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Black-eared Miner

Manorina melanotis

The black-eared miner (Manorina melanotis) is a member of the honeyeater family, Meliphagidae, and is distinguished by its unique plumage. This bird is endemic to the mallee woodland regions of south-eastern Australia.

Identification Tips

To identify the black-eared miner, look for its characteristic black ear patches which contrast with the surrounding yellow plumage. It is closely related to the yellow-throated miner (M. flavigula), and differentiation can be challenging due to their similar appearance.

Habitat

The black-eared miner is found in mallee woodland, a habitat characterized by multi-stemmed eucalyptus species and a diverse understory. These woodlands are crucial for the bird's survival.

Distribution

This species is native to north-western Victoria and south-eastern South Australia. Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) have been identified as critical for their conservation, including Murray-Sunset, Hattah, Annuello, the Riverland Mallee, and Wyperfeld, Big Desert, and Ngarkat.

Behaviour

Black-eared miners are cooperative breeders, forming colonies during the breeding season. They disperse into the bush when not breeding, and their movements during these times are not well documented. The species has been observed interbreeding with the yellow-throated miner, which poses a threat to its genetic integrity.

Conservation Status

The black-eared miner is currently listed as endangered, with habitat clearance for agriculture being a significant threat. Competition with other herbivores for resources has also contributed to their decline. Estimates suggest there are around 200 colonies remaining, each with up to 20 birds. The species is recognized as endangered under various Australian laws and conservation acts.

Conservation Measures

Efforts to protect the black-eared miner include a dedicated AUD$125,000 project, which involves genetic testing of birds across the 200 populations to better understand the extent of cross-species breeding and to implement conservation strategies.

The black-eared miner's plight is a stark reminder of the fragility of our natural world and the importance of conservation efforts to protect these unique species and their habitats.

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A photo of a Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater (Acanthagenys rufogularis)

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater

Acanthagenys rufogularis
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