.
Contains: Myzomela, Philemon, Lichmera, Phylidonyris, Melithreptus, Meliphaga, Anthochaera, Lichenostomus, Manorina, Melidectes.

The Meliphagidae include the honeyeaters, a diverse group of birds found primarily in Australasia and Oceania. Honeyeaters have tongues modified for feeding on nectar (hence their vernacular name), but also feed on insects.

Characters (from The Internet Bird Collection): Tiny to very large, typically slender passerines with variably long and usually decurved bill, short to long tail; generally drab plumage, often with conspicuous wing patches of yellow or white, many with areas of bare facial skin or wattles.

    |--+--+--‘Certhionyx’ niger JT12
    |  |  `--Myzomela JT12
    |  `--+--+--Philemon JT12
    |     |  `--+--+--Grantiella picta JT12
    |     |     |  `--Plectorhyncha lanceolata JT12
    |     |     `--Xanthotis JT12
    |     |          |--X. flaviventer JF06
    |     |          |--X. macleayana M03
    |     |          |--X. polygrammus JT12
    |     |          `--X. provocator JT12
    |     `--+--+--‘Certhionyx’ pectoralis JT12
    |        |  `--+--Lichmera JT12
    |        |     `--+--Trichodere cockerelli JT12
    |        |        `--Phylidonyris JT12
    |        `--+--+--Foulehaio carunculatus JT12
    |           |  `--Gymnomyza JT12
    |           |       |--G. aubryana JT12
    |           |       |--G. samoensis FJO08
    |           |       `--G. viridis JT12
    |           `--+--‘Lichenostomus’ leucotis JT12
    |              |    |--L. l. leucotis M03
    |              |    `--L. l. novaenorciae M03
    |              `--+--Melithreptus JT12
    |                 `--Entomyzon cyanotis (Latham 1801) JT12, WS48 (see below for synonymy)
    |                      |--E. c. cyanotis M03
    |                      |--E. c. albipennis M03
    |                      `--E. c. griseigularis M03
    `--+--Acanthorhynchus Gould 1837 JT12, B94 [Acanthorhynchidae]
       |    |--A. superciliosus Gould 1837 [incl. A. s. stirlingi Mathews 1924, A. s. wilsoni Mathews 1912] WS48
       |    `--A. tenuirostris JF06
       |         |--A. t. tenuirostris M03
       |         |--A. t. cairnsensis M03
       |         |--A. t. dubius M03
       |         `--A. t. halmaturinus M03
       `--+--+--+--Certhionyx variegatus Lesson 1830 JT12, WS48 (see below for synonymy)
          |  |  `--+--Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae (Gmelin 1788) JT12, WH02
          |  |     |    |--P. n. novaeseelandiae R85
          |  |     |    `--P. n. chathamensis Hartet 1928 R85
          |  |     `--Pycnopygius JT12
          |  |          |--P. cinereus JF06
          |  |          |--P. ixoides JT12
          |  |          `--P. stictocephalus JF06
          |  `--+--Meliphaga JT12
          |     `--+--‘Lichenostomus’ ornatus JT12
          |        `--+--+--Acanthagenys rufogularis Gould 1838 JT12, WS48 (see below for synonymy)
          |           |  `--Anthochaera JT12
          |           `--+--Lichenostomus JT12
          |              `--+--‘Phylidonyris’ albifrons (Gould 1840) JT12, WS48 (see below for synonymy)
          |                 `--+--Manorina JT12
          |                    `--Melidectes JT12
          `--+--+--‘Phylidonyris’ melanops (Latham 1801) JT12, WS48 (see below for synonymy)
             |  |    |--P. m. melanops M03
             |  |    `--P. m. chelidonia M03
             |  `--+--Glycichaera fallax JT12
             |     `--Ptiloprora JT12
             |          |--P. erythropleura JT12
             |          |--P. guisei JF06
             |          |--P. mayri JT12
             |          |--P. meekiana JT12
             |          |--P. perstriata JT12
             |          `--P. plumbea JF06
             `--+--+--Conopophila JT12
                |  |    |--C. albogularis JF06
                |  |    |--C. rufogularis (Gould 1842) [=Entomophila rufogularis] WS48
                |  |    `--C. whitei M03
                |  `--Ramsayornis JT12
                |       |--R. fasciatus JF06
                |       |    |--R. f. fasciatus M03
                |       |    `--R. f. broomei M03
                |       `--R. modestus JF06
                `--+--+--Melilestes megarhynchus JT12
                   |  `--Timeliopsis JT12
                   |       |--T. fulvigula JF06
                   |       `--T. griseigula JF06
                   `--+--+--Macgregoria De Vis 1897 JT12, B94 [Macgregoriinae]
                      |  |    `--M. pulchra JF06
                      |  `--Melipotes JT12
                      |       |--M. ater JT12
                      |       |--M. fumigatus JF06
                      |       `--M. gymnops JT12
                      `--+--Ashbyia lovensis JT12
                         `--Epthianura Gould 1838 JT12, B94 [Ephthianuridae]
                              |--+--E. albifrons (Jardine & Selby 1828) JF06, WS48 (see below for synonymy)
                              |  `--E. aurifrons Goudl 1838 JF06, WS48 [incl. E. aurifrons flavescens Mathews 1912 WS48]
                              `--+--E. crocea Castelnau & Ramsay 1877 JF06, WS48 (see below for synonymy)
                                 `--E. tricolor Gould 1840 JF06, WS48 [incl. E. tricolor assimilis Mathews 1912 WS48]

