Tool using honeyeaters?

Subject: Tool using honeyeaters?
From: Barry Davies <>
Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2010 21:38:09 +1000
In PNG last week my colleague, American Biologist Michael Moore, and I saw two Yellow-browed Melidectes (a species of honeyeater) picking pieces of flower petals and wiping them over their feathers particularly under their wings. After a quick wipe they dropped the piece, picked another one and repeated the exercise. We weren't able to identify the flower but it was a rainforest vine, the flowers were pendulous, bell shaped and the petals fleshy and cream coloured. For those that know the area it was at Ambua Lodge near cabins 2 and 3 on the down hill side. It had been raining heavily and the petals were wet. The birds appeared to be washing themselves but why these particular flowers. Were they treating themselves against parasites? Has anyone else seen similar behaviour by these birds?
Barry Davies
Gondwana Guides


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