Bellbird

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Bellbird

The bell miner (Manorina melanophrys), commonly known as the bellbird, is a colonial honeyeater endemic to southeastern Australia. The common name refers to their bell-like call. “Miner” is an old alternative spelling of the word “myna” and is shared with other members of the genus Manorina. The birds 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 live in large, complex social groups. Within each group there are subgroups consisting of several breeding pairs, but also including a number of birds who are not currently breeding. The nonbreeders help in providing food for the young in all the nests in the subgroup, even though they are not necessarily closely related to them. The birds defend their colony area communally aggressively, 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 on which they feed. Whenever the local forests die back due to increased lerp psyllid infestations, bell miners undergo a population boom.

Bellbird

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