Family Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae)

Least Concern

Belford's Honeyeater (Melidectes belfordi)


French: Méliphage de Belford German: Belfordhonigfresser Spanish: Mielero de Belford
Other common names: Belford's Melidectes

Melirrhophetes belfordi

De Vis

, 1890,

Mount Knutsford, south-east New Guinea


Sometimes treated as conspecific with M. leucostephes and with M. rufocrissalis. Co-occurs with latter on Mt Koimjim (Schrader Mts), but the two appear to exclude each other altitudinally; they hybridize freely, however, where they come into contact; Herzog Mts, much of Eastern Highlands, Mt Goliath (in E Star Mts) and N slopes of Snow Mts may once have supported both species, but hybrid populations now found extensively through these areas (although populations on N slopes of Snow Mts are almost pure individuals of present species, with only a few M. rufocrissalis characteristics). Race griseirostris, previously considered a hybrid form, now shown to be a stable population of hybrid origin#R, meriting recognition#R. Race brassi and nominate race may represent different species, as they occupy much the same geographical range but are separated altitudinally and appear not to intergrade; further study needed. Races joiceyi and kinneari intergrade in W Nassau Mts (Wissel Lakes area). Proposed race stresemanni (Herzog Mts) represents a hybrid form. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. b. joiceyi (Rothschild, 1921) – Weyland Mts and W Nassau Mts, in W New Guinea.
  • M. b. kinneari Mayr, 1936 – Snow Mts (including Nassau Mts and Oranje Mts), in W New Guinea.
  • M. b. griseirostris (Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1911) – Mt Goliath (in E Oranje Mts/W Star Mts), in C New Guinea.
  • M. b. schraderensis Gilliard & LeCroy, 1968 – Schrader Mts, in E New Guinea.
  • M. b. belfordi (De Vis, 1890) – c. 3000 m to c. 3800 m in mountains of SE New Guinea (E from Bismarck–Hagen–Kubor Ranges).
  • M. b. brassi Mayr & Rand, 1936 – c. 2000 m to c. 2800 m in mountains of SE New Guinea.
  • Descriptive notes

    26–29 cm; male 59–73 g and female 51–56 g (kinneari), male 70–80 g and female 55–67 g (other races). Nominate race has top and side of... read more


    Very noisy, its voice an almost ubiquitous sound of higher forests; typically, the first species to... read more


    Primary upper montane to high mountain forests, forest edge, secondary growth and disturbed... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes arthropods, mainly insects, including large ants (Formicidae) and beetles (Coleoptera); also nectar, fruit and, probably,... read more


    Apparently predominantly late wet season and dry season: nest-building early Apr, late Jun and late Jul, “breeding birds” May... read more


    No information; probably largely sedentary.  

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Restrictedrange species: present in Central Papuan Mountains EBA. Common to very common in many parts of range, e.g. upper Kaironk Valley, Mt Koimjim... read more

    Recommended citation

    Higgins, P., Christidis, L. & Ford, H. (2020). Belford's Honeyeater (Melidectes belfordi). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 January 2020).