The White-naped Honeyeater Melithreptus lunatus is a passerine bird of the Honeyeater family Meliphagidae native to eastern and south-western Australia. Two subspecies are recognised. One of several similar species of black-headed honeyeaters in the genus Melithreptus, it dwells in dry sclerophyll eucalypt woodland. Its diet consists of nectar from various flowers and insects.
It was originally described as Certhia lunata by French ornithologist Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot in 1802. The specific name is derived from the Latin luna, meaning "moon"; this refers to its crescent-shaped white marking on its nape. It is a member of the genus Melithreptus with several species, of similar size and (apart from the Brown-headed Honeyeater) black-headed appearance, in the honeyeater family Meliphagidae. The next closest relative outside the genus is the much larger but similarly marked Blue-faced Honeyeater. More recently, DNA analysis has shown honeyeaters to be related to the Pardalotidae (pardalotes), Acanthizidae (Australian warblers, scrubwrens, thornbills, etc.), and the Maluridae (Australian fairy-wrens) in a large Meliphagoidea superfamily.
Two races are recognised:
- M. l. chloropsis: From southwest Western Australia, this was initially described as a separate species by John Gould in 1844.
- M. l. lunatus: From central Queensland around to eastern South Australia excluding Tasmania.
A mid-sized honeyeater at 13-15 cm (5-6 in) in length, it is olive green above and white below, with a black head, nape and throat and a red (eastern) or white (western) patch over the eye and a white crescent-shaped patch on the nape. Juveniles have brownish crowns and an orange base of bill. Its call is a mjerp mjerp.
It is found in forest. Its diet is principally nectar from a variety of flowers supplemented by insects and various other invertebrates.
White-naped honeyeaters may nest from July to December, breeding once or twice during this time. The nest is a thick-walled bowl of grasses and bits of bark in the fork of a tall tree, usually a eucalypt. Two or three eggs are laid, 18 x 14 mm and shiny buff-pink sparsely spotted with red-brown.
SE Queensland, Australia