Motacilla hirundinaceum Shaw and Nodder, 1792, New Holland (Australia). Four subspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Australian flowerpecker, Australian flower swallow, mistletoe flowerpecker; French: Dicйe hirondelle; German: Rotsteiss-Mistelfresser; Spanish: Pica Flor del Muйrdago.
3.7–4.3 in (9.5–11 cm); 0.28–0.35 oz (8–10 g). Blue-black upperparts with red throat, breast, and vents. White belly with black patch.
D. h. fulgidum: Tanimbar Islands; D. h. hirundinaceum: Australia (except Tasmania); D. h. ignicolle: Aru Island; D. h. keiense: Kai, Tayundu, and Watubele.
Forests, woodlands, savanna, scrub, and mangroves.
Utters characteristic two- or three-note calls, various flight notes, and song; is also a remarkable vocal mimic of many other birds. Keeps upright on perch. Restless, fast flier that is nomadic in search of fruiting mistletoes. When searching for food, tends to flick its wings, moving rapidly among upper branches of trees; also hawks for insects.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Heavily dependent on mistletoes; also feeds on insects, spiders, fruits, nectar, and pollen.
Maintains territories by chasing intruders and singing from high perches. Courtship involves male chasing female in flight, landing next to her, and fanning tail. Three or four white eggs are laid in purse-shaped nest with slit entrance at the side. Female alone incubates for 12 days; both sexes then feed young in nest for two weeks. Breeding season tied to fruiting period of mistletoes, September–April.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
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