Meliphagidae incertae sedis:
  Cissomela pectoralis SJ85
  Lacustroica whitei North 1910 [incl. L. whitei neglecta Mathews 1916] WS48
  Pogonornis cincta T27
  Leptomyza [incl. Leptornis] S13
    `--L. aubryana [=Leptornis aubryanus] S13
  Anthornis WH02
    |--A. melanocephala Gray 1843 WH02 [=A. melanura melanocephala GM91]
    `--A. melanura (Sparrman 1786) WH02
         |--A. m. melanura R85
         |--A. m. obscura Falla 1948 R85
         `--A. m. oneho HR96
  Stomiopera unicolor (Gould 1842) [=Ptilotis unicolor; incl. P. unicolor darbiski Mathews 1912] WS48
  Meliornis WS48
    |--M. niger (Bechstein 1811) (see below for synonymy) WS48
    `--M. novaehollandiae (Latham 1790) (see below for synonymy) WS48
  Myzantha flavigula Gould 1839 (see below for synonymy) WS48
  Oreornis chrysogenys JT12
  Myza JT12
    |--M. celebensis JT12
    `--M. sarasinorum JT12
  Stresemannia bougainvillei JT12
  Guadalcanaria inexpectata JT12
  Melitograis gilolensis JT12

Acanthagenys rufogularis Gould 1838 JT12, WS48 [incl. A. flavacanthus Campbell 1899 WS48, A. rufogularis wei Mathews 1912 WS48, A. rufogularis woolundra Mathews 1920 WS48]

Certhionyx variegatus Lesson 1830 JT12, WS48 [incl. C. occidentalis Ogilvie-Grant 1909 WS48, Melicophila picata Gould 1844 WS48]

Entomyzon cyanotis (Latham 1801) JT12, WS48 [=Gracula cyanotis WS48; incl. E. cyanotis subalbipennis Mathews 1912 WS48]

Epthianura albifrons (Jardine & Selby 1828) JF06, WS48 [=Acanthiza albifrons WS48; incl. E. albifrons westralensis Mathews 1912 WS48]

Epthianura crocea Castelnau & Ramsay 1877 JF06, WS48 [incl. Leachena crocea boweri Mathews 1922 WS48]

Meliornis niger (Bechstein 1811) [=Certhia nigra; incl. Meliornis nigra dulciei Mathews 1911, Meliornis nigra inexpectata Mathews 1912, Meliphaga mystacalis Gould 1840] WS48

Meliornis novaehollandiae (Latham 1790) [=Certhia novaehollandiae; incl. Meliornis novaehollandiae intermedius Mathews 1923, Meliphaga longriostris Gould 1846] WS48

Myzantha flavigula Gould 1839 [incl. M. flavigula casuarina Mathews 1912, M. flavigula clelandi Mathews 1912, M. lutea Gould 1839, M. obscura Gould 1840, M. obscura ortoni Ashby 1922, M. flavigula wayensis Mathews 1912] WS48

‘Phylidonyris’ albifrons (Gould 1840) JT12, WS48 [=Gliciphila albifrons WS48, Glyciphila albifrons WS48; incl. Gli. albifrons lavertoni Mathews 1924 WS48]

‘Phylidonyris’ melanops (Latham 1801) JT12, WS48 [=Certhia melanops WS48, Gliciphila melanops WS48; incl. G. melanops westernensis Mathews 1912 WS48]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B94] Bock, W. J. 1994. History and nomenclature of avian family-group names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 222: 1-281.

[FJO08] Fleischer, R. C., H. F. James & S. L. Olson. 2008. Convergent evolution of Hawaiian and Australo-Pacific honeyeaters from distant songbird ancestors. Current Biology 18: 1-5.

[GM91] Gill, B., & P. Martinson. 1991. New Zealand’s Extinct Birds. Random Century: Auckland (New Zealand).

[HR96] Heather, B. D., & H. A. Robertson. 1996. The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Viking: Auckland.

[JT12] Jetz, W., G. H. Thomas, J. B. Joy, K. Hartmann & A. Ø. Mooers. 2012. The global diversity of birds in space and time. Nature 491: 444-448.

[JF06] Jønsson, K. A., & J. Fjeldså. 2006. A phylogenetic supertree of oscine passerine birds. Zoologica Scripta 35: 149-186.

[M03] Morcombe, M. 2003. Field Guide to Australian Birds, 2nd ed. Steve Parish Publishing.

[R85] Robertson, C. J. R. (ed.) 1985. Reader’s Digest Complete Book of New Zealand Birds. Reader’s Digest: Sydney.

[S13] Sarasin, F. 1913. Die Vögel Neu-Caledoniens und der Loyalty-Inseln. In Nova Caledonia: Forschungen in Neu-Caledonian und auf den Loyalty-Inseln. A. Zoologie vol. 1, Heft I (F. Sarasin & J. Roux, eds) pp. 1-78, pl. 1-3. C. W. Kreidels Verlag: Wiesbaden.

[SJ85] Storr, G. M., & R. E. Johnstone. 1985. Field Guide to the Birds of Western Australia 2nd ed. Western Australian Museum: Perth (Australia).

[T27] Thomson, G. M. 1927. The pollination of New Zealand flowers by birds and insects. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 57: 106-125.

[WS48] Whittell, H. M. & D. L. Serventy. 1948. A systematic list of the birds of Western Australia. Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia, Special Publication 1: 1-126.

[WH02] Worthy, T. H., & R. N. Holdaway. 2002. The Lost World of the Moa: Prehistoric life of New Zealand. Indiana University Press: Bloomington (Indiana).

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