Family Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae)

Least Concern

New Zealand Bellbird (Anthornis melanura)


French: Méliphage carillonneur German: Maorihonigfresser Spanish: Mielero maorí

Certhia melanura


, 1786,

Promontorium Bonae Spei (= foothills Cape of Good Hope); error = Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand


Sometimes considered conspecific with †A. melanocephala (Chatham Is), but latter was clearly larger and darker and had yellow (not red) eyes. Nominate race shows slight clinal variation, becoming darker from N to S. Proposed races dumerilii (Bay of Islands, in North I) and incoronata (Auckland Is) inseparable from nominate. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. m. melanura (Sparrman, 1786) – New Zealand, including many offshore islands; Auckland Is.
  • A. m. obscura Falla, 1948 – Three Kings Is (NW of N North I).
  • A. m. oneho Bartle & Sagar, 1987 – Poor Knights Is, E of N North I.
  • Descriptive notes

    17–20 cm; male c. 31 g, female c. 24 g. Medium-sized honeyeater with rather long tail fairly narrow at base and flaring widely and deeply notched at tip. Male nominate... read more


    Notes simple, like sound of distant bell. Sings all year, less in winter. Song of male fuller and... read more


    Dense native forest with diverse and dense understorey of shrubs and young canopy trees. Mainly... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly nectar, fruit, insects; also insect products, e.g. honeydew from kamahi and southern rata (Metrosideros umbellata). Nectar... read more


    Mainly Sept–Jan, but nestlings as late as early May and fledglings early Apr, sometimes two broods in season or may lay replacement... read more


    Resident in most of range. Some apparent movements in North I and South I, with seasonal occurrence... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common. Widespread New Zealand, including many offshore islands, e.g. Hen and Chickens, Little Barrier and Tiritiri Matangi, and (off Stewart... read more

    Recommended citation

    Higgins, P., Christidis, L. & Ford, H. (2019). New Zealand Bellbird (Anthornis melanura). 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 15 December 2019).