Ornithological Note 150

Notes on the vocalizations of White-naped Honeyeater (Melithreptus lunatus)

Peter F. D. Boesman April 22, 2016
Section(s): Voice, Systematics

In the following we briefly analyze and compare voice of the two races of White-naped Honeyeater (Melithreptus lunatus). We also try to quantify the extent of any vocal differences using the criteria proposed by Tobias et al. (2010), as a support for taxonomic review. We have made use of sound recordings available on-line from Xeno Canto (XC), Macaulay Library (ML) and The Internet Bird Collection (IBC).

From the few available recordings, it is clear that this species has a fairly extensive vocabulary. We illustrate here the different vocalizations with sonograms:


- a series of melodious whistles

- a repeated whistle (sometimes given as single whistles) 

- short series of grating notes

- soft group calls


- a repeated whistle (shape sometimes different from lunatus)

- a fast repeated whistle

- short series of grating calls

There is a clear similarity in vocalizations. With so few recordings of chloropsis it is difficult to prove any consistent differences between homologous vocalizations of the two races. chloropsis seems to have a vocalization (fast repeated whistle) not documented for lunatus, their vocabulary may thus be slightly different (score 1?). Also, all whistles are higher-pitched than in lunatus (minimum frequency of whistles reaching 1800-2000Hz vs 1200-1600Hz). If this is representative for both taxa, then a score of 2 can be given here. Using the Tobias criteria as a guidance and with some reservation for the small sample size, a total vocal score of about 2 could be given.


This note was finalized on 7th January 2016, using sound recordings available on-line at that moment. We would like to thank in particular the sound recordists: Marc Anderson, Krzysztof Deoniziak, John Graff, Emma Greig, Linda Macaulay, David Stewart, Nick Talbot, Fred Van Gessel and Ding Li Yong.



Tobias, J.A., Seddon, N., Spottiswoode, C.N., Pilgrim, J.D., Fishpool, L.D.C. & Collar, N.J. (2010). Quantitative criteria for species delimitation. Ibis 152(4): 724–746.

More Information: on150_white-naped_honeyeater.pdf 

Recommended Citation

Boesman, P. (2016). Notes on the vocalizations of White-naped Honeyeater (Melithreptus lunatus). HBW Alive Ornithological Note 150. In: Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow-on.100150