Family Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae)

Least Concern

Puff-backed Honeyeater (Meliphaga aruensis)


French: Méliphage bouffant German: Aruhonigfresser Spanish: Mielero de las Aru

Ptilotis aruensis


, 1884,

Aru Islands


Race sharpei may fall within range of variation of nominate, so species might be better treated as monotypic#R; however, population in SE New Guinea apparently genetically distinct, and may constitute a separate, as yet undescribed species#R. Further study needed. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. a. sharpei (Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1903) – West Papuan Is (Waigeo, Batanta, Misool), NW & N mainland New Guinea E, including Yapen I and nearby Keboi I (in Geelvink Bay), to at least Kumusi R, and D’Entrecasteaux Archipelago (including Goodenough I and Fergusson I) and Trobriand Is (including Kiriwina).
  • M. a. aruensis (Sharpe, 1884) – Aru Is, and SW & S New Guinea (E to about Karema and Hall Sound).
  • Also (unnamed form, perhaps a separate species) SE New Guinea in S watershed and lowlands from about Karema and Hall Sound E to Milne Bay.

    Descriptive notes

    16·5–18·5 cm; two males 27 g and 29 g and three females 23–27 g (nominate), male 22–30·5 g and female 21–31 g (sharpei... read more


    Song a rapid low, rising and decelerating trill lasting up to 2 seconds, repeated several times,... read more


    Variety of forest habitats, including primary rainforest and low plains forest, also disturbed... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes fruit, seeds (probably ingested with fruit), and arthropods (mainly insects); probably also nectar, and known to visit... read more


    Recorded in most months: eggs mid-Aug and Oct and nestlings mid-Oct, nests or breeding females late Jul and Aug, Oct–Jan, Mar–... read more


    Probably largely sedentary, with some local movements.  

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. No estimates of total population; generally fairly common to common; uncommon at Crater Mt. Retiring and difficult to observe.  

    Recommended citation

    Higgins, P., Christidis, L. & Ford, H. (2019). Puff-backed Honeyeater (Meliphaga aruensis). 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 10 December 2019).