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New Zealand Bellbird

From Opus

Adult malePhoto © by Layzeboy Lake Brunner, Westcoast [In my garden] South Island New Zealand, 26 September 2006
Adult male
Photo © by Layzeboy
Lake Brunner, Westcoast [In my garden] South Island New Zealand, 26 September 2006
Anthornis melanura


[edit] Identification

17–20 cm (6¾-7¾ in)
Males are olive green, with a purplish head, and black outer wing and tail feathers.
Females are dull olive-brown, with a slight blue sheen on head, and pale yellow cheek stripe.
Immatures are similar but have brown rather than red eyes.

FemalePhoto © by the late RookeryHavelock, North New Zealand, 13 September 2008
Photo © by the late Rookery
Havelock, North New Zealand, 13 September 2008

[edit] Distribution

New Zealand

[edit] Taxonomy

Chatham Island Bellbird was formerly included in this species.

[edit] Subspecies

Female in flightPhoto © by craigwilsonWaitati, New Zealand, 1 May 2017
Female in flight
Photo © by craigwilson
Waitati, New Zealand, 1 May 2017

There are three subspecies[1]:

  • A. m. obscura:
  • A. m. oneho:
  • A. m. melanura:
  • New Zealand (North and South Islands and Stewart Island) and the Auckland Islands

[edit] Habitat

Native and exotic forest, scrub.parks and gardens

[edit] Behaviour

Because of the bellbird's greenish colouring and preference for feeding and perching up high, this bird can be difficult to see. They are often located by the distinctive song first, and only then by sight.

[edit] Breeding

The breeding season is approximately September through to February. They tend to nest fairly high up in trees, and prefer trees with dense foliage for cover. The female makes the nest. The clutch consists of 3 to 5 eggs. Both parents feed the chicks, which fledge at about 14 days old. A pair can raise two broods in a season.

A good range of food sources is required in the near vicinity, with flowering/fruiting times spread throughout the breeding season. They are strongly territorial during the breeding season. A pair maintains the same breeding territory year after year.

The oldest bellbird recorded lived to over 8 years.

[edit] Diet

Diet consists of nectar, fruit, flowers and insects and insect products such as honey dew.

[edit] Vocalisations

Call is simple, like sound of distant bell. Sings all year, less in winter.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from
  2. Gill, F & D Donsker (Eds). 2018. IOC World Bird List (v8.2). doi : 10.14344/IOC.ML.8.2. Available at
  4. Higgins, P., Christidis, L. & Ford, H. (2017). New Zealand Bellbird (Anthornis melanura). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 February 2017).
  5. Higgins, P.J.; Peter, J.M.; Steele, W.K. 2001. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds. Vol. 5, tyrant-flycatchers to chats. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
  6. Shirihai, H. (2007) A Complete Guide to Antarctic Wildlife. The Birds and Marine Mammals of the Antarctic Continent and the Southern Ocean. 2nd edition. A&C Black, London.
  7. Sagar, P.M. 2013. Bellbird. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online.
  8. BirdForum Member observations

[edit] External Links


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