Family Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae)

Least Concern

Sooty Honeyeater (Melidectes fuscus)


French: Méliphage fuligineux German: Buntwarzen-Honigfresser Spanish: Mielero fuliginoso
Other common names: Sooty Melidectes

Acanthochœra fusca

De Vis

, 1897,

Mount Scratchley, Wharton Range, south-east New Guinea


Sometimes separated with M. nouhuysi and M. princeps in Melionyx, the three comprising a group of medium-sized species that differ from other current congeners in size, morphology, plumage and voice. Populations across Central Ranges previously recognized as race occidentalis, including Eastern Highlands form gilliardi; but recent study#R noted no discernible plumage or bare-part differences, and size variation is clinal (small in W to large in E & SE). Monotypic.


Central Ranges of New Guinea from Snow Mts (Nassau Range and Oranje Mts) E to Eastern Highlands (Mt Hagen, Mt Wilhelm, and Mt Giluwe and Kubor Range), and mountains of SE Peninsula.

Descriptive notes

21–25·4 cm; 25–42·9 g (nominate). Male nominate race is wholly dark brownish-black above, slightly browner on wings and tail, feathers of upperbody... read more


Call a pair of rather soft, upslurred notes, “schweep-schweep”. Two song types... read more


Primary upper montane forest and high mountain forests (particularly moss forest), forest edge,... read more

Food and feeding

Diet includes arthropods (insects), nectar, pollen and fruit (including berries). Forages at all levels, from crown to understorey; often... read more


Nest with egg in Oct, nestlings early Oct, early Nov and May, nests reported also in Apr (two) and Jun (five), and dependent fledglings in... read more


No information.  

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Restrictedrange species: present in Central Papuan Mountains EBA. No estimates of global abundance; generally considered scarce, although locally... read more

Recommended citation

Higgins, P., Christidis, L. & Ford, H. (2019). Sooty Honeyeater (Melidectes fuscus). 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).