How small is my honeyeater

Scarlet Honeyeater Myzomela sanguinolenta
Scarlet Honeyeater hanging from Yellow Bell

We know, of course, that some birds are smaller than others but we aren’t often close enough to them to put their size into context. This female Scarlet Honeyeater (Myzomela sanguinolenta, aka Scarlet Myzomela) charmingly demonstrates her minuscule size and weight by hanging from the petals of a Yellow Bell to feed on its nectar.

She was deep within a tangle of Yellow Bells on the bank of a creek on Hervey’s Range – too cute to resist but too far away, really, for a good photo.  Males are responsible for the species name, by the way. Females and juvenile males are brown with perhaps a small blush around the cheeks, but adult males (see one in this older post) are very colourful.

Yellow Bells (Cascabela thevetia) are a weed. This fact sheet from James Cook University says that all parts of the plant are poisonous, but the nectar seems not to be, since I have seen other birds feeding on the flowers although I have never seen a fruit or seed that has been pecked or chewed by wildlife.

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