Giant forest honeyeater (Gymnomyza viridis)

As the name suggests, the Giant forest honeyeater (Gymnomyza viridis) is a relatively large honeyeater, measuring 27cm from the tip of its beak to the tip of its tail. It has a typically slender, slightly down-curved bill and dull feathers.

Also known as: Giant Forest Honeyeater

Local Names: Sovau, Ikou, Cavucavuivalu

Giant forest honeyeater (Gymnomyza viridis) map
Giant forest honeyeater (Gymnomyza viridis) map

Distribution

Endemic to Fiji, and found only on Viti Levu, Vanua Levu and Taveuni

 Giant forest honeyeater (Gymnomyza viridis) map

Giant forest honeyeater (Gymnomyza viridis) map

Description

As the name suggests, the Giant forest honeyeater is a relatively large honeyeater, measuring 27cm from the tip of its beak to the tip of its tail. It has a typically slender, slightly down-curved bill and dull feathers. The entire bird is olive-green. Juveniles have lightly streaked and spotted underparts. There is a variation in bill and feet colour between the Viti Levu where they are dark, and the, Vanua Levu and Taveuni populations where they are light yellowish. Distribution

Endemic to Fiji, and found only on Viti Levu, Vanua Levu and Taveuni.

Habitat Ecology and Behaviour

The Giant forest honeyeater is generally found in large contiguous areas of mature forest where it feeds primarily in the canopy, although on occasions it may be observed at lower levels, even on the ground. It has also been observed in relatively disturbed forest. The Giant forest honeyeater is primarily a nectar feeder, but also forages actively for insects; takes small berries and tackles soft fruit. A single nest has been described.

It was located in mature forest, consisting of a fairly substantial basket formed of probable epiphyte rootlets hung beneath a leafy branch in the outer foliage of large forest tree; it was approximately 18-20 m above the ground. Only a single dependent juvenile has ever been observed and there is believed to be an extended period of juvenile dependence of two to three months or longer. The flight of the Goant forest honeyeater is strongly undulating, and they tend to keep close to cover. They are quite loud birds, with calls that vary between the three islands on which they are found. On Viti Levu, a loud ringing eekou is often jumbled together in a series, frequently one bird initiates the call, and it is then taken up by another or by several others, resulting in a loud and characteristic yodelling cacophony reverberating through the forest (the “car alarm call” !).

These calls can be heard well over a kilometre away in dense forest and are often delivered several hours before dawn. On Vanua Levu and Taveuni, the loud yodelling cacophany is never heard; calls are much more similar to the Wattled Honeyeater but louder.

Threats

Forest loss and fragmentation is probably the biggest threat to the survival of this species as it needs large areas of forest to forage and live in. Conservation Status
Until 2006, the Giant forest honeyeater was categorised as a Vulnerable species in the IUCN Redlist of Threatened species due to the lack of data available on their conservation status. However, it is now known to be common in seven of Fiji’s 14 Important Bird Areas (IBAs). These IBAs are forested areas that were identified to be important for the survival and conservation of Fiji’s globally threatened birds. The Giant forest honey eater has been re-categorised to Least Concern in the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species.

Remarks and Cultural Significance

Until 2006, the Giant forest honeyeater was categorised as a Vulnerable species in the IUCN Redlist of Threatened species due to the lack of data available on their conservation status. However, it is now known to be common in seven of Fiji’s 14 Important Bird Areas (IBAs). These IBAs are forested areas that were identified to be important for the survival and conservation of Fiji’s globally threatened birds. The Giant forest honey eater has been re-categorised to Least Concern in the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species.

References

Masibalavu and Dutson (2006);
Watling (2004)

Photo: Unknown (but NatureFiji-MareqetiViti gratefully acknowledges the photographer)