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Noisy miner

Noisy miner

What are noisy miners?

Noisy miner birds are a small to medium sized honey-eater.  Most people recognise them because they are loud and pushy and usually live in large groups. Noisy miners are very common in cities and towns in eastern Australia because they like to live in clear areas with lots of flowers, places like our gardens. They can be found all the way from Queensland to Tasmania along the eastern side of Australia. 

The scientific name for the noisy miner is Manorina melanocephala. There are four different species of Australian native miner birds. Noisy miners have a grey body and a patch of black on their head with a distinctive yellow patch around their eye. They also have a yellowy-orange beak and feet. Females, males and juveniles look very similar.

Some people confuse noisy miners with Indian mynas, which are an invasive introduced pest species. Indian mynas have a brown body and their heads are all black, like a hood. They also have a yellow patch around their eye and a yellow beak and feet. Indian mynas are not honey-eaters, they are a species of starling.

Noisy miner habitat

Noisy miners prefer to live in areas with eucalyptus trees and a clear understorey. Therefore, they especially like residential parks and gardens where there is clear grass and big trees.  This is one of the reasons that noisy miners are not endangered. Human activities create habitats that they prefer to live in.  They are also very aggressive birds and will drive other native birds away from an area.

What do noisy miners eat?

Noisy miners are honey-eaters, so they mostly gather nectar from the flowers of plants like gumtrees, bottle-brushes, lilli-pillis or grevilleas. They also eat insects and fruit. Noisy miners at the Field of Mars will hang around after recess and lunch to see if they can scavenge any food left behind on the ground, so try not to spill food here because it is bad for birds to eat human food.

Noisy miner adaptations 

Noisy miners live in groups for protection. They can be very aggressive and will gang up on other birds, animals or even humans to drive it out of their territory.  This is a very successful strategy and can sometimes result in few other birds being able to live in a habitat where there are noisy miners. The beaks of noisy miners are long, thin and pointy - perfect for reaching into flowers and collecting nectar. Noisy miners can breed all year round which means there is more likelihood of more of their young surviving. These adaptations help them live in a range of habitats and eat a wide variety of foods.

Reproduction and life cycle

Noisy miners lay their eggs in a cup shaped nest made of fine twigs and lined with softer materials like feathers or even artificial stuffing from human rubbish. Noisy miners breed all year round and lay two to four eggs in the nest, which hatch in about 16 days. The chicks are born bald, but soon look much like an adult, just a bit fluffier. Both the mum and the dad feed the chicks, and also other birds in the group. It is about a month until the chicks can get food on their own.

What are noisy miner's nests like?

The nests of noisy miners are small, round and made of very thin twigs or grass woven together.  They can be quite low in trees and sometimes fall out. If you have ever found a nest on the ground, it is likely to belong to a noisy miner.

What sounds do noisy miners make?

Noisy miner birds are called noisy for a reason!  They make a range of loud and piercing calls some of which are to warn other members of their group of danger. Birds of other species also recognise these alarm calls. A frenzied group of noisy miners all calling loudly can be useful to humans to let you know if a snake or goanna is nearby. 

What threats are there to noisy miners?

Noisy miners are a very successful species of bird, but the eggs and chicks can fall prey to Australian birds of prey such as kookaburras, butcher birds, currawongs and ravens. Snakes and goannas enjoy eating their eggs. Introduced species such as cats, foxes and rats are also a threat to eggs in the nest, baby birds and adults while they are feeding.

Should you feed noisy miners?

Human beings should never feed native birds. Noisy miners eat mostly nectar and are quite capable of finding their own food. Human food can make them sick.

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