The Bell Miner, Manorina melanophrys, also known as Bellbird, is a colonial honeyeater endemic to southeastern Australia.
Diet / Feeding
They were given their common name because they feed almost exclusively on the dome-like coverings of certain psyllid bugs, referred to as “bell lerps,” that feed on eucalyptus sap from the leaves.
The “bell lerps” make these domes from their own honeydew secretions in order to protect themselves from predators and the environment.
Bell miners are aggressive birds that defend their colony area communally, excluding most other passerine species. They do this in order to protect their territory from other insect-eating birds that would eat the bell lerps they live off of. Whenever bell miners undergo a population boom, the local forests die back due to increased lerp psyllid infestations.
In some Aboriginal tribes the Bell miner is considered a special delicacy which is highly valued. The Bell Miner is ritually sacrificed by having the head removed and pickled or embalmed while the body or “Peese” (Pronounced “piece”) is eaten after being skinned. After being pickled the head is used in native medicines.
Other bird species known as “Bellbirds”:
- Bellbirds (genus Procnias) from Central and South America
- Crested Bellbird (Oreoica gutturalis) from Australia
- New Zealand Bellbird (Anthornis melanura)
Other Web Resources: Honeyeaters … Bellbird Photo Gallery