Fun Mistletoebird Facts For Kids

Arkoprabho Sadhu
Aug 31, 2023 By Arkoprabho Sadhu
Originally Published on Oct 14, 2021
Mistletoebird facts are as unique as mistletoebird droppings.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.8 Min

Mistletoebirds (Dicaeum hirundinaceum) are native to Australia and are a species of flowerpecker that can be found eating mistletoe fruits or berries that contain viscin, which is a sticky pulp. Mistletoebirds play an important role in the ecosystem. They feed on mistletoe fruit and digest the fleshy part.

The seeds on the other hand pass out unharmed along with the excreta. They stick to the twigs because of the presence of viscin.

These seeds later germinate into new plants. In this way, mistletoebirds make sure they have an unending supply of their favorite fruit. They are the only birds that lack the internal organ called gizzard in their digestive system.

They build a pear-shaped nest using spider web and matted down plant which is silky in texture. The opening of the nest is like a slit. The nesting period of juvenile birds is about 15 days and they resemble the female of the species.

Male and female birds have different looks. The head of the male bird is blue-black. The throat, chest, and undertail are red. The belly is white.

Female birds are gray from the top and white in the belly with a gray streak running through the center. Their undertail is a dull red. The juvenile is also gray in color but they are much paler with an orange bill. The feet of the birds are black.

The birds have a very shrill and loud call. They can mimic some sounds. A few other sounds they make include warbles and a repetitive three-note call.

Read on to know more about the mistletoebird appearance, their food and eating habits, breeding habits, and conservation status. For more related content, check out these glossy ibis facts and blue jay facts for kids.

Mistletoebird Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a mistletoebird?

The Mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum) are birds also known by the name of Australian flowerpecker as they are native to Australia and are the only Australian representative of the flowerpecker family.

What class of animal does a mistletoebird belong to?

Mistletoebirds belong to the class Aves, and also belong to the flowerpecker family.

How many mistletoebirds are there in the world?

The exact number of mistletoebirds is not known but the IUCN Red List records the species trend to be stable.

Where does a mistletoebird live?

The Mistletoebird range map covers mainland Australia (excluding the driest desert region and Tasmania), Papua New Guinea, and eastern Indonesia. Basically, this bird's distribution can be found anywhere where there is an abundance of mistletoe trees.

What is a mistletoebird's habitat?

Mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum) distribution can be found anywhere where there are mistletoe trees. This includes forests, savanna, wetlands, shrublands, and wetlands.

Who do mistletoebirds live with?

Mistletoebirds either live alone or in pairs.

How long does a mistletoebird live?

A mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum), whose habitat is mainly in mainland Australia, lives approximately for nine years.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of these birds is from September to March during which time the females build a pear-shaped nest with a slit-like entrance. The nest has a silky texture as it is made of matted-down plants and spider web.

The pear-shaped nest is mainly found hanging on a twig on the outer foliage of a tree. The female bird lays a cluster of three eggs after breeding and then incubates them all alone.

The nesting span is 15 days after which the chick is ready to leave the nest. Both parent birds take an active part in feeding juvenile birds.

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN Red List, the mistletoebird's conservation status reads as Least Concern. Also, their population trend is stable.

Mistletoebird Fun Facts

What do mistletoebirds look like?

The mistletoebird is the only representative in the Australian flowerpecker family. The adult male has a bluish-black head, wings, and underparts, which are glossy in nature. They are characterized by a red throat and chest and a bright red undertail.

The male bird has a white belly with a single central dark streak. Male mistletoebirds resemble scarlet honeyeaters or red-headed honeyeaters, although these two honeyeaters have red heads while the mistletoebird has a black head.

Wings of mistletoebirds are long and pointed. Their tail is short and square. There is a slight incision at the tip of the tail.

Females of the species are devoid of the glossy blue black head and are instead gray from the top. They also have a white belly with a gray central streak. They too have a red undertail but it is much paler.

Juvenile birds resemble the female birds of the species but are light toned with orange bills instead of the black bill that adults of the species possess. The feet of these birds are also black.

