birding-aus NZ "honeyeater" and Fantail

To: David Rosalky <>
Subject: birding-aus NZ "honeyeater" and Fantail
From: Ian Montgomery <>
Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 09:08:24 +1000

>My question:  Is Anthornis melanura a honeyeater (specifically family
>meliphagidae)?  If not, to what family does it belong?

Yes, it is included in the Meliphagidae.  So are the Tui and the
Stitchbird.  Meliphagids mainly occur in Australia and New Guinea, but
there are representatives in neighbouring countries (Indonesia) and the
Pacific, as far as Hawaii.  The South African genus Promerops (Sugarbirds)
used to be included rather doubtfully in the Meliphagidae, but Sibley and
Monroe now put it in the Nectarinidae (Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers and

There seem to be eight local races of the Fantail Rhipidura fuliginosa,
five in Australia and 3 in New Zealand.  The one you saw near Queenstown,
which doesn't occur in Australia, would have been the South Island
sub-species (the nominate race fuliginosa).  Just to complicate matters,
according to Collins Guide to the Birds of New Zealand about a quarter of
the South Island sub-species occurs as a dark phase called the Black
Fantail.  Rhipidura fuliginosa occurs in other places including PNG,
Solomon Is, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.  Presumably, they are all different
races too!

No, I didn't know any of this half an hour ago but your posting aroused my

Best wishes,  Ian
Dr Ian Montgomery, Marine Ecology, A11, University of Sydney, NSW 2006.
Ph: (+61-2) 9351 4786; Fax: 9351 6713; Home ph: 9818 4838.
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