Family Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-backed Honeyeater (Ptiloprora guisei)


French: Méliphage à dos roux German: Rotrücken-Honigfresser Spanish: Mielero dorsirrufo

Ptilotis (?) guisei

De Vis

, 1894,

Mount Maneao, south-east New Guinea


See P. erythropleura. Often treated as conspecific with P. mayri, but comparative studies indicate that the two are better considered separate species. Has sometimes been thought conspecific with P. perstriata, but the two occur sympatrically (with mutually exclusive altitudinal ranges) over at least 560 km in E New Guinea. Birds of Huon Peninsula intermediate between umbrosa and nominate, but closer to former and generally included within it; populations of Adelbert Mts and Mt Bosavi likewise provisionally placed in umbrosa. W limits of nominate race uncertain; populations of Bismarck Range and Kubor Range placed in nominate, but may belong with umbrosa (or intergradient between the two forms). Recent study of topotypical museum material#R suggests species may be better treated as monotypic. Genus name initially introduced on same page as that of P. guisei, but as a subgenus. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. g. umbrosa Mayr, 1931 – Adelbert Mts, Mt Bosavi, Huon Peninsula (Saruwaged Mts), Schrader Range and Eastern Highlands (W at least to Tari), in NE & E New Guinea.
  • P. g. guisei (De Vis, 1894) – mountains of SE New Guinea E from Bismarck and Kubor Ranges and Herzog Mts.
  • Descriptive notes

    16–18 cm; male 21–27 g and female 19–22 g (Huon Peninsula), male 21·3–27·7 g and female 17·6–24 g (Eastern Highlands).... read more


    Varies locally and geographically, but all typically loud whistled notes usually repeated many... read more


    Montane and upper montane primary forest, especially moss forest, also forest edge and secondary... read more

    Food and feeding

    Predominantly arthropods (mainly insects); also fruit, seeds (probably ingested with fruit) and nectar. Ranges from understorey to canopy,... read more


    Few data. Nestling recorded early Feb and juvenile early May. Two nests found, 1·25 m and 2 m above ground in sapling (one a... read more


    None known; presumed resident, possibly with some local movements.  

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Restrictedrange species: present in Adelbert and Huon Ranges EBA and in Central Papuan Mountains EBA. Generally common to abundant in suitable... read more

    Recommended citation

    Higgins, P., Christidis, L. & Ford, H. (2020). Rufous-backed Honeyeater (Ptiloprora guisei). 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).