Blackbird perched on a tree

*Please note that this is an image of a blackbird, not a Mistletoebird. If you have an image of Mistletoebird,  please let us know at hello@kidadl.com.

How cute are they?

Male mistletoebirds are especially cute with their bright red undertail, throat, and chest. The Mistletoebird female and juvenile are mainly gray but their small size makes them appear quite cute.

How do they communicate?

These birds are quite loud with a shrill, high-pitched call. They also communicate with warbles, a repetitive three-note song. A mistletoebird is considered to be an excellent mimic artist. They can imitate the sound of various other birds.

How big is a mistletoebird?

Mistletoebirds are small in size. Their length ranges between 3.5-3.9 in (9-10 cm). Often confused with red-breasted robins, they are much smaller than robins whose length is 7.9-11 in (20-28 cm) with a wingspan of 12.2-15.8 in (31-40 cm).

How fast can a mistletoebird fly?

Mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum) are extremely swift fliers. They also fly very erratically, that is, in no constant pattern or direction. Moreover, mistletoebirds fly high through a canopy or above a canopy.

How much does a mistletoebird weigh?

A mistletoebird, belonging to the Dicaeidae family, weighs between 0.3-0.4 oz (7.5-11 g) and has a length of 3.5-3.9 in (9-10 cm). When compared to various other Australian birds like the Australian magpie and rainbow lorikeet, the mistletoe bird is significantly lighter.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no gender-specific name for the male and female of the species.

What would you call a baby mistletoebird?

A baby or juvenile mistletoebird is simply called a chick.

What do they eat?

Mistletoebirds are mainly native to Australia. They are also found in Papua New Guinea and eastern Indonesia. This species is found anywhere where there is a presence of mistletoe trees.

Their diet primarily consists of mistletoe berries. They are the only birds whose digestive systems do not contain gizzard. These birds also catch insects as food, usually to feed their young ones.

Are they dangerous?

Mistletoebirds are a small harmless species that feed on mistletoe fruit and are residents of the Australian mainland, Papua New Guinea, and eastern Indonesia.

Would they make a good pet?

Australian flowerpecker or mistletoebirds are wild in nature and feed on mistletoe fruits or berries and cannot be tamed. So the answer is no!

Did you know...

Mistletoebird migration occurs during the search for mistletoe berries during spring, leading the birds to northern Victoria, Australia.

During the winter season the mistletoebird goes into a state of torpor, that is, a state where the bodily function is slowed down to conserve energy.

Mistletoe birds are also known as fire-breasted flowerpeckers because of their bright red throat and chest.

What role does the mistletoebird play in the ecosystem?

Unlike other birds such as the emu, the mistletoe bird does not have the muscular gizzard which is the organ that grinds food. Their digestive system smoothly digests the flesh of white sticky berries and excretes the seed without causing any harm to it.

These sticky seeds along with the bird droppings stick to twigs or branches of trees. These seeds later germinate into new mistletoe plants and this is how mistletoebirds establish a continuous supply of their own food.

How did mistletoebirds get their name?

Mistletoebirds of Australia get their name from the mistletoe tree, whose fruit they feed on. The term mistletoe is Anglo-Saxon in origin. The word 'mistel' means dung and 'tan' means twig.

The tree was named so because it was noticed that mistletoe trees often grow where there is bird dung. One of the main causes of this is the mistletoebird itself. They excrete seeds (unharmed after feeding on berries) and this helps in the germination of mistletoe trees.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about other birds from our umbrellabird interesting facts and ani bird surprising facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable magnificent riflebird coloring pages.

Second image by JJ Harrison.

Australian mainland papua new guinea eastern indonesia

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Written by Arkoprabho Sadhu

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Arkoprabho Sadhu picture

Arkoprabho SadhuBachelor of Arts specializing in English

Arkoprabho is an English graduate from Bidhannagar University with experience in academic writing on various subjects such as business management, law, and medicine. He is a published poet and enjoys films, music, and finance. As a member of the Content Updating team, he aims to become an expert in SEO content writing and editing. In his free time, he likes to write film scripts, research the stock market, and indulge in creative interests such as poetry writing, anime, and music.

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