Family Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae)

Least Concern

Tawny-breasted Honeyeater (Xanthotis flaviventer)


French: Méliphage à ventre fauve German: Ockerbrust-Honigfresser Spanish: Mielero ventrihabano

Myzantha flaviventer


, 1828,

Dorey = Manokwari, Vogelkop Peninsula, New Guinea


Sometimes referred to as X. chrysotis, but this name preoccupied. Taxonomy poorly understood, and up to 14 races sometimes recognized; validity of those listed below requires confirmation. Form philemon synonymized with meyerii by some authors#R. Recent morphological evaluation suggests four groups of races, perhaps representing four distinct species: W “flaviventer group”, N “meyerii group”, S “filiger group”, and E single-taxon “spilogaster group”; true position of filiger, however, is unclear#R. Situation complicated by races intergrading where they meet, and several proposed races appear to be from intergradation zones: rubiensis (Rubi, at head of Geelvink Bay) probably an intergrade between nominate and saturatior; giulianettii (Avera, on Aroa R, in SE New Guinea) is between saturatior and visi; and kumusii (Kumusi R, on N coast of SE New Guinea) considered an intergrade between visi and madaraszi. Proposed race tararae (S Trans-Fly) included in saturatior, and austera (Misool) within nominate. Race meyerii misspelt in HBW (original description checked). Nine subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • X. f. fusciventris Salvadori, 1876 – Waigeo and Batanta, in West Papuan Is.
  • X. f. flaviventer (Lesson, 1828) – Western Tawny-breasted Honeyeater – Salawati and Misool (West Papuan Is), and NW New Guinea (Vogelkop, Bird’s Neck).
  • X. f. meyerii Salvadori, 1876 – Northern Tawny-breasted Honeyeater – Yapen I, in Geelvink Bay (NW New Guinea).
  • X. f. philemon Stresemann, 1921 – N New Guinea from Mamberamo R E to Astrolabe Bay.
  • X. f. madaraszi (Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1903) – NE New Guinea (E from Astrolabe Bay to Huon Peninsula and Markham Valley, S to Wau).
  • X. f. saturatior (Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1903) – Aru Is, S New Guinea (from Mimika R E to Fly R and Gulf of Papua), and islands in N Torres Strait (including Saibai, Boigu and Daru).
  • X. f. visi (E. J. O. Hartert, 1896) – S & SE New Guinea E from Huon Gulf and Gulf of Papua to about Milne Bay.
  • X. f. filiger (Gould, 1851) – Southern Tawny-breasted Honeyeater – NE Queensland (Cape York Peninsula S to about Edward R in W and to McIlwraith Range–Rocky R–Silver Plains Station in E), in NE Australia.
  • X. f. spilogaster (Ogilvie-Grant, 1896) – Eastern Tawny-breasted Honeyeater – Trobriand Is and D’Entrecasteaux Archipelago (including Goodenough, Fergusson and Normanby), off SE New Guinea.
  • Descriptive notes

    18–21 cm; male 33–41 g and female 26·5–37 g (filiger), male 47–50 g and female 38–44·5 g (nominate), male 46·5... read more


    Not noisy, but commonly heard throughout day. Main call a series of rather loud single whistles,... read more


    Mainly dense lowland rainforest (including vine forests, gallery and other riparian associations,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insects, including beetles (Coleoptera), grasshoppers (Acridiae), cockroaches (Blattodea), cicadas (Cicadidae) and caterpillars;... read more


    In New Guinea appears to nest in late dry season to early wet season, and at end of wet season, with breeding noted Aug–Feb and Apr... read more


    Resident. In Australia, some may move locally into more open forest in wet season.  

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Abundant and ubiquitous at lower altitudes in New Guinea, and recorded density of 1 bird/ha in lowland rainforest at Brown R; scarcer at higher... read more

    Recommended citation

    Higgins, P., Christidis, L. & Ford, H. (2019). Tawny-breasted Honeyeater (Xanthotis flaviventer). 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).