mistletoe bird
Mistletoe & the Mistletoe Bird in the Hunter Valley: symbols of peace & happiness
The Mistletoe has long been a part of Christmas celebrations being thought to bring good luck to the household. The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe started in ancient Greece because of the plant’s association with fertility. During the Roman era, enemies at war would reconcile their differences under the mistletoe, which to them represented peace.
Mistletoes are perennial flowering plants, woody, shrubby or vine-like, which grow as parasites attached to the branches of trees and shrubs. If you look up into the eucalypts in The Hunter Valley you will see many mistletoe plants. In some areas eg around Mt View they are a feature, especially when in flower in summer. And the Mistletoe Bird is a part of this scene.
Mistletoe Bird: Australia’s only flowerpecker bird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum).
These native birds can be seen in the Hunter Valley, and occur wherever there is mistletoe. They are heard more often than seen, with a distinctive high pitched call [tweet]. They are tiny and very fast. They feed off the berries of the mistletoe plant, and in return, the birds have evolved to be the perfect carrier and distributor of the seeds.
Unlike many other birds, the mistletoe bird has no gizzard so the fruit of the berries can be digested without the seeds being destroyed. The seeds are sticky when excreted and adhere to a branch where the plant germinates and grows.
Males have a glossy blue-black head, wings and upperparts, a bright red chest, a white belly with a central dark streak and a bright red undertail. Females are grey above, white below, with a grey streak on the belly, and a paler red undertail.

The Mistletoebird builds a silky, pear-shaped nest with a slit-like entrance, made from matted plant down and spider web suspended from a twig in the outer foliage of a tree. The female alone builds the nest and incubates the eggs, while both sexes feed the young.




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Author: Robyn and Alan Woolley, Valley View Cottage
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