Yellow-throated miner

Yellow-throated miner

Manorina flavigula

The yellow-throated miner (Manorina flavigula ) is a species of colonial honeyeater, endemic to Australia. It is also known as the white-rumped miner. The distinctive white rump is easy to observe in the field and distinguishes it from the other miner species. Yellow-throated miners are medium-sized, grey passerines with yellow throat markings, legs, and bare patches around the eye. The common name 'miner' is an alternative spelling of the word myna, mynah or minah, and is shared with other members of the genus Manorina. Though miners were originally named due to their resemblance to the common myna of India that shares similar yellow eye-patch and legs, common mynas are from the starling family and are not closely related to the honeyeater family. Common mynas are an aggressive introduced pest in Australia, which causes some confusion with the native aggressive miners.

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Yellow-throated miners feed on invertebrates, nectar, pollen, lerps, and seeds. They are the most widely distributed of the genus Manorina and inhabit open woodlands and scrublands across most of Australia. Yellow-throated miners live in groups, are social, noisy, and defend territory or resources from other avian species. Their behavior is generally compared to their close relative the noisy miner as they share postures, calls and interactions, though yellow-throated miners are not as well studied.

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The yellow-throated miner's color and shape is very similar to the closely related noisy and black-eared miners. A medium-sized honeyeater, it reaches a total length of 22 to 28 centimetres (8.7 – 11.0 in), a wing length of 12 – 13.8 cm (4.7–5.4 in), and a bill length of 25 mm (0.9  in). Adult yellow-throated miners weigh between 50 g (1.8 oz)and 61 g (2.2 oz). Yellow-throated, black-eared and noisy miners share a dark grey dorsal surface with medium grey patterning on the feathers. Wings are dark grey with varying levels of yellow highlighting. The ventral feathering is light grey to white with light grey scalloping on the chest. The feathering surrounding the eye is black. The beak and bare skin-patch around the eyes are bright yellow, and the iris is brown. Legs are also yellow, though shade and brightness varies. Fledgling birds have undefined, fluffy light grey chests without scalloping. Immature birds can be identified in the hand by retained juvenile remiges and rectrices, which are more brownish. Yellow-throated miners are distinctive from the other miners by their clean white rump, instead of the continuous grey from the back that the noisy and black-eared miners have. The white-rump is clearly visible as yellow-throated miners are flying away, so this feature is often used in the field where two miner species overlap. Yellow-throated miners have a varying amount of yellow highlighting above and below the beak, on the forehead and chin, as well as on the sides of the throat. This differs from noisy miners which have white above the beak and no yellow highlighting on the forehead or neck, but can have a small amount of yellow on the chin. Yellow-throated miners have paler feathering on the lower jaw compared to the throat, while pure black-eared miners have darker feathering on the lower jaw compared to that of the throat. Hybrids between the yellow-throated and black-eared miners have a range of rump and lower jaw shades. The different races of yellow-throated miner have small color and size variation. M. f. obscura is known for being darker and M. f. lutea is more yellow.



Biogeographical realms

The yellow-throated miner has the widest distribution of the Manorina species, and it is found across most of Australia, except east of the Great Dividing Range, on Cape York Peninsula, the very north-eastern Northern Territory, and small patches of the driest parts in Central Australia. M. f. wayensis has the largest distribution across the middle of Western Australia through to Western Queensland. M. f. flavigula is the easternmost sub-species, and covers most of Queensland except Cape York and the coast from South East Queensland south and extends south through New South Wales and inland Victoria. M. f. lutea extends across the northern parts of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. M. f. obscura occurs in south-western Western Australia. M. f. melvillenis is found in the very northern part of the Northern Territory.

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Yellow-throated miners are primarily found in arid and semi-arid regions, but do extend into temperate, subtropical, and tropical areas. They are found in woodlands and scrublands, including acacia, eucalyptus, mallee, and casuarina. Similar to noisy miners they like edges and so adapt well to disturbed habitat, and can be found in regrowth and along roads or next to cleared lands. They like some undergrowth and recolonize restored habitat, but are rarely found in dense growth like mature mallee. Though they prefer some tree cover, yellow-throated miners will venture further into open areas like pastures than noisy miners will.

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Yellow-throated miner habitat map
Yellow-throated miner habitat map

Habits and Lifestyle

Behaviour has been observed to be similar to other Manorina species, but the yellow-throated miner is not as well studied as the noisy miner or bell miner. Behaviour comparisons are generally with the noisy miner as they seem to be more similar: both prefer more open forests and adapt well to certain types of disturbed habitats. Yellow-throated miners are possibly less sedentary than the other miner species, though they occur in some locations year around, and there are no known migration patterns for them. They are more often seen in larger groups during the non-breeding season, but these are likely local movements only.

Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition

Like most honeyeaters, yellow-throated miners have a varied diet, including invertebrates, nectar, and occasionally fruit. Feeding is an active, gregarious, and noisy activity generally carried out in small groups of five to ten, but sometimes in pairs, occasionally large groups, and sometimes with other honeyeater species. Yellow-throated miners forage in the canopy, probing flowers for nectar and gleaning leaves and bark for spiders and insects. However, they do less gleaning than the other miners. Yellow-throated miners will catch insects on the wing, using a sally-stall method around 6% of the time, and they use more wing-powered maneuvers than the other Manorina species. They also forage on the ground, probing around herbs, leaf litter, and stones for invertebrates. Ratio of insects to nectar varies between studies from 65:35 to 70:30. Chicks are fed almost exclusively insects until they fledge and begin exploring flowers for nectar.

Mating Habits

As with the other Manorina species, cooperative and colonial breeding is common, but breeding has also been recorded in isolated pairs. Pair breeding attempts without helpers have a higher failure rate. Breeding has been recorded throughout the year, but is most common from August through October, and multiple clutches are common. The nest is a standard cup or bowl nest built into the fork of a tree with good cover. It is built of woven twigs and grasses and a thick soft interior lining, often of wool. It is similar, but more substantive than the nest of the noisy miner. Clutch size is typically three or four eggs, but there are recordings of both two and five eggs. Eggs are pink-buff eggs with spots concentrated on the larger end. Females typically do all the incubation, but males have been recorded incubating in strong wind. Eggs hatch after an incubation period of 15–16 days. Both parents and any available helpers will feed young in the nest. Up to seven birds have been observed at nests. Helpers are unstudied in yellow-throated miners, but are generally young or unmated males in both bell miners and noisy miners. Nests can be parasitized by either the pallid cuckoo or common koel. Parasitism by pallid cuckoos has been observed to be as high as 12%.



1. Yellow-throated miner Wikipedia article -
2. Yellow-throated miner on The IUCN Red List site -
3. Xeno-canto bird call -

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