Wild South East

a nature blog of south-east Victoria, mostly Gippsland


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Like father like son

When it comes to unique Australian birds the Mistletoe Bird is up there with the best. This striking but usually inconspicuous bird is highly adapted to feeding primarily on the berries of the native parasitic Mistletoe and it’s gut has evolved to pass the berries quickly through it’s digestive system to be excreted on branches. These berries then germinate on the branch and a new plant grows, taking nutrients from the host tree.

I stumbled on an adult male and a juvenile male Mistletoe Bird feeding together on the berries of the Creeping Mistletoe Muellerina eucalyptoides in a Black Wattle Acacia mearnsii at Sunny Creek, Victoria.

Male Mistletoe Bird

Male Mistletoe Bird

Juvenile male Mistletoe Bird

Juvenile male Mistletoe Bird with it’s developing plumage (looks almost like it had been savagely attacked!)

The juvenile, in semi-plumage, was apparently following the adult male (I gather it was his dad) around and eating the plump fruit but its table manners and fruit selection were not as developed as its dad. The poor young guy was taking fruit which was too small and green and was also having trouble swallowing it correctly. Eventually it found the right technique and gorged itself on the fruits.

Feeding on fruits (notice the dribble)

Feeding on fruits (notice the dribble)

You can do it!

You can do it!

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Pear-shaped fruit of the Creeping Mistletoe

Pear-shaped fruit of the Creeping Mistletoe