Terry Watts (sirterrywatts) wrote,
Terry Watts

Mistletoe-Bird - Dicaeum hirundinaceum

Today I was lucky to find a baby Mistletoe-Bird. Its a baby female, and was quite passive this morning in the cold weather.

These birds were once a common sight across Australia however they have become a good case study for the disturbances that human activities can have on native populations. Plant and Animal.

Mistletoe-Birds eat the berry type fruits, and flowers from the Mistletoe plants, that parasitically grow on the trees. However due to land clearing, and habitat destruction associated with farming, these birds have had an interesting effect. That can only be explained as an imbalance caused by human activity.

Mistletoe-bird droppings logically contain the seeds from the parasitic mistletoe; however, when they eat the berries their droppings turn to a type of sticky material, and resembles glue. As the birds go about their daily lives the birds almost unknowingly spread the seeds around their favourite trees in the forests.

Where eucalypt forests once stood, only a few trees now remain. As the birds find a new place to live they end up being concentrated in one place. As a result, mistletoe infections and epidemics plague the trees left uncleared and remaining populations of trees die from the serious infestation. All of which is caused by the bird, and plant that has not had time to adapt to the rapid changes in their ecosystem.

Today, Mistletoe-Birds are hard to find. It is unknown how the balance will be one day restored; however, this small bird and its everyday food is a good example of what means to understand how ecosystems work. But also, how humans can upset the balance of nature.

Tags: australian birds, dicaeum hirundinaceum, mistletoe-bird
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