Family Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae)

Least Concern

Golden-backed Honeyeater (Melithreptus laetior)


French: Méliphage à dos jaune German: Goldmantel-Honigfresser Spanish: Mielero dorsigualdo

Melithreptes [sic] lætior


, 1875,

Lake Eyre district, central Australia


Commonly considered conspecific with M. gularis, but differs in its much brighter yellow on upperparts, notably mantle and rump (2); paler, whiter lower underparts (1); yellow vs blue eyering (2); and more variable and lower-pitched song, with effect size for middle frequency 6.77 (score 3)#R; moreover, it hybridizes with M. gularis over broad zone in E Australia (Queensland S to NC New South Wales) (1). Proposed races normantoniensis (NW Queensland) and carpentarianus (E Queensland) refer to some of these intergrades; parus (Exmouth Gulf, in Western Australia) is included in synonymy of laetior. See also M. validirostris. Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

W & N Western Australia E to NW & N Queensland (around S & E Gulf of Carpentaria and S Cape York Peninsula), thence S to extreme NE South Australia and NC New South Wales.

Descriptive notes

14–16·5 cm; male 15–20 g and female 16·1–20·2 g. Adult is patterned like formerly conspecific M. gularis, but upperparts largely golden yellow-olive, with narrow... read more


Song is structurally similar to that of M. gularis, but sounds much less ringing and “... read more


Found in tall open woodlands of stringybark eucalypts (Eucalyptus) or bloodwoods (... read more

Food and feeding

Not well studied; only detailed information from Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory. Mainly nectar but presumably also invertebrates... read more


Not well known but mainly Jan–Aug, occasionally to early Oct (one clutch late Mar, nestling mid Jun). Often breeds co-operatively, but also... read more


Mainly resident, but sometimes considered nomadic (e.g. in Kimberley Division, Western Australia,... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Rather uncommon. Total population unknown, but recorded densities of up to 0·01–1·03 birds/ha (based on fieldwork in Northern... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Golden-backed Honeyeater (Melithreptus laetior). 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 21 February 2